On the road, the software features the graphic lane guidance and text-to-speech features that we like to see in our navigators. The interface is extremely customizable, capable of displaying as much or as little information as the driver needs at the touch of a button. From a full-screen map with a bottom info bar to a 50-50 split of text and map data to a full-on text and graphic interface without a map, the CoPilot 8 software will bend to your level of involvement.
However, this complexity comes at the cost of some user friendliness. Basic functions such as volume control are hidden under levels of menus and many of the virtual buttons on the map screen are tiny, hard to see, and even harder to hit at arm's length.
The PC Miler's CoPilot software's main menus structure is a bit easier to navigate from afar, with large buttons and brightly colored icons. However, we have our issues with the destination-entry screen. When entering an address or searching for a POI, the onscreen keyboard is crammed into the right half of the screen, while the left half of the screen is occupied by search result. The tiny buttons were difficult to hit accurately. Having to correct ourselves multiple times per word--combined with the fact that there was no QWERTY keyboard layout option--considerably slowed down our inputs.
The PC Miler 450 can create state mileage logs, organized by year, month, state, and then date, which can be quite useful for billing purposes. We'd like to see a bit more granularity in these logs--perhaps a viewable map or more detailed timestamps would be nice, but what's there is still useful.
We tested the PC Miler 450 with and without the external GPS antenna and found that accuracy was generally good in both configurations from a windshield-mounted position on roads that were wide enough to accommodate a truck and trailer. However, anyone who mounts their PC Miler in a lower position in the cab or other places with limited views of the sky may want to give the external antenna a try if accuracy becomes an issue.
Over a few long trips around the San Francisco Bay, the PC Miler reliably guided us to our destination without issue. Route calculation wasn't what we'd call snappy--perhaps because the length of trips planned during testing were longer than our average routes--but it certainly was within acceptable boundaries.
Routes tended to favor highways, which we expected. However, the unit performed just as well on surface roads in both its truck and automobile modes. If we attempted to turn onto a road that was outside of the boundaries of our selected trucking profile, the unit spoke and displayed a warning (for example, when entering a restricted road for trucks or approaching a low overpass).
On one occasion, the navigation software glitched in truck mode while attempting to navigate to a residence. What should a have been simple instructions to drive six blocks and turn left somehow got warped into instructions to immediately turn right, then drive diagonally across six blocks to our destination. We're sure that this was some sort of logic issue with the destination being unreachable given the trucking instructions and we were still able to get where we wanted by simply watching the map, but such a glitch is noteworthy, if rare.
The PC Miler 450 is a bit rough around the edges (figuratively speaking), with a utilitarian design and a complex interface. We don't like the cradle and we're certainly not fans of the Windows CE core OS. The CoPilot Truck software is flexible, but it also has its flaws, such as the tiny onscreen keyboard and overly complex interface.
In spite of rough edges, the PC Miler is definitely worth consideration by commercial truck drivers. It's a unique product that offers truckers turn-by-turn directions with a specificity unrivaled by other GPS devices we've tested. At the end of the day, there's nothing in our list of "cons" that outweighs the gain offered by the PC Miler's functionality and customization.