February 29, 2008

TwoNav - On Road and Off Road Navigation

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This just in ahead of CeBit 2008 is a cool idea that has seen a few entries already with the Magellan CrossOver and the Lowrance XOG, but this one looks better designed to take with your instead of just sitting in the car.

The unit will be available in Europe, and has the ability to navigate on roads much like other GPS units with verbal turn cues, and automatic route calculation. Off road, the 3-D maps (Not true Topo maps- which are available as an option) come with the unit and allow you to navigate like any handheld unit.

No hard launch date for the US, but I would imagine we're on the list.

More at TwoNav

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February 28, 2008

Garmin Sued over Nuvifone Name

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A PBX business phone company, Nuvio, is suing Garmin over the Nuvifone name trying to prevent them from using the name to launch the navigational mobile phone later this year under the Nuvifone name. On top of that, they are also seeking damages and trying to prevent Garmin from selling Nuvi GPS units!!!! I guess while you've got the lawyers at the table, you might as well go for the gusto with that one.

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February 27, 2008

TomTom Earnings - Sales up, Prices Down

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TomTom reported earnings and as you would expect out of a GPS maker riding the wave of a surging category the sales were way up; up 123% in unit sales year over year for the quarter, with sales up 33%. Not bad, as they retained a high market share in Europe - 49% in the fourth quarter and achieved a 27% share in the US. All wrapped up in this is a declining average sales price, resulting in a market share push.

While the sales are way up, the investment community got spooked on the reports that margins are getting squeezed as the prices are dropped. With those lower prices, TomTom is expecting to see the GPS market at 38 million units, up from 25 million units in 2007; a 50% growth rate. I'll bet a lot of industries would love to have a 50% growth rate......

They also recently mentioned that hey are having a press conference at CeBit this coming week where they will undoubtedly announce new models.

Via

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February 26, 2008

Edge 605/705 Coming to Stores Near You

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The new Garmin Edge 605 and 705 are (finally) coming to a store near you. After a brief delay to make sure things are right, they are on the way to a store just in time for St Patrick's Day.

The new Edge 705 can wirelessly share routes, and waypoints with other Edge 705's besides doing all that bike computer stuff like measuring cadence, heartrate and speed. The interesting thing is that the new Edge can also act as a navigator with audible directions to keep you on route in those long dog day afternoon rides.

Via Garmin Blog

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February 24, 2008

Garmin Nuvi 780 Full Review - MSN Direct 2

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UPDATE: MSN Direct will stop service January 1, 2012 - buyer beware that the traffic and other information services will not work after that date.

Just announced at CES 2008, the Garmin Nuvi 780 is the new widescreen navigator from Garmin that has the MSN Direct version services built in. Being part of the 700 series, it includes a lot of the high end extras that you'd expect including text-to-speech, maps of North America, 5+ Million POI, Bluetooth Handsfree and the ability to do optimized routing. This Nuvi 780 was equipped with the SiRF chipset.

As you start to get into higher end GPS units, you start to add features that are certainly advanced and can make life great if you are an intensive user of the GPS. For instance, the Nuvi 780 has advanced routing features that allows you to input several locations and allow the Nuvi to optimize the route. Something road warriors will appreciate. For me, the MSN Direct services make it pretty obvious that gas prices are going to be a must have capability going forward for any connected GPS.

ArrowContinue reading: "Garmin Nuvi 780 Full Review - MSN Direct 2"

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GPS Steals and Deals - 2/24

Some reasonable deals out there this week, with some good ones and some bad ones showing up in the stores. Here's what I could find that looked pretty popular and pretty good.

Standard Screens - 3.5-inch


Widescreen Models



  • Nuvi 660 at Amazon $379 - Text to Speech, North American Maps, TMC Traffic Capability included. See My Full Review - Nuvi 660
  • Nuvi 200W at Amazon $225 - No Text to Speech, Continental US Maps. (BestBuy has this model on "Sale" for $299 this week.) See My Full Review - Nuvi 200W.
  • TomTom XL S at Amazon $349 - Text to Speech, North American Maps.
  • Nuvi 650 - $299 at Costco; after $100 coupon. Very good deal on a Text to speech unit in widescreen. Essentially the same as the Nuvi 660 minus the TMC Traffic and Bluetooth Handsfree. Deal good through 3/9.

