Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

In the market for a GPS

  1. May 13, 2010 #1

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I've been thinking about picking up a GPS unit.

    I'd probably use it in my car for driving.
    I'd like to be able to take it other places (hand-held) such as walking or even sailing.
    I definitely want to be able to download its data.

    I think my first two items might be in conflict. Is a car unit aimed at driving directions whereas a hand-held is more aimed at coordinates?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2010 #2

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Car units are pretty much superseded by phones.
    Hiking/sailing depends on your budget/gadgetry.
    None of the hiking ones have had good enough maps upto now so I just use a very simple Garmin Gecko - small rugged very cheap and uses 2 AA batteries, which without a color screen last >24hours of continuous use.
     
  4. May 13, 2010 #3
    I recently purchased a Garmin Nuvi 1300. It has three modes 1)car 2)bicycle 3)walking. I can download updated maps but I have not tried that yet.
    My Garmin routes you to your destination via the roads and highways (regardless of what mode it is in). My handheld unit routes you to your destination via the waypoint (coordinates) that you enter (ignoring the roads). So I guess the Garmin 1300 would not be very useful for sailing (unless you just want to know what your coordinates are). But to be honest, I don't know what it would do out on the water where there are no roads. :)
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
  5. May 14, 2010 #4

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    ?? I'm sure a phone can do this, but are you saying TomTom etc. is on the way out?


    Are these two different units?

    It's useful for waypoints and useful for knowing the coastline. Frankly, I've got a unit on the boat already so that's not such a big deal.
     
  6. May 14, 2010 #5
    Yes, the handheld unit is an eTrex. I don't know the model number as I don't have it with me.

    It seems that you are looking for a unit that is well suited for driving as well as hiking (off road). I don't know if such units are available. But if you plan on walking by road or sidewalk then the Garmin 1300 should work just fine for that (although it's larger and not as rugged as the eTrex). It's very easy to use (idiot proof). Just punch in the destination address (you can also enter coordinates) via the touch screen and the unit highlights your route on the map. Another thing I've noticed about the Garmin is that it's receiver is much better than the eTrex. I've never had the Garmin lose reception.
     
  7. May 14, 2010 #6

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't know if Garmin has an all in one unit. I know that they have special nautical units.

    Most cell phones have GPS built in and offer mapping and tracking. Some of the service options will read the directions to you so you don't have to look at the unit while driving.
     
  8. May 14, 2010 #7

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I bought my mother a $250 golf GPS from Bushnell for Christmas. It requires a ~$35 yearly subscription for the course downloads

    I recently downloaded a golf gps free trial for my Blackberry. So far, it looks better than what I got my mom. If I choose to buy it (I may not - there are free ones, though with less features), it costs $35 a year as a subscription.

    A similar situation exists for navigation GPS products.

    They aren't dead yet, so if you prefer a bigger screen than you can get on a good smartphone or don't want to get a smartphone, by all means get a stand-alone car gps: I still use mine even though I have my Blackberry (though not as much).
     
  9. May 14, 2010 #8

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes, why pay $200 plus however much in updates for sat-nav when your phone can do it better for free - with live maps and streetview. You can also take your phone with you to find your way from the car park to the destination.

    Hiking/sailing GPS units might hang on for a bit longer, you need rugged waterproof and longer battery life than an iPhone.
     
  10. May 14, 2010 #9

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Two units here - GPSmap 60CSx for bike and walking (it is an older model, although still sold by Garmin) and Garmin nuvi 255W for car. My experience is based on these two, so it is limited.

    First of all - a lot depends on the quality of the map (hardly surprising). There are commercial maps and free maps. Free ones vary in quality, but in my experience it is worth to give them a try (you can have more than one set of maps loaded into device, assuming they all fit the memory, you can select which one to use - so I have commercial one loaded as default and on some occasions I had additional, more accurate map of the area saved on the memory card in the device).

    Second - Garmin policy is that map is tied to a unit, so even if I have a legal road map of Europe and legal GPTopo map of Poland (including even many footpaths) I can't use them both in both units. That sucks.

    Third - car unit has irreplaceable battery, so once it dies, it is dead; 60CSx is powered by two AA batteries which can be replaced any time, it works up to 8 hours on two 2700 NIMH batteries).

    Fourth - 60CSx allows planning of long trips including many waypoints, Nuvi allows just one target point. But - this is the cheapest nuvi model, from what I know those more advanced have no limitations of this type, plus you can set add a via point (more than one, but I have not tested if number of these via points is not limited), which effectively means many waypoints trip, just programming it is cumbersome.

    Fifth - both units come with Garmin MapSource program for Windows, which makes trip planning much easier. On my PC I have access to all maps (both those commercial ones and those free ones).

    Sixth - both work OK and I am happy with them. They could be better, but as I wrote - it is an older model and a cheaper model, which explains their limitations.
     
  11. May 14, 2010 #10

    Gokul43201

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Good enough for what?
     
  12. May 14, 2010 #11

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Hiking?

    Most of the built-in map ones had basically road maps, eg 1:100,000, no contours.

    This one has very good 1:25,000 topo maps, but isn't cheap.
    51Cc-cYs6QL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
     
  13. May 14, 2010 #12

    Gokul43201

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Topo(R) makes tons of maps with full topographic info (at 24K and 100K) as well as virtually all known backcountry trails. They are uploadable onto most Garmin hiking GPS systems. But, yes, they're expensive!

    This is not an endorsement - these just happen to the the hardware and software that I'm familiar with.
     
  14. May 14, 2010 #13

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Usually you are not limited to the built in map. I am sure that's the case for the Garmin devices, but I remember reading that some other makes are similar.

    Edit: that's more or less was Gokul wrote :)
     
  15. May 16, 2010 #14

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Oh I just dunno. Whatever I get it'll be the wrong thing. :(
     
  16. May 18, 2010 #15

    Mech_Engineer

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    For hiking and off-roading I have an Oregon 300 and love it:

    41EzEU5O0xL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
    https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Orego...1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1274216516&sr=8-1

    You can download free topo maps for it that are 1:24k resolution (www.gpsfiledepot.com), so getting built-in topo maps is not an issue. This unit doesn't do too great with on-road directions, but that's why I have my Moto Droid :)

    One thing that's great about it though- it's tough. Waterproof, dustproof, can be droppped in a lake and floats, etc. I'm very happy with it, and use it all the time to navigate back trails in AZ, NM, and CO (hiking or 4x4ing). It also takes 2 AA batteries, which means you can carry extras if you'll be out for more than 10-15 hours (which is about how long it lasts on a single set, depending on your screen brightness setting).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: In the market for a GPS
  1. GPS + Zaurus (Replies: 0)

  2. GPS Woes (Replies: 5)

  3. IPhone GPS tracker (Replies: 3)

Loading...