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Review - Pharos Smart Traffic
Posté le 21 avril 2004 à 19:58:09 par gpspassion.

Traffic comes to Windows Mobile!

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Here's a review by Paul, moderator of our forums and experienced PocketPC GPS user who recently shared his experience with Ostia v6 also by Pharos Science and Applications

Preface
The Windows mobile platform has been gradually expanded to cover three separate formats: the Pocket PC, which runs Windows Mobile 2003; the Pocket PC Phone Edition, which runs the Phone Edition of Windows Mobile; and the Windows Smartphone, which runs Smartphone 2002/2003. Smartphones are currently much more popular in Europe than in the US, but recently two have been introduced here, one from Motorola and one from Samsung. Pharos has taken advantage of this, as has Mapopolis with its mapping program, to introduce a clever little program that may be very useful to some people.



"Colored dots"
Smart Traffic, which also runs on the other two Windows platforms, is an ideal program for the Phone Edition and the Smartphone. It was tested on my Samsung i600 Smartphone, which runs Smartphone 2002. Smart Traffic takes up only 56K and installs easily on the phone’s SD card. Pharos’ website describes it best: “The graphical color-coded display lets you quickly see whether your planned route is jammed with traffic or moving fast, giving you time to change your route. You can also check traffic information by scrolling through reported incidents and roadwork in text mode. Current traffic information is linked to highway sensor data provided by the Department of Transportation, delivering up-to-the-minute traffic conditions right to your Smartphone handset.” According to Help/About, data is provided by state Department of Transportations and by TrafficCast.

The data available is in the form of maps which show color-coded dots indicating the state of traffic at that location: green, yellow or red depending on the speed that traffic is flowing. Also shown are yellow triangles for road construction. (1.Map) The dots are rather small on the Smartphone, but legible if you know the area. You can pan the maps up and down and left and right, but you can’t zoom in or out.



Incidents
Data is also in the form of “Incidents” which is a text file describing and accident or road construction on a particular road. (2.Incident) Incidents are downloaded by clicking the “Text” box. When this is done a list of roads is downloaded and you pick the road to get an incident about (in the screenshot the incident is on CA-24 East). (3.Text) A more concise listing can also be displayed. (4.Speed) On the Verizon network it takes about 57 seconds to download the average map. Other networks would take longer.

How much does it cost?
Use of the program is by subscription: $5 for a month; $11.95 for three months; and $43.95 for a year. You will receive registration information and you then go to the Pharos website to create an account and then enter you username and password into the program. I had no trouble creating the account or logging in. Their servers seem very responsive. Pharos lists 30 cities for which real-time speed and incident data are available and 28 cities for which only incident data is available.

Caveats
Two caveats: the program only provides real time data. It does not tell you how to avoid any of the red or yellow-dot areas. The data seems to be variable depending on where in the country it is coming from. California, for example, is very full-featured, both with maps and with incidents. However the New York City area does not have any map data and the incident data gives no indication of traffic over the bridges and tunnels, which are an essential part of commuting here. In their defense, Pharos can only plot what they are given. As they say on the website: “Both traffic speed and incident information depend on available data provided from the Departments of Transportation from each respective city. We apologize if your city is not yet covered with our service. We are continuously working with DOTs from various cities, so check back soon to see if your city has been added to our coverage”. A one-month purchase ($5) is cheap enough so that you can check out areas you are interested in before committing to a long term purchase.

Outro
One other problem: it really is a lot of fun. I ran down the extended battery of my Samsung just checking out traffic maps of cities all around the country!

 
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