  • Nuvi 750 - $390 at Amazon, New thin design with Text to Speech and Maps of North America. Route Optimization - plug in multiple stops and let the unit optimize the route for fastest planning.



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February 22, 2008

Widescreen GPS Deals

The deals on Amazon deserved a quick update tonight. Not only can you get the Nuvi 660 for the mid-$300's, but you can get the Magellan 4050 for $299. Stack 'em high and price 'em cheap.

Garmin Nuvi 660 - One of my favorite units for a long time, the Nuvi 660 comes with the TMC traffic receiver (3-month subscription included) built right into the power cable, a first, and now over a year later starting to become the standard on other models. Text-to-speech and maps of North America combine with Garmin's rock solid interface to make for a pretty good deal. - $369 at Amazon - For More Information - see My Full Review Garmin Nuvi 660

Magellan 4050 - I had to post this one, at $299, it looks like a pretty feature packed unit for the price. Widescreen, with Maps of North America, and TMC traffic capable - 3 month trial included, but you need the optional TMC cradle. The big feature that Magellan likes to talk up, is the voice command capability. You can't do everything with it, but voice commands can definitely cut down on the distractions. I will say that I used the Magellan Maestro 3140, which has a similar interface, and thought it could use some development but overall gave good directions. See My Full Review of Magellan Maestro 3140 for more information.

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Excellent Customer Service for GPS

With GPS prices coming down, more and more people are getting on the GPS bandwagon. The thing is that with more sales come more questions, and Customer Service and support for the device becomes critical. This is where companies either shine or die. I have always had a good experience with Garmin support, getting a live person at or near their Kansas headquarters who knows what I am talking about and I find that they can still teach me a thing or two about a GPS even after all these years. Response time over email is also fast.

TomTom has good service too. They got battered around a couple of years ago for poor customer service, but have changed their entire approach, brought a lot of improvements to the system and even got an award last year for customer service excellence.

Both Garmin and TomTom support their models, software and maps with regular updates to the operating systems and to the maps available for purchase.

DeLorme Excellence

I stumbled across a post on The Consumerist that highlights another customer service story that I think puts DeLorme in the same class as Garmin and TomTom for customer service. The short story is that someone bought one of the DeLorme PN-20 handhelds from Amazon, got the older version and DeLorme immediately sent the updated software after a quick and friendly call. The person takes off for a trip and leaves the USB cable behind, not allowing him to update the maps while on the road; what's DeLorme do? Overnights a USB cable as a result of the trouble he has gone through and the situation he is in. Those folks in Maine seem to know how to do things right. If you're ever on your way to LL Bean in Maine, stop by DeLorme and see Eartha, DeLorme's massive Earth globe in their lobby.

Read the whole story about DeLorme Customer Service Excellence at The Consumerist.

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Navigon Unit Software Update - Now Available


NavigonLogo.gifNavigon has released their software update for the 2100, 5100, and 7100 units. I will be loading the update soon, but thought I would pass this along. Should fix some of the complaints on the text to speech vice guidance that people had where the unit would skip the street name if the turn was imminent. I'll let you know what I think in a while. In the meantime, leave a comment if you've done the software update and tell us what you think.

From the Navigon Website:

Your Free Software Update Release 1.1

NAVIGON issues software release updates for existing GPS products to improve upon system performance, efficiencies, and the overall user experience. The following software release, Software Update 1.1, delivers several improvements to North American NAVIGON GPS Navigators, the NAVIGON 7100, NAVIGON 5100 and NAVIGON 2100/2120 devices, chief among them are:

* Better and easier to use Point-of-Interest searches

* Improved voice guidance and text-to-speech functions

* Enhanced user interface

* Improved Bluetooth® stability (7100 only)


More Information --> See My Full Review of the Navigon 2100 GPS

Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

February 21, 2008

Dash Delays Shipments until Late March

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Readers from all over are sending in their emails that they got from Dash Navigation today announcing that their units will not ship until Late March. Citing their concern for shipping a product that was technically ready, they want to make a few more changes. I used to work for a consumer products company and it was never a good thing to slip a ship date once you made it public, so if you had to, it must have been a pretty big reason.

Want more information? See my post after a Hands On Usage of the Dash Express

See the text to the letter after the jump.....

ArrowContinue reading: "Dash Delays Shipments until Late March"

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February 20, 2008

Garmin Profit Jumps

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Garmin's sales for the 4th quarter were up 99% versus year ago to $1.2Billion in the quarter. That's too bad, they were up 100% last year; missed it by that much...... Anyway, earnings were also up 70% to $1.39 per share. Things were up all over the place as sales grew significantly in their Automotive, outdoor/fitness, aviation and marine. Growth was seen in all geographies too.

Wall St hit them a bit after the announcement as the street is a little concerned over the decline in selling prices. I have noticed that Garmin used to carry a premium price over TomTom on many models, but are now undercutting them on some models. It is certainly a more aggressive market out there as people are fighting for their share of the explosive growth. Expect TomTom Earnings out in a few days...

Garmin also mentioned that they expect retail prices to drop by 20% this year; not sure if that means a drop across the board, or average price when you include the new high end units that have yet to hit the market. But to me a 20% drop on a $260 Nuvi 350 means a Nuvi 350 that is around $199 for the holidays.

Dr. Min Kao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said, "Garmin experienced an exciting fourth quarter, which brought a strong finish to fiscal 2007. The strong holiday season demand we experienced clearly demonstrated that our products are well-positioned to take advantage of the growing interest in portable navigation devices. Independent market research indicates we have maintained a strong leadership position in North America, and our market position in Europe continues to improve as well."

Press Release is below....

ArrowContinue reading: "Garmin Profit Jumps"

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Garmin ANT+ Technology Flexible Wireless Sharing

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The technology that is powering more and more of Garmin's devices these days is called ANT+ wireless technology. It's a short range wireless technology that Garmin gained when they bought Dynastream back in December of 2006. The technology allows the Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) to talk to the Forerunner 405, or the cadence meter to talk to the Edge 705. The interesting thing about it is that you can start to pair these device add-on's with other equipment. Upgrading from the Forerunner 305 to the Forerunner 405? You can bring the HRM from the older Garmin and use it with the new one.

The ANT technology is also the wireless protocol in the new Garmin Colorado series, which allows the handheld units to talk and exchange routes and waypoints. The Colorado can also accept a HRM and/or cadence monitor to record that information if you were to use your Colorado on a bike.

Garmin Blog has more information on the ANT technology.


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February 19, 2008

TomTom MapShare hits 1,000,000 Changes

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TomTom's MapShare program has hit 1,000,000 changes to their maps set in from users of their devices. The launch last summer was a big step forward in distributed map fixes, as anyone with a newer TomTom is able to submit changes for consideration and then distribution to other users. The MapShare community has 15 Million members worldwide, and those people must be busy finding changes and sending them in. Of the 1,000,000 changes, about 2/3rds of them can be sent right back out to users, while the other 1/3rd is sent over for verification and then are sent out to users.

Press Release Follows...

Via Club TomTom

ArrowContinue reading: "TomTom MapShare hits 1,000,000 Changes"

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The 17 Pound Military GPS

The Land Warrior program is an effort to develop advance information systems that can be used by infantry personnel on the line and in combat. Among other things, the unit offers a GPS as well as realtime maps of targets with indicators of friendly troops and messaging systems that allow communication between troops in short message real-time format. The unfortunate thing is that many of the features go unused, and the thing weighs 17 pounds, which on top of the other equipment that they carry, has to be a tough burden. Maybe that's why a lot of troops are buying their own handhelds before deploying.

"It's like a 17-pound GPS unit," said a Soldier assigned to Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, the first Army unit to ever deploy to a war zone using Land Warrior. "We don't use half the things it's supposed to be able to do."

