I've just realised that I didn't post an update about this excellent product after my trip in May.
It's difficult to rate a mapping product when you're on the other side of the world to the mapped location and I will admit to being terrified that it would not work when I actually got out there. I should not have worried. Not only did the software work perfectly, the back-up from Dynamic Pocket Solutions is outstanding. More about that later.....
I switched on the GPS and linked up the PDA whilst hubby was checking us in at Pafuri Gate and we were off! A red line on the map screen shows your route through the park and you can choose to be alerted with an audible sound when you get within 500m of a point of interest. To me, this was almost the best thing about the software - no more wondering exactly where is that darned Portuguese Cross just outside Letaba or which tree a certain group outspanned under! You also get notification of things you will not be able to see from the road but which are of historical/cultural or environmental interest. AND you can add your own points of interest. Want to log the location you saw a kill? No problem! On your next trip, a bleep from the PDA will tell you that's what you saw. If you don't want this, you can export your POI's to a computer and start again/delete the ones you don't want notification of etc.
The route you take can also be exported as a series of waypoints. I can't remember off the to of my head how often a waypoint is logged by the software, but it is more than once a minute and shows your speed, time and location. Theoretically, then, it is possible to go back and map photo's against exact locations for reference.
I should mention at this point that the map is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the software at the moment - it's quite small and difficult to read. Without the red line, it would not be practically usable. HOWEVER. I have just received an email from Dynamic Pocket Solutions (that's what reminded me to update my post today
) telling me that they are working on a zoom facility for the map. It's not ready yet, but when it is a FREE upgrade will be sent to all users. Any future updates to the software are free, which means that should SANParks open a new gate or change facilities in a picnic spot, then the software should be updated to show this.
I have to say that the reference section in the software was far better than I first thought. It isn't comprehensive, but it's a lot better than some other specific flora and fauna software I received in error from another company (who I would definitely not recommend - pm me if you want more details!). It's also not the primary purpose of the software, just a very useful addition to an already excellent piece of software.
I said I was going to say a bit more about the customer service offered by Dynamic Pocket Solutions, which I cannot praise highly enough. We had difficulty purchasing the software from overseas, due to their not taking credit card payments at the time. They went out of their way to enable us to obtain the software and made arrangements for payment which did not involve us incurring bank charges for transferring money overseas etc. After spending a night at Mopani camp, we visited them in their offices in Phalaborwa. Douw (Swanepoel - The Crocodile Man) was, unfortunately, not there that day but we were very graciously accommodated by Wynand Nel, the company's Field Co-ordinator, who told us about all the plans they have for future software and showed us some of the software they have in test at the moment. Incredible! I just can't wait to get my hands on some of these programs - particularly the tree identification application which is nearly ready for release!!
Wynand was also able to demonstrate to us PDA newbies how to export the files of data we had accumulated so far during our trip and how to manage it for future trips. He also encouraged us to feed back any problems we had experienced with the software (very little!), explained why these problems occured and what the plans were to rectify them. It was great to meet someone so passionate about their work, and so committed to improving their software to meet their customers needs.
We asked where the software was being sold and (I really can't believe this!) were told that the KNP shops will not sell it. As you probably all know, the shops in the KNP are outsourced and the buyer of the company which runs them has, apparently, decided that this software would not be of interest to KNP visitors!! Incredible. Especially as SANParks have had considerable input into this project and it is approved by them. Therefore, and I may be wrong here, I believe that the software is only available direct from DPS. The software costs R400 and is supplied on a CD. Screenshots and full feature information are availablehere
Plans are also afoot to map other SANParks.