Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In Praise of the Palm GPS

Thanks to contributors to this blog, as well as my wife, I recently became the proud owner of a Palm GPS for my Palm TX. Consisting of a small (3"x2") Bluetooth GPS unit, a cradle that attaches to your windshield, and a handy cable that charges both the Palm and the GPS, this is TomTom on your Palm. Literally. It uses the TomTom software that you see in all the commercials, and your Palm. And, I'm thrilled to say, works like a charm.

You load the software on your Palm, throw the maps on your SD card, and you are in business. The GPS grabs a signal within seconds, and you are good to go. Setup is done through a simple wizard on your Palm, one time, and, as Southwest says, you are now free to move about the country. To test it, I took it on my recent trip to Arizona. I programmed in my favorites: city, street address, and a custom name. Then, when I got in my rental car, I fired it up. In moments, I had a built in navigator, complete with a wonderful British woman's voice (my choice) guiding me to my destination. No maps, no directions: just the GPS.

Great things:
- The voice is loud and clear. She always warned me ahead of time for my next turn or exit, and guided me well.
- The display is superb. Just follow the red line.
- The interface could not be more simple, even to use while driving.
- The software worked flawlessly with the rest of my Palm. Heading from Phoenix to Tucson, I was able to listen to a book with pTunes, then switch over to the GPS. It never missed a step.
- Missed a turn? No problem: it immediately recalibrates, and suggest an alternative route.

OK things:
- Maps are a little old (3-4 years). Newer housing developments are not in it, and you can't add custom destinations. At my niece's house, I wanted to tell it to remember the address, but it could not.
- It occasionally suggests double turns. I learned to mostly ignore the voice, and follow the red line on screen instead as a failsafe.
- The British voice is great, but uses British colloquialisms. Freeways are "motorways" and rotaries are "roundabouts."
- Newer freeway overpasses confuse it. You are suddenly driving through wasteland, and it takes a few moments to figure it out.
- Tunnels get it confused. Sometimes requires exiting the application, then restarting for it to catch up.

Bad things:
- The process of loading the maps to the SD card is SLOW.
- Maps are updateable...somewhat. Comes with a revised app that, according to reviews, causes poor performance. TomTom needs to address.

Overall, this is a major keeper. The cradle and charger cords are amazingly useful, and it definitely is ideal for a traveler who wants to maximize the use of a Palm. It works with my TX, as well as all Treos and LifeDrives.

Always great when a gadget works out exactly as you hoped!

1 comment:

Peter Reynolds said...

Josh, is that the Palm Navigator Smartphone Edition 2?