February 28, 2006
Ricoh Corporation and GlobalSat Inc., today announced a strategic relationship to provide unprecedented GPS accuracy of geo-coded digital images. GlobalSat's BC-337 is a highly portable CompactFlash GPS Receiver, which utilizes SiRF's Star III low-power chipset. When combined with Ricoh's GPS-Ready Pro G3 Digital Camera, high-resolution images are embedded with precise GPS coordinates. So, not exactly your average point and shoot for the family vacation photos, but an interesting refinement in this area. As we continue to get smaller and more efficient GPS chips, I can see this taking off in the consumer segment. Vacation photos, when taken outdoors, would be great to show along with the fly through capability of Google Maps. No more explanation of “Well, this one was taken over here, and then we walked three blocks, and that’s taken form over there…”
Continue reading: "New Ricoh GPS Ready Camera – The Ricoh Pro G3"
February 28, 2006
The long awaited Garmin Edge 205 and Garmin Edge 305's are now avilable at Amazon. These were announced (see article) LAST AUGUST, and we have been waiting a long time for these units. These are, in concept, an adaptation of the popular Forerunners to the cyclist's needs. With plenty of thought put into these, the Cyclist now has the ability to plot his or her routes, heart rate, cadence, altitude and distance all together in one place to understand their training history and needs. They aren't specifically designed for navigation, but instead designed as a training aid. There are four basic configurations:
Garmin Edge 205 - The Garmin Edge 205 is the entry level model that is a stand alone unit allowing you to track your route, as well as your speed, elevation, etc. All of this information can then be downloaded onto your PC for tracking and developing a training regimen. This information can also be uploaded to Garmin's Motionbased.com website, or used with Google Earth.
Garmin Edge 305HR - The Garmin Edge 305HR adds a heart monitor funciton to the set-up while offering all of the features that the Edge 205 offers. By strapping on the heart rate monitor strap to your chest, you can wirelessly transmit heart rate info to the device. You can now see how your heart rate factors into your training results.
Garmin Edge 305CAD - The Garmin Edge 305 CAD has a cadence device that bolts onto your bike and measures cadence as a data input into your training records. Again, it has all of the funcitons that the Edge 205 has, plus the cadence feature. It does not have the heart rate monitor.
Garmin Edge 305CAD/HR - The Garmin Edge CAD/HR has both the cadence and Heart rate monitoring features, as well as the data collection capabilities as the Edge 205.
February 28, 2006
February was a busy month for earnings announcements as we saw three blockbuster announcements come through. We saw Garmin announce that they had profits up 82% over year ago, TomTom announce that they had earnings up a whopping 411%, and are now #2 in the US market for mobile GPS devices. Also, we reported on chipset maker SiRF, whose SiRF star III chipset is responsible for powering a whole lot of GPS units these days - their earnings were up over 100% after you factor out a bunch of one time stuff. Things are booming in the world of GPS.
We also finished our review of the mid-tier Lowrance iWay 350C. We have had a lot of people dropping us emails thanking us for this one.
Handheld game maker Gizmondo who included a GPS feature went into liquidation.
Google and Volkswagon announced that they were working together on vehicle navigation systems.
And Finally, we also reported on the availability of Garmin's newly customized GPS for Buell motorcycles., while Waypoint came out with a handheld GPS model PDA that is customized for Real Estate Agents.
February 25, 2006
The last quarter has been good to GPS providers, with TomTom and the GPS chipset provider SiRF reporting big earnings increases. Garmin has reported some very nice earnings increases in their sales and profit. Total Sales were $319 million up 45% over year ago. This was promarily driven by the consumer segment sales growth of 50% to $260 million. Profits were up 82%.
Garmin has had a great run in 2005 with 55 new or upgraded GPS units introduced into the market. It is no surprise that they are growing quickly and topping out their manufacturing in Taiwan during the fourth quarter with round the clock shifts to meet demand. Things are going so well, they bought more manufacturing capacity in Taiwan during January.
