February 27, 2009
The TomTom ONE-S is a slightly older version in the TomTom ONE line-up, but comes with that ever popular Text to Speech capability (says street names) making this a true bargain for $99 from TomTom. The pre-loaded maps of the US and Canada make it a fairly full offering. It has a standard size screen of 3.5-inches.
As always it has the Help Me capability to give you access to important info if you are in an emergency, and access to MapShare, where you can send and receive map corrections from the community of TomTom users.
At Amazon - TomTom ONE S Deal of the Day - $99
February 25, 2009
Inrix has given us a report card for traffic in 2008, and the results are in; traffic congestion is down and it's not surprisingly tied to the economy and high gas prices. People aren't working - not driving to the job, they aren't buying - aren't driving to the store; goods aren't ordered for the store - they aren't shipped from the warehouse; and as a result, they aren't made - fewer raw materials shipped..... an on and on. You get it. I've seen it myself on the Boston roads.
The congestion is down and down dramatically:
National congestion was lower every hour of every day in 2008 versus the year prior, 30 percent lower on average depending on the hour and day.
99 of the 100 regions studied saw congestion levels decrease. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a 6 percent increase in overall congestion, was the only region with an increase from 2007, shooting up in the metropolitan rankings from 47th to 33rd in overall congestion.
Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. remained America's most congested hour of the week, although the Travel Time Index (TTI) fell 23 percent. Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. ranked as the next most congested hour.
National congestion levels were essentially the same when comparing the first and second halves of 2008, suggesting that higher fuel prices in early 2008 and the slower economy later in the year netted the same drop in overall congestion.
Wednesday saw the biggest drop in congestion, with a 31 percent overall decrease in peak hours.
The report cautions becoming lax in pushing forth infrastructure developments due to the decrease in congestion this year, because when the economy improves and if fuel prices remain affordable, traffic will likely increase again.
"While we all should cheer the reduction in congestion in 2008, we should be under no illusion that this is permanent," said Rick Schuman, vice president of public sector, INRIX. "We must still continue to focus energies on policies and methods to reduce traffic."
The second annual National Traffic Scorecard was created through extensive analysis of nearly 50,000 miles of primary roadways in major metropolitan areas, selected from INRIX's traffic data warehouse of over 800,000 miles of roadways and 120 real-time markets in the U.S.
Top 10 Worst Traffic Cities
1. Los Angeles, California
2. New York, New York
3. Chicago, Illinois
4. Dallas, Texas
5. Washington, DC
6. Houston, Texas
7. San Francisco, California
8. Boston, Massachusetts
9. Seattle, Washington
10. Minneapolis, Minnesota
February 25, 2009
TomTom is getting sued for patent infringement by Microsoft for what is reportedly
for patents covering file management making the file search and seeking more efficient.
Microsoft's lawyer, Horacio Gutierrez, issued a statement:
"We have an established intellectual property licensing program, and the patents involved in this case, relating to innovations in car navigation technology and other computing functionality, have been licensed by many others. In situations such as this, when a reasonable business agreement cannot be reached, we have no choice but to pursue legal action to protect our innovations and our partners who license them."
February 24, 2009
Yea, 5,000 courses pre-loaded, you read that right. Garmin, through their blog, has let us know that there are 5,000 courses pre-loaded, with no annual fee, and no subscriptions needed. There will be updates to the Approach going forward, and those updates are free for now. It's a departure from a lot of the other golf based GPS devices where the course data requires a subscription.
Is your Golf course on the Garmin Approach G5? - Check out the Garmin Approach G5 Golf course Page
Check it out from the Eagleglen Golf Course at Elmendorf AFB in Alaska, to the Key West Golf Club in Florida.
Want to see how the Approach keeps score? Check out this video below:
February 24, 2009
TomTom announced some bad news today as they offered a loss and a write-down on the TeleAtlas acquisition. TomTom lost 989 Million Euros in the last quarter compared to a profit of 107 Million Euros a year earlier. This was on the back of a 17% loss in topline sales in the quarter, apparently in line with earnings estimates. They also wrote off about a billion Euros from teh value of the TeleAtlas acquisition, while admitting that they overpaid for the map maker.
As TomTom moves forward, they indicated that their HD launch has been going well, with about 25% of their HD Traffic customers renewing their subscriptions after a year's time. That is not bad, but I would have hoped for a higher rate. It all depends on what their financial models say, but once you have the purchase made, one would hope to keep that person as a customer. TomTom indicated that they are going to be working on more services sales this year, maybe they are thinking the same thing. Reportedly they have 130,000 customers.
