The Magellan 1700, hugescreen (7-inch) GPS is available at Costco for $179, after a $50 discount. The Magellan 1700 offers some pretty good features like one touch commands, giving you access to key functions in the swipe of a finger, lane assist, text to speech and maps of the US and Canada. The partnership between AAA and Magellan also brings a great set of POI information with ratings and reviews of certain locations around you when you are on the road. One feature I like is the highway exit POI lookup, giving you the ability to figure out what's available at the next exit; good food or bad, gas station or not.....
The TomTom XL 340S is Amazon's Deal of the Day at a pretty impressive $89. The 4.3-inch widescreen unit comes with Text to Speech, maps for the US, Canada and Mexico, and features some better than average capabilities. TomTom's IQ Routes (historical average speeds to make better predictions of travel time), advanced lane guidance (shows you which lane to be in), and its Easy Port fold flat and go mount make this one pretty attractive.
The TomTom XL 340S adds Mexican maps above the 330S. I liked the TomTom XL 330S when I reviewed it. (The concerns over the audio level are long resolved.)
Better hurry - these deals and the inventory usually don't last all day.
Word on the street has Google confirming that they are developing a free navigation App for the iPhone which has been available for the Android system for some time now. This was confirmed at a press conference in the UK.
So while Google does not host the maps on the device, they, like others, pre-cache the entire navigation route on the phone ahead of the trip. The program can give you the ability to see maps, satellite views and even street views of your route in certain areas. very innovative, and has been met with mixed reviews. People love the Free part, and the usability questions are still at issue. Should be an interesting launch and aftermath. Let's hope that Apple doesn't find another obscure clause in the terms and conditions to block this Google App.
TomTom and their TeleAtlas group just released a study that tied traffic jams to air pollution, to reveal the top polluting roadways in America. Sorry California, you're taking most of the top spots. The very obvious reality is that when you sit in traffic, you waste gas in the start and stop mode of inching down the highway. TomTom has a feedback mechanism in many of its GPS devices that allow it to gather anonymous data from your trips that reveal roads traveled and average speeds across those road segments. With a pile of data across millions of GPS devices they can create the historical profile of speeds on the road. Slow speed equates to more emissions.
So the study didn't appear to take into account any effect of a greener automobile fleet (there has to be more hybrids per capita in California), but I can't imagine that it can overcome the overwhelming mass of humanity that travel the highways in California.
It's Earth Day; how can you help?
The obvious thing is to either get a more efficient car, or skip the car ride; take the train, work from home a day a week, carpool, or ride a bike.
Avoid the traffic with a traffic enabled GPS. You could always time shift your commute, but that will only get you so far. Sometimes a traffic enabled GPS can alert you to the worst jams and offer a way around. I recommend a connected device that relies on anything but FM/RDS signals. You need secondary road coverage that the higher bandwidth offers in connected devices (mobile phone, "connected" GPS).
Use a regular GPS - studies have shown that using a GPS devices can save you time and money on the road by keeping you from getting lost. It's really pretty simple, but across millions of cars, it can make a difference.
The full information from TomTom is below after the jump and they list off the roadways and the methodology. Pretty interesting. Assuming that they mean I-93 south of Boston, I am not reassured that my commute is on their list. I think I am going to take the commuter rail today..... Update: Found out that the stretch in Mass is north of town Randolph to Reading. Good for me; the train is was great.
NAVTEQ announced that they are going to supply the traffic to the connected Garmin Nuvi 1690T for Europe, the first time the maker has had a traffic connected unit in Europe according to the press release. So while we all know that having a GPS helps keep us from getting lost, it can also have a more dramatic effect when used frequently. According to a 2009 NAVTEQ study, "Distances traveled were reduced and fuel efficiency increased, which would decrease each driver's CO2 emissions by 21% - all results which illustrate the many benefits of a real-time traffic service." Not bad and Earth Day is right around the corner!
