Automotive GPS

July 8, 2008

GPS Arkon Friction Mount Review

For a lot of people mounting a GPS on a windshield is not legal (CA & MN), or just not desirable which leaves them either sticking an adhesive disk on the dashboard, or investigating the idea of an alternative mount like a friction or vent mount. I got in a friction mount and a vent mount with various connectors recently for a review of how they do on my dash and how they hold up. The company is Arkon, and they make a dizzying array of mount styles with some great capabilities.

Friction Mount
This Arkon Weighted Friction Mount has a flat front that allows you to use your stock suction cup mount from makers like Garmin, TomTom and others that have some pretty small, minimalistic mounts. The mount has plenty of heft and sits firmly on the Dash through a normal week of driving. It's a pretty confidence inspiring mount and while it may not stand up on the NASCAR track pulling a few G's it performed well in my normal driving through traffic, around town and on the highway. Just in case you decide to take the fourth turn at Daytona, you'll keep things steady with the little safety loop on the back of the mount that allows you to put it around the adhesive hook (included) that you can fasten to the dash. Its base is about an inch wide, is pretty unobtrusive, and doesn't scream - "Steal the GPS under the Seat" like a regular adhesive disk might. The Hook is a bummer if you wanted a clean dash. To be clear in my time driving I didn't bother with the hook and the mount didn't move at all, even with a Dash Express suction cupped to it.

FrictionMountTomTomXL.jpgI was able to use factory mounts on the friction base as well as Arkon mounts made specifically for TomTom and for Garmin. The factory mounts were a bit slimmer and smaller, while the Arkon adapters had some more length to them and added the ability to adjust to different heights and lengths.

PDA/Phone Mount - I was also supplied with a mount for a PDA/Phone; which comes in customized styles. I had the generic, which fit my iPhone well, and when it comes time to navigate with the iPhone 3G, the Arkon mount should help.
iphonemountrelease.jpgThe mount has configurable bottom "feet" to hold the bottom of the phone so you can slide them back and forth to get plugs into the bottom of the phone. The sidewalls slide in and out and have a soft rubberized interior to cushion your phone. A quick pinch of the sidewalls keeps the mount snug on the phone, while a touch of a button on the side of the mount allows the sidewalls to pop out and release your phone. Simple and fast.

Vent Clip
VentClipNuviMount.jpgGarmin Nuvi Vent Clip - The Garmin Nuvi Vent Clip is a very discreet option for mounting a GPS; allowing you to pop the GPS on and off while leaving the mount right there on the vent. Small and almost invisible, hardly any thief would guess that there is a GPS prize associated with your car. After enlisting friends to try the mount, on the four cars I fitted the mount to, we were pretty happy with the performance. The little clips that snap into the louvers and attach to the mount swivel to accept louvers that are either vertical or horizontal. I would recommend using both hands to remove the Nuvi from the mount instead of just indiscriminately ripping the thing off that may just pull a louver with it depending on the shape of your ride. Using both hands, made the removal quick and easy. Reception was not affected and having the unit closer to me made for easy programming. I also tried this out on the vent to the left of the steering wheel which makes for another very desirable mounting option for lefties.

At Arkon

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

May 6, 2008

Top 5 Rated GPS - Consumer Reports


The Garmin Nuvi 760 came out on top of Consumer Reports' latest GPS rating, with TomTom and Magellan also rounding out the top 5. It's not a big surprise that these three occupy the top 5, I have always said, it's easy to design a GPS, but it's hard to design a good one. The big guys have been designing their units for years, and the difference is a solid understanding of the basics, with a very good interface. I am still not as impressed with the Magellan interface still as the Garmin and TomTom interfaces.

The Top 5 were:

  • Garmin Nuvi 760 (See my Garmin Nuvi 760 Full Review),
  • Garmin Nuvi 660 (See my Garmin Nuvi 660 Full Review),
  • TomTom Go 920T, (See my TomTom GO 920T Full Review),
  • Garmin Nuvi 350, and
  • Magellan Maestro 4250 .

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking
  • January 29, 2008

    Mio Digiwalker C720t Full Review

    The Mio C720T is Mio’s is the new top of the line Mio that combines the great features of the Mio C520 with a new TMC traffic cradle to offer what is finally becoming an important and more popular feature for those weary commuters who deal with traffic congestion on a daily basis. The widescreen unit features not only traffic alert and re-routing capabilities but Mio’s split screen capability with a tabbed interface that puts a lot of information at your fingertips while comfortably navigating along with the map displayed. The Mio C720T also includes a 2 Mega Pixel camera that allows you to grab pictures of things along the way. Hey if your cell phone has a camera, why can’t your GPS?

    With Text-to-speech and Bluetooth handsfree capability the Mio C720T sits firmly in the premium segment, but like all Mios, the price is more comfortable than other units on the shelf.

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    January 6, 2008

    Pioneer AVIC-F500BT - 5.8-inch Screen, Voice Command


    Another GPS is dropping here around CES, the Pioneer AVIC-F500BT, with a pretty big 5.8-inch screen and speech recognition. The unit is a standard GPS with come nice audio features built in. The USB port allows you to plug in an iPod, or other MP3 device. It has Bluetooth handsfree capabilities to boot. The voice recognition is apparently for the Audio integration and not the navigation control. Oh, well.