TomTom also commented on the fact that they believe that they are going to comply with their loan agreements, but it sounds like if the market deteriorates more, they could see an issue moving forward with that debt load.
Garmin announced earnings and said that while their net was off 49%, and their topline sales down 14% on a 17% sales drop in the automotive segment. While that might sound terrible, it is pretty good considering the world is falling apart for some companies. The outdoor/fitness segment was off just 5% as was the aviation segment. The marine segment showed flat sales. While North America was off 9%, Asia was off 17% and Europe was off 26%.
CEO Min Kao said,"A significant highlight for 2008 is our gross margin performance of 44.5% which is down just 150 basis points from 2007. We also achieved a strong operating margin of 24.7% which exceeded our earlier expectations. Throughout 2008, we maintained our strong cash position with free cash flow generation of $743 million which was enhanced by the significant reduction in inventory during the quarter. This cash flow allowed us to fund our stock repurchase plan, pay a $0.75 per share dividend, and remain a debt‐free company. "
They also indicated that the bloated inventories present after the holidays in the retail channel, appear to be dropping which is a good thing for Garmin as they will start to move more GPS units into the stores for spring selling events.
the Specific Press Release can be found at the Garmin Website
With President Obama's transportation secretary LaHood hinting at a mile based usage fees in the recent days, there will continue to be focus put on the subject. The idea is not new and it has several studies and tests going on globally, with a few right here in the US.
The idea is to monitor road usage via GPS, and institute a time of day based variable fee. Peak times get higher fee rates, while off-peak hours get lower fee rates.
According to this article at a Euro blog, Inside GNSS a test in the US was successful at reducing congestion on the roads and reduced overall mileage driven. The savings is big for governments alike, who would not have to invest in new roads to handle the ever-increasing congestion. My hunch is that the fees would be pretty attractive and addictive, while the savings in congestion would be temporary until you achieved steady state again and started to climb as the overall system get acquainted with the new costs of doing business. For commuters who head to a job, there may not be a lot of flexibility to target the lower fee rates, but there may be the ability to lower the impact; I'd try to work from home one more day a week. Tough to do if you are a construction worker - and someone who isn't exactly in the best position to absorb more taxes.
Governments would have a hard time moving to this system alone, and leaving a gas tax behind, as the gas tax is a significant tool to impart the will of a "greener than thou" government will, on its constituents. I happen to think reduced gas consumption is a good thing, and I think low gas prices is just not where we need to be long term with the current global challenges. In my mind leaving a gas tax behind is sending the wrong message.
My hunch is that we'll see a combination of systems in the coming years. More on this at the upcoming symposium on Mileage based user fees at the Texas Transportation institute.
February 22, 2009
Enterprise Car Rental has announced that they are continuing their relationship with Garmin to offer its GPS navigators in the Enterprise fleet of vehicles as an optional item for rent. The new offering will be a Nuvi 265W - an easy to use unit that offers two key features that I believe make a big difference in the overall user experience: 1) Text to Speech, and 2) Widescreen. Good move on both Garmin and Enterprise's part. get yours for about $10 a day, or simply buy one yourself.
Full Press Release after the jump......
Continue reading: "Enterprise Car Rental Upgrades its GPS Fleet"
There have to be real people behind those recorded voices for the non-text to speech offerings on your GPS, well the Houston Chronicle tracked down voice over artist Karen Jacobsen who is the female Australian voice on Garmin units. The interview is a fun read and she counts down 5 things she would never say to you as a GPS voice through a small audio feed on the Chronicle's website. Apparently a confident driver herself, she may not need a GPS all the time, but I would imagine if there is one in her car, it's a Garmin.
At the Houston Chronicle
Introduced at CES 2009, Garmin's new top of the line Nuvi 885T is now shipping, offering MSN direct, including the new doppler radar read on weather and the flight status updates to help you when you are heading to the airport. Based on the successful Nuvi 800 series, the new 885T has voice controlled navigation, allowing you to do voice inputs while driving. Easier to control and keep you mind on the road. The Nuvi 885T also offers Lane Assist, allowing you to see the best lane to be in while navigating confusing highways.
