GPS Digital Assistants - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-23-2011, 04:22 PM   #15
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I am pretty good at finding my way around, so I did not think I would get much use out of a GPS. But about 4 years ago I won a Garmin Nuvi 350 in a company drawing at the annual meeting (about the only thing of significance I've ever won, I think). Since then I find that I do enjoy and value the GPS. Especially for navigating through large, unfamiliar cities. But also it tells me the miles and projected time to my destination and displays an accurate speedometer... which let me know that my car's speedometer is consistently 2 mph low at highway speed.

Just take it with a grain of salt occasionally. Out in the country it can be flat wrong sometimes; I was looking for a rural address one time and it wanted to get me a mile over, so it routed me onto a dead end road that only went 1/2 a mile. And then there was the time I found a newly constructed expressway north of E. St. Louis, and the GPS kept trying to get me off it... ("recalculating... recalculating...") ...the display showed me driving on open space for about 5 miles.

I do like to take a laptop along too, for looking at topo maps with trails and such. Or I will spot what appear to be possible boondocking locations (short little side roads in national forests) on the laptop.

There are also GPS units made for hiking, but they are limited in road/highway info and lack the convenient voice prompts. I would definitely recommend one of the highway-navigation type GPS's, not a hiking one, for your stated purpose.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:20 AM   #16
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I considered purchasing a GPS but realized that it was just one more thing for me to forget in the car or lose! ;-)

Had a Blackberry with GPS that worked pretty well but now have a IPhone that has a bigger screen and seems to work even better than my old Blackberry on those few occasions when I really need a GPS.
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:01 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ron Stewart View Post
If you can afford one, get a smartphone with the Google Android operating system. It will include Google Maps. When you get to your destination, it will display a picture. Never needs updating, but can sometimes be out-of-date.

In addition to the high initial cost, you need a data connection while you are travelling. This means expense, and potential trouble in area with poor cellular reception.

I write this with no personal experience, though. But I want one.
I just corresponded with a friend who recently toured from Oregon to New Mexico. She used a Garmin gps and an Android smart phone. She reports that if she could only have one for navigation, it would be the stand-alone gps. Too many back-roads with no cell service. But, when there was a data connection, the phone was easier to use. Garmin menus are not friendly, I can say from experience.

{Aside - This all comes down to Google's corporate philosophy that you should own a dumb terminal and use their mainframes for data processing and storage. The point of the PC revolution was to overturn that model. Remember Pournelle's call for one person, at least on CPU?}

I don't know if Apple, Blackberry or Windows Mobile smartphones need to download maps as they go along.

I understand that you can load alternative gps apps and map data into Android phones. This will let you use the device as a GPS without a cell connection, but I gather you need to be fairly techhy to do it right. The user experience won't be as slick as with the Google product.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:13 PM   #18
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Over the 5 years I have had phones with GPS ability I have found that the cell service has improved a lot - even over the past 2 years. Last week I was driving in an area that I have never gotten cell coverage at all in the past - yet I had it all the way. Suspect that it will not be long before the blank spots for cell coverage are a thing of the past.

As mentioned you do need a data plan to get coverage and when traveling outside of your home country roaming charges can get expensive if you dont plan ahead. When I travel into the US I purchase an add on data plan that is good for 30 days of downloading in the US and if I remember correctly it is only an additional $10 on top of my main Canadian service agreement. Well worth it as that includes all my incoming emails and text messages as well so I dont need to hook up my laptop and look for a free wifi spot to read my mail.

Google does need to be downloaded as it goes along if using a Blackberry or Iphone so the data plan is a must using them.
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:30 PM   #19
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We borrow our sons tom tom and it is great. i dont really know too much about them but after the sun goes down it is a handy tool. Once you park the rig and go off exploring it gets you around quite well.
However we seem to get it in adventure mode once in a while and it has taken us off the beaten track. We found a few beautiful roads and parks that we have missed without it too
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