GPS + Real Time Data

One of the toys I got when I stopped by the Microsoft Company Store was Streets and Trips 2008 with GPS and Connected Services.

Connected Services is what Microsoft calls the FM side band service that provides real time data.  Real time data like, traffic, construction, weather, gas prices, etc.  Other GPS vendors might call it something different, but essentially they are all the same.

I was really excited to be able to put it to the test — and driving around the Bay Area it worked great.

But, when I hit the open road I found a number of short comings.

  • There aren’t that many areas that have the service.
  • In areas that have the service construction data doesn’t seem to be updated.
  • Traffic data also seems to be slow (especially in non-rush hour times; like a major accident in Houston in the middle of the day on the weekend).
  • Plus it takes FOREVER for the receiver to obtain data (twenty minutes is what they say; and that’s any time you enter a new service area since it has nothing cached).

I still think the real time data is a great idea; but it’s not quite as useful to travelers as one might hope, and using it has certainly reduced my desire to go buy a new GPS receiver that includes the service.

Also, why don’t vendors allow you to use your phone to get data via the cellular network?  Many people like me (and iPhone users) have unlimited data plans… oh yeah — they couldn’t charge an arm and a leg for that service.

Originally posted 2008-10-13 16:00:51.