Two Cents: Nextel's Motorola i730 With TeleNav

GPS navigation in the palm of my hand was nifty in theory, but in reality, something's amiss.

by / November 1, 2004
The Nextel Motorola i730 mobile phone with Telenavigation's Java-based TeleNav service is a trip -- no pun intended.

I had trouble with this bad boy in the beginning. The battery died and wouldn't tell me how to get home from work on day one. Once I finally wrestled the charger in (while driving, which was not the smartest move I've ever made), I somehow told the program that my origin and destination were the same place. I couldn't make it stop telling me my origin and destination were "too close," so I gave up.

On the way home from dinner later that night, I used TeleNav to direct me. It did a marvelous job of freaking me out when it said, "Prepare to turn left onto X Street," as the light turned green. My sister was also disturbed. "Whoa. I do not like that," she said as she looked up to the sky like we were being watched.

On day two, I used TeleNav to direct me to the office -- except I didn't follow its advice because what the software said to do was impossible. TeleNav told me to turn right onto Broadway directly from X Street, something I couldn't do since the two streets run parallel to one another.

During the weekend, I drove to my friend's house about 20 minutes away. I'd never been there before, so I thought I'd let TeleNav get me there.

And it did, but only after getting me lost first. The phone repeatedly lost the TeleNav signal when I needed GPS help the most -- right after exiting the freeway. Attempting to get myself back on the map, so to speak, isn't easy while driving.

After TeleNav found me again, which it could only do when I slowed down to surface-street speed (and that shouldn't be the case -- Telenav's GPS software should keep track of me no matter how fast I'm driving), it told me to turn on streets I couldn't even see. The streets may exist, but weren't immediately noticeable, and I wasn't about to cruise around looking for them. It also changed its prescribed course as I drove, confusing and frustrating me.

TeleNav finally figured out where I needed to go, and I made it to my friend's house -- 40 minutes later than I should have.

On the way home, I tried the non-GPS directions -- plugging in my origin and destination, as opposed to having the satellite find my current location and direct me -- and it worked fine. I gave up for a month on the GPS tracking, however, because I found TeleNav to be more trouble than it was worth.

A public relations representative later informed me that a glitch in the Motorola handset caused problems with the TeleNav service. While I had issues long before the problem reportedly began in mid-July, I gave it another shot once the repaired unit arrived.

The second time proved much more reliable than the first. The only downfall I noticed was that it took six attempts to initially locate the GPS service. Once found, however, TeleNav didn't lose the signal or give me wrong directions.

Although my outlook on the service brightened, I do have qualms about the i730's battery life. If continuously left on, the sucker dies overnight after using the GPS feature only once for 30 minutes.

I suggest purchasing the car charger. Otherwise TeleNav isn't worth having. The service worked fine for the past eight weeks, but users can only hope the service doesn't break down at all, 'cause if it does while you're trusting in it, who knows where you'll end up.

oGPS Navigation
oAutomatic Rerouting
oNationwide Coverage
oCompact and Portable
oTwo pricing plans -- the TeleNav 10 plan allows 10 routes per month for $9.99 and the TeleNav 50 plan gives 50 routes per month for $19.99. Unlimited plans are also available.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Jessica Jones Managing Editor