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

    November 19, 2007

    Garmin Nuvi 760 in Volvos

    GarminVolvo.jpgGarmin announced that Volvo Cars Corporation has selected the Nuvi 760 (See My Full Review of the Nuvi 760) as a customized navigation solution for select Volvo cars, including the new Volvo C30 and Volvo XC70. The Volvo specific Nuvi 760 will be available at dealerships across Europe and North America.

    “Garmin is delighted to work with Volvo to offer its customers a high quality satellite navigation system. Volvo and Garmin are passionate about safety, engineering and quality, and we believe customers will appreciate the design of this navigation solution,” said Roger Jollis, Garmin’s director of OEM & mobile marketing. “This transaction strengthens Garmin’s growing position as a recognized supplier to the automotive industry.”

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    November 18, 2007

    Magellan Maestro 3100/3140 Full Review


    The Magellan Maestro 3100 and 4100 series was introduced a while ago and in the meantime the Magellan 3200/4200 series has been introduced, bringing a fresh face and a few more features to make the line more enticing. A lot of readers have asked for a first hand review of the Magellan 3100 series from me, as they are showing up in increasing numbers at great prices and ahead of the holiday shopping season, I thought I would get some thoughts down to help people decide what to buy in this complex market.

    The maestro 3100 has 48 state maps and has verbal instructions, as well as 750 thousand POI (NOT a lot), and some basic features that come on Magellan units these days like QuickSpell. The unit is based on the SiRF star III chipset and a 3.5-inch screen. I picked the Maestro 3140, which adds North American NAVTEQ-based Maps, has 4.5 million POI, Bluetooth, “AAA” Points of Interest information and Text-to-speech. The units are not tiny but small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, as they have a compact flat form factor. The units are touch screen based, and have no external buttons except for the power switch and a reset button. The Maestro 3100, and 3140 are coming in at some pretty compelling prices, so, are they worth it, and will they get you from here to there with ease and confidence? I was not overly impressed with the previous incarnation of Magellan’s flat form factor product, the RoadMate 2000 unit, and thought it was dated in its interface’s design components. The Maestro has a lot of improved features, so let’s check things out.

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    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (7) | social bookmarking

    November 17, 2007

    Navigon 2100 Full Review


    Navigon has stormed onto the US GPS scene in the past month or so with the launch of their new line of GPS units, the 2100, 5100 and 7100. The Navigon 2100 is especially hot right now as it appears to be one of the big Black Friday Units for 2007. The 2100 and 5100 being standard screen, 3.5-inch units and the 7100 a widescreen unit. Navigon is taking an approach that is in the minority in the GPS world, in that they are offering TMC traffic with the 5100 and 7100 including a lifetime subscription to the service that usually costs around $60 per year. At the heart of the Navigon offering in my opinion is a beautiful design on the exterior and a different approach to design when it comes to the interface. With animated menus and icons, the unit takes on a decidedly "flash based website" feel that is more up to date than other units.

    With all of the requests made to me over the last week for a review on this specific model, I went out and grabbed one to see what the Navigon 2100 was made of, and see how it will do in this very competitive market. I will have to say that many of the people writing in for this review of the Navigon 2100 called it the Navicon 2100; so for those folks, this is the Navicon 2100 review!

    Also just a note that the Navigon 2100t is a Navigon 2100 with traffic installed. So while I do not have the traffic option turned on for this review, the other attributes will apply. Who knows if I hit Black Friday right, I may be posting more on this as a Navigon 2100t review.

  • Compare the Navigon 2100 vs 5100 vs 7100
  • Software Update Available for the Units

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    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (78) | social bookmarking
  • November 12, 2007

    Sharper Image to Market Own GPS


    Apparently Sharper Image, the company known for some pretty high priced items in those catalogs that few buy from but everyone gets, comes the news that they have contracted to make their own GPS that will play games and music.

    It's being reported that Moneual is going to contract to make the unit, which will be manufactured in South Korea.

    Look for the high priced eye candy next year just in time for that holiday catalog.

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

    November 5, 2007

    Garmin Nuvi 750/760/770 Full Review

    -A Hands On Review by

    Also, I have posted my Full Review of the Nuvi 755T the new addition to the Nuvi 700 series.

    The Garmin Nuvi 700 series was launched at the top of the Garmin line to make steps forward in both design and functionality. The Nuvi 750/760/770 units are a change vs. the Nuvi 650/660/670 units with a thin design losing the flip up patch antenna of the Nuvi 600 series, and adding some functionality that is nicely useful.

    "I would rate it a Top Pick for GPS buyers"
    The Nuvi 750/760/770 is a widescreen unit with a bright screen, not marginally bright, but plenty bright for sunny days. The 760/770 series also comes with a TMC traffic receiver that is integrated into the 12V plug. It has maps of North America pre-loaded.

    I have been driving with the Garmin Nuvi 760 for about two weeks now, