Goodbye traffic?
July 27, 2006 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Real-time traffic info on GPS car navs: gimmick or gold?

With a birthday coming up and having recently moved to LA and booked some work, I've decided: What better way to celebrate my life in LA than to get something that helps me get around traffic!

I've been looking at a few GPS car things with "real time traffic info" (narrowing down to the Garmin 2820, Garmin c550 and Tomtom GO 910).

I know this is similar to the thread here, but my #1 desire (other than generally getting to where I want to go) is to circumvent traffic.


Do the traffic feeds on thes units actually work? Especially in LA traffic? Are they up-to-date on information?

Is there a difference between the XM navteq traffic information and Clearchannel's FM information? At least from the website it seems like the XM feed has more LA coverage...

Anyone have any experience with these units, in different cities, or different situations?

Thank you... so much.
posted by dentata to Technology (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a TomTom 700. It gets traffic updates over my cell phone, through a Bluetooth connection.

The data is limited to certain areas and cities - make sure the service you are looking at covers your area.

The data is ALSO apparently limited to certain days and times - again, check the specific service for applicability to your intended travel.

Also - some devices only look at traffic on your intended route: so, you must have told your GPS where you are going for it to properly warn you about traffic on your route. My TomTom, for instance, says nothing about traffic "near" me, unless I'm on a "route".

It's generally pretty good about up to date "construction" information, and it's fair about accidents and traffic congestion. However, there have been plenty of times that it hasn't known about traffic problems I've encountered, both old and new incidents (you can forgive it for not being super up to date, but I can't fiigure out why it doesn't know about hours old problems).

The newer Tom Tom can apparently get traffic over radio signal, which is how the Garmins work. I don't know if this data is any better than what mine currently fetches over phone.
posted by Dunwitty at 3:53 PM on July 27, 2006

I should point out that I don't commute - I mostly travel for leisure, cross country. So I don't have a good feel for how well it would report commute-level traffic on a daily basis.

Mostly because I would rather die than drive in commute-level traffic every day.
posted by Dunwitty at 4:10 PM on July 27, 2006

Wouldn't know about your new-fangled Tom Toms, but be advised the traditional tool for navigation in LA is the Thomas Guide. Won't help you identify traffic jams (although I believe there's web sites that provide that info in near-real-time) but it will definitely show you the alternate routes. That is, if you're a map person.
posted by Rash at 4:26 PM on July 27, 2006

I'm personally very happy with the traffic reports on the Traffic&Weather channels on my XM radio. It's not pretty pictures but it's never a long wait for the report, unlike broadcast radio.
posted by phearlez at 4:30 PM on July 27, 2006

Yes, Thomas Guides and Traffic Radio News Reports are all well and good. However, with a GPS/Nav System, you can push the "well go around it" button, and have it find you a route that's NOT currently pummeled with traffic.
posted by Dunwitty at 4:51 PM on July 27, 2006

While I'm here: if you get the TomTom, download the John Cleese voice to go with it. It's nice to have some levity to break up your traffic tantrums, and to be perfectly honest, I completely trust people with proper British accents.
posted by Dunwitty at 4:55 PM on July 27, 2006

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