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Trafficmaster Smartnav Mobile: Review

Date: 18 May 2009   |   Author: Tristan Young

Price: £50 a year or £5 a month
Key rival: TomTom

For years Trafficmaster has been at a disadvantage, it's satnav system was too comprehensive for its own good. The result was that any car it was fitted to had to be professionally wired, but once that was done you had one of the best systems going including spot-on traffic info and a personal assistant on tap.

Now, to take on the likes of TomTom, Trafficmaster has launched Smartnav Mobile which does away with the need for any device at all, instead relying on GPS enabled mobile phones.

This means you download the software to your smartphone and for either £50 a year or £5 a month you can have Trafficmaster's excellent service. And it is an excellent system. Simple to use with postcode and full address input, faultless traffic info and an assistant you can call (59p a minute extra) for those tricky locations.

But moving to a mobile phone has brought its own problems.

The test phone, provided by Trafficmaster, ran Windows as an operating system and took a long time to re-route if you deviated from the instructions, by which time you could become (even more) lost as the system only shows individual turns rather than a full map.

The phone also seems to throw you out of the Smartnav software when it ran low on batteries or dropped a data connection, which necessitated stopping the car to operate the phone and reprogramme the route. More than a little annoying.

The final missing piece was the absence of an 'on foot' mode that rival systems have. So while the system neatly removes the need to carry a separate device when you leave the car, it still provides instructions as if you were in a car, meaning it will only send you one direction down one-way streets and doesn't know about foot-only alleyways.

Trafficmaster says this is something it is working on.

When these bugs are ironed out Trafficmaster will be onto a winner.