Monday, July 28, 2008

ViaMichelin GPS Adventures/Aventures GPS de ViaMichelin

Last winter, I happened to see an advertisement for a portable navigation device (PND a.k.a. a GPS navigator) unit offered by a subsidiary of Michelin, the tire people. Having owned several of their tires, I was familiar with the quality of their other products (such as the Guide Michelin) and therefore thought that a GPS of theirs would be outstanding.

J’ai utilisé l’appareil pendant plusieurs mois, me servant surtout des indications en anglais britannique, puis en américain. Lors d’une conversation avec un collègue au gymnase, j’ai appris que son appareil (d’une autre marque) donnait également le nom des rues alors que le mien ne les donnait pas. J’ai donc posé la question au service clientèle qui m’a répondu qu’il fallait modifier un des réglages de langues (voix synthétisée – américaine).

The British voice was kind of cute to listen to, and then I tried the US voice, to finally realize that the only voice available for street names was a rather raucous US voice. Strangely enough, some of the street names appeared to be unknown to it - thus Bunty Lane became Bunty El Enn, Highway (Hwy) 401 became Atch, Double You Why 401, Bathurst Este (meaning Street East or St. E.). The Toronto to Hamilton highway called Queen Elizabeth Express Way is called QEW, pronounced like Queue. It is as if the programmer did not know that street names will be shortened but that they must be pronounced in full? Turning instructions sounded like this: “ In 250 metres, turn right, and continue towards Citation Avenue.” How can one continue towards a street after having turned on it, I do not know.

I am presently testing the French voice (without street names) and the authoritative female voice is pleasant to hear. One thing I cannot get used to is the different kind of sounds used for warnings – speeding, for instance. Sometimes it is a series of beeps, sometimes a twang twang sound. Of course, no explanation is given in the manual.

Lors d’un cours séjour à San Francisco récemment, j’ai utilisé le PND dans le train, pour suivre le voie ferrée- application non prévue par Michelin. C’était tout de même intéressant car le relief environnant était bien montré. My GPS is not intended to be used in a train but I did just that between San Francisco and San Carlos, recently. It was kind of neat to see the landscape literally unfold before me.

While communicating with the Customer Service, I was also informed recently that Michelin would no longer support the PND but would provide warranty coverage for a year. En d’autres mots, Michelin s’est retiré de la vente des PND ce dont j’ai trouvé confirmation ici et ici.

I wonder how many units were sold in Canada and the US? If you are a ViaMichelin PND owner, what has your experience been? If you own a different brand, what have been some of your problems?

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