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Treo GPS | My Favourite Accessory of the Year

It’s funny how quickly one can get used to something new and equally quickly forget what things were like before the new thing arrived.  Naturally, the ‘thing’ I’m talking about is my Treo and after nearly two years as a Treonaut it continues to regularly amaze me.

I’ve been thinking about this throughout my holidays in Switzerland as I repeatedly had the opportunity to marvel with fresh eyes at some of the things that I was able to do with my Treo such as using my TomTom Navigator 5 GPS – now an indispensable tool that I take on all my trips but which I only discovered a few months ago.

I have to admit that I find that there is something truly eerie about arriving in a city I don’t know, renting a car, powering my small handheld TomTom Bluetooth GPS unit, starting the Navigator application on my Treo and then after a minute or so waiting for the GPS to acquire a satellite signal to instantly see my exact location overlaid on a map in the palm of my hand.  No matter how often I use it I am still completely and utterly AMAZED by this and as I’ve stated before if I had to pick a single ‘Accessory of the Year’ my vote would undoubtedly go to a Bluetooth GPS unit.

However, I’ve also discovered that my TomTom Navigator software is not only useful once I’ve arrived at my destination but also for planning a car journey in advance.  In this particular case, I will be travelling to San Francisco and then need to drive about three hours north to meet some friends for the New Year but I have absolutely no idea how to get there…

No problem.  Without even needing to have my GPS unit turned on, I start the Navigator software (see images below): 1) select “Advanced Planning” in the main menu; 2) input my “Depart from:“ address followed by 3) my “Pick a destination:“ address then 4) “Please select a route type” (I always choose “Fastest Route”).

After a few seconds I have my route summary fully mapped out with estimated trip duration and distance!  But this is not all, I can then view my route as 1) text direction; 2) still images; 3) a detailed map of the route; 4) a full interactive and animated route demo and 5) return to the route summary again.

Having now saved both my departure and destination addresses as “Favorites” all that I’ll need to do when I get into my car rental at San Francisco Airport is select “Navigate To” then select the favorite from the list and I’ll be all set and ready to drive assisted by the rather nice British woman’s voice which will guide me turn by turn to my ultimate destination…

For additional information about GPS navigation with your Treo you can read about my first experience “Traveling with a Treo 650 GPS In My Pocket” and also my comparative review of “Five Treo 650 GPS Solutions Under the Microscope”.  My two favourite Bluetooth GPS units are the TomTom Navigator 5 Bundle and the Palm GPS Navigator.

Treonauts are always amazed by their Treo

Posted by Andrew on December 29, 2005 at 09:13 AM

Treo Accessories , Treo GPS

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by zorg | Dec 29, 2005 10:33:22 AM

I recently purchased the TomTom 5 Bluetooth, in part due to your previous comparison. I also selected the British woman's voice. I've been pleased with the advanced planning feature, too. What I especially like about it is the ability to change the route by pointing to a particular road on the map and making it replan so that it uses that road. Thanks for your reviews. I would never have noticed TomTom without them and it is now one of the best things about the Treo 650.

My only problem has been installation. The Mac OS X install procedure does not work as advertised from the CD, so I had to google for pages of people who had found workarounds. There are several competing workarounds and I can not yet tell which one is better because I wasn't very systematic when I used them, so I'm not sure which suggestions actually put me over the top.

by Larry Lush | Dec 29, 2005 1:36:39 PM

Sort of off topic, but here is my favorite Treo 650 picture of the year: http://us.gizmodo.com/gadgets/cellphones/gizmodos-man-of-the-week-145434.php

by Brian | Dec 29, 2005 2:52:52 PM

I just can't bring myself to drop the money with the screen so tiny. I think one of the things that really draws me to the stock gps units in cars is the giant screen. I guess the audio will help a lot but still.

by TazUk | Dec 29, 2005 3:09:57 PM

The screen size isn't really an issue and it's not that much smaller than some of the stand alone GPS devices. Been using mine for about six months and like Andrew I wouldn't be without it :o)

by Joel | Dec 29, 2005 3:29:22 PM

Brian, I have to agree with TazUk. The small screen size isn't an issue because the most important part of any navigation screen, the projected road ahead, is easy to see. Keep in mind that the distance from your eyes is dependent on how far away the Treo screen is from your eyes. I have used both the windshield mount and the ventilation mount, and I see everything just fine. By comparison, I have read complaints in car magazines by drivers who couldn't see their 6.5 inch diagonal navigation screens clearly because the sun was causing a glare problem or because it was too far away...a bigger screen but farther way from the driver's eyes.

