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Old 09-15-2006, 06:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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VZ Navigator

OKay, this review is for the VZ Navigator program that you can use on some of the new Verizon mobile phones. It's basically an A-GPS (assisted global positioning system) map and directions program. It would be great, theoretically, for finding new paintball fields, especially those fields that are out in the boonies, among other things.

I just got a new Verizon phone, a Samsung SCH-A870, that's capable of VZ Navigator. The phone itself is great, especially for the "free" basic one you get with a 2 year activation / renewal. When you get a VZ Navigator capable phone, you can get a 30 day free trail. Since I'm in Boston for a week I thought this would be a good time to try it out. I had high hopes for it ... because, let's face it, a GPS equipped mobile phone is über geek chic (Scotty, beam down some Mountain Dew to *these coordinates*).

Let's start with what it's supposed to do. You're supposed to be able to find directions from point A to point B. Not only that, a turn by turn "live" map is displayed, and a friendly woman's voice is telling you where to turn and how far ahead the turn is (you can also choose a mans voice if you're into that sort of thing). You can pick if you're going to be in a car, waking, or riding a bicycle. So far, it seems like it's simply not fast enough for using in a car. Quite often it's 1 or 2 turns behind you. If you were actually following the directions, I'm sure you would hear a lot of "make next legal U turn" instructions. I heard a lot of that too, even when I knew where I was going and I was on major roads going in the exact direction I needed to go in. I think it might work better if you were walking or riding a bicycle. Yes, there are a lot of short roads in the city, but that's also exactly where you want an assisted GPS system to work, in places where getting a clear view of the sky would be difficult.

I also tested it out on a simple trip across Boston to Logan airport. Once again it was often behind the turns, even when it had plenty of time to think about it. Coming back from the airport to Allston, which is basically getting on the Mass Pike and going West, the navigation system gave me totally messed up directions. Now, at first it was telling me to go through the Big Dig (i.e. the Big Colander) tunnel ... however, it's closed off for repair. The whole thing is falling apart, so you have to detour. The nav system should know this ... this is a major road accessed by a major airport in a major city. It's not like you're out in East Jesus. There are some simple alternate routes, but when I took them and the nav system recalculated ... it wanted me to go completely out of my way and in the wrong direction, even though I had "simplest" route selected.

It's also not a very good GPS system. You can enter addresses as destinations or find maps (it got my own home address wrong and put it at the other end of my street) but you can't find a location by simply putting in longitude and latitude. You can find out where you're standing at the moment by latitude and longitude ... but that's not all that useful. I already know where I am. Help me find a tree stand I haven't seen in 3 months at 3:30am on a foggy morning ... or even point me to my car in a huge parking lot. If you want to find your way in the woods, this will be no help at all. Hopefully someday soon they'll incorporate this function into the program, and add the capability of way-points too. It has a "follow" mode but you can't save the route. That would be useful if you're going someplace with a person who knows where they're going, and you need to retrace the route later on your own.

The program costs $10 a month, or $3 for a 24 hour period. As of now, I haven't found this program to be any good. It kinda works and it's kinda cool ... but as far as real world save my butt usefulness, it sadly lacks.

My rating 2.5/10
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Old 09-15-2006, 09:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I am glad you posted this review. I am about to switch to Verizon, and I was going to subscribe to this 'program'.
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Old 09-16-2006, 12:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Well, it's free for a month anyway ... there's no reason not to try it out, and they might get better at it. For now though it's pretty new, and there are only a few phones (3 or 4 maybe) that can do it.

However, I've had Verizon for a while now and the actual phone service is great.

PS I never subscribe to things when I sign up or renew ... I always upgrade after. That way if I want to downgrade again, I can. Most people don't think about it that way.
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Old 09-16-2006, 12:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It probably has alot to do with your actual phones capabilities and your reception for EV-DO or whatever style of nutso verizon digital information system the nav is on.

Some phones simply have better reception for those streaming type of things.

I bet the LG VX8300 and the Samsung SCH A930 would work a bit better with this system.

I personally want the SCH A870 because its just a nice smaller size, ive got the a930 because it was just the best thing available to me but I saw the display fake model of the a870 and it looked like it would fit in my pocket pretty well, but it wasnt out yet.

Im not trying to defend verizon at all though - their features are completely terribly maimed.. its like they have 100 dollars they MUST give away and if they dont the money dissapears and they choose to give you 20 bucks and have 80 dollars disappear. They are just dirtbags.

I run verizon because where I live, cingular doesnt have reception. The only reason for anyone to choose a service is because of reception, if you cant use your phone, theres no reason to have it. I kind of hate the cellphone industry as a whole.
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