You have HD traffic on your nuvi—should you add LiveTraffic?

 

Here's the question. You have a new nuvi that has come with lifetime HD traffic, but you also have a smartphone and your nuvi can connect with the smartphone via Bluetooth with the Garmin Smartphone app. The question is: after adding the free Garmin app to your smartphone and linking it to your nuvi for basic weather, should you pay the one-time $20 fee to access LiveTraffic?

Things to know: 1) HD traffic and LiveTraffic do not work at the same time. If you enable LiveTraffic, you will lose your HD traffic; 2) Garmin suggests that LiveTraffic may be better than HD traffic. Is this correct? 3) As far as I know, HD traffic only works in areas that have HD radio broadcasters that offer traffic data and of course, LiveTraffic requires a data connection with your cell phone. 4) I think that the Garmin Smartphone app is available for Android smartphones and iPhones, but not Windows phones right now.

Here's the answer (as of January 2015 since both traffic providers may add or change covered areas): it isn't a slam-dunk decision as you will need to review the coverage for both HD and LiveTraffic areas you expect to visit. Also note that what follows is based on the current coverage areas for HD and LiveTraffic—if either list is incorrect or incomplete, the solution for you may differ from what follows. The first thing to do is check the coverage links for both traffic sources. If your desired locations are available for both, then it's just a question of whether you want to try the $20 LiveTraffic. But note that I've found cities covered by one provider which are not covered by the other. In this case, you have a clear choice of which provider will be best for you. Here are the two coverage links and a summary of certain cities covered by only one provider:

HD coverage:
http://www.navteq.com/hdtraffic/index.html

LiveTraffic Coverage:
http://www8.garmin.com/automotive/nulink_traffic_coverage.ht...

HD-only coverage (no LiveTraffic)
Boca Raton, FL
Cocoa, FL
Des Moines, IA
El Paso, TX
Ft. Pierce, FL
Galveston, TX
Hollywood, FL
Honolulu, HI
Knoxville, TN
Madison, WI
Middletown, CT
Middlesex, NJ (? Livetraffic too if in Northern NJ)
Monterey, CA
Morristown, NJ (? Livetraffic too if in Northern NJ)
Newark, NJ (? Livetraffic too if in Northern NJ)
Palm Springs, FL
Racine, WI
Spartanburg, SC
Stuart, FL
West Palm Beach, FL
Winterhaven, FL

