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GPS Phone Leads The Way

Motorola offers a cellular GPS navigation service.

In my quest for the perfect carpet runner, I tried Motorola's ViaMoto GPS navigation service to find a Home Depot Expo Design Center.

On the road and armed with a GPS-enabled Motorola i88s handset with Nextel cellular service, I called a ViaMoto Advisor and asked for help finding the closest Expo. Unfortunately, the branch that the rep found wasn't the nearest; ViaMoto could use a better database. Nevertheless, I asked her to download the directions to my phone.

Launching the ViaMoto application on the phone, I selected the destination that the Advisor had identified to call up text directions. While I was driving, I listened to turn-by-turn voice cues from a friendly, computerized chap.

From the freeway, ViaMoto's directions instructed me to turn right onto a street that wasn't a freeway exit. (On a different trip, it incorrectly advised me to turn the wrong way onto a one-way street.)

Not to worry. I got off at the next exit, and the computerized fellow told me I was off my route and asked if I wanted to be rerouted. Well, of course. I chose Reroute; the service located my position and downloaded to my phone new (correct) directions.

You can retrieve directions by entering an address (the number, street name, city, and state--zip code isn't recognized) on the phone; doing so can be tedious on a number pad. You can also enter the address at ViaMoto.com. The live rep costs extra.

On top of Nextel's cellular fees, you pay $11 monthly for a twelve-month contract. Each time you use ViaMoto, you expend bandwidth from your data plan; and when you call an advisor, you use up voice minutes as well. Despite the cost and fuss, having a GPS navigation service is one reason I'd sign up for a data plan.

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