Pros accurate maps, good voice quality, ability to save locations
Cons long-term costs, change in route not always smooth
Summary I downloaded this service for my Verizon LG9800 (V Phone). Many of my co-workers have the tom-tom navigator on their smartphones.
I found this product to be very good in comparison, yet not quite as flexible.
The VZ Navigator is installed through the "Get it Now" functionality on the verizon network. I paid for the $10/month option.
It is very unclear from verizon, but it looks to use your airtime minutes...so using this feature for a 2-hour trip would burn through some of you available minutes pretty quickly.
Also, at $10/month it seems that if you have this service for a year or 2, would you be better off just spending the money on a full-featured navigation product without having the monthly expenditure.
The concern is that the cost adds up over time.
As far as the functionality. You can do a search for a business using the business category, business name, or specific address. The search will return the top 10 matches meeting your criteria. You then highlight the one you want and press "Nav".
You then hear a crisp voice telling you where to go. There are a few display options as well. The onle gripe I have on the voice directions is that even on the loudest settings, it gets a little harder to hear when you are on the highway, due to increased road noise.
Plus for those of you of a different preference....there is either a female(default) or a male voice you can select.
I found that the directions were clear and precise. However, if you deviated from the advised route, it would have been nice for the navigator to inform you that you had deviated and it was recalculating. So sometimes you had to just wait for the next series of updated directions.
This was a minor concern, but one that the Tom-Tom product was very good at.
Also, be aware that the service only works in the high-speed service areas, which is usually only large cities. Sorry to those that live in the country.
Bottom-line. If you ever wanted a portable gps, but did not want to spend hundreds of dollars, or have some bulky unit in your car...this is for you.Updated
Actually, after using this more...this product only uses airtime when 1st downloading the route...or if your route changes and it has to recompute.
Other than that the gps is mapping and giving you directions without using airtime.
So, this concern is pretty much wiped out.
"Great Service"on by travelsalot
Pros accurate, easy to use, up-to-date information
Cons only available in digital areas
Summary I travel for my job and use GPS systems both in my personal car and in rental cars. I am on the road at least four of five days per week.
First, let me address the cost. VZ Navigator is a $10 per month subscription. In comparison, the nav system in my car was $1000.00 - this is a stand alone Magellen, not integrated by the car manufacturer, and was purchased about 8 months ago. This model has similiar graphics to VZ Navigator, but does not announce the street names, it only tells you when a turn is coming up. So, I would need to pay for VZ Navigator for a little over 8 years to hit a thousand bucks. If you want an integrated gps system, you are looking at $2000.00 and up (now we're talking 16 years of VZ Navigator). Rental car companies (I use Hertz)charge a standard DAILY rate of $9-10 for GPS systems. In this sense, paying $10.00 per month is a deal. I believe Verizon also offers a per use charge of around $4 for the service if you do not opt for a subscription. So, I guess it depends on how frequently you use GPS. For business travel, the $10.00 per month is a deal.
Of course, regardless of the price, if it's not easy to use and reliable, why get it? This is where I am very impressed with this technology. I live in Chicago and travel through out the US - everywhere from NYC to LA. I have used VZ Navigator for about 4 months in various locations and these are my impressions:
- Accurate. I've always gotten to where I need to go using VZ Navigator. With every system I've used, the route chosen may not be the route I would choose if I knew the area, but it does get you there. I also saw a comment about it not announcing that it is recalculating the route - I don't know if the reviewer was using an earlier version, but mine does announce when a reroute is being calculated. It also says it on the screen.
- Doesn't get hung up in parking decks and in large cities like traditional GPS. If you've used traditional GPS systems in cars, you know that parking structures and areas with a lot of buildings can make for a difficult start to your trip (the satellites cannot find you). With VZ Navigator, these issues are not there. They must use a combination of cell tower and satellite to determine your location because it will find your location even when you are in a building. I've used this system in downtown Chicago and Manhatten with great results.
- "Local Search" is rich in categories. You can find everything from restaurants to antique stores within your immediate location. I find that compared to other GPS systems, this one has more available and it is more accurate. That's not to say that I haven't been led to a location that's been closed or the building is being torn down, but in general, I've had very few issues.
- "Follow Me Map". This feature is great if you are walking. It will find you using GPS and as you walk, the GPS will show where you are on the map. From that point, you can choose to do a "local search" as described above. This is a great way to find a bite to eat when you are in a city you are not familiar with.