Continue reading: "Garmin has Big Earnings Increase – More New Models ahead"
February 24, 2006
TomTom announced that it has incorporated the Dunkin’ Doughnuts franchises into its Point of Interest (POI) database for its GPS products. This means adding over 4,400 Dunkin’ Doughnut outlets and over 2,700 Baskin-Robbins outlets nationally. That’s a lot of doughnuts and ice cream outlets. So if you have a TomTom unit and go to the Plus services area of their website, you’ll be able to download the Dunkin’ Doughnut’s POI database onto your unit.
Continue reading: "TomTom finds its coffee at Dunkin’ Doughnuts"
February 23, 2006
The Garmin Nuvi 350 travelers assistant was launched a few months ago, and is becoming a hot must have GPS with a slim form factor, high acclaim, and unfortunately a high price. In the latest Review of the Garmin Nuvi 350, CNet has packed on the praise for the unit, saying that the unit that is "no bigger than a deck of cards ... is more than just another voice-guided GPS device, packing travel tools, entertainment features, and good performance." They do cite issues with the steep price, and the fact that traffic features are extra.
More at CNet
February 20, 2006
We've all probably done it, play with the GPS while driving down the road, come on and admit it. It's a dangerous thing to do, but it's done anyway. Well it's being reported from the UK that playing with the GPS / SatNav while driving is in fact dangerous and they have the numbers to prove it, or at least imply it.
“One in 10 motorists with navigation systems set off on their journeys without bothering to program their route, and more than half admitted they had then had to take their eyes off the road to input the details whilst driving.
Nearly one in eight did not even bother to check out a route they were unfamiliar with and simply relied on the technology to get them to their destination.
Continue reading: "In-Car Navigation Systems; Dangerous?"
Details of the Mio 350 and Mio 550 are coming out and it appears that Mio is continuing its push into the GPS enabled PDA/PIM front. The successors to the Mio A201, the Mio 350 and Mio 550 would share the same form factor and would include the SiRF star III chipset for accurate, low power GPS functionality as well as a few features that are becoming standard on PDA's these days.
UPDATE: See our recent post for more info on the Mio 350 and Mio 550 - Update Mio 350 and Mio 500 PDA GPS
The Mio 550, will include WiFi and Bluetooth, (the Mio 350 will not include these features) while both will be running a 400MHz CPU, SiRFstar III GPS receiver, SDIO, and Windows Mobile 5.0. Look for more news in the coming months for an official release.
February 17, 2006
We're pretty excited here around the Blogpire. Over the past few months we've been cooking up a new site to bring to you - ReallyNatural.com. If you need tips on living naturally (Birkenstocks not required) - then this is the site for you. ReallyNatural.com is your resource for product reviews of all of those consumer food, health and beauty, and household goods marketed as 'natural', 'organic' and 'environmentally friendly'.
You'll learn as Liesel and Mikko test the waters and offer tips on what it means to 'live naturally.' And where else are you going to find a review on Ecover Ecological Toilet Bowl Cleaner or a nice Organic Wine: 2004 Jelu Malbec and perhaps your didn't buy the right gift on Valentine's Day and should have looked into Chocolate Bars For Your Eco-Conscious Honey. Whatever you're need to be more natural - ReallyNatural.com will have it.
Now on with the Best of the Blogpire!
Don Eduardo Silver Tequila Review
Cocktail Parties 101
Single Serve Coffee
Review: Tully's French Roast & Kona Blend K-Cups from Single Serve Coffee.com
Four New K-Cups from Green Mountain Coffee
Folding Cutting Board
Pig Baking Dish
"Buzzed" - a Shaving DVD
It's The Microfins, Not The Blades
Philips RC9800i Touchscreen Remote Control Review
American Idol Crushes the Winter Olympics in TV Ratings
Kimono Top by Geren Ford
TomTom now #2 in US for Mobile GPS
Magellan eXplorist 210 Outdoor Bundle
The Cooking News
Wine News: Selecting the Perfect Red Wine
Recipe News: Heart-healthy recipes
Just The Chips
The Book of Bluffs - How to Bluff at Poker
Small Stakes Hold 'em
February 15, 2006
The CEO of SiRF is indicating that most mobile phones will have a GPS chip in them, greatly expanding the category above and beyond the GPS unit market of today. "In the next 5 years it will become a required element for most phones, except for the very, very low end, which are for voice-only usage," said Kanwar Chadha founder of SiRF Technology. Many handsets in the United States and in several Asian markets are being fitted with GPS locators because regulators demand that they are able to locate persons in need.