Best Buy has the unit for $699, or you can save over $100 and get it at Amazon for $559 - Garmin nüvi 885T
February 20, 2009
The Garmin Forerunner with ANT+ is now Mac Compatible. The ANT+ plug in is now available for the Mac, making the power of easy sync'ing and workout management easier for the Mac crowd. You can just cruise over to the Garmin website to sign-up for your free account download the plug-in. The Forerunner 405, with its touch sensitive bezel and its wireless HRM data connection is a powerful and pretty cool workout management tool. With 35 data fields to view, the Forerunner 405 is packed with information for all of the data hounds, but is easy to use at the same time.
Via Garmin Blog
February 17, 2009
The Wall St Journal published a special Technology section today that is worth a read if you have a few minutes; most of it is available online. On the day that President Obama signed the stimulus bill providing funding to all kinds of initiatives, the WSJ took a look at what the future of technology could bring in terms of infrastructure improvements, and one of our favorite subjects; traffic and GPS.
The headline story about "Smart Roads" identified several technologies to predict and alert drivers to impending traffic jams that have yet to happen up to 45 minutes ahead of time. they mentioned IBM who is apparently working on such prediction technologies while potentially working on driverless car capabilities. The big news here is to have the vehicles and the road system in communication so that the system understands when there is an accident, and in realtime what the speed and traffic load is. If the system was smart enough to understand where you were going, it could plan out what cars will be off the road and when, further refining the traffic model. I was personally surprised that they didn't talk about Inrix and their current ability to predict traffic speeds days into the future, and their network of sensors, probe vehicles and cellular probes to model traffic.
The WSJ also highlighted Traffic.com, a service of NAVTEQ, Nokia's mapping company that allows you to set up driving routes and get traffic alerts and driving times sent right to your email or mobile phone. I have an account, and over the last year or so I have noticed that the drive times are fairly accurate (+/- 10 minutes on a traffic filled hour long commute), and give me a good sense of the driving conditions and what to expect on my commute. You can get the mobile version too: mobi.traffic.com.
Proxpro is a firm that is collecting traffic, routing, weather data and mashes that up with your appointments to figure out what the most efficient routes are to those appointments ahead of time. Think traveling rep who is on the road and needs to understand their day.
Let us know if you have a killer app, or insight into something cool-yet-to-come that has to deal with mapping, traffic or GPS.
Inrix announced today that they have received word on the accuracy of their technology from the I-95 consortium which has certified their technology as accurate across a wide array of conditions, time of day and location. The coalition monitored 111 miles of roadway in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia to make 19,000 observations of true speed of a vehicle in traffic at various times of the day. The study covered 1,500 hours on 54 road segments. They then compared this to the data that Inrix supplied through its sensor network, its GPS probe data and its prediction capability to find that over 85% of the time Inrix was within 5 MPH of the actual speeds. Net, the study concluded "this result confirms that the INRIX GPS data provides an accurate overall picture of traffic conditions for limited access roadways within the Corridor."
Cool geeky stuff. The whole report can be downloaded at www.i95coalition.org
Full press release follows after the jump......
Continue reading: "Inrix: I-95 Corridor Coalition Confirms Accuracy"
Engadget has posted a quick story and more importantly a video on the iPhone, presumably while they were getting driven around for a first hand look at the Nuvifone. In the video, Jessica Myers, the Garmin PR specialist offers a quick overview of its capabilities, including their stated intent of targeting location based services with the phone. Quick tap to find local events, and then another to add them to your calendar. You can also elect to time, date and location stamp your emails..... cool addition.
Similar to Garmin's easy to understand Nuvi interface, the Nuvifone will have three main icons; Phone, a "Where to?" type button, and the Web Browser. The interface allows you to flick through a rotating menu of other application/features like a stock ticker. The unit auto-rotates from portrait to landscape in all situations, but most importantly when in the navigation screen. If you've ever been typing on a smaller unit, you'll be thankful that Garmin has included predictive text in the design to help you get through those tough typing situations.
Jump over to Engadget for the video.
Nokia has released the Nokia 6710, and is talking about its navigation capabilities as a primary feature of the unit, as they leverage their NAVTEQ map investment that they made to buy the mapping company. Nokia already "got it" from a location aware and location based services standpoint, which undoubtedly pushed them into the purchase, but we now have the push into navigation handsets like never before; consumers want it and the technology is more than capable to deliver.
