October 30, 2009
MSN Direct, the service that offers traffic, weather, movie times and more to some GPS units, including Garmin Nuvi 780, 880, 885, will go dark on January 1, 2012. The announcement was made with the backdrop of other technologies coming forward, namely the slow promising crawl of broadband connected devices. The service is a step up from the FM based TMC traffic, and has more capability to deliver other services directly to the unit while you drive.
October 28, 2009
In what could be a death blow to those $50+ mobile phone navigation applications, the NYT reported that Google is launching a turn by turn navigation application for free. Google plans on launching the application to mobile phones with an ad supported model. The convenience of the application that may be pre-loaded onto smart phones could make the millions of smart phone users owners of a pretty solid mobile navigation application. Recently I reviewed the TomTom application for the iPhone and thought that the overall user experience was pretty good on my iPhone. The convenience of having the application in your pocket, ready to go at any time is pretty good. I firmly believe that free and already on my phone can beat $150 stand alone GPS and in my other car. Granted not everyone has a smart phone right now, but many do.
Gauging from the fact that Google is creating their own maps, and that their traffic data is pretty impressive in the road coverage, Google may in fact be prepping an impressive offering. Google is offering the beta application for Android phones already. With the application, you can give the device voice commands, and see the route in satellite view - viewing the road ahead with a satellite picture of the world around you. With the Street View option, you can get a look at the street ahead, what lane to be in and the view of your building when you arrive. Pretty amazing. We'll see if the package really delivers the user experience that they promise.
More at NYT and at Google
October 26, 2009
Garmin has their Halloween Boo Bundle out for the season. Packed with seven vehicles for you to put on your Garmin and enjoy. Check out the Garmin Garage for the Boo Bundle and more. The easy directions on how to download and use the vehicles on your compatible Garmin are available there too.
October 23, 2009
October 22, 2009
Don't know if you've noticed, but I have, prices are way down on GPS units over the past year. But of course they are, right? We are coming out of a recession. In an article from teh WSJ today, they cited the prices of GPS units a year ago and now, indicating that the average selling price dropped from $242 to $189 from August of 2008 vs. August 2009.
To me, that signals a good holiday season if you want to go shopping for a GPS. While the average is still fairly high, I see a lot of great units below that average number, and expect that you can get an excellent widescreen device to the mid-100's and a standard screen entry level device for around $100, not on sale, and well below $100 for deep discounts like on Black Friday.
ReadMore at WSJ
October 21, 2009
Thought I would pass this along. Garmin has launched a TV campaign that includes three versions of the commercial above. Take a look; if you want to see the other two, cruise on over to the GarminBlog channel at YouTube, and look in the right column under all the videos they have uploaded.
October 20, 2009
Not the first time TomTom has worked on an in dash infortainment unit, but this updated one comes with a lot of great TomTom features, including Bluetooth handsfree calling, Enhanced Positioning technology that helps the unit know where you are when it loses the satellite signal in a tunnel, TMC traffic technology, and the ability to play your favorite song off the radio or an iPod. The unit has a USB port to handle the iPod or other MP3 players; they also speak of an "Optional iPod support" for optimal handling of the iPod. Not sure if there is on screen support or not, but I'd be happy with it working on the USB cable for all iPods and iPhones.
The unit is available in Europe only right now for about 599 euros, or about $900. No word on US launch plans.
Inrix has launched their Inrix Traffic application for the Android platform following their iPhone launch earlier this year. The application takes advantage of a massive amount of road coverage (160,000 miles covered), and gives you detailed information about the situation on roads around you via color coded maps that you can pan, and zoom on. The Red, Yellow, green designations on roads allows you to quickly see the congestion levels, while incident reports offer insight into some of the causes of the congestion. The Inrix App also forecasts traffic conditions up to an hour into the future so you can see what life might be like if you leave later.
The Inrix traffic application gets its data from a network of road sensors, and traffic probes like Taxi's, delivery trucks, long haul trucks, and other Inrix Traffic users, yes that's right; you and me. On the Terms and Conditions for my iPhone App, they confirm that the application collects anonymous data, and processes it for the traffic reporting and collection. It reads in part: "By using this App, you agree to Inrix's collection, processing, storage transfer and ...use of your non-personally identifiable information (anonymous) as part of Inrix's comprehensive traffic products."
So, join the crew, see what the traffic is like in your area, and help out the rest of us at the same time.
Full Press Release Below......
Continue reading: "Inrix Launches Traffic Application for Android - Crowd Sourced Traffic"
October 19, 2009
The TomTom App for the iPhone
was one of the early Apps for the iPhone from a major GPS manufacturer and easily emulates their standalone models in functionality and quality. Navigating with the iPhone has been an unmet promise since the iPhone launched with its teaser GPS capability, which until its update this summer would not allow turn by turn direction Apps on the device.