Garmin as a Traffic Probe
Potentially the more interesting statement is this: "Additional probe data will be collected from Garmin devices and integrated into the system." Finally, the other largest maker of GPS devices in the world is on the GPS probe bandwagon. Glad to see that they value traffic and the larger data models that a whole lot of users can help feed. It matters, and flow data is important. The only way to get truly broad coverage is to get vehicles out there "reporting" on the traffic flow for you.
Garmin announced a stunning set of new GPS units - the Nuvi 3750, 3760T, and the 3790T which bring innovation back to the automotive GPS category. The press has all but written off the portable GPS market with the advent of the mobile phone navigators, but the Nuvi 3700 series gives a reason to reconsider.
Navigation Innovation - TrafficTrends and myTrends
There are a number of innovations that catch one's eye, but the handling of the historical data, branded TrafficTrends is most appealing. Garmin has not come to the game with an implementation of the NAVTEQ Traffic Trends product until now. The historical data offers a look into how traffic usually moves through streets and streetlights at different times of the day; recognizing that you can't always go 65MPH on the highway. It is uncertain if the GPS units will collect additional speed data and feed it back to NAVTEQ to refine the data.
myTrends remembers your destinations and predicts your trip - going to work? Yea, it knows. The route is auto-loaded and predicts the best route based on the traffic conditions.
Voice Control and 3-D
The top of the line Nuvi 3790T has a couple of cooler features; a "wake up" phrase that initiates the voice command capabilities, allowing you to tell the Nuvi 3790T where you want to go. Also, with the 3-D terrain and 3-D buildings, you get a more realistic view of what's around your and what's ahead.
A Page from the iPhone Design Book
The Nuvi 3700 series has a multi-touch screen with the ability to pinch to zoom, flick to pan and a design that knocks out. The 9mm thickness and the sleek look that already won a design competition. So, it pulls a page from the Apple iPhone book - so what; nice page to rip out. Love the design look. By the way, you get to use it in portrait or landscape - perfect for those who always wanted to see the portrait version for more roadway ahead.
The commands are clearer in this series with two speakers, and FINALLY, yes FINALLY, someone used the GPS to automatically change time zones as you travel. I mean, the GPS just listens to highly sensitive time signals on satellites and they know where they are; so they have time and maps. With a few exceptions, you should be able to figure out what time it is if you have these two inputs.
UPDATE: The Garmin 3700 series is now shipping at Amazon:
The Widescreen, Bluetooth handsfree enabled TomTom GO 730 is a Deal of the Day at Amazon. the TomTom GO 730 comes with Maps of the US and Canada, IQ routes to help better estimate real travel times across busy roads (not realtime traffic), and Advanced Lane Assist to give you a better view of difficult highway intersections.
Of course it comes MapShare enabled so you can personally update any map errors that you see and share them with the TomTom community, and Text to Speech so you can clearly hear the road names that you need to turn onto.
The TomTom GO 730 is regularly about $200, save about $50.
The Garmin Forerunner 305 is a second generation GPS watch for runners and bikers that can help document your training and get the most out of the process. The GPS watch is able to track progress through its GPS functionality while also offering readouts like pace, distance and speed. The heart rate monitor allows you to keep that dataset too. Back at home a quick sync with the computer periodically will also download all of your run data for analysis and safe keeping. The free software program, Training Center (PC or Mac) from Garmin can help.
Want more? Garmin has created the Garmin Connect community where you can store your data, analyze it, share it and find other routes that you can download and use.
The Garmin Team is in Boston this weekend ahead of the marathon tomorrow, as they are showing off the new Forerunner 110, a slimmer GPS enabled watch. The $250 device will be available later this month in wider distribution.
Wireless week has a review of the Navigon MobileNavigator for the iPhone and has come to the conclusion that companies with expertise in the area are well suited to commanding higher prices over the current crop of free navigation out there. The Navigon MobileNavigator is one of the more advanced iPhone Apps out there with available ($25/yr) realtime traffic provided by Inrix, and available 3-D contour maps. These aren't exactly TOPO maps like you have on you handheld GPS, but instead maps that offer a little bit of texture to see some, hills, dips and valleys.
Check out the Wireless Week Review - not deep on details, but a good opinion piece on what's important about the Navigon App and a reasonable "outsider's" point of view on the GPS space.
