Telmap is also sticking with its unusual pricing structure. Instead of buying the software outright for, say, £100 or so as with CoPilot Live, you pay a subscription of £5 per month. The handset we were supplied with was from Vodafone, who supply the handset from free with the software preinstalled and 12-months sat-nav subscription built-in on tariffs of £34.03 and above. After the subscription runs out, the costs are the same as above – £5 per month or £50 per year – to renew.
It sounds odd to pay for sat-nav as a service rather than buying the software outright, but there are advantages to this approach: you never have to pay for map updates, for example – they’re always up to date – and, if you only need a sat-nav for the occasional long journey you can switch it on for just one month, then let the subscription lapse.
Of course that approach does have its downsides as well. The first is that speed cameras are a chargeable extra at a pricy £2.99 per month and, as with the previous version, Telmap is a download-based navigation service. When you ask it to calculate a route, it gets the Telmap server to carry out route calculation, rather than the device itself, and when that route is calculated it’s downloaded to the handset – a narrow corridor of mapping data that’s then stored locally. It’s none too sluggish either – a route from East London to John O’ Groats took under 30 seconds to complete and download to the phone.
It’s easy to use, with address entry made straightforward thanks to a single screen approach and the Blackberry’s hardware keyboard. As before, it has an excellent POI (points of interest) database, and navigational performance is acceptable too – during testing, route choices were generally sensible and without peculiarities – but the system is not without its foibles. Voice instructions are generally delivered in good time, for example, but they don’t repeat at the right times: it’s easy to hear an instruction the first time it’s delivered and then forget it, and you’re not reminded until you’re right on top of the next turning.
The map display in both 2D and 3D modes is impressively clear on such a small screen – in 3D mode you can see the road layout a fair way into the virtual distance – but the moving map doesn’t update very smoothly, and when you’re moving slowly, the position seems to lag quite a lot behind your real-world road position. Both of these factors add up to a sat-nav system that isn’t the best performer in tight city streets, though it’s worth noting that performance will vary depending on the handset.