Strange new gadget: Road Atlas

Sometimes, we found ourselves in a situation with no internet, and no map data on the iPad (because we had forgot to download it before driving). In those situations we resorted to this thing:


It is a form of app, but it doesn’t run inside an iPad. Or, actually, it is more like a gadget of it’s own – but with only one app, that is preinstalled and can’t be updated. 

They call it a “Road Atlas”. 

The Road Atlas is a page-based app, so each page has one specific section of New Zealand on it, sometimes small-scale and sometimes large-scale. There is unfortunately no way to zoom in or out, and there is no search function, but it has an index and pretty well-designed table of contents. 

Flipping between pages is surprisingly fast, and has the roughly the same feel as when flipping between pages on the iPad, they’ve obviously pilfered the design from Apple. It also has a primitive bookmarking feature.

Unfortunately there was no charger included, and even if we had one we didn’t know where a charger would be plugged in to the atlas. Hate it when product designers hide essential things like that. We were worried about what to do when the batteries run out. Fortunately, that never happened. The atlas seems to have a very long battery life. We didn’t even find an off button. 

The atlas is surpringly sturdy. We’ve spilled drinks on it, dropped it on the floor, placed it in the sand, and it just keeps working. Wish all gadgets could be that robust! 

Another weird thing: 

The atlas is surprisingly sunshine-friendly. In direct sunlight the iPad screen is difficult to read, due to glare. But the atlas, on the contrary, becomes easier to read under strong sunlight, and harder to read in darkness! 

If only the atlas thing had a decent zoom and search function, a GPS, and some way to download other maps than just new zealand, it would be a killer app!




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