The new Dual XGPS300cradle for the iPod touch offers a couple of features for the intrepid navigator that might just help them get around a bit more easily. The Dual cradle is designed with a GPS and an extended battery in it to grab the GPS signals and allow you to do it for a more than the short time the iPod Touch battery would normally allow. When you buy the cradle, Dual's NavAtlas App is a free download that offers some good looking features, including Text to Speech, Navigate to addresses in your contacts list, realistic 3D views, built in maps but comes in a bit light on Points of Interest at 2 Million.
CNet just posted a review on the unit, and the system has its strong points, and seems to be suited for those who really want navigation on the iPod Touch. One odd design choice is that the cradle can operate either as a GPS or a battery extender/charger for the iPod Touch, but not both. The switch on the back of the cradle requires you to choose. The CNet review clearly points out the fact that the $200 list price and several concern areas make it not the ideal navigation choice.
Clear Channel is getting ready to launch an upgraded traffic solution dubbed Total Traffic Network Plus for 63 metro areas that will be delivered through HD radio tuners in mobile devices like a GPS/PND. They have been working on a solution like this for a while; as they tested it back in 2007.
The problem with the existing RDS system is that it is delivered over the FM airwaves and is restricted in its bandwidth, tus limiting the granularity of the traffic data, the descriptions of the incidents and generally lacks the coverage that is available today through higher bandwidth solutions (think smart phones here - Inrix Traffic App, TomTom with optional Traffic and Navigon with optional Traffic come to mind).
The Total Traffic Network Plus feed will also come through with additional information available like weather, sports scores, and news headlines. With this type of information, the solutions starts to look credible in the face of the mobile phone systems that offer a very wide variety of information too.
The first unit will reportedly be JVC's $1200 KW-NT3HDT (below) double din navigation, wallet bustin' solution. It ships near the end of April.
TomTom recently announced lifetime map and traffic subscriptions. If you thought that they were going to be available just as an afterthought, you were wrong - they are now going to find their way into the product line as distinct items (SKU's) offering a bit of a dizzying array of products for purchase. The good thing is that decoding the TomTom Traffic and Map Shuffle is pretty straight forward.
Base product - No Lifetime maps or traffic
Base product +"T" - Lifetime RDS Traffic Service
Base Product + "M" - Lifetime Map upgrades
Base Product + TM" - Lifetime Traffic Service and Map upgrades
A quick look has Garmin dominating the top selling car navigation units over at Amazon, with older widescreens offering up a long list of features with high quality capabilities.
I would recommend the Nuvi 255W out of these as a good value for the money with solid features and a newer interface. The Nuvi 260W offers similar features with a slightly older interface. I think the changes that were made going up to the XX5 series (i.e. the 255W) are worth the extra $27.
Sure, we're pretty happy that the GPS is a household item these days, but it wouldn't be that was if Roger Easton didn't come up with the idea at the Navy Research Labs. Originally dubbed TIMAITON for Time Navigation, the invention that we now call the GPS, used precise atomic clocks on satellites to help devices on the earth triangulate to their location. The original GPS would fill a room, and now the chips are omnipresent on mobile phones. Not a bad ascendancy into worldwide use.
The invention summary is:
"The present invention provides the advantages of the prior earth-satellite navigation systems while avoiding their disadvantages. More specifically, the present invention allows the navigator to passively determine his position by measuring the distance, or range, to one or more satellites. Each satellite transmits multifrequency signals which are derived from extremely precise oscillators. Similar multifrequency signals are derived by the navigator's equipment from an extremely precise oscillator which is phase synchronized with the oscillators on the satellites. By measuring the phase differences between the signals received from the satellites and the locally produced reference signals, the navigator obtains an indication of the distance to the satellites and, therefrom, of his own location. The navigator's presence is not betrayed since no interrogation signal transmission is required. "
Roger Easton is being inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame for this invention. For more on the early days of the GPS, see my Q&A with Bob Rennard, one of the original engineers on the GPS project, and co-founder of TeleNav.