TomTom Links GPS To Web Traffic Data
Do you think about traffic? I do.
I am blessed with a car-free commute to work, but I am not quite as blessed to have friends and family members separated from me by such pleasant byways as Interstate 95, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.
I've seen my share of brake lights -- sometimes, with my left foot on the clutch pedal of a standard-shift car -- which I'd like to avoid if possible.
So over the years, I've learned the usual spots where congestion is likely, I've memorized alternate routes, and I've gotten in the habit of turning into the various traffic-advisory AM signals on those routes (am I the only person who now thinks of 1610 AM as "Radio Free Turnpike"?).
More recently, I've tried solving the problem with technology. I've tested Global Positioning System receivers with limited traffic-data features and found them somewhat wanting. On the other hand, I've found that a passenger operating a Web-connected smartphone can be an immense help.
In today's column, I try out a GPS receiver that also incorporates a wireless modem, TomTom's Go 740 Live. As you'll see, I didn't find this a tremendously attractive solution; it's awfully expensive (though not if you compare it to the price of a car manufacturer's built-in GPS) but offers only so-so accuracy. It feels like an interim device, something that people will look back on and say "this had the right idea, but we wound up getting there in a different way" -- before returning their attention to the GPS-enabled, Web-connected smartphones they've grown to rely on for all their navigational needs.
I could be wrong to think that. The Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray came to a more positive conclusion about the 740, and prospects for devices like it, in his review last month.
We can talk about where we'd like to see GPS navigation go during my Web chat today -- at 11 a.m., not noon, on account of some schedule conflicts. But let's also discuss that in the comments: What's your current traffic-avoidance routine? What role does digital technology play in it? What role would you like it to play?
April 17, 2009; 9:15 AM ET
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