Want to learn more about SiRF? See our article on "What is SiRF star III?"
In addition to growing demand from the cellphone industry, GPS chips will also be used more in cars and even in consumer electronics.
"The overall market potential is very high," Chadha told Reuters at the world's largest mobile telecommunications fair 3GSM in Barcelona.
February 14, 2006
Well, as previously reported, TomTom is doing well in the US, as they are the number two GPS brand in the mobile (automotive) segment. All that performance in the market translated into sales numbers and profits. Things are looking up for the TomTom folks who took a big gamble on the US market last year by launching an advertising campaign and getting distribution in outlets such as Best Buy.
Continue reading: "Big Earnings Jump at TomTom"
The fourth quarter was pretty sweet on TomTom as they are reporting that they are #2 in mobile GPS sales in the US. Their share of the market is up 250% in the previous six months as the TomTom GO 300 and the TomTom GO 700 have done well in the eyes of the US shopper. TomTom now represents 25% of mobile GPS sales in the market, according to NPD, a market measurement company. The mobile GPS segment is one of the hottest segments for growth right now, as it grew 192% from 2004 holiday season to the 2005 holiday season.
Continue reading: "TomTom now #2 in US for Mobile GPS"
February 13, 2006
TeleNav Inc. today announced the availability of TeleNav's GPS Navigator, a Java-based GPS navigation application that offers visual and audible, turn-by-turn driving directions and mapping, on the BlackBerry 7100i(TM) from Research In Motion (RIM) . TeleNav GPS Navigator first launched on the BlackBerry 7520(TM) in May 20, 200605 as the first GPS navigation application available on the BlackBerry(R) platform. TeleNav, which is similar to the in-car GPS navigation systems found in luxury vehicles, displays maps, graphical driving cues, speed and direction, and provides audible turn-by-turn directions to help drivers get to their desired locations.
Continue reading: "TeleNav Launches Turn-by-Turn GPS Navigation on the RIM BlackBerry 7100i"
February 10, 2006
Magellan launched the eXplorist 210 last summer (see our article), and they are going to be launching a new bundle for this spring. The new bundled package called the eXplorist 210 Outdoor Bundle, where you get not only the GPS receiver but also MapSend Topo 3D USA software, a cigarette lighter adapter, USB cable and clip case.
Continue reading: "Magellan eXplorist 210 Outdoor Bundle"
u-blox AG, the number one Swiss provider of innovative GPS receiver technology, today announced the signing of a partnership with Conrad, the leading European mail-order electronics supplier. Conrad has developed a GPS smart antenna based on the u-blox SuperSense LEA-4H flagship module, which is now available at Conrad's retail and online stores. With its built-in USB interface, low power consumption, unrivaled sensitivity and 17 x 22 mm format, the LEA-4H was chosen for its fantastic navigation performance and low cost.
Continue reading: "u-blox signs deal with computer parts supplier Conrad"
The company Gizmondo is going into liquidation and that's not a good thing. Looks like things are not going too well for the handheld game maker that included a GPS and promised GPS based games. Well, the owners of the Gizmondo handheld games console that promised a host of features including GPS and a digital camera alongside a state of the art games console has gone into liquidation according to the hardware site of The Register.
Tiger Telematics, its parent company failed to persuade the English High Court to put the subsidiary into administration.
GPS your Roulette
Continue reading: "Gizmondo into Liquidation"
Ouch - in a tough move Garmin is suing TomTom for patent infringement over several patents that make GPS units easier to use. In lawsuits filed in federal court in Wisconsin, Garmin contends that TomTom is infringing on five Garmin U.S. patents that protect technology used in its Global Positioning System devices.