[From Military.com]
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February 18, 2008

Street Number Issues on GPS Maps

The Boston Globe published an article yesterday that highlighted an issue that may be the next one to solve for GPS makers and their map suppliers; Street Number inaccuracies. Typically, the map maker will take a look at a street, see that house numbers go from 1 - 200 and then evenly distribute those numbers along the length. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If you use a GPS, you've probably already noticed when searching for a specific business address or house number, and the GPS tells you that you've arrived, and you actually have another 200 yards (or more) to go to actually get there, you know what I am talking about.

The Boston Globe picked out a particularly bad situation where a street is bisected by a train track, and ended up in the situation where they were on one side of the tracks with the unit saying "You have arrived", while the actual house is on the other side of the tracks.

I'll admit that GPS units still have a long way to go in order to be perfect in every case, but that generally they get people unfamiliar with the area to the place they need to go within a reasonably short amount of time. The article below does pick on the TomTom a bit to see if the unit knows Boston as well as the locals do. A lot to ask in the city of cowpath-based streets, but they do point out some areas that GPS units and their suppliers need to consider when making the next generation better.


We set out on a mission to stump the TomTom, one of the new generation of Global Positioning Satellite devices that stick to the windshield with a suction cup and promise to eliminate the need to ever open a map or ask for directions.

ReadMore at the Boston Globe

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February 16, 2008

Garmin Nuvi 750 - $299 Today Only

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Thanks to readers Warren M. and Edly who posted this tip -

Garmin Nuvi 750 for only $299 at the
Home Shopping Network; today only.

That's about $100 cheaper than anywhere I can find online. Read My Full Review of the Nuvi 750 for more information.

Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

President's Day GPS Deals

Bunch of good deals out there on GPS units, and a bunch of bad deals out there on GPS units too. Since it's President's Day weekend, that means it's time for all of those cheesy commercials with bad Washington and Lincoln impersonators on TV hawking mattresses; or used cars....

Anyway, here are a few deals that I came across:

Standard Screen Models

  • Garmin Nuvi 200 at Amazon - $175 No Text to Speech, Continental US Maps, solid interface and routing. See My Full Review - Nuvi 200 for more info.
  • Garmin Nuvi 260 at Amazon - $256 Text to Speech, Maps of North America, solid interface. Same quality routing as Nuvi200, just adds more maps and text to speech.
  • TomTom ONE at BestBuy - $169, Entry Level TomTom with Maps of North America, no Text to Speech. Staples will have this same price for the week starting 2/17.

Widescreen Models

  • Nuvi 660 at Amazon $379 - Text to Speech, North American Maps, TMC Traffic Capability included. See My Full Review - Nuvi 660
  • Nuvi 200W at Amazon $223 - No Text to Speech, Continental US Maps. See My Full Review - Nuvi 200W. This unit is also available at Staples for the week of 2/17 for $249, then get a $30 gift card after purchase.
  • TomTom XL S at Amazon $349 - Text to Speech, North American Maps.

Handhelds


Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

February 15, 2008

SiRF Target of Class Action Lawsuit

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With SiRFs disasterous earnings announcement earlier this month where they announced an 89% earnings drop, there are a bunch of pissed off shareholders and their lawyers. There is now a suit against them and is being filed as a class action lawsuit.

"The Complaint alleges that the defendants' false and misleading statements regarding demand for its products and its acquisition of Centrality Communications, Inc. ("Centrality") in August 6, 2007 caused SiRF stock to trade at artificially inflated levels throughout the Class Period. The Complaint further alleges that, as a direct result of defendants' delayed public revelations in a February 4, 2008 press release concerning the truth about demand for SiRF's products and its actual business prospects, SiRF's stock price tumbled by more than 50% on February 5, 2008."

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February 13, 2008

GPS Equipped Motorcycle Helmet Radios for Help

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In a great application of GPS technology here's a student from UMass who has equipped a motorcycle helmet with the Wireless Impact Guardian (WIG) that senses an impact; the unit is designed so that it can judge is you are OK after an impact. If not, it will automatically calls 911, then sends your location over the line. The student, Brycen Spencer, has filed a provisional patent on the device, which may just hit stores if someone will pick up the idea and manufacture it.