LiveTraffic-only coverage (No HD Traffic)
Albuquerque, NM
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ
Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA (? unless covered by HD Atlanta)
Bakersfield, CA
Towson, MD
Baton Rouge, LA
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX
Hoover, AL (? unless covered by HD Birmington)
Cambridge-Quincy, MA (? unless covered by HD Boston)
Cape Coral, FL (? unless covered by HD Ft. Myers)
Concord, NC or SC (? unless covered by HD Charlotte)
Naperville-Joliet, IL (? unless covered by HD Chicago)
Middletown, OH (? unless covered by HD Cincinnati)
Elyria-Mentor, OH (?unless covered by HD Cleveland)
Colorado Springs, CO
Arlington, TX (? unless covered by Dallas Fort Worth)
Deltona-Ormond Beach, FL (? unless covered by HD Daytona Beach)
Aurora, CO (? unless covered by Denver)
Warren-Livonia, MI (? unless covered by HD Detroit)
Wyoming, MI (?unless covered by HD Grand Rapids)
Mauldin-Easley, SC (? unless covered by HD Greenville)
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA
West and East Hartford, CT (? unless covered by HD Hartford)
Sugarland-Baytown, TX (? unless covered by HD Houston)
Carmel, IN (? unless covered by HD Indianapolis)
Lancaster, PA
Lansing-East Lansing, MI
Paradise, NV (? unless covered by HD Las Vegas)
Lincoln, NE
North Little Rock-Conway, AR (? unless covered by HD Little Rock)
Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA (? unless covered by HD Los Angeles)
Jefferson County, KY (Louisville is covered by HD)
Manchester-Nashua, NH
Memphis, (includes TN, MS and AR)
Merced, CA
Pompano Beach, FL (? unless covered by HD Miami or Ft. Lauderdale)
Waukesha-West Allis, WI (? unless covered by HD Milwaukee)
Bloomington, MN (? unless covered by Minneapolis-St Paul)
Mobile, AL
Modesta, CA
Napa, CA
Marco Island, FL (? unless covered by HD Naples)
Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN (? unless covered by HD Nashville)
Milford, CT (? unless covered by HD New Haven)
Metairie-Kenner, LA (? unless covered by HD New Orleans)
Northern NJ and Long Island, NY-NJ-PA (? unless covered by HD New York)
Norwich-New London, CT
Ogden-Clearfield, UT
Kissimmee, FL (? unless covered by HD Orlando)
Thousand Oaks, CA (? unless covered by HD Oxnard or Ventura)
Palm Bay-Melbourne, FL (? unless covered by HD Titusville)
Camden, NJ (? unless covered by a nearby HD city)
Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ (? unless covered by Phoenix)
Port St Lucie, FL
Vancouver-Beaverton, OR (? unless covered by HD Portland)
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY
New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA (? unless covered by HD Providence)
Orem, UT (? unless covered by HD Provo)
Cary, NC (? unless covered by HD Raleigh)
San Bernadino-Ontario, CA (? unless covered by HD Riverside)
Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA (? unless covered by HD Sacramento)
Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA (? unless covered by HD San Diego)
Oakland-Fremont, CA (? unless covered by HD San Francisco)
Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA (? unless covered by HD San Jose)
Santa Maria-Goleta, CA (? unless covered by HD Santa Barbara)
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA
Venice, FL (? unless covered by HD Sarasota or Bradenton)
Bellevue, WA (? unless covered by HD Seattle or Tacoma)
Stockton, CA
Syracuse, NY
Toledo, OH
Ewing, NJ (unless covered by a nearby HD area)
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
Newport News, VA (? unless covered by HD Virginia Beach or Norfolk)
Arlington-Alexandria, VA (? unless covered by HD Washington DC)
Worcester, MA
York-Hanover, PA
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA
All 13 traffic-covered cities in Canada

Summary: You really need to do a search of covered areas to know what's best for you. Yes, LiveTraffic offers more coverage but there are areas in which HD traffic still is better. There is apparently no HD traffic offered in Canada while LiveTraffic is offered in 13 cities so Canadians may have an easy choice if they travel in any of the 13 cities often.

I may have entered some cities incorrectly and I expect that both the HD and LiveTraffic coverage links are not as current as they should be, so if you find a change that's needed, please let us know. If you live or travel in states/provinces with sparse coverage, it'd be nice just to hear you confirm that the suggested sparse coverage in this thread is correct.

My finding

I have HD traffic and I noted in driving in the area recently that the coverage in Denver Colorado includes traffic for I-70 west going up into the Rockies. I was given a warning of 10-20 minute delays from the start of the climb all the way at least to the Eisenhower Tunnel and the report was correct.

More Information

You’ve picked a tough one here Craig due to the number of variables involved. It will however be interesting to hear from other members who have done comparison testing.

I’d like to add a couple of points to your usual very thorough post.

The city coverage lists for both HD and Live traffic can be deceiving. When you click on the link provided for HD traffic, http://www.navteq.com/hdtraffic/index.html you can click again on each city and bring up a detailed coverage map. In my travels around PA, NY, NJ, CT and MD, I find them to be fairly accurate as long as my GTM60 traffic receiver has a clear view of the sky. When you compare these coverage areas, some overlap. There are also many “dead zones” with no coverage in between.

The city list for Live traffic, http://www8.garmin.com/automotive/nulink_traffic_coverage.ht... does not show individual city coverage areas. For that, you have to go to the Navteq / HERE real time traffic page https://www.here.com/traffic?lang=en-US and scroll down to the United States section. From there you click on an individual city.

