Reader Martin L. emailed me the other day, asking about GPS traffic services, among other things. I couldn't really tell him which service, XM NavTraffic or TMC - the Traffic Message Channel (FM) was better, so I suggested he check out the GpsPasSion traffic forum. Martin came across this thread, comparing XM vs. FM traffic services for GPS receivers. Though the sample is small, it seems pretty clear that XM NavTraffic is the hands-down winner.
But this led to another issue. Martin lives in NYC - urban canyon land, so he wants a GPS with the SiRFstar III chipset. Well, here's the weird part. Garmin hasn't paired these technologies yet. SiRFstar III receivers use FM/TMC, while XM receivers use the older chipsets. But that is about to change.
The Garmin zumo 550, which I wrote about here, marries these two features. Unfortunately, it's designed for a motorcycle. But if you read the fine print, Garmin says it includes both a "motorcycle mount and automotive mount (with integrated speaker) for riding or driving." When originally announced, the zumo was supposed to be available in October, but the product page says fourth quarter.
Now how good the zumo is for automobile use is anybody's guess, but I'm sure a number of people are hoping that Garmin adds this feature set to more new products, and/or that TMC cleans up its act!