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TeleNav Five point ooh!..

Tue Jun 5, 2007 - 8:48 AM EDT - By Harv Laser

Late last year, I reviewed TeleNav GPS Navigator for PalmOS V4.x and gave it very high marks for its unique approach to putting full USA coast-to-coast mapping and navigation in the Palm of your hand, withOUT any need to tediously download and install maps to an SD card. TeleNav pulls down map data and crystal-clear voice prompting over-the-air AS you drive. It works like no other PalmOS GPS solution, and I'll get to all the fresh meat shortly. Please go back and read my original review linked above for the skinny on the whole TeleNav experience before continuing on..

Just like the last version, the PalmOS TeleNav app (about 1mb after installation) can work in conjunction your own personal account on TeleNav's full-sized Web site, and you get a toll-free number you can call from your Treo, ask their automated system for driving directions and they'll be sent right to your phone and into the program.

It's a subscription-based service. The price hasn't changed, just the software. You can use it with any Bluetooth GPS receiver, or, buy a bundle of the software WITH a receiver, a car charger, and an AC charger, from TeleNav. There's even a free, 30 day trial. Again, read my earlier review. All that's changed is the PalmOS TeleNav program itself. Everything else is as I detailed it last time.

Quick trip up a dusty side road

After a few years of using Mapopolis, who, sadly, just recently jumped ship and discontinued all consumer sales (pay a visit to their site and see for yourself), and I have to say, I'll miss them; they were good folks to deal with, in spite of TeleNav's presence on both my Treos, I won't be deleting Mapopolis any time soon.

Why? Well the main reason is that TeleNav operates with Bluetooth GPS receivers ONLY. Although I have two of those, if I happen to forget to stuff one in my pocket when heading out, I have Seidio's very cool G4850M suction cupped to the windshield of my car. This multi-purpose Treo cradle / speaker phone / charger / vegetable juicer also has its own built-in SiRF Star III GPS receiver, however, it's not Bluetooth, it's serial. So if I still want to use Mapopolis, which has many GPS receiver connectivity options including "Treo Serial", I've got the cradle to do it. And for the way-too-literal crowd out there, I'm just yankin' yer chain.. no, the G4850M doesn't really have a vegetable juicer.. it has a Windex dispenser {{guffaw}}..

Maybe I should just leave one of my Bluetooth GPS receivers in my glove box..

Anyway, a few weeks ago I quite literally stumbled on the fact that TeleNav had just upgraded their software package a full version number, and made dozens of radical changes in how it looks and operates. Two things about this discovery bothered me, though – even though I'm a registered TeleNav subscriber on two different Treos, I was never notified by anyone that the software had been revved, and unlike so much other modern PalmOS software I use, TeleNav has no built-in feature to "check for updates." It should.

In the software biz, a full version upgrade usually translates to "give us more money." In this case, it doesn't. This software upgrade is absolutely FREE to existing TeleNav customers, and the service's price hasn't changed at all for new customers.


So let's check out what's new and changed in TeleNav 5.0 for PalmOS.

First, take a look at the main interface in the last version (left) compared to the new version (right)..

Yow! It got prettier, didn't it. Sleeker. Slicker. TeleNav's software engineers entirely overhauled every screen of the program's GUI to make it more modern-looking, make it more D-pad aware, and make the on-screen buttons bigger and much more fingerable.

This is good. And I'll tell you why this is good.. because the last thing you should be doing when driving around with a GPS system running on a 2 inch screen a couple feet from your face is to take your eyes off the road to futz with its controls. Driving is serious business and demands your full attention. TeleNav takes this fact quite seriously too, (at least their lawyers do) so upon every program launch, after the splash screen where you're asked if you want to turn Bluetooth on if it isn't already..

You'll see this screen:

Which I have no doubt is there thanks to the legal beagles. In other words, don't install TeleNav, pack the family in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, jump on the Interstate, and then try to figure out how to use it.