Among those patents is one that protects Garmin technology designed to simplify the maps showing a vehicle’s location. The technology calculates which streets are important enough to a driver’s route to be displayed on the device’s on-screen maps.
Continue reading: "Garmin Sues TomTom for Patent Infringement"
February 8, 2006
The TomTom GO 700 has received Engadget’s Gadget of the Year award for GPS units. While readers picked Google Earth as the GPS “gadget” of the year, the staff of Engadget valued the TomTom GO 700 enough that they picked this popular unit. The TomTom GO 700 is a high end mobile device that comes pre-loaded with maps and points of interest while also equipped with Bluetooth for use as a hands free set for talking on your Bluetooth phone while in the car. It also has some nice luxury features that allow you to use the TomTom Plus services that include downloading custom voices for your turn by turn directions as well as live traffic feed updates and current weather. Last November we reviewed the TomTom GO 300 – the little brother of the TomTom GO 700, and overall we thought it was a good solid unit. (read our review) So, congratulations to Google Earth and TomTom for their Engadget Gadget of the Year award.
SiRF will be announcing a new chipset for GPS units that will be smaller and much lower in power than the current SiRF star III which has had great success in capturing the attention of GPS manufacturers. SiRF is at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, and will be announcing the new chipset along with the other recent additions to their line including SiRFLink. SiRFstarIII-LT is the most power-efficient and smallest, manifestation yet of SiRF's flagship SiRFstarIII architecture. SiRFstarIII-LT family of products packs the performance punch of the award-winning SiRFstarIII architecture while cutting power consumption into half compared to existing SiRFstarIII family of products.
Available in two compact packages - 30 to 50 percent smaller than current SiRFstarIII offerings, these are an ideal choice for ever smaller, slimmer portable handheld devices that require leading edge performance with extremely low power consumption. Want to learn more about SiRF star III? Check out our article - "What is SiRF star III?"
February 7, 2006
So, while the GPS market is white hot, GM has announced that they are adding turn-by-turn directions to the OnStar service which will allow users to get automated directions from the service without the need for an add-on GPS unit. How good the experience will be, is yet to be determined. So, while the audio only directions will be a nice upgrade to the already impressive service that started out as not much more than a way to unlock your car. At a time when car makers increasingly need to cut prices to attract consumers, the OnStar service can offer other revenue streams that can be very profitable for the auto maker.
How does it work? Read on.....
Continue reading: "OnStar to get Turn-by-Turn directions"
February 6, 2006
If you have been wondering what the TomTom map upgrade policy is and when it will be happening, the TomTom blog has your answer. We reviewed the tomTom GO 300 last November, and liked using it a lot. (read our review) One of the things that I was a bit down on the TomTom GO 300 was the out of date maps. Well here you go, here's the upgrade schedule for them.
"The most recent U.S. map upgrade was released in Fall 2005; these maps are currently shipping with all new products. The next map upgrade for GO and Navigator 5 will be available Summer 2006. Currently, there are no map upgrades available. To receive notification of map upgrades please register your product online and sign-up for TomTom newsletters. Map upgrades will be available on CD-ROM or via download; this will require connecting the TomTom or your device to a PC and updating via USB cable."
NemeriX, a leading fabless semiconductor company specializing in ultra low power RF and base-band chipsets and software for GPS and wireless applications - today announced that it is demonstrating its newly released indoor-, outdoor- and Assisted- GPS solutions at the 3GSM World Congress, February 13-16, in Barcelona.
NemeriX’s NJ2020 is a hosted GPS baseband processor that is specifically designed for the mobile handset market, by combining unmatched power, performance and accuracy, with the industry’s smallest size and form factor. The NJ2020 achieves indoor sensitivity as low as -158 dBm while consuming under 50mW, and is available in a 6x6mm BGA package which utilizes the memory and processor resources already available on a host platform such as a PDA or mobile phone.
