Telenav has been around for a long time and their GPS software/ service solution has long been my favorite on the Windows Mobile platform. I have been using them on the HTC Advantage with its 5-inch screen for a good while and it is a delightful GPS solution on that device. The company decided to ratchet up their offering with a GPS device of their own, the Telenav Shotgun, and I’ve been using one for a bit and have these first impressions to share with you.
This past weekend I traveled to Philadelphia to attend Kevin’s wedding and the Shotgun was riding shotgun with us to point the way since neither my wife nor I knew exactly where everything was located. We flew into Philly and rented a car so it was great how thin and light the Shotgun is so it rode in my backpack without taking up much room at all. Read on to get our take of hands-on with the Shotgun.
The first thing you notice when you unbox the Shotgun is just how small it is. It is less than an inch thick and resembles a PMP or similar device and it weighs just a few ounces. It is touch-screen driven so there is only a blue LED on the front to show when it has a GPS/ GPRS signal. The Shotgun has a slot for a SIM card as one of the biggest features is the ability to check traffic conditions in real-time as you drive around. This feature came into play as soon as we began using it and worked really well.
The package ships with the Shotgun device, a nice light mounting bracket system, a power adapter (mini-USB) and a cigarette lighter auto adapter. The device has a MSRP of $299 which is not too shabby for all that you get.
When we got to the rental car in Philly we pulled the Shotgun out of the bag, mounted the device to the windshield with the bracket, and powered it on. We had decided to use it like a typical consumer, we didn’t research it in any way we just took it out of the box and set off on the road with it. I figured it would be the best way to see how easy it is to use this way and am happy to report it was very easy.
If you are familiar with Telenav on a smartphone you will feel right at home with the Shotgun and it was readily apparent that the Telenav folks had simply put their exisitng software onto their own device. It looked the same and worked the same, which is very well. We drove all over central Pennsylvania over the weekend and the Shotgun was our constant companion and never let us down for directions. Our first trip with the device was from the airport in Philly to the countryside and the traffic notification came into play immediately as the Shotgun quickly informed us of a traffic accident down the road. It had just been cleared when we passed it and we weren’t impacted by it but it was sure nice to know it was coming. The Shotgun software gives you the opportunity to notify the Telenav service when you encounter a bad traffic condition and it then offers alternate route suggestions to others when that happens. It uses the GPRS connection for that 2-way communications, although you can use the Shotgun without it like any other GPS if you wish.
Overall we really liked the Shotgun and it never let us down as we traversed a lot of winding hillside roads. We never felt we were going to get lost and it stayed on top of things for us. There were a few areas we wish worked a bit better however, and I hope Telenav can address these points:
- Volume too low. It can be very hard to hear the spoken directions in the car and it needs to go louder.
- The screen can be a bit hard to see in very bright direct sunlight.
- The on-screen keyboard sometimes has trouble registering finger taps.
- Battery life is not as good as desired. This is not a big issue given the inclusion of the car adapter.
All in all the Telenav Shotgun is a solid first effort at a device for the Telenav folks and we were quite impressed with the utility it provided on our trip. It worked as expected out of the box and we had no problems with it at all. One of the nicest features comes with the My Telenav site that owners get to access. There is a feature that lets you send any address to the Shotgun using My Telenav and this is a wonderful way to get addresses into the GPS without having to tap on the screen.
In addition to the price of the Shotgun you need to sign up for the Telenav service to get the full benefits of the device and that is currently priced as follows:
Month to month: $11.99
1 year : $129
2 year: $239
Note that 3 months of service are included free with the Shotgun so you can try it before buying it. The Shotgun is powered by Windows CE according to a sticker on the back.