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Palm Traffic

Thu Aug 11, 2005 - 2:11 PM EDT - By James Hromadka


Ah, life in the city. Houston traffic is the greatest. The freeway speed limit is 60 MPH, yet nobody drives below 70. We have high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, two loops (soon to be three), and a light-rail train that's a magnet for cars. All this, yet at any time during the day, somewhere in Houston, it's rush-hour. Palm has released a real-time Traffic that hopes to make life easier for commuters like me. I currently have a special bookmark that I use to get free, current Houston traffic info. Is Palm Traffic worth the cost?

Palm Traffic Features:
  • Live traffic data for major U.S. cities
  • High quality traffic coverage
  • Interactive maps
  • Find out how fast traffic is moving
  • Get the details on a traffic incident
  • Bookmark your location
  • View roads near an incident
  • Navigate new cities


    The first time Palm Traffic is run, a Legal Notice comes up saying that "Traffic should not be used or accessed by the driver of a vehicle whilst the vehicle is in motion." Duh! You then select your city. At press time, the following cities are available: New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC/Baltimore, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle, Chicago. I selected Houston and was then brought to a map (pictured) of the city. There were some red and orange blinking indicators indicating traffic issues. Tapping on one of the icons brings up a dialogue box with the current speed and which direction and lanes that the traffic is slow.

    At the bottom of the screen are icons for Refresh, Zoom in/out, Add Bookmark, and Help. You can pan by tapping anywhere on the map, including directional arrows. The Treo's navigator buttons pan the screen also. Pressing the center button brings up a context menu with the same options as the bottom icons, so you can use Palm Traffic without ever needing the stylus.

    When you bookmark a location, it also remembers the zoom level. In Palm Traffic's Preferences, you can set how often to refresh (default is 15 min). When you zoom in, you can see freeway names and the warning indicators have the traffic speed. After zooming in, I noticed that Houston's IH-610 is incorrectly labeled as IH-10. When I took screenshots, I then realized that the label is correct, but the white text doesn't show up on the light green background.

    The Help in Palm Traffic is stellar. Everything you need to know, from getting started to pricing options is well-documented.

    Palm Traffic has a two week trial that lets you switch to any city. Just for grins, I pulled up Chicago. Sheesh. Houston had four speed issues at noon, but Chicago had so many that it looked like a Christmas tree!

    The fun ends when the trial ends. The biggest deterrent to Palm Traffic is its monthly pricing scheme. It costs $4.99 for one city, $7.99 for two cities, or $14.99 for all cities. It would cost almost $60 a year for Houston traffic info—$180 a year for all cities. That's ridiculous. I also had frequent connection timeouts to the service and had to do most of my testing via a Bluetooth connection to my PowerBook.

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    Product Info
    > Name Palm Traffic
    > Company Palm, Inc
    > Size <500KB
    > Fact Sheet & User Opinions
    > Available
    > $4.99

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