Continue reading: "NemeriX - New low power GPS Chip"
February 4, 2006
Microsoft is no newcomer to the Streets and Trips world, and that doesn't stop them from added a few new features to keep the product fresh for 2006. So, while the vocabulary is limited, Microsoft Streets & Trips has included voice prompted capability in 2006. It does not do Text to Speech directions (i.e. "Turn right on Maple Street in 200 feet", instead it says "Turn right in 200 feet"). The GPS modiule is provided by Pharos Science and Application Inc. and turns any laptop, Windows Mobile based PDA or Smart phone into an all inclusive GPS tracking device. All you have to do is plug in the GPS Locator via a USB port and you can start using the mapping software in real time.
The folks over at PC Magazine tried out the software and unit and thought things were good, but not great.
Continue reading: "GPS Review: Microsoft Streets & Trips with GPS"
Delorme has been around a long time with their StreetAtlas software, and its was one of the tools I used in the past to help me navigate on long bike trips. I used it to program in routes and then download onto a Garmin eTrex. It's powerful navigation software that also has the ability to listen to a GPS and help you navigate while on the road. The included voice promted can help it act as a full naviational aid with that GPS and your laptop. The Software is loaded with Points of Interest (POI's), and has some nice features that allow you to search for POI's in several ways while on a trip. I like it for the POI Radar tool that allows you to scan for POI's in a radius around your location, or in real time as you go along your route. Overall, I think that it's a better trip navigation tool than an around town navigation tool.
Over at PC Magazine, they recently reviewed the software and the Earthmate LT GPS receiver and thought that it had some great software features, sometimes better than the Microsoft Streets & Trips (see our article covering the Review of MS Streets & Trips) but that GPS accuracy was an issue.
Continue reading: "GPS Review: Delorme Earthmate LT-20 with Street Atlas"
Continue reading: "Review: Lowrance iWay 350c Review by GPS Lodge"
The Lowrance iWay 350C is a mid-tier Automotive GPS device that is loaded with features that can blow you away. It’s a nice unit that has an easy to read 3.5” touchscreen, comes pre-loaded with millions of Points of Interest and Maps, as well as added capabilities that make the iWay 350c stand out as something better that a plain vanilla navigation device. It’s impressive to have the MP3 playing capability in a GPS unit integrated with the FM modulator, working seamlessly with the text to voice directions telling you to "Turn Left on Main Street". I think that it’s a strong contender in the mid-tier category. Lowrance did a good job integrating most features, but as a result of the long list of customizations the unit is a bit bogged down trying to jam so much in. It may appeal well to a GPS enthusiast person, and might just be over the head of your non-techie user. I would liken the iWay 350c to a Windows machine with all of its capabilities and customizations it can get hard to navigate, whereas an Apple makes the interface a dream, and makes things so easy your grandmother can figure it out. So, if you don’t mind a few inconveniences the iWay 350c can offer you a lot. If you’re a total novice with little patience, you might want to look elsewhere.
You've seen them on TV - those high speed police chases. Well a new company has a solution to the dangerous high speed chases; a gps enabled dart that can latch onto a car and transmit its position back to the police dispatcher. What's Star Chase? It is an air-propelled miniature dart equipped with a global positioning device. Once fired from a patrol car, it sticks to a fleeing motorist's vehicle and emits a radio signal to police. This sounds a lot cooler than a dog tracking collar.
Continue reading: "Starchase - GPS Enabled Dart for Police"
February 3, 2006
Volkswagen AG of Germany's American unit on Friday said it is working on a prototype vehicle which features Google Inc.'s satellite mapping software to give drivers a bird's eye view of the road ahead. (See our original post on this)
The two companies are working with the graphics chipmaker Nvidia Corp. to build an in-car navigation map system and a three-dimensional display so passengers can recognise where they are in relation to the surrounding topography.
Continue reading: "Volkswagon and Google announce Partnership on Navigation Systems"
One of the bigger launches this year will be the launch of the Garmin Forerunner 205 and Garmin Forerunner 305, as they bring a couple of great upgrades to the fitness GPS market. With the reconfiguration of the unit to make it more watch-like, and the inclusion of the SiRF star III highly sensitive GPS receiver chipset, the unit looks like it will be a winner (See our explanation on the SiRF star III chipset, and why it's important). The upgrade to the Forerunner 305 also includes a better fitting heart rate monitor which will be another welcome improvement in the product line. The inclusion of the heart rate monitor is the main difference between the Forerunner 205 vs. Forerunner 305.
