Company:

Microsoft

Price

N/A

License:

Freeware

Rating:

4 Star Rating: Recommended

Microsoft Pocket Streets 2002

John Ottini | Handheld PC Reviews
November 13, 2006

Pocket Streets is the scaled down, mobile version of Microsoft’s desktop map viewer – Streets & Trips (or for our Eurpoean readers, Autoroute). The latest version of the Microsoft navigation software and Pocket Streets itself is the 2006 edition, but since Microsoft stopped supporting the Handheld PC with the 2002 edition of Pocket Streets, this review will only deal with the last edition of Pocket Streets that supported our platform. Anyone interested in the possibility of running the Pocket PC version of Pocket Streets on their H/PC – please search the forums here at HPC:Factor for more information.

The 2002 version of Pocket Streets (PS) is packed with features that I am sure you will find very useful, but I think it’s very important for me to outline, right from the start, what PS 2002 does and doesn’t do.

Figure 1: Main Interface

 

What It Can and Cannot Do!

  • PS 2002 allows you to view compatible pre-existing maps extracted from MS Streets & Trips (editions 2002 thru 2004) or selected 2004 maps available for download at Microsoft’s Pocket Streets website. It does not allow you to create your own maps (from scratch) or to view maps which are not Pocket Streets compatible.
  • You can perform map searches by street number and address or by point of interest name, such as hotel, ATM, shopping center etc. It will not allow you to locate the best route to and from (for example) the airport to your hotel. The 2002 version does not support GPS functions.
  • You have control over what detail and how much information will be shown on your maps, but you have minimal control over what you can actually add (in terms of new information) to the maps. Pushpins (icons) can be used to highlight important addresses or Points of Interest which can be saved and retrieved at a later date.
  • You can copy a map screen view to the clipboard using PS 2002 and then paste it into a Pocket Word or Excel document, but you can’t save it as a graphic image such as bmp or jpg etc.

 

Pocket Streets 2002 Features

Pocket Streets has a wonderful, no nonsense user interface which I found both functional and easy to learn. The standard File menu allows you to locate and open Pocket Streets compatible maps you have saved in Ram memory or on a compact flash card. Since the PS 2002 maps can be quite large (memory hogs) I would highly recommend that you store all of your maps on a Compact Flash card. In case you were wondering – there was no noticeable speed difference between maps opened from a CF card or from ram memory.

Once a map is loaded, the fun begins. The first thing you will want to try out is the Find feature, which allows you to search the map by Street number and name or by Place Name. Once the item you are searching for is located on the map, a temporary, small circle appears on the map along with the Place name or the Street Address in a callout box. If you want to save the location so that it can be retrieved at a later date, then you just create a Push Pin and save the information.

Figure 2: Left (Temp Location) Right (Pushpin added)

If you are searching for something a little more generalized, such as the location of all Burger Kings in the area, then you would search using the Place Locator.

Figure 3: 'Burger King' Search

 

Points of Interest and Map Styles

This software does not provide much in terms of customization, but you do have a few choices when it comes to how much or how little information you want to cram onto your H/PC screen and what the map background will look like.

There are two settings for map background – Light or Dark! I prefer the dark setting because I find it more colorful and easier on the eyes, but either background produces very nice results, so I guess it comes down to personal preference. The same is true of street map detail, some like a lot of street detail on their maps, while others prefer very little. Personally, I can’t really see much of a difference between the Less Street Detail setting the Full Street Detail setting in PS 2002, therefore you are on your own on that one. I guess it depends on what Zoom level you use and how much Point of Interest information you have activated. I use only what I need, so this is not an issue for me, but once again you will have to find the balance that’s best for you.

