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Ahead of Time With My Treo 650 GPS

Over the past few weeks I have spent most of my time testing and getting to grips with the new Treo 700w which I have used almost exclusively to make calls while travelling in San Francisco and Las Vegas as well as checking my email while on the go.  However, for all other things my Treo 650 has remained my most trusted device – particularly as I’ve continued to use my TomTom Navigator GPS solution extensively while driving around throughout this trip.

I arrived in San Francisco on December 30th late in the afternoon just as one of the worst storms of the past decades was hitting California.  I already had some forty sleepless hours on my clock and now to top it all off I had to drive an additional four hours up north to Mendocino where I would be spending the New Year with friends.

I picked up the rental car, fitted my vehicle mount to the windshield, plugged my small handheld Bluetooth TomTom GPS unit to the charger, launched TomTom’s Navigator software on my Treo 650.  I then selected my “Navigate To…” destination which provided me with an estimated “fastest route” plan of 4.05 hours and 265km to drive.

Considering the stormy weather conditions with pouring buckets of rain at night combined with the fact that I was a tourist and had never previously driven this route my friends optimistically expected my drive to take at least five hours and possibly six.  I was tired and the thought of adding time to my journey by either getting lost or having to drive slowly to get my bearings definitely did not appeal to me.

This was certainly building up to become one of the best tests that I could imagine to determine just how good a travelling companion my TomTom GPS can be.  Time of departure: 4.21pm.  ETA: 8.26pm.

Light rain takes me out of the airport and through San Francisco to make it across the Golden Gate bridge on to US 101 northbound.  Ten minutes past the bridge my car first gets pounded by massive winds followed by a fire hosing of pouring rain.  My windshield wipers are on max and my visibility has decreased by about 50% with my headlamps barely covering the road ahead.  Luckily there’s not too much traffic and I can maintain a good speed on the fast lane.  I’m definitely at the center of the storm.

A little under two hours later my trip is about to get even more interesting and fun as I jump onto Highway 128 to drive some 100km across a park and mountain range which will take me through the towns of Boonville and Philo.  For starters I am now almost completely alone on this road, it’s pitch dark, the road is littered with leaves and branches that have fallen with the heavy rain and every so often I keep seeing “Flooded” and “Slide” signs warning me of impending ‘problems’ ahead…

Because I didn’t rent a four wheel drive, for additional control and traction I shift from automatic to manual transmission and keep gears on 2 and 3 for the remainder of the trip since I really don’t want to find myself at the bottom of a ravine particularly as there’s zero cell coverage in this area.  I keep checking the TomTom Navigator screen to make sure that I’m still on the right track and to get a reading on my ETA and remaining distance to travel. 

In the meantime, where my first leg through the park road at least had cat’s eyes to guide me in the darkness the second leg has nothing more than some fainted yellow painted strips which quickly disappear around corners, hills and the increasing fog.  At one point I almost hit a small bridge and at another a tree as my turn is too wide.  I should probably be stressed but I honestly can’t remember the last time that I had this much fun driving and I get flashbacks of rally driving on PlayStation.

Eventually I make it out of the park without a scratch and on to the road bordering the coast to Mendocino.  There’s still no wireless coverage so I can’t call my friends to let them know that I’m about to arrive but then again I don’t really feel like stopping or slowing down because I just want to get there ASAP.

Finally.  Time of arrival: 8.03pm – 23 minutes ahead of ETA.  I ring the doorbell and the door opens to my friends’ stunned and incredulous look.  Not only did I get there ahead of time to not miss a succulent dinner but I managed to do so on a route that I had never travelled and in the middle of one of the worst storms to hit the area.  I couldn’t help but spend the rest of the evening with a massive grin – so happy that once again my Treo and TomTom GPS had made my day.

(Please note that a slightly cheaper but nonetheless very good GPS solution for your Treo is the Palm GPS Navigator solution which also includes TomTom’s excellent Navigator software as wel as a bundled windshield cradle and dual charger.)