The older generation Forerunner 201 and 301 have been perennial favorites in the market. I have a Forerunner 201 and I like it. I got it because I liked the GPS aspects of it, but both my wife and I like it for the instantaneous read on our performance while exercising.
Both the Garmin Forerunner 205 and the Garmin Forerunner 305 are available for pre-order from Amazon, with FREE SHIPPING, and will be available on February 13th. The Forerunner 305 is already one of the top GPS sellers at Amazon despite the fact it’s only available for pre-order.
February 2, 2006
SiRF announced that their quarterly earnings nearly doubled over the previous year for the fourth quarter of 2005. No big surprise though, right, as the SiRF star III chipset has been showing up in nearly every cool GPS that'shit the planet in the last six months. So net revenue in the fourth quarter was $54.4 million, up 98% from $27.5 million in 2004. For the entire 2005 year, net revenue was $165 miliion up 41% over 2004. So they brought in a lot of money in sales, but did they make any money?
Continue reading: "HUGE earnings increase for SiRF"
Garmin announced that Buell Motorcycle will begin offering a new Garmin-built GPS navigation system as an accessory specifically designed for its 2006 Ulysses XB12X model.
Named the Buell Quest Portable Navigation System, the system provides premium road navigation capabilities – including automatic routing and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions to addresses or points of interest like lodging, restaurants, and Buell dealers and service centers. Riders will enjoy the unit’s easy-to-use interface and easy-to-read high-resolution color display.
Continue reading: "Garmin on the Road with Buell Motorcycles"
Yes, it's a stretch, but I have a PSP, and they are moving closer to a GPS in the thing, so I thought I would pass this along. Engadget is reporting that the PSP now has UMD based maps (UMD is the mini optical disk in the PSP) for Japan. " The software is similar to most PC-based mapping programs, and allows users to store annotations on Memory Sticks and share info via WiFi. No word on whether Sony plans US or European versions."
With WiFi installed, and a Memory Stick slot there has to be an opportunity to slap GPS functionality in this thing. Why, I have no idea, but its a solution looking for a problem.
Continue reading: "XM Satellite Traffic Expands to Nine New Cities"
XM Satellite Radio,announced that XM NavTraffic, the first nationwide satellite traffic information service for GPS navigation systems, will add nine U.S. metro markets in the first quarter of 2006. This addition brings the total number of markets covered by XM NavTraffic to 31. XM NavTraffic currently delivers real-time traffic information for drivers in 22 markets from New York to Los Angeles. The award-winning technology was also recently selected as a 2005 "Best Consumer Vehicle Application" by the leading telematics industry organization Telematics Update.
So Garmin is reportedly submitting a bid for rival Lowrance. The other day we reported that Simrad Yachting seeking to merge with Lowrance to form a new subsidiary called Navico (see story). Now it appears that Garmin has submitted an offer for Lowrance. In news coming out after the news on Simrad, it appears that garmin was interested in and may still be interested in acquiring Lowrance. The overlap and resulting anti-trust issues may have pushed Lowrance to accept the Simrad bid, but the combination of Garmin and Lowrance would make a formidable GPS power in the combined companies in the consumer, aviation and marine area.
Garmin recently denies making a counter bid for Lowrance. No news though if the dust has settled yet.... stay tuned.
ReadMore on Garmin denying a counterbid.
Mobile Crossing and Pocket Real Estate are teaming up to provide a GPS navigation system with functionality designed for Real Estate Agents. Thanks to technology from Pocket Real Estate, Mobile Crossings new WayPoint Pocket Real Estate Edition combines turn-by-turn spoken directions with complete database access to the agents multiple listing service out-of-the-box.
Continue reading: "WayPoint Pocket Real Estate Edition"
In addition to providing driving directions to the agent, the WayPoint device doubles as a fully featured Windows Mobile PDA organizer.