Figure 4: Map Background: Left (Dark) - Right (Light)

Each Pocket Street 2002 maps is accompanied by a database which contains 24 Point of Interest categories. The Points of Interest are represented by Icons on the map and the icons can be turned on or off in the Point of Interest Menu. The user can pick and choose which categories/icon will be displayed on the map and whether the name callout box is visible or not. I prefer not to show the POI names in order to keep the map for getting too cluttered and besides, if you tap the icon with your stylus, the name of the POI pops up on the screen anyway.

Figure 5: Points of Interest Menu

 

Push Pin Explorer

Push Pin Explorer is one of the functions that I find very helpful and I use on a regular basis. I like to save addresses that are of importance to me and that I know I will be returning to, time and time again. The Push Pin Explorer allows you to save a location and create a callout box with a Name and Note for that location. I like to use the Note portion to enter the location address, but obviously it can be used for adding any information you find useful. The callout boxes can be closed or opened and the push pin location can be turned off, but the attributes attached to the Push Pin are saved until you delete them from memory. When you close a map or switch to another map, the Push Pins are saved with that map and reappear the next time you open it.

The software provides the user with a nice selection of Push Pin Icon choices, so you can add specific icons to visually represent the place you are highlighting with your push pin.

Figure 6: Pushpin Explorer

 

Basic Map Navigation

This is so obvious that it’s hardly worth mentioning but like all good map viewers, you can zoom in or out, zoom to extents and pan around your maps by using your stylus on the screen, the arrow keys on your keyboard or the arrow icons on the H/PC screen. Most of the navigation functions have key board shortcuts, so you can minimize dragging your stylus across the screen which is always a positive in my book!

 

Something worth Mentioning

It’s important to remember, that Pocket Streets 2002 is not a stand alone product. As I mention at the beginning of this review, Pocket Streets is part of the MS Streets and Trips/Autoroute desktop software package - it is not sold as a separate product. You must purchase one of the supplimentary desktop offerings in order to get a working version of PS 2002. Even if someone gave you a copy of PS 2002, without the desktop companion your map viewing selection would be limited to downloading maps of major cities available from Microsoft’s website.

Sometimes this part gets confusing but here goes, Pocket Streets 2002 allows you to view maps extracted from Microsoft Streets and Trips/Autoroute - 2002, 2003 & 2004 but not 2005 or 2006 as well as MapPoint 2002. Microsoft made some changes to the map structure in 2005 so it can no longer be viewed by PS 2002, therefore the most up-to-date maps available for PS 2002 are the 2004 maps. Hope that makes sense?

 

Where Can I Get Pocket Streets 2002?

Well here comes the sticky part, because this older version is no longer available at retail outlets or from Microsoft, your only real choice is to locate a copy on eBay or similar websites. Fortunately, copies are constantly being auctioned off on eBay for very low prices…..I picked up my copy for only $5 US (plus S&H) but anything up to $10 would be a good price. As far as I’m concerned it was/is worth every penny!

 

In Conclusion

This really is a first rate software package and one of only a handful of mapping titles available for Handheld PCs, therefore it is difficult to find negative things to say about this product.

Let me just end by saying, that although it doesn’t have all of the latest functions available on the most current version of Pocket Streets, I still find Pocket Streets 2002 to be more than adequate for my map viewing needs.

 

System Requirements:

Windows CE 2.0 or higher
SH3, SH4, MIPS, StrongARM
450 KB storage space

Rating

 

 

Cost:

4 Star Rating: Recommended

Pros: Large database of information, easy to use map viewer, excellent search features, world wide maps are accessible from the Microsoft’s website or from it’s desktop PC companion Microsoft Streets & Trips software 2004 edition or earlier (US), Autoroute 2004 or earlier (UK/EU) or Office MapPoint 2002!

Cons: H/PC version has no GPS functionality and is not compatible with maps created using the latest version(s) of Microsoft Streets & Trips/Autoroute (2005 or 2006).

Usability:

4 Star Rating: Recommended

Built-In helps:

5 Star Rating: Exceptional

Customer Service:

0 Star Rating: Dreadful

Overall:

4 Star Rating: Recommended

 

 

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