With automotive and pedestrian modes combined with the advanced map content like aerial photos, 3-D buildings and traffic alerts, the unit gets pretty appealing. The 6710 Navigation unit has a 2.6-inch screen (small compared to the 3.5-inch standard GPS unit), outdoor optimized QVGA screen, runs on the 3G/GSM and features A-GPS to get faster satellite fixes.
Via Engadget and Nokia Press Release
Full Press Release Below....
Continue reading: "Nokia 6710 - Big Plans in the Navigation Market"
February 16, 2009
I did a double take yesterday when I saw this ad from Staples; offering the "Garmin Nuvi 255W" for $199; combined with the TomTom 330 XL image. Whoops. (They fixed the image in their online version already.)
I assume it was a bad layout and mis-print and that I didn't miss the merger announcement of Garmin and TomTom, or that Garmin had brought in the TomTom interface for their Nuvi line....
Anyway, if you are interested in the Nuvi 255W, you can check out my Full Review of Garmin Nuvi 255W. That $199 price is good; the same as Amazon right now - Garmin Nuvi 255W
If you are actually interested in the TomTom 330 XL, you can also check out my Full Review of the TomTom ONE 330 XL.
February 13, 2009
Owners of the powerful PN-40 can now head over to Geocaching.com and download the details of the geocache directly to the unit, instead of programing it in manually. This is a big boost for frequent users of the hide and seek game played with a GPS. The ability to add the cache details directly to the GPS saves time and a lot of aggravation especially when you are running through several caches.
More at Delorme and Geocaching
Two Garmin "Deals of the Day" in one week (Nuvi 760 the other day at $199)! The Garmin Colorado is a solid handheld with some advanced features and a nice big screen. This particular unit is the "Bilingual" version, and comes loaded with North American Topo base maps and can be supplemented with inland water way or coastal marine maps. The units comes with a barometric altimeter and an electronic compass. If you want detailed maps of streets, you can buy those and the Colorado 300 can route you to destinations like a normal car GPS; I will say that this should be considered as a back-up type system, because the interface is not a touchscreen which will make data entry harder, and the prompts will not be voice based; but a nice addition nonetheless.
Check out my Review of the Garmin Colorado 400t if you want to learn more about the line and its big brother the 400t.
At Amazon - The Garmin Colorado 300
February 12, 2009
The Garmin Nuvifone was announced today with a lot more detail than we have seen on the Nuvifone, offering a glimpse into how the unit will perform. Garmin certainly is working to figure out the phone, the navigation and the other location based services that are enabled by the GPS capability.
The Nuvifone will have full navigation capabilities (of course), including turn-by-turn voice promoted turn commands. On top of that, the maps and Points of Interest are pre-loaded, and with internet search, you'll probably be able to find everything under the sun.
Teh Nuvifone will be running a windows operating system and as such will be using ActiveSync to sync up your Outlook, or photos. The 4GB or 8GB models should be available and will be capturing life with a 3 mega pixel camera that of course can tie to the location of where you took that shot.
Full Press Release Below
Continue reading: "Garmin Nuvifone M20"
February 11, 2009
Speaking of the Nuvi 760, it's $199 at Amazon today only!!
Thanks to the dozens of folks who sent this in!
February 10, 2009
The Nuvi 750 and 760 are great products that offer a very good navigation experience. I had seen what was a great price online for the Garmin Nuvi 750 - $199 at Costco, but one of our readers Frank also sent in word that his local Costco was selling their stock on hand of Garmin Nuvi 760's at that price; well off what I found it for recently online which was about $249. Might be worth a call to the local club to see if they are doing the same.
Thanks Frank for the tip!
Google Latitude is a new product from Google that allows you to let friends and family see your location, so that your big brother really could be watching you; whoever has access to the software and who you give permission to watch where you are.
The latitude software downloads onto your compatible phone (currently BlackBerry, Sybian based systems and of course the Andriod based Google Phones - not the iPhone yet) and allows you to share your location with others who have the Google Latitude software. Once loaded and sharing, the software offers to see your location on Google Maps, and chat or SMS with that friend starting directly from the Google Maps application.
More at Google Latitude
Google has a quick intro:
February 6, 2009
The TomTom ONE XL is a solid performer from this top shelf name, with high quality routing of North America, and all the benefits of the easy to use TomTom interface. This is from the last generation of TomTom navigators, but comes with fresh maps and is a trustworthy navigation system. The TomTom ONE XL has maps of North America, and is a widescreen unit (4.3-inch screen), but does not have text to speech.