- Server based mapping. It is obvious that the mapping software is on a centralized server (you can tell when the maps are downloading to your phone) which, theoretically, means that the maps and locations should be more up to date than a stand alone unit.
- Only available in digital coverage areas. According to Verizon, the feature only works in the digital areas with enhanced services. While I have not encountered too many areas where it's not available, it is a short coming that Verizon should address - it would be nice to have GPS when you are lost in the middle of BFE!
- Lack of Traffic Alerts. Since this is server based, it would be nice to see real-time traffic information available. Since you have the ability to see "local" attractions along your route, it seems like adding traffic alerts along the route would be easy.
Some have said that the screen size is an issue. I don't agree - the screen is easy to see and the voice prompts are very easy to understand; so much so, that you really don't need to look at the screen once you get used to it. I think the voice prompts are just right - any less of them would make it confusing and would cause you to have to look at the screen.
Pros Works out of the box
Cons May take you into slow small towns out of your way
Summary I've been using VW Navigator for 6 weeks. I have a new job in two different locations. By using the shortest method, it does work, takes you through "main st" and all 25 mph towns. By using fastest it takes you off highways you should continue on, but instead takes you to mom and pop hometown.
The service is not bad, but beware it can take you into bad areas (new york/new jersey) and way out of your way (even if you follow the GPS instructions it might say re-calculating route) and want the client to make a U-Turn. Cool for a cell phone, doesn't compare to looking at a real map.
Pros Always with you, always updated
Cons Requires digital service
Summary I really enjoyed using VZ Navigator in a couple of recent trips. Unlike other reviewers here, I did not consider the smaller screen a limitation (RAZR V3c), and the voice directions were clear. Pressing the Select cursor button repeats the last direction, if you miss it.
My only disappointment has been the fact that you cannot go back to an older set of directions after it attempts to reroute. Think of the following, you are unroute a long distance trip. You leave the highway to get gas and the GPS thinks you lost your route since you deviated from it. It attempts to reroute, but since you are in the middle of nowhere, there is no digital service, so it fails to get "new" directions and it erases the "old" directions!
The navigator is not as sofisticated as say the Teletype, but then again, you have it always with you, unlike a PDA/GPS combo.
It has the potential to become an invaluable tool if/when the following are implemented:
* Since it requires the network for planning, use real time information about road construction, traffic and weather.
* Why limit the data base to Points Of Interest and not include complete White and Yellow Page searches?
* Since there is already approximate location information, --from the cell towers the phone communicates with-- why not use that to select the satelites that should be reachable, and thus minimize cold start-up connection time?
I feel it is expensive, for $10/month, but if it could provide traffic, weather and White/Yellow Page searches, it would be very easy to justify.
Pros You can get directions, (sort of)
Cons Not a true GPS device, limited area's of use, doesn't know it's left from right, leaves you hi and dry
Summary I'm a service tech who drives to different locations within 700 miles all day every day. I first considered a dedicated GPS type car mounted system over googleing and printing my routes on paper every morning, but then thought this would be a 2 birds with one stone option coupling my cell phone with GPS.
This service/feature is a waste of money. Verizon charges $9.95 a month for this service that a dedicated GPS car mounted system could be used instead with no monthly fee's.
The most annoying bug I found right away with this system is who ever wrote the software for this didn't know their left from their right. It always tells me my destination is on the wrong side of the road. At first it may seem an acceptable mistake, but its actually very annoying. For example, you're on a 4 lane busy city street with a shared center turn lane and it tells you your destination is on the right, you get in the far right lane looking for it only to discover it's 4 lanes over on the left. You now have to go down the street and find a place to turn around (not always easy).
Next big oversite on Verizons part, the phones list this as a feature on the sales floor and box, however there are no instructions included with your new phone, it's also not even on your new phone (they could at least list this in the packaging). Instead you have to download the program to your phone for it to work (and unless you have an expansive "data plan") Verizon charges you an insane per MB fee to download this software to your new phone. I got my phone home and at midnight gave up trying to find how to use this VZ Navigator on the phone and had to call Verizon support (at midnight I waited on hold over 20 minutes just to talk to someone, then had to hang up and call them back from a different phone for instructions, another 20 minutes). Verizon could have easily included some type of simple instruction card with the new phone for this info.