When you select New York for example, you see real time live traffic reports listed for about a 50 mile radius around the city. If you zoom out, the coverage area expands to include Boston and Philadelphia with no obvious “dead zones” in between. There are many mid-size cities covered that do not appear on the list. In fact, you can move the map over the entire country and see every Navteq traffic report. It quickly becomes clear that coverage gaps occur as you move toward the central U.S. Although there are no definitive boundaries for coverage areas, over time, it becomes clear where the reports are being generated.

These reports are what you should see on your Smartphone Link enabled GPSr providing you are in a 3G / 4G cellular service area and there are no server delays. This of course will vary by cellular provider. Keep in mind these reports are only as good as Navteq’s ground / air reporting sources. There are always errors and omissions. The same is true with HD traffic.

In any case, with the comparison testing I've done here in the Northeast, Live traffic beats HD traffic hands down.

As you said, individual results will depend on where you are located and some trial and error may be required. Comparing the HD city list with the Navteq / HERE map may be a better comparison.

Rick

A question for anyone

bdhsfz6 wrote:

More Information...

A question. Your link:

https://www.here.com/traffic?lang=en-US

offers a link to Phoenix AZ:

https://www.here.com/traffic/usa/phoenix?map=33.44825,-112.0...

From the resulting map when expanded to cover the entire state, it appears that the entire Interstate system in Arizona is covered, so if my smartphone has a data signal, I should be able to find out about traffic issues anywhere in AZ on an interstate highway. Is this correct? Has anyone experienced a livetraffic result well outside of Greater Phoenix that covers an interstate highway (e.g., Kingman, Winslow, Holbrook, Yuma, Wilcox, etc?)

In another thread, my reading of an alandb reply is that in Iowa, both HD and livetraffic are extremely limited even though your Here map for Iowa shows that all interstates and even a couple US/state highways should be monitored and offered to livetraffic as long as a cell phone signal is available for receiving the data.

One more Garmin Smartphone link question: If I subscribe to livetraffic for $20, then decide I prefer HD traffic, can I configure the nuvi to still use the other smartphone link features (photolive and advanced weather, etc.) and disable only livetraffic? I know I can disable the nuvi from cell phone calls while keeping the other features but haven't heard if I can singly disable a specific feature like livetraffic while keeping everything else.

Thanks, Rick, and thanks in advance for future comments from folks here.

Yet More Information

CraigW wrote:
bdhsfz6 wrote:

More Information...

A question. Your link:

https://www.here.com/traffic?lang=en-US

offers a link to Phoenix AZ:

https://www.here.com/traffic/usa/phoenix?map=33.44825,-112.0...

From the resulting map when expanded to cover the entire state, it appears that the entire Interstate system in Arizona is covered, so if my smartphone has a data signal, I should be able to find out about traffic issues anywhere in AZ on an interstate highway. Is this correct? Has anyone experienced a livetraffic result well outside of Greater Phoenix that covers an interstate highway (e.g., Kingman, Winslow, Holbrook, Yuma, Wilcox, etc?)

In another thread, my reading of an alandb reply is that in Iowa, both HD and livetraffic are extremely limited even though your Here map for Iowa shows that all interstates and even a couple US/state highways should be monitored and offered to livetraffic as long as a cell phone signal is available for receiving the data.

One more Garmin Smartphone link question: If I subscribe to livetraffic for $20, then decide I prefer HD traffic, can I configure the nuvi to still use the other smartphone link features (photolive and advanced weather, etc.) and disable only livetraffic? I know I can disable the nuvi from cell phone calls while keeping the other features but haven't heard if I can singly disable a specific feature like livetraffic while keeping everything else.

Thanks, Rick, and thanks in advance for future comments from folks here.

I’m far from being an expert on Garmin traffic. What I have learned, I picked up in bits and pieces around the net along with some personal experimentation.

As far as I know, there is no way to disable just the Live traffic feature. In order to switch to HD traffic, Smartphone Link must be disabled entirely. This link may offer more information:
http://jkcarp.blogspot.com/2012/01/garmin-smartphone-link-li...
A 3490 was used for the illustrations but the screen and menu structure is similar to the 3597.