TomTom's iPhone App is a straight forward navigator, not really utilizing the extensive connectivity to perform back flips in the navigation world, but instead elects to put its energy into making a high quality experience for users in a simple interface. This sometimes limiting simplicity offers entry level capabilities in a trustworthy wrapper that I think is surprisingly good. What I cannot capture properly in words is the simple convenience of having a capable navigation device in your pocket wherever you go. There is no wondering if you left your GPS in the other car, no wondering if you left it at home while on a business trip (happened to me recently and it was a miserable experience - tried to navigate with built in Google maps while someone else drove; never again), and no wondering if you will get to your destination; your GPS is already in your pocket.
Continue reading: "TomTom iPhone App Full Review"
October 18, 2009
Garmin has shown on their website their new LARGE screened unit, the Nuvi 1450 - a 5-inch screened unit that offers a lot of features that make it one of the top of the line entries from Garmin. The screen is a nice place to start, but it also comes with map coverage of North America, lane view to help you choose which lane you need to be in as you come up to complex highway intersections, and of course text to speech - it says road names. the unit can allow you to plan up to 10 routes in advance and then store them for use later; sounds like the ideal unit for the winter migration south via motor home! It does not come with Bluetooth handsfree or the Nulink services that connect you to the internet for Google searches, live detailed traffic among other things.
October 17, 2009
TomTom has released a minor update for the iPhone - it is free. The update mainly deals with left over from the first launch and not the awaited upgrade that blows out some functionality. Unfortunately, the entire 1.2GB update is needed. The TomTom iPhone ver 1.1 App includes:
Enhanced GPS Technology: Shows your location on the map with greater precision
Follows your car more accurately while you drive
New Navigate to Contact Engine: Handles many more address formats including abbreviations
Better supports US addresses
Text to Speech - says road names
What a lot of people that I talk to are hoping for is the upgrade that includes:
Lane Guidance - shows which lane you should be in when coming to a complex highway interchange
Optional traffic coverage - uses the connected nature of the iPhone to collect very detailed traffic news and offers back intelligent route offerings.
I expect these features to be offered sooner than later.
At iTunes - TomTom US and Canada
October 15, 2009
TomTom has a pair of new units that appear ready to take the stage as price fighters with US maps, and for the TomTom XL 325S version, added text to speech -it says road names. Last year, TomTom announced a special model; the TomTom ONE 125, a standard screen (3.5-inch) unit that had only US maps, and was the blow out model of Black Friday. It was the re-stage of the TomTom 130 (North American Maps) that would allow TomTom to price at blow out prices, without messing with their overall pricing strategy.
The TomTom XL 325 and XL 325S are a pair of wide screened units (4.3-inch) with US maps, MapShare, millions of Points of Interest, EasyPort mounting, easy and quick re-touring if you miss your turn, and for the "S" version Text to Speech. The units come with the "Latest Map Guarantee" which means that if they upgrade maps within 30-days of you getting your GPS, they will give you a free upgrade.
October 14, 2009
The Magellan Roadmate 1220 is an entry level GPS from Magellan that offers some nice features, often at a pretty good price. The standard screen unit (3.5-inch) offers a quick one-touch menu shortcut that can get you to key functions without tap after tap, text to speech capability - it says street names, think ahead city searching that helps you to more quickly tap out the names of cities, multi-stop routing (you order the destinations yourself), Maps of the US and Puerto Rico, branded icons, auto re-routing, and an automatic change from daytime to nighttime colors on the screen.
At Amazon - Magellan RoadMate 1220
TomTom has announced the TomTom XL 335S, an affordable widescreen unit that offers some pretty nice higher end features at a very reasonable price. The newest TomTom comes with a 4.3-inch screen, and the "S" designator indicates the Text to Speech capabilities; two of the must-have features in my mind for regular GPS users.
The unit brings IQ Routes, TomTom's data based routing engine that delivers more accurate routing based on actual drive times collected from users, and Lane Guidance a graphical representation of highway interchanges that makes figuring out where to go and what lane to be in a lot easier.
The TomTom XL 335S will be listed at $239, and includes maps of US and Canada.
Continue reading: "TomTom XL 335S - Affordable Widescreen Navigation"
October 12, 2009
TomTom thought about the entire customer experience when they designed their iPhone mount, not just looking for something that held the iPhone, opting instead to add a supplemental GPS receiver, a speaker, an AUX out so you can play your iPhone through your stereo, and a charging capable interface so that your iPhone arrives with enough charge to use it for a phone when you get to where you are going.
The question I have is, do you need it? It went on sale today in Europe, and it's retail price is 99 GBP or about $150 which is a lot of money in addition to the $99 application. I have been using the iPhone App, and overall I will say that it is quite good; a full review is coming shortly, but I have been pretty happy with a regular cradle and a iPhone car charger.
The volume is sufficient, the GPS fix has been good, but I haven't pushed it in tough situations like an urban canyon, and I don't have an AUX in on my stereo so I can't play the iPhone through the stereo anyway. Look for my review soon, and I am sure the TomTom iPhone cradle is hitting the US soon too.
Those of you who have an iPhone navigation App, in particular the TomTom App, what do you think? Do you need the TomTom cradle?
