Mini Cooper navigation system

May 15, 2006

Last week I was in a Mini Cooper equipped with it’s built-in navigation system. (See elsewhere here for discussions of Hertz Neverlost and Ford Focus built-in ones.) It’s sort of fine, but two large deficiencies.

  • fitting a rectangular map into a round display (all Cooper displays are round) … well … it just doesn’t work. And looks like there’s a lot of wasted space.
  • the voice synth is really bad and sounds like a crossover between Britney Spears and vocoding vacuum cleaner. Both Neverlost and Focus “speak” quite naturally, so that even though you know it’s just a robot, it helps you instead of disturbing you. I’m not sure what’s the problem of Mini Cooper, but the said strings don’t sound like anything a human would ever do – intonation goes strangely “up” and “down”, word cuts are not easy to understand, and generally it’s just bad.