Here's the worst part about this service, for starters, it's not a True GPS system by any means. I specificly asked the Verizon sales clerk if this only works if I'm within range of a cell tower or if it actually works of GPS signals, I couldn't get a straight answer from them, they couldn't find out for me for sure. 15 minutes out of Reno (a major Nevada city, 2nd largest in the state) there is no cell service so this was important for me to know.
Turns out its far from being a true GPS, it doesn't even work if you have a cell tower and service for your phone. You have to be in a Verizon "data network" (EVDO) area for it to work, a service which is very limited outside of any major city.
I discovered this the hard way when before leaving town I entered my destination (a 3 hour drive away) and 2 hours into the drive I pulled 50 feet off the highway to truck stop for gas. It dropped my directions off the screen and told me it was now recalculating my route. This was shortly followed by only an error message saying data network is unavailable. I couldn't even get the map it had supposedly saved back on the display. It left me high and dry and when I reached the other city 3 hours away I had to buy a local map on old fashioned paper just to find my destination. Not what I'd consider an even remotely reliable service, it should have in the least stored my map on the phone. Prior to stopping for gas and wanting to recalculate my route, it was calculating my trip even in the "dead zones". However even this wasn't accurate, before leaving I knew it was a true 3 hour drive, all 75mph speed limit highway and it told me I'd arrive in 2 hours 7 minutes (I was parked and just entering the address in). I drove for the first hour and the time only went from an estimated 2hr 7min to 1hr 57min.
Another software issue I notice is when you view a "GPS" report of where you are, it measures your altitude in 10ths of a mile, like .9 miles. Nobody specifies altitude by 10ths of a mile, always in feet. This last note may be nit picking and sure it can be calculated (roughly), but to me this is as bad as if it estimated your travel route in feet instead of miles since altitude is often important information for me to know.
Next problem, I have this on a SCH U740 phone, possibly more a problem with the phone its on than the service but the screen is too small for driving use, the volume even when on a full is too low to hear when setting on the seat and there's no way to mount the phone for use while driving. You have to lay it on your seat, making it an even larger driving hazard. It also only works when the phone is open and consuming mass battery power. Very annoying when your 300 highway miles away from needing to turn and if you close the phone to save the battery you lose the information of your route and can't get the voice prompts.
Version 3.1.3 build 200 of this software is what I'm currently on and you'd think most of these software related bugs would have been worked out by version 2 at the most. I fear to know how bad the previous versions must have been that these higher reviews were written for.
The software needs to be fixed and hopefully a version 4.0.0 of it is soon on the way with these fixes. Verizon should also offer this as a free service to their customers on select compatable phones. Navigation to the program on the phone should also be made quicker and easier to find/access. Some type of at least minimal directions should be included with the new phone. Maybe true "GPS" isn't possible, but they also need to make this service so it stores the map of your route on the phone when you do enter it in within a data network and it maintains the info when you find yourself out of one. They also should not be allowed to call this a "GPS" system because it is not by any means.
If any of the VZ Navigator software developers find this user rating, please allow me to help you at least a little...
<- This is your left
This is your right ->
Please tatoo an L and an R on your hands to match that, or in the least put a sticky note indicating it on your computer monitor.Updated
I see most of the people posting Pros for this are trying to weigh it against the cost of a $1,000 GPS system. Please, compare apples to apples. Your phone will never have even close to the capabilities or features of a $1,000 dedicated GPS system. A fair comparison would be to a $179 - $300 more commonly priced dedicated GPS system and even those lesser priced systems are far better than this failed attempt at a useable service or product.
This thing is also annoyingly slow to track your location. I have had numerous times where like someone else has pointed out you have to pull over and wait for it to update and tell you when to turn, otherwise it lets you drive right past a turn then always loves to tell you to "make the next legal U Turn". If I hear this thing tell me to "make the next legal U turn" one more time I'm going to throw it out the window!
What makes it worse is you only know to pull over and wait for it to catch up to you if you already know where your going in the first place, otherwise you drive right past where you're supposed to be turning and it doesn't tell you till 5 minutes down the road.
I've also had it calculate and send me on a route, then 10 minutes later tell me to "make the next legal Uturn" and send me back to where I started from to take an even worse option.
The one I love the most though is instead of putting me on the 65MPH freeway to go 10 miles across town, it instead puts me on the 25 mph and traffic light infested surface street that runs all the way paralel to the freeway. If I get on the freeway anyhow, it spends 5 minutes "recalculating route" and tells me to do a U Turn on the freeway to take me back and put me on the surface street.