Via Engadget

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February 11, 2008

Navigon 2100 - $119 Staples Deal

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I have a pretty good lead on the fact that the Navigon 2100 will be on sale at Staples for $119 over the President's Day weekend (2/17 - 2/23). This is probably the best deal on the Navigon 2100 since the Holiday season, or maybe even Black Friday. The Navigon has Text to Speech, and maps by NAVTEQ.

If you're thinking about a Navigon 2100 - might want to head over to Staples this coming weekend.


If you want a complete point of view, you can read my Full Review of the Navigon 2100.
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February 10, 2008

Nuvi 200 Pink Edition - $65 Extra

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Garmin has had the Pink Nuvi 200 for a while over in Europe, but has let it out of the bag here in the US just in time for Valentine's Day, exclusively at Best Buy. Cost is $249, just the same as the regular gray Garmin Nuvi 200.

Of course, if you want a good deal on the Nuvi 200, you can just skip over to Amazon where it's selling in the non-Pink variety for $185 and you can save $65.

At Amazon - Garmin Nuvi 200

For More Information on the Nuvi 200, check out my Full Review on the Garmin Nuvi 200/250/270.

While we're talking about hot sellers.....

  • Nuvi 660 widescreen GPS with TMC Traffic - $379 - #1 seller at Amazon

  • Also notable, the TomTom ONE has returned to almost holiday sale pricing at $169.

    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking
  • February 8, 2008

    Got Colorado? Free Premium Membership Trial For Geocaching

    garmincolorado400small.jpg Geocaching is offering a free trial to the premium membership level of their service if you are one of the people who recently bought a Garmin Colorado handheld. Registration of your handheld at MyGarmin.com allows you to get this free membership, which entitles you to a discount on Garmin accessories, and a lot of capabilities that make the process of Geocaching a lot easier. The one I think sounds great is the ability to search and then download Geocaches along a route. Much like looking for a restaurant along your route for a place to eat, I know a lot of people will hit a few caches as they are traveling somewhere to pick up or drop off travel bugs. Pretty cool.

    More at Geocaching
    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    February 7, 2008

    Nuvifone Video

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    The Hype machine has started, and I'll admit I will give it a few turns of the crank before it's done. I mean hey, it's not often that the little old GPS gets out and walks around the technology block to go and grab the cool trophy for a new phone design.

    It looks like Garmin is partnering with Google for internet search; good move. Makes me wonder if they are starting to line themselves up for Google search on a connected GPS? If you want to see, checkout Garmin's online images with screenshots of what the Nuvifone might look like.


    Anyway, here's Garmin's take on their evolution.... Nuvi to Nuvifone. The second one is about some of the Nuvifone capabilities. Pretty good; worth a look:





    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    GPS Meets Snowplow

    It looks like GPS and the snowplows might just be your friend in the near future. Overland Park KS department of public works is considering a system that would not only track snowplows but also in the future be able to post the results to the web. Apparently there is some concern about missing some streets, and there is definitely a concern about properly treating streets during fast moving storms where icing conditions can develop.

    snowplwGPSDriven.jpg

    “There are just a ton of good things about this,” said Dennis Banka, Lenexa’s operations manager. Lenexa has global positioning devices on 20 of its 30 snowplows. Overland Park has the devices on nine of its 46 plows. Both cities are spending roughly $20,000 each to install the technology, not counting the cost of phone service Overland Park needs to transmit the data.

    Among other things, the technology can tell city officials when and where the plow is, how fast it’s moving, how much material it spread and whether the blade is up.

    It leaves little room for complaints that a plow hit a car or knocked over a mailbox. The data from a snowstorm can be retrieved, so officials can verify the veracity of a complaint.

    And by tracking the location of the truck, dispatchers are able to quickly redeploy the trucks to other parts of the city where plowing has not been completed.