This is a refurbished unit, so you have to be OK with buying them, but if you are you'll be getting a great model for only $99 (over 30% off - a savings of over $40).
At Amazon - TomTom ONE XL Refurbished
Twittered lately? We've been on Twitter for a while and have enjoyed reading and writing in a different micro-blogging way. We have our feeds hooked up so you get the Tweet as soon as a post goes up. I have also been sending Tweets out on some quick bits that I find interesting; also passing along some of the other Tweets I find interesting.
I find the Garmin Blog, Wired (more general Tech stuff here), NAVTEQ, and GPS Business News particularly good.
One that I just found, courtesy of one of our readers, Jim, is a twitter feed of Rhode Island traffic issues, via RI DOT. RI is small enough to cover the whole state in one feed, giving you alerts on accidents - great if you have a mobile Twitter reader. Update: I have also found the State of Washington, and Oregon.
So check out the RI DOT for their feed if interested as well as our GPSLodge Twitter feed.
If you have a good source of GPS information; leave a comment below and share.
February 4, 2009
Garmin is hooking up with Asustek to work on a wider array of mobile phone offerings in the market. Not a surprise to hear that the Nuvifone is coming to the market, but what is interesting here is that the companies are already collaborating on multiple handsets ahead of the initial launch of the Nuvifone. It makes sense that Garmin would introduce several models eventually (just look at the broad line of GPS devices). This also starts to lay the groundwork for Garmin to be the OEM navigation application in a wider array of offerings.
Press release follows:
Garmin Ltd. and ASUSTeK Computer today announced a strategic alliance that will leverage the companies' navigation and mobile telephony expertise to design, manufacture and distribute co-branded location-centric mobile phones. Garmin and ASUS have already begun joint development on a diverse mobile phone product line, which will be known as the Garmin-Asus nüvifone series. The companies expect to bring to market several Garmin-Asus nüvifone models in 2009, and a new Garmin-Asus nüvifone model will be announced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, February 16-19, 2009.
February 3, 2009
I personally have not used this Sony, but thought I would let folks know that it is the deal of the day at Amazon and is running for $99. It comes with Maps of North America, and 4 million Points of Interest. The units is Text to Speech (Says road names) capable and comes with traffic alerts free for 3 months. Sony also has "Gesture Command" that allows you to flick the screen to do basic commands - like navigate home.
Before you buy; read the reader comments on Amazon - there are a few great ones and a few bad ones. Mixed bag - but at $99, you may be able to overlook some blemishes.
At Amazon - The Sony NVU73T
For those who are really into mapping, Google Earth 5 has some nice features that you might like. Google Earth just got an upgrade and it now features topography below the ocean, as well as the ability to take a step back in time to see what was happening a few years back at that location - urban sprawl captured!
Brief overview of the features:
At Google Earth
February 2, 2009
Snowmobiling is just one great way to enjoy winter - We are buried in snow here in MA, but on trip this past weekend to Middlebury VT, I was jealous of all the snowmobilers pulling up to the pumps to fill up and take off on another day of sledding on the trails. With any outdoor sport like this, I see the opportunity for GPS, and so do a lot of others.
This past December saw the launch of SledGPS.com, a commercial site with maps of 27 states, available as one collection for $125, or in one of 5 large regions, (i.e. NorthEast), which at $49, may suffice for most users. SledGPS.com says" Our Partner, US TrailMaps, has mapped over 100,000 miles of snowmobile trails, together with nearly 250,000 businesses related to the trails like parking areas for your trailers, gas stations and lodging along your routes."
An example of map coverage is here; with trails represented as the red lines superimposed on a Google Map. Head over to their site for more detail and for a view of your area.
The maps come with snowmobiling specific POI, which makes gassing up, eating, etc. lot easier on the trail. The maps are Garmin compatible, and I would recommend a larger screen handheld, like the Colorado, or the Oregon. If you are into this, you could also utilize the ruggedized Zumo too. I have traveled a lot with an eTrex, so getting into this for around $200 is feasible too; I would recommend a color version for better resolution and readability.
There are a lot of online sharing resources too, where you can get GPX files form other users, or in collections from many users, including sites like GPSSledMaps.com, or forums like GPSXChange.com, or SnowmobileForums.com. There are also sites that specialize in state specific maps - like for Michigan.