Spend some time with it first. If you're used to using V4, learning how V5 operates will be a lot easier than if you've never used it at all, but still, since this new version has so many screensful of buttons and new features, puleeeeeeze read the provided .PDF manual and learn how to use the thing before you hit the road.

Modern SiRF Star III GPS receivers can actually get a lock on the GPS satellites indoors (assuming you're not in a lead-lined room or a bank vault) so you can even familiarize yourself with TeleNav's many features without being in your car at all, although some features won't kick-in until you're actually in motion..

Which PalmOS Treos is it for?

As I write this in late May, 2007, TeleNav V5 has been certified by the company to work correctly with Sprint and Verizon Treo 700p models only. As a company rep explained to me:

I am told that 5.0 will probably work on the 650 however they (the engineers) have not fully tested it yet so there may be one or two glitches if you actually try it so you are probably better off waiting. They have prioritized newer devices but will be launching it at some point on the 650. Since our customer care team is not quite ready to support 5.0 on the 650, I would request that you say something like: "TeleNav plans to launch this version for the 650, the 680 and the 755p soon." We are testing and certifying it for all of these devices but currently it's only launched on the 700p at this point. The 680 will probably be next to launch. I'm sorry I cannot be more specific but I will definitely keep you posted when they each become officially available.

With that in mind, I decided to err on the side of caution and even though it MIGHT work correctly on a Treo 650, I chose to install TeleNav 5.0 only on my Sprint 700p. If you have a 680 or the new 755p, well, you read what they said, so you might also want to wait before upgrading.

So what's new, already!?

Here is a list of the main enhancements from TeleNav 4.1 to 5.0:

  • 3D Moving Maps

    When you've invoked the "Drive To" function and TeleNav's plotted a route to your chosen destination, once you're in motion, your position is indicated by a red arrow on a blue ball, and a series of dashed markers along the road on which you're traveling. You can easily zoom in or out a few levels with the "Q" and "P" keys on your Treo's keyboard or the two similarly-marked icons in the top corners of the screen.

    At the bottom of the screen you'll see the name of the road you're on, an indicator for the direction of your next turn, and a small box that alternates between telling you how many miles you have to go to get there, and what time you'll arrive, calculated on your current progress and speed. There's no speedometer on screen, your car came with one. Bodies of water appear in solid blue, open park land in solid green. "This is huge!" as Howie Mandel might say on "Deal or No Deal."

    However, while they've implemented beautiful 3D mapping in "Drive To" mode, TeleNav ripped out 2D flat "paper map" mode. This is not so huge. I'd like to see them put it back in and I made that suggestion to their Senior Manager. His response?

    Hi Harv: You are right, it looks as though 2D ("Drive To") mode has been removed and replaced with 3D maps. I have asked our team to add that feature back for the next release.

    You're welcome.

    However, you CAN get BOTH moving 3D AND 2D maps in regular map mode, in other words, without a "Drive To" destination course plotted. TeleNav calls this new feature the "Follow Me" mode, lacking from V4, which allows you to view a 3D OR a 2D moving map of your progress without necessarily guiding you to a location Just make sure TeleNav and your GPS receiver are talking to each other, tap on the Maps button and start driving. A menu pull-down switches it between 3D and 2D mode and back again with ease, so in-motion 2D mapping mode IS in there, just not when you have a destination plotted to drive to. Yet.

    Unlimited favorites and recent places

    TeleNav V4 had a most recently used (MRU) list of your favorite and recent places you'd marked or to which you plotted routes. That list was limited to a couple dozen with new entries pushing off the oldest ones when the list filled up. That limit's now gone in V5. Hooray.

    Improved UI - optimized for Palm OS touchscreen

    As I said earlier, pretty much the entire TeleNav interface has been overhauled and modernized. Here are a bunch of screen shots with a brief description of each one..

    There's more Help in the program, plus a nice fat "back" arrow at the upper right hand corner of every screen to take you back to the previous screen.. in MOST (but not all) cases, you can use your D-pad and highlight that arrow and smack your center button to invoke it. As long as the arrow is yellow, it's activated:

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