I don’t believe there is a defined coverage area for Garmin’s Live traffic like there is for HD traffic. Live traffic uses the Navteq / HERE database which is capable of tracking road reports throughout the US and in many foreign countries as well. Some areas appear to have no coverage simply because there are no “eyes” out there to make the reports. Coverage seems to be more a factor of population and traffic density rather than a specific geographic area. I suspect the minimal number of reports in some states like Arizona and Iowa is due to the lack of reporting infrastructure.

BTW, Arizona is God's country IMO. I'd gladly swap locations with you Craig if you want better traffic coverage (lol). I get out there whenever I can. I'd move to Flagstaff in a heartbeat if I could convince my wife to go.

From experiments I’ve done running Garmin Smartphone Link and Waze side by side, I believe the Live traffic screen in Smartphone Link is capable of displaying any report generated by Navteq / HERE as long as it is within a specific distance of the GPSr’s location or along a route it is navigating. I don’t know exactly what that specific distance is but it seems to vary with geographic location.

When I get the time, I’m going to try running Live traffic on a 3597 side by side with the Navteq / HERE real time web page booted on a Windows tablet. That experiment should yield some useful information.

Thanks

bdhsfz6 wrote:

As far as I know, there is no way to disable just the Live traffic feature. In order to switch to HD traffic, Smartphone Link must be disabled entirely. This link may offer more information:
http://jkcarp.blogspot.com/2012/01/garmin-smartphone-link-li...
A 3490 was used for the illustrations but the screen and menu structure is similar to the 3597.

BTW, Arizona is God's country IMO. I'd gladly swap locations with you Craig if you want better traffic coverage (lol). I get out there whenever I can. I'd move to Flagstaff in a heartbeat if I could convince my wife to go.

Wow, the link you provide is two years old so Garmin's had the chance over and over to revise the phone app or nuvi firmware but hasn't.

Clearly, the reports we read show livetraffic as a real gain over HD in the Northeast US, at least from DC up to Massachusetts or thereabouts and going west into PA. But for those elsewhere, adding livetraffic may cost $20 with the result of eliminating traffic reports from the nuvi permanently unless we're willing to give up the app's weather and other features!

I'd pay the $20 if it even occasionally helped me in AZ but I'll wait for folks with actual AZ livetraffic reports before I consider it.

PS—If you'd like Flagstaff, also consider Prescott. (Prescott is similar but has a Culver's and a Trader Joe's—Costco, too, but I don't covet that like it do frozen custard or TJs.)

It Depends Mainly on Where You Travel

I doubt that Smartphone link is a big money maker for Garmin. They are releasing occasional updates to fix bugs and such and to keep current with smartphone OS updates but there have been no major improvements that I’ve noticed. It remains to be seen just how long they will continue to support the product.

It obviously depends on where you travel if Smartphone Link is worth the $20 price tag. If I owned a Nuvi that was both HD Traffic and Smartphone Link compatible, but the unit didn’t include the GTM 60 traffic receiver, I would probably try Smartphone Link at $20 first before investing $60 on the GTM 60 HD Traffic receiver.
Specifically these Nuvi models are: 2457, 2495, 2497, 2577, 2595, and 2597.

This is a bit off topic but I find the free Waze smartphone traffic app to be quite useful, especially when used together with a separate GPSr.

Using Arizona as an example, boot the Waze live map https://www.waze.com/livemap and zoom in on the Phoenix area.
Now boot the Navteq / HERE Live traffic map, which provides data to Garmin’s Smartphone Link in the Phoenix area https://www.here.com/traffic/usa/phoenix?map=33.44825,-112.0...

Waze shows far more reports than Navteq and they are updated more frequently.

I’m by no means endorsing Waze here. Like every other traffic reporting system I’ve tried, it also has its problems. Low or loss of audio and Bluetooth conflicts are among my biggest complaints. Still, at $0, I find it an acceptable alternative when paired with a GPSr.

Me?

I'm quite satisfied with the HD traffic. It has always worked well for me and I see no need to pay for anything else. But, each to his/her own.

--
It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible. ----George Washington

HD Traffic

Garmin HD traffic works fine around the NY area on my 2495LMT.

I use Waze app as a backup

--
Michael J