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TrafCam for the Pocket PC

16th November 2002

 Review Team: Dave Burrows, Darren Griffin, Mike Barrett

 Website: http://www.trafcam.com

 

Today more and more people are getting caught for speeding than crime.  Although speeding is thought of as a crime as it causes road death, most people do not intentionally speed.  When driving along a road if someone jumped out in front of you with a Vascar laser gun, would you know what the speed limit of the road was ?  Most people wouldn't!  It's not that people aren't paying attention, it's that roadside speed signs are sparse or in a lot of areas are hidden by growth of bushes, tree's and in several cases, someone has been inconsiderate and put a larger sign in front of it.

 

The problem with speeding today is not necessarily the monetary fine, but the points on your license, and depending on road conditions and how fast over the speed limit you were driving, and if it was considered to be reckless driving, you can easily get a ban for a couple of years on your license.  Most people couldn't afford to have this happen, more and more people are commuting longer distances to work and need their driving license clean and intact otherwise their lively hood goes by the way side.

 

Over the past years there have been many different radar detector's that will detect the very latest GATSO cameras and laser guns, but also offer added protection in blocking an anti-radar device which Police use a lot in today's aim in cutting speeding.  The law has changed from the "You're innocent until proven guilty" to "You're guilty, and we can prove it".  According to various motoring organisations, the Police are given far too much power and are allowed to spend far too much time in trying to cut speeding.  They also say that although there are still a lot of deaths on our roads each year, most of these aren't due to speeding, more reckless driving, and the two do not necessarily go hand in hand (but sometimes do).

 

For over a year now there has been a product called TrafCam available on the Palm OS which has a database of thousands of different speed enforcement cameras, black spots and locations where police tend to hang out trying to catch you over the speed limit, this product has now been brought to the Pocket PC.

 

On writing this review, TrafCam now currently supports over 3700 different camera locations including GATSO, Mobile, and Laser.  The application is simple, but practical.  Coupled with a GPS receiver, which tells your Pocket PC exactly where you are in the world, if you become within close range of a speed enforcement camera, TrafCam will alert you both on screen by showing you the rough direction and distance, but also give you an audible alert.  The screen is very basic looking, and to be honest you really don't want anything that's going to distract you from driving.  TrafCam is great, once it's obtained it's fix, it just sits there showing your current speed until you reach a camera and it will then spring into life.

 

Road Angel Detector

 

There are several hardware devices that do similar things like the Road Angel and Geodesy, these are expensive devices, in most cases coming onto the cost of a radar detector, TrafCam only costs 79 for a 12 month subscription and is really great value for money!

 

Geodesy Detector

 

TrafCam won't detect all cameras, but it will alert you to known cameras and allow you to add your own and allow you to report these back to TrafCam for consideration on adding these to the main database which will in-turn boost the overall country-wide detection rate of camera locations TrafCam can locate.

 

We put TrafCam through the test and drove past 8 GATSO cameras and 2 frequent motorway bridge Police hangout points where they will use Laser guns to detect motorists speed and pull you over a little further down the motorway.  We couldn't just use TrafCam on it's own, so we put it up head to head with a Target Euro 550 radar detector which is classed as the top UK mobile radar detector and here are the results.

 

Target Euro 550 Radar Detector

 

Testing How did TrafCam Fair ?
4 Live GATSO cameras TrafCam detected 3 of the 4 cameras
2 Dummy GATSO cameras TrafCam as expected didn't detect any
2 frequent Police Laser Gun sites TrafCam detected both sites

 

As you can see, TrafCam did a pretty good job.  It must be said though that TrafCam does have a lot of false positives like Mobile camera sites where there may not be Police when you pass, but this is no different compared to a radar detector as although radar detector's will detect laser beams, radar and tell you if a GATSO camera is live or a dummy, you will also receive a lot of false positives from shop automatic doors that open/shut.  One of the great bonuses we found with TrafCam is the configurable option of how much notification you have.  We found we could easily extend the notification time by a factor or 2, 3 or 4 times more time beating any radar detector giving us much more time to react and check and drop our speed if we were over the limit.  TrafCam configurable notification settings allow you to receive anything from a quarter of a mile out to 5 miles notification, and you can also set this in minutes rather than distance.

 

So compared to the trusty Euro 550, how did we find TrafCam ?  TrafCam is a good product.  A lot of people may at first be put off by the display, as it is very basic, but once you start using TrafCam, you'll find it's true potential.  If you want the ultimate protection, then you would probably want a radar detector and TrafCam as this will give you the best of both worlds, and TrafCam would be a nice complement to it seeing that you can change the distance you will be warned of a camera which gives you more of a notification than a radar detector would give you.  However if you're in the market for a low cost camera warning system, then for the annual subscription price of 79, TrafCam really is a bargain.

 

SPECS Warning

 

GATSO Warning

 

Mobile GATSO / Laser Warning

with speed warning set

 

GATSO Warning

 

TrafCam Options

 

Add New Camera Position

With TrafCam you can set a speed restriction so that if you are driving along a road and you think it's a 40mph limit, you then pass a road sign which quotes 30mph, all you need to do is drop your speed below the speed limit (eg 28mph), and if you have the Speed Warning Round-up option ticked, it will then set a red warning on screen for 30mph.  You can bet yourself, 2 miles down the road you would have forgotten what the speed limit is, and TrafCam can help you here.  TrafCam will not however warn you if you are driving over the limit, which would be a welcomed feature in a future update that can be toggled on or off both visually and audible.

 

TrafCam does allow you to set a WAV file so you can pick or choose your audible notification.  We set a WAV file that said "WARNING WARNING", and found this more than adequate for alerting us.

 

You can also report new cameras by pressing the centre keypad on the iPAQ and you will be greeted with an Add New Camera Position database which can then be emailed to TrafCam for inclusion in their database.

 

The one thing that TrafCam doesn't currently do and that's allow you to run it along side another GPS program that is occupying the GPS Receiver.  So you can't currently run it whilst you're running your A-Z mapping program, but TrafCam does have this feature planned for future updates of the product.

 

We tested TrafCam on an iPAQ 3630 with a Navman 3000 sleeve, an iPAQ 3850 with a Navman 3000 sleeve and an iPAQ 3850 with a Leadtek 9531 GPS Receiver and we couldn't fault this in any way.

 

Requirements

All you need is a Pocket PC and a GPS receiver.

 

Conclusion

TrafCam is a great product for allowing you to easily detect your speed, and to be notified of frequent speed enforcement camera sites.  The product works very well, and has the option of allowing you to add newer camera locations to the database and to build upon the current TrafCam database of known camera locations. 

 

The audible notification we found were loud enough, and visual warning notification was more than adequate. 

 

If TrafCam can be implemented into several GPS navigation products like Navman SmartST Pro, TomTom Navigator, CoPilot and Destinator via an API interface, then this really would be a killer app!

 

The current subscription package for TrafCam comes in at 79 per year, which for what it does, compared to various other radar detectors is priced very reasonably!  You could in-fact get 5+ years use out of TrafCam before it would cost as much as a top of the range Radar Detector would.

 

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