Treonauts always have something to cheer about

Posted by Andrew on January 13, 2006 at 04:29 PM

Treo 650 Accessories , Treo Accessories , Treo GPS

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by stuart | Jan 13, 2006 6:55:30 PM

GREAT story!!
I agree with you on the tomtom nav.
I have the Palm GPS Nav. best item I have bought for my TREO!!
I live in Atl. Ga. and I buy and rehab house's. I am always driving in unfamilar areas at all hours of the day/night. I can only imagine where I would be and the headache I would have if it was not for the tomtom nav.

by Michael Wells | Jan 13, 2006 8:07:22 PM

I agree totally on Tom Tom on the Treo 650, it is truly useful and just plain works the way it should! I purchased it in a bundle with the Holux GPSlim GR-236 Bluetooth unit. I am very impressed withthe performance of the Holux unit. It has the SIRF III chipset, and it is so sensitive that I found that I can mount the GPS unit in the center armrest of my Hyundai XG300 under the cushioned lid in a storage space. There is a cigar lighter outlet there, so the unit is connected to power, but the unit and any wires are completely hidden from view. My car has a glass sunroof, and has no trouble at all in getting a multiple satellite fix in short order. My previous mediocre experience with Street Atlas USA Handheld on a Visor Prism makes me appreciate the features in Tom Tom's software.

by PhillT | Jan 13, 2006 8:12:02 PM

My buddy, Tom Tom, came as part of the Palm GPS kit. One of my absolute best tech purchases ever... as is my Treo650 GSM. There are times when PTunes is pumping music over my car speakers (FM transmitter in use) as Tom Tom is giving me turn by turn directions, checking traffic along my route, notifying me when I'm nearing certain points of interest (ie. speed traps frequented by your local state troopers) and fetching an updated weather report. All the while calls, emails and reminders are being handled. Except for Tom Tom sometimes "freezing" during a really long drive, it all happens seamlessly.
All this from a platform with limited memory that "doesn't multi-task." Imagine what it could do with a bit more memory and processing power. I have no problem waiting for the 700p.

by LJLocke | Jan 14, 2006 12:43:25 AM

I bought the TomTom NAV5 for my Treo 650 from you and have had problems trying to get it installed - HotSync problems on my Powerbook G4; any suggestions?

by PhillT | Jan 14, 2006 7:48:23 AM

Installing Tom Tom, has been a frustrating experience for many people, me included. Reseting between steps made it work for me. I guess it's like restarting a PC after installing a program. Hope that helps.

by Blake | Jan 14, 2006 1:35:39 PM

Do you have to have a GPS phone to run this software or can you have CDMA phone, for example through Sprint?

by Jeff Donald | Jan 14, 2006 4:39:00 PM

I use TomTom Nav. 5 on my Sprint Treo 650 and it works fine.

by Blake | Jan 14, 2006 5:17:04 PM

Thanks, Jeff!

by cruzader | Jan 15, 2006 6:48:21 AM

Andrew, Mendocino, Geneva, Hamburg, no doubt you need a TomTom. I bouhgt myself a TomTom for christmas and although I know most of the routs I'm travelling I use my TomTom Nav 5 bt to see where he is guiding me. ONE feature I'm absolutely not happy about is the "Contacts Navigation" which obviously uses the Treo Build in Contacts. The Treo phone contacts can only be sorted either by Name, FirstName or Company, Name sorting which is a mess. Now the "Contacts Navigation" only allows you to search for Names as using the Treo Contacts it is not intelligent enough to let you search First or SecondName. And in order to do so you need to have the Company, Name sorting selected in the Treo Contacts which I don't like at all. If you have the Name, FirstName option selected then the "Contacts Navigation" sortes for some strange reasons by the FirstName but as the Name is the first part of the list where it is searching for you can't use this feature as the Names are now not sorted alphabetical and if the first entry is not the one you are looking for you have bad luck. ... So, either I'm using my Treo / TomTom not right or this "Contacts Navigation" is useless. Regards from Germany, Cruzader

by LJLocke | Jan 15, 2006 3:19:08 PM

Anyone out there set one of these up using Mac OS X 10.4? I having many issues. Thanks

by uthpastordave | Jan 15, 2006 5:27:40 PM

After getting lost on a youth trip last year, and a 6 hour trip turned into an 8 hour nightmare, I decided I was going to get a gps unit. After doing a little research, I found out that there were gps solutions for my 650!

After reading Andrew's review in October last year, I decided I'd go ahead and take the plunge!

I LOVE that I can take it wherever I go and that I can find out important information BEFORE I get to a destination - like when I've got 20 riled up teenagers who want to know when we're stopping for lunch and if their favorite fastfood restaurant will be awaiting them.

