New Treo GPS Solution: Amazing Telenav GPS Navigator Works OTA
Every once in a while a new product or service comes along to really impress me and the latest one to have done so (aside from the amazing Google Maps On My Treo) is the Telenav GPS Navigator – one of the first commercial OTA (over-the-air) GPS solutions that I have come across and one which Palm and Cingular plan to promote heavily with the forthcoming Treo 680.
In sharp contrast to other Treo GPS software solutions such as the TomTom Navigator (which powers the new Treo GPS Navigator 2 as well as my still preferred TomTom Navigator GPS Bundle) Telenav is _extremely_ simple to install via a small PRC file on your Treo compared to the relatively complex installation process and 1GB+ that TomTom uses.
Basically Telenav (available for both PalmOS and WM Treo smartphones) works by storing all its navigation data at a central server and fetching it from your Treo over-the-air via a wireless connection as and when required (an unlimited data plan is therefore strongly advised) compared to TomTom Navigator which stores all the map data locally on your SD card. Naturally this means that although it’s great that Telenav is ‘light’ on your memory it will _only_ work in areas where there is wireless coverage (I would therefore not have been able to be Ahead of Time With My Treo 650 GPS last year…).
Currently the Telenav navigation service requires an external Bluetooth GPS Receiver to be used with your Treo 650, 700p and 700w but it is possible (not confirmed) that both the Treo 680 and 750 may be able to work without one. However, you can still use the Biz Finder and Map functions without one (but Google Maps is much better for this…). I naturally would also recommend an Arkon Vehicle Mount.
In order to get started with Telenav you will first need to sign up to the service via the company’s website (there is a free 30 day trial) after which you will receive an email with a URL (https://ota.telenav.com/ota/tn) that will direct you to download and install the PRC application using the Blazer browser on your Treo.
The main Telenav screen (pictured above right) offers eight simple buttons:
This first button allows you to navigate to any address in the US by either:
- Key in the address directly on your Treo
- Call in the address to Telenav’s IVR service center! (You can use the button provided or save Telenav’s contact details in your address book to call directly in the future). The address that you provide the IVR center will be automatically be added to the ‘Recent Address’ so that you can start your journey as soon as you start the application.
- Add address online by using the My Telenav webpage (see below) which has the further benefit that it allows you to add a Label to your address for easier future reference
[Note that TomTom only offers the option to key in the address…]
Additionally you can also navigate to an address by simply choosing a Recent Address, Recent City, Biz Finder, Airport or Locations.
The ‘My Telenav’ online service (image above) allows you to take full remote control of the Telenav GPS Navigator. You can add an address, pick an address from Biz Finder, manage your existing addresses, change setting or get maps and more. Additionally, you also have access to ‘My Address Book’ where you can easily import your MS Outlook or Palm data.
The actual Telenav navigation displays provide you with either a 2D ‘Moving Map’ above left (my preferred 3D view is not yet available for Treo smartphones but it should be soon) or a ‘Next Turn’ view which basically only provides you with a large red arrow indicating where you should turn next.
In both instances, a clear voice will provide you with full details of what to do next – for example: “Prepare to turn right on NE 34th Avenue in 160 meters” followed by “Turn righ on NE 34th Avenue” as you approach the turn. There is also an automatic rerouting if you should miss a turn as well as a route preview tool so you can see the total distance and estimated travel time. I personally would have liked to see maps with a clearer and cleaner design such as those found on the TomTom Navigator.
Biz Finder and Map
While both the Biz Finder and Map are convenient add-on features the fact is that I currently find the free Google Maps on my Treo to be a much better solution to find businesses and map locations. Telenav does offer some unique functions such as searching for ‘Gas By Price’, ‘WiFi Spots’ and ‘Movie Theaters’ for example.
GPS Tools, Preferences and Support
The GPS Tools button provides a Compass as well as the ability to Record Location (for example the specific location of a car parked on the street) and the View Location allows you to pull up previously recorded locations.
Preferences are few and simple from Distance Unit (km or miles), Route Style (Fastest, Shortest, Avoid Highway, Prefer Highway or Pedestrian), Backlight (Always On or On At Turns), Navigation Screen (Moving 2D Map or Next Turn) and finally Bluetooth GPS (to select your choice of GPS receiver)
Service Pricing & Advantages
Telenav GPS Navigator has a number of different pricing plans depending on which wireless carrier you have – starting at $5.99 per month for 10 trips with Cingular to $10 per month for unlimited trips with Sprint. Additionally you can cancel your subscription at any time so Telenav may prove ideal for those Treonauts who want the convenience of GPS navigation at only a few specific times of the year.
The main advantages that the over-the-air Telenav service offers over rivals such as the TomTom Navigator software is that:
- Installation: easy, fast, light and constantly updated with latest version
- Cost: monthly plans can offset $150 investment in standalone solution
- Customer support: Telenav offers 24x7x365 customer service (TomTom is almost always absolutely impossible to reach)
- Address Entry: supports Call In + Online Add
- Points Of Interest: 10 million locations versus others’ 4 to 6 million
The main disadvantages at this stage for me are:
- Navigation: lack of 3D maps (albeit the Treo currently runs v4.1 for now but v5.0 is already available on other devices and supports 3D maps), loss of navigation if outside cell coverage area, not very rich map graphics
I have really enjoyed using Telenav’s service during the past couple of weeks while in Miami but I haven’t yet entirely made up my mind if I prefer it over the TomTom Navigator software. Telenav offers some extremely useful and unique features – I love the online integration and Call In services – and my single complaint is the lack of 3D maps which would make it significantly more appealing for me.
Having said this, if you’re looking for a GPS solution for your Treo in the US and will be using it exclusively in areas where there is wireless coverage then there is no doubt that I would highly recommend that you take the Telenav GPS Navigator for a spin – most Treonauts who get hooked on a Treo GPS solution always rave about it and I’m sure that you won’t be disappointed with what this one has to offer.
Additionally, IF the Treo 680 and Treo 750 are able to use Telenav _without_ a GPS receiver (as some other devices are already able to do) then this will without a doubt become one of the single most popular services for all Treonauts. We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out about that though…
Treonauts are always the best navigators…