by J$hort | Dec 29, 2005 4:52:44 PM

I own the treo 600 and TomTom $ and have had similar very positive experiences with this software for the treo. The small screen size is not a big issue with the 3d projected road presentation which I use exclusively vs. the overhead view. This is definately my favorite application for the treo and thanks for the preview into the latest version. (I did receive the upgrade to version 5 but will wait until my next treo to load). So far as price, I was pricing out TomTom Go units and they are 4x what I paid for my TomTom software and GPS mouse..the demo unit I was playing with was also much slower and had fewer features. I do think that the treo screen may become landscape widescreen capable in the future to accommodate movies, etc as many other personal video devices have introduced. I can only see this as a positive for applications like TomTom Navigator. A++ in my book.

by Brian Stein | Dec 30, 2005 12:07:58 AM

Okay, you've convinced me (beat me over the head long enough), that I'm ready to make the GPS accessory plunge... but as someone who is planning to move to the Treo 700w ASAR (As Soon As Released), I am hoping you could post a comparative review...



by TazUk | Dec 30, 2005 10:03:09 AM

TomTom Navigator 5 runs on both PalmOS and Windows Mobile/Pocket PC and both versions are supplied with the package. The Bluetooth receiver will work on any BT enabled device so you should be able to run it on your existing Treo and your new 700W :o)

by Rob | Dec 30, 2005 10:06:47 AM

The screen size is definately not a problem - at least in a passenger car. A semi-trailer might be different.

Regardless there is one fact that will always keep me from using this solution.

You can't navigate and talk on the phone at the same time.

So I am 15 minutes from my destination and I have a number of unfamiliar turns to make. Then my phone rings and it is a customer I need to speak with. What do I do? Pull over and arrive late? Skip the customer call?

What if I am hours from my destination and take a call and I miss a turn? I could lose an hour of time going the wrong way. I am usually on the phone half or more of the time I am on the highway.

This just will not work for me or anyone who seriously uses both a GPS and a phone. Not when you can get a Garmin c320 for $400. Or even an i3 for $299 (a great little GPS).

Sorry, I just don't see the appeal and yes, I had one for a while and quit using it pretty soon after I got it.

by TazUk | Dec 30, 2005 12:18:58 PM

Rob are you referring to using GPS on a Treo? if so then there's no problem with receiving calls whilst navigating somewhere. When you press the button to accept the call TomTom switches back to the map and carries on navigating. There was a problem where sometimes it didn't switch back but this seems to have been fixed with the latest update. The only limitation that I know of is you can't use two Bluetooth devices at the same time, so you need either a wired GPS receiver or a wired headset.

by Rob | Dec 30, 2005 1:03:47 PM


Really? That is good news. I saw this as an issue very recently -- like within the past couple of months.

Still, this is one thing I think I would prefer to keep separate. Garmin, Lowrance and Tom Tom make great, reasonably priced units.

I use the BT headset on my Treo almost all the time. And while I love my Treo, I am pretty careful that I only run what I need to run on it because with each new app seems to come more complexity and then more crashes.

I'm glad you like your Treo GPS solution. It's just not for me.

by Andy Crouch | Jan 2, 2006 12:52:43 PM

The TomTom unit is absolutely, utterly terrific, agreed.

However, on my Treo it will not do "advance planning" as described without the Sprint phone service being on. That's an annoyance when, e.g., I'm on a plane and want to program in my itinerary for when I land.