October 9, 2009
The Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS enabled training watch is just $139 today at Amazon; get them while they last. Recently the prices have come down on these to the $150 range, but were hovering above $200 this spring.
The GPS Trainer helps keep track of your training runs with a ton of data that can then be downloaded and analyzed on Garmin software.
At Amazon - Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Receiver With Heart Rate Monitor
October 8, 2009
The Nuvifone just released and is a review column was just put up by David Pogue from the NYTimes. In his column, he takes a look at the Nuvifone, it's navigation capabilities and its phone capabilities. Overall, he sounds thrilled with the well designed, high quality navigation functionality, with slick integrations that allow for navigation from a contact list, from an address found on the web and more. He calls it a "Fantastic" navigator. The Pogue love-fest ends there though, as he picks his way through the concerns he has about the phone side, and its rough hewn features.
ReadMore at NYT
October 7, 2009
The TomTom 340 XL widescreen GPS is available today on Woot for $109+$5 shipping. Pretty amazing price for this high quality unit. Maps of North America, spoken turn by turn directions (not text to speech), widescreen, automatic route recalculations, easy programing of destination, advanced lane guidance and IQ Routes.
Thanks Jay for sending this in.
NDrive launched their iPhone application today for most of Europe and Canada; no word on a US launch. The application takes a few nice steps to add other features: 3-D buildings where available, integration with iPod for listening to iPod while navigating, the use of gesture control to zoom and pan - a nice natural addition that iPhone users are use to.
Best routing and maps
Turn by turn spoken navigation
Very quick routing calculation algorithms
Route demo or map of route when trip planning
Alternative route selection options
Adventure mode for off-road, air or at sea use
Thousands of important buildings represented in 3D
Publish and share location based information with other users directly from your device
Usability and personalization
User interface fully optimized with iPhone, rotate iPhone and map will adjust.
Innovative Multi-touch gesture recognition for zoom, tilt and rotate that allows you to control and interact with the map. Kinetic scrolling.
Call, SMS or visit websites of POIs directly from NDrive's interface
User interface available in 28 languages
Other country maps are also available, including: Colombia, Belgium/Netherlands/Luxembourg, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Poland/Czech Republic/Slovakia, Hungary/Austria/Croatia and Hong Kong/Macau. Map providers and prices vary by region
Canada is available for $45 - an intro price good for a limited time.
More at iTunes (iTunes link), and the NDrive website.
October 6, 2009
TomTom has announced a new entry level unit called the TomTom Start. Geared towards simplicity, the new device has a single button for power, and a simplified menu for ease of use. Presumably the simplicity also reduces some cost too. The unit has a 3.5" screen, voice commands (not text to speech), and comes with an easy to use menu.
The simplified menu displays a two button user interface, 'Plan route' and 'Browse map', which is eerily similar to Garmin's interface.
While the unit is entry level, it is not totally stripped down as it comes with IQ Routes, TomTom's data based decision engine on estimating accurate travel times during different times of the day based on other user's own travel experiences that they collected over the years. The TomTom Start also comes with MapShare capabilities too; see a problem on the map, fix it and share it back for TomTom to change.
The unit will be available in Europe for about $149 list prices with changeable covers for about $20 too. The covers come in a full range of colors. No word on US availability.
Continue reading: "TomTom Start GPS - New Entry Level GPS"
October 5, 2009
From the crazy gag hopper comes this one; a gag GPS that makes wise cracks as you drive down the road. Motion activated, the unit will spew a few annoying phrases your way to make that drive all the more pleasurable. The G-rated mode passes for even grandma, but the R-rated mode isn't for little kids.
Via Foolish Gadgets
October 4, 2009
I'll admit it, I wasn't sure that today would get here given the long announce to launch period for the Nuvifone and I know that I am not alone on this, but today the Garmin Nuvifone launched. Navigator and smartphone all in one, the Nuvifone G60 will offer you fast info where ever life takes you.
Below you will see a pretty good Unboxing Video from Techno Buffalo, that was posted a few days ago, and it walks you through the unboxing process, product and features of the unit. Nice.
October 1, 2009
Navigon has been selling well in the iPhone store, and they are pondering the idea of a more substantial mounting kit, similar to TomTom's kit that adds capabilities beyond sitting there and looking pretty. TomTom's kit will power the phone, offer a speaker and amplify the GPS signal all for about $120 when it hits the streets.
Navigon has already teamed up with Kensignton to create an iPhone mount that amplifies the sound coming out of the unit, without draining the iPhone battery. Teh acoustic amplification would be a welcome addition to anyone using a navigation application; it would be priced at $39.
Thought I would pass this along - Do it Yourself street level cameras for taking those images just like Google did for their street views. The rig has eight webcams, a route and a GPS all tied into his laptop. Apparently the pictures snapped are pretty good even at 60 MPH. I assume that's in plenty of light. So just in case you wanted to set up your own competitor to Google Maps and drive most major cities, you're all set. Personally, it seems like a great project to just see if you can do it.
Via Crunch Gear