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Talex Speed Camera Detection System 26th April 2005

Review by Darren Griffin

Talex is a new GPS Safety Camera detector from UK company Embedded Technology. With the possibility that detectors that incorporate 'active' sensors such as Laser and or Radar being outlawed in the future Talex have had the forseight to design a system that is a pure GPS based detector and so will remain legal if the propsoed legislation in the Road Safety whitepaper becomes law.

Talex claim to have a full-time survey team of ex-Traffic Police officers who proide that database data which provides coverage for Fixed, Red Light and Mobile camera sites, Schools, Congestion Charge zones and accident black spots. Usefully the unit also comes with a two year warranty. With a 6 mont database subscription included the unit has an RRP of £249.00.

What's In the Box?

Talex have included almost everything you could possibly need:

  • Talex unit
  • Magnetic mounting pad
  • Serial cable
  • In car 12/24v power lead
  • Mains adapter
  • 6 months database subscription


The only serious ommission is a Serial - USB adapter. As more and more systems come without serial support these days USB is fast becoming the most common method for connecting devices, I have two laptops and one PC at home and only the PC has serial support. Thankfully, Talex do offer a USB adapter as an accssory option at extra cost.

Talex Unit
Installation

The Talex unit itself is only slightly larger than a packet of cigarettes. Installation involves affixing the small rubber sticky backed mount to a convenient location on the dashboard, plugging the unit into the cigarette lighter socket using the supplied power lead and attaching it to the mount.

On top of the unit are two buttons, 'Menu' and 'User'. On the sides are the power socket, serial port (3.5mm socket) and a mode switch for 'Normal' and 'Cam' OperationModes and 'D/L' download mode.

In Use

The unit will switch on automatically when the cigarette lighter power socket is live. During the startup sequence it will alert you if you are approaching the end of your database subscription. When ON, and stationary, pressing the 'Menu' button changes the displayed information cycling through the available data:

  • Date
  • Trip Distance
  • Average Speed
  • Maximum Speed
  • Number Of Satellites In View
  • Time

Once you are moving, the 'Menu' button cycles through Speed, Bearing or Altitude.

The 'User' button if pressed whilst stationary announces the Latitude and Longitude of your current position (assuming a position fix has been aquired) and when moving allows you to store a POI with storage for a maximum of 200 such user POIs.

Pressing the 'User' button while stationary and the unit will announce your Latitude and Longitude. When the vehicle is moving pressing the 'User' button will store a position and up to 200 of these user positions can be stored.

There are two distinct operation modes selected using the 'Normal/Cam' switch on the side.

Normal Mode
When switched on the unit reminds you to fasten your seat belts, gives a time check every hour and reminds the driver to take a rest stop after two hours behind the wheel.

It will alert for Fixed Cameras, Red Light cameras and Mobile cameras. The London Congestion Charge zone during the time period in which the charge is in effect, schools during the period 0700 to 1830hrs Mon - Fri, accident black spots, dangerous junctions and steep hills.

Camera Mode
The voice alerts are reduced so that only Fixed, Red Light and Mobile cameras are alerted as well as the Congestion Charge zone. All the other announcements and warnings are suppressed. In addition the 'reduce speed' reminder if you exceed the speed limit in a mobile camera zone is issued only once.

Talex Unit and Mount

All warnings are delivered in the form of a loud and clear female voice and these can be clearly heard above road and engine noise in my noisy 4x4. The initial warning is delivered at 500 yards with the type of hazard and speed limit announced, at the same time the LED display shows the speed limit. A second alert will be triggered at the 200 yards if the vehicle is still above the speed limit.

The Talex unit comes supplied pre-loaded with a 1 month subscription. To continue using the device after the initial month you need to complete and submit the registration card which ensures access to the database during the 6 months subscription period supplied.

Updating the database requires the installation of client software on an internet connected PC. Plug the Talex unit into the mains adapter and connect using the supplied PC serial cable. The update is simple to perform and takes only a couple of minutes.

One feature that is valuable and not often seen on such systems is GPS Data Out. Using the supplied serial cable, a null modem adapter and a suitable serial cable to connect to your device, the Talex can be used to provide GPS Position information to a Laptop or PDA. I tested this using Autoroute on a laptop and it worked perfectly.
Talex Unit - Side View
Talex Unit - Front View Additional features worthy of mention are that the unit is direction aware so will only alert you to hazards on your side of the carriagway and will auto mute if you are travelling below the speed limit in force at a camera location.

Because the unit uses GPS, installations in some vehicles may be affected by 'Athermic' windscreens that have a UV coating which have the side effect of degrading the satellite signal. In these circumstances Talex reccomend installing the unit behind the rear view mirror where vehicle manufacturers often leave an area free of the coating for the use of devices such as toll tags etc, to assist in this eventuality Talex also sell a windscreen mounting kit which has a suction arm. Another alternative would be to use a GPS Re-radiating antenna such as this.

 

Conclusions

In use the Talex system worked well. The voice alerts were loud and clear and test revealed the database to be comprehensive and up to date. I do however have one comment in respect of the voice alerts when approaching a potential mobile camera location. The Talex will issue a 'reduce speed' warning as you aproach the mobile zone and will continue to repeat the warning as you travel through the danger zone if your vehicle speed exceeds the posted speed limit by more than 10% +1 mph. This can be suppressed by switching to 'Cam' mode where the warning is issued only once but you then lose the additional features of 'Normal' mode.

For the test I chose to connect the Talex to an additional power socket that I have installed specifically for review equipment. This is permanently connected to a 12v source and is not controlled by the ignition switch. Whilst most cars have the cigarette lighter socket controlled by the ignition switch there are many that do not and this caused a slight irritation with the Talex as there is no physical ON/OFF switch on the unit itself. This means that you have to resort to physically removing the power lead from the unit or unplugging from the cigarette lighter socket when you leave the vehicle unattended.

Overall I liked this unit, the database proved to be very accurate, far more so than my Snooper S4, the unit is simple to install and use and it is unobtrusive. The only issues I had were the repeat warnings in mobile zones and the lack of an ON/OFF Volume control. At the price and with an additional 12 months database subscription costing only £29 once the bundled 6 month subscription expires it is very good value indeed.

Review unit kindly supplied by Embedded Technology Ltd.

 

 

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Loud clear voice prompts
  • Basic display lacks information
  • GPS Data out using serial port
  • Comprehensive database
  • Low cost subscription

Cons

  • The mobile warning can be irritating
  • Lack of USB support out of the box
  • No ON/OFF switch

 

Resources

Manufacturers Website www.talex.co.uk
Pocket GPS Contributor

Darren Griffin

Pocket GPS Contributor Website

http://www.griffinnet.co.uk

   

Rating

 

Construction

Installation

Useability

Robustness

Overall Rating 97%

How did we achieve these ratings ?

Review Ratings

 

 

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