Anquet maps have been around for a good long while and version 6 of their software is more robust and fully featured than other, earlier incarnations that we've tried. Interaction with a Windows-based smartphone or PDA is simple and the prices are getting more appealing too. The interface can still be a bit slow and clunky at times though.
I had the South West disc to test which comes with a big swathe of mapping and costs just £12.68 - all of Anquet's prices have fallen in the last few months, partly I'm guessing in response to the Ordnance Survey making mapping usage free in many circumstances. You can also buy maps on demand by creating an account at the Anquet website, but unlike the Memory Maps service where you can buy a certain amount of mapping and download bits you need until you're out of credit, the Anquet service is a single-transaction affair with a miniumum charge of £10 and it's much less versatile. Having said that, you can get 20,000 square kilometres of Landranger mapping for your tenner, which is a big old chunk.
The desktop application is PC-only and runs on Microsoft's .NET framework. There's all the functionality you've come to expect, with the option to create routes (you can keep multiple databases of them if being tidy is your thing) and you can even add photos or documents to your waypoints. There's a 3D flythrough option, elevation profiles, route cards (although as usual these aren't much use in real life) and route stats.
You can print your mapping to take with you, but most people will be wanting to upload maps and routes to a PDA or smartphone. I got into a pickle for a while here because Anquet's idea of what constitutes a 'PDA' and what a 'smartphone' is differs wildly from my own, but we got there in the end with a bit of help from tech support. Setting up the GPS in the two phones I tried the software on (a Samsung i900 and an old Mio A701) was the usual ordeal, but in the end everything worked fine. Scrolling I found to be a little slow on both phones but the app is pretty stable and allows you to track routes and fire them back to the desktop app.
So with so many free mapping solutions available, why would you pay for one? Well, mostly because it gives you a fully-featured solution with less faffing than is necessary to set up a free service, and also the maps are stored locally so you're not dependent on a phone signal; all the free apps I've tried download the map tiles when they're needed. Also, twelve quid is peanuts. If you give it a go and you don't like it, you're not going to starve. The main competition here is Memory Map, and although I'd have to say I think the Memory map interface is a bit better and the mobile application faster, it's a lot more expensive to buy the maps and their license management system is a bit of a pain. Who wins? I'm not sure there is a winner, but the Anquet system is certainly worth a punt if mobile mapping is something you want to get into.
Not without its flaws, but a fully featured and cheap way of getting maps on the go
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Anquet Maps v06 Software and OS mapping (South West)
Size tested: n/a
Did you enjoy using the product? Other mapping softward is easier to use but Anquet is good value
Would you consider buying the product? For twelve quid you're not risking much
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 190cm Weight: 96kg
I usually ride: whatever I\\\'m testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with Ultegra 6700
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.