I couldn't be happier with this solution! I'm so glad I heeded Andrew's advice. This is a truly remarkable product that has saved me time and much angst in the two short months I've owned it!

by etherfarm | Jan 16, 2006 3:26:34 PM

Out of curiosity, how do you take calls/use a bluetooth headset with the treo while the Nav is running? I'm interested in this system but don't want to have any hassle working the Treo UI while driving if I get an incoming call.

by Whit` | Jan 16, 2006 8:45:27 PM

Can you talk on the treo phone and use gps at the same time?

by Strawmanl | Jan 17, 2006 10:24:18 AM

I use a bt headset while using my Tom Tom... well kind of. To recieve a call, the gps must switch off and take you to call mode. There is only on bt connection per treo (I think this is true someone can correct me if I'm wrong). When I was using it the other day, when I answered the call it connected directly to my headset and I had the "active" call screen. When I turned off the call, I returned to my navigation. If u ignore the call I'm pretty sure you can immediately return to your trip. I'm not sure, but does anyone know if the wired Tom Tom gets interrupted? I'm pretty sure it does. Suggestions?

by TazUk | Jan 17, 2006 2:56:49 PM

Yep the Treo has BT v1.1 which supports only one device at a time :o( So if you want to take calls whilst navigating, which TomTom supports, then you will need to either use a wired headset or a wired GPS received.

by Bob | Jan 18, 2006 7:44:28 AM

TomTom might be the best GPS software on the market, but if takes you 4 hours to get it installed on your Treo 650 and when you finally do get it installed, it’s impossible to activate the maps via the TomTom web page (what a joke page, nothing works)I deem the software useless. TomTom is going back to Sam’s Club this morning.

by Mark | Jan 18, 2006 2:49:19 PM

Have had nothing but trouble trying to install Navigator 5 from my WinXP box to my Treo 650. Also impossible to uninstall both in order to retry the install. TomTom tech support has almost totally unresponsive to both phone calls and e-mail. Will have to do hard reset on phone in order to remove TomTom residue if I can't get support. I envy all who've had success. Any suggestions for getting support?

by LJLocke | Jan 19, 2006 11:10:09 AM

Note to Bob - Don't give up on the install - I had lots of troubles, still a few glitches, but it is an awesome too.

by David Rose | Jan 20, 2006 11:31:04 AM

How much free space is there on the SD card or can you copy the contents to a larger card. I'd like to play a load of MP3's on my 650 whilst driving. I presume that the real player wil work in the background whilst the Navigation is going on ?

by Yaara | Jan 20, 2006 4:55:03 PM

I have been using the TomTom Navigator for a month and find it indispensable. Unfortunately, I have found two annoyances:

1) Every time the application is launched a legal notice is displayed, requiring you to tap "I agree." I haven't found an option to disable this screen...

2) When choosing to navigate to a Point of Interest, such as "Hilton Hotel," it is not possible to view the actual address of the item. This could be a problem if you have a reservation at a particular Hilton (it has actually happened to me once before that I had accidentally navigated to the wrong Hilton).

I have found two workarounds for the second problem, both of which are sub-par:

a) Use the advanced planning feature, by picking a departing and destination address, and then browsing the route as text. Through this method you can find out the street where the POI is located, but not the street number or city.

b) Do a search through Handmark Express (which displays the all the addresses of each Hilton), add the correct Hilton to your address book, go to the "Contacts Navigator" application, select the Hilton entry just added, and tap "Navigate to." This works, but is nonetheless cumbersome, and requires the use of an external application.

Has anyone found a solution to either one of these two problems(Perhaps the TomTom developers read this blog and could make these modifications to future versions of the software)?

Thanks for a truly informative blog, Treonauts; I read your postings on a daily basis.

by Bob Glosson | Jan 21, 2006 10:52:57 PM

Before I return this TomTom Navigator 5 to Sam’s Club, I thought I might ask one more time if there is any place on the internet that gives simple (6th grade level) instructions on installing the software to a Treo 650 utilizing a SD card?? This stuff is driving me nuts. I have a Dell Axim X50V that TomTom installed perfect on, but for the life of me, I can’t install it on my Treo. Can anyone help me??


by uthpastordave | Jan 26, 2006 12:21:45 PM

Bob G -- I'm not sure what kind of problem you're running into -- I didn't have any problems actually loading the software -- that was pretty easy -- the problem I ran into was loading the blasted maps!

I posted this question on the treocentral boards -- maybe the reply I got can help you -- once I tried this method, it worked like a charm!


Hope this helps!

by Mike | Feb 1, 2006 4:39:40 AM

which wired GPS works with Treo 650?
I have a Tomtom one with the small RJ11 connector which I use with my XDA PDA.
Can this work? If so what adaptor/car holder do I need?

by TreeTopFlyer | Feb 6, 2006 2:54:01 PM

Thanks for the great review. I'm ready to make the plunge but...

Palm has their GPS package on sale for $199 including all the accesories. Is the difference in the GPS chips (tomtom vs palm) worth the extra $100+ for the TomTom package + accessories?

by Cinder | Apr 2, 2006 9:27:16 PM

Has anyone had problems with the activation code for the maps (in particular Major Roads of America) being rejected? If so, how did you resolve the issue?
Thanks, Cinder

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