    Via Kansas City Star
    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    February 6, 2008

    Garmin Deal with Ford Trucks

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    Garmin has announced a deal that has them working with Ford to add navigation, among other things to the new herd of Ford trucks coming to Dealers starting this Fall. The deal is part of a modernization and toughening of Ford Trucks to deal with the fact that they are mobile offices for so many workers on the job site. With Ford Work Solutions, a broad umbrella term for the launch, you will have in-dash computer capability, a digital system for keeping track of tools (RFID), and a cable in the bed that you can lock your tools to.

    Ford Work Solutions will be available this fall on the 2009 F-150, F-Series Super Duty pickups, and E-Series vans. Transit Connect vans join Ford truck’s commercial vehicle lineup with this technology in mid-2009.

    Press Release follows.....

    ArrowContinue reading: "Garmin Deal with Ford Trucks"

    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    GPS Tip: Returning the Rental Car with a Full Tank

    How many times have you been burned by the surcharge on the rental car for returning the thing without a full tank? Yea, the re-fueling charges can get really expensive; I know that I have been caught with a $50 bill for filling the half full tank on a small rental car. You have a GPS, don't get caught paying these fees.

    When navigating back to your rental car lot or airport, you can use your TomTom or Garmin to navigate to a gas station "Near Destination", or "Along the Route". Here are some basic instructions for most models:

  • TomTom - While navigating to your destination (airport or car rental return), "Navigate To", "POI", "Near Destination" then tap on Gas Station, which will bring up a list of gas stations with mileage counts away from the destination.

  • Garmin - While navigating to your destination (airport or car rental return), tap "Where To?," then "POI", then "Change Reference", and tap on near destination, then navigate to the Gas Station POI. It will also give you results that will offer you the distance from the destination.

    So, not only can your GPS save you money driving around on a daily basis, it can also save you a lot when you are looking for that final gas station before returning that rental car.

    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking
  • February 5, 2008

    SiRF Earnings DOWN 89%

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    It appears that SiRF has run into pricing pressure. With prices dropping like a stone on the GPS front, and some GPS makers electing to go with other "High Sensitivity Receivers", that are pretty good in my opinion (think TomTom and Garmin). Anyway, SiRF's profits dropped 89%, and today their stock dropped by over 50%. Not good news.

    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    TomTom HD Traffic - France Deal

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    TomTom continues to add partnerships to increase the breadth of its new HD Radio based Traffic systems. It was just announced that they have struck a deal in France with the local #2 mobile phone service Vivendi. This makes the Netherlands, France and Germany as a list of countries where TomTom has deals to launch the new service that will send out more detailed traffic reports on more roads for a better overall traffic report. The plan is to also use anonymous cell phone data collect current conditions on more roads giving you a better overall view on traffic. Press release follows....

    ArrowContinue reading: "TomTom HD Traffic - France Deal"

    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    February 4, 2008

    Garmin Super Bowl Ad

    GarminSuperBowlAd.jpg Don't know if you had a chance to see the the Super Bowl ad from Garmin, but it is a lot better than last year's. I am sure you'll see the 30 second version playing on TV over the coming weeks, but if not, it's worth checking out at the Garmin Super Bowl Ad Mini-site where you can see the Garmin Super Bowl ad, see the Director's cut and download that catchy tune. Being from the Boston area, I can't say that I loved the outcome of the game, but I loved the ads....

    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

    GPS Lodge Monthly Round Up - January 2008

    There were a lot of things going on in January on the GPS front. New models, a new connected generation, and even a new mobile phone from the Garmin folks - the Nuvifone. January new model announcements set the tone for the rest of the year, but make sure you know when to buy; price drops on existing models are probably just around the corner.

    GPS Reviews

    New GPS Models

    Traffic News

    General GPS News

    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    February 1, 2008

    "No More Beta Testers Needed"

    closed.jpg
    Don't know if TomTom needed one dozen or one thousand Beta Testers, but they don't need any more. According to Club TomTom, they've got a full set for now, and must be working on something good for the rest of us. Me? Nope, I am not one, so you won't be hearing anything top secret from me.

    Via Club TomTom

    Scott Martin Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking
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