Other than that it is, all by itself, enough reason to own a Treo, and I already had plenty of good reasons to own one!

by dboehme | Jan 2, 2006 4:37:11 PM

I have the GlobalSat BT-338 GPS and TomTom for my Treo 650 and after having tried many Palm GPS packages (incl Mapopolis, Delorme) it is by far the best out there. My only complaint is that it doesn't have bread crumb functionality - or at least not that I could find. If anyone figured out how to do that, please let me know.

by dboehme | Jan 2, 2006 4:39:06 PM

BTW, regarding advanced planning and needing the phone on - I agree, it is annoying. However, I fly Monday to Thursday every week and have yet to bring down a plane turning on a phone on the plane.

by Ian Pitts | Jan 3, 2006 11:30:49 AM

dboehme, I make it a _point_ to leave my phone on whenever I fly just because I think it's such an antiquated and bass-ackwards rule. I haven't crashed yet either!

by Mark | Jan 18, 2006 2:32:51 AM

I got an installation error when I tried to sync Nav 5 on my Treo 650, but it partially installed. Haven't been able to uninstall Nav 5 from Treo. Had to hack WinXP registry to remove TomTom from HotSync program. Have been trying for weeks to get TomTom tech support to repsond. Their tech support has neither responded to e-mail through their website nor phone calls. I envy all who have had such good luck with the product. Am sure open to suggestions

by W. Gil | Jan 18, 2006 9:50:08 PM

How can I place an order? Your website never allows anything into the cart, it always shows it as empty and you provide not phone number to call to place an order. Please help.

by Andrew | Jan 19, 2006 7:27:12 AM

W. Gil - the URL for the Treonauts Shop is http://shop.treonauts.com and the phone number is 800 394 2720.

Cheers, A.

by Grant | Feb 11, 2006 9:06:28 AM

I just purchased the Treo 700. I am trying to download emails from my AOL account but am not sure why I cannot get access to AOL.
Can anyone help?

by Mark | Feb 24, 2006 2:12:05 AM

I'm confused. Isn't there already a GPS function in the Treo 650? It does E911 locating. Do I need another GPS receiver?

by Chris Brown | Mar 4, 2006 12:39:15 AM

Ive been using the Palm Navigator with Tom Tom Software bout 2 months for my Treo 650. Love it.

Sometimes it cant seem to pick the actual best route, but its nice when it changes as you go past its route.

Bluetooth connection issues sometimes, not sure who's to blame there, GPS or Phone, but its a quick fix.

I debated getting it, i have gps on a palm Vx, granted, old, but still showed me where i was going. Im very pleased i did, and wish i did sooner.

I went for the British girl too, sexier, at least to my ears. I saw you can even buy some, maybe, someday, but for now, doesnt matter.

If your debating, get it, like anything else, it will be outdated before you know it, but it works.

Love your site, keep up the good work.

by Brett | Mar 5, 2006 3:39:20 PM

I recently borrowed my brother's Magellan Roadmate 360 and I loved it. So now I want a GPS system. I am considering getting a Treo 650 along with the Palm GPS Navigation kit, but I have a coule questions.

First, I read on the Tom Tom site, that with the 2004 software that "TomTom Navigator on the Treo 650: The Phone feature of the Treo 650 must be switchced off while using TomTom Navigator. If a call is taken or made while TomTom Navigator is in use you will have to restart it and replan the route."

Is this still the case with the Navigator 5 software, or has this been fixed? I'd like to be able to just dock my Treo in the car while driving and be able to answer calls and use the GPS at the same time.

And my second/releated question is can I have both a bluetooth wireless headset and the bluetooth gps receiver connected to the treo 650 at the same time. And can they be used as the same time without loss of call quality due to constant GPS polling?


by Chad Knudson | Mar 8, 2006 1:30:32 PM

That's odd, this site talks about how great the Treo 700 is with TomTom Nav 5, but when I called TomTom, they said that this phone is not compatible with Nav 5?

by Andrew | Mar 8, 2006 2:20:59 PM

Chad - sorry about the confusion...

TomTom does not (yet) support the Treo 700w.

TomTom Nav5 works great with the Treo 650 while CoPilot http://shop.treonauts.com/content/accessories/10-41--569.htm is for the Treo 700w.

Cheers, A.

by Thomas | Mar 22, 2006 11:45:43 AM

I have the 700w also and am very interested in the GPS system. Does anyone know the difference, better performance vs. short comings, between the Tom Tom and CoPilot Live Pocket PC 6 Bluetooth Bundle (includes a SiRFstarIII Bluetooth GPS receiver)? Is Tom Tom working on a 700w compatible system? Also, What is included in the latter's bundle package, windshield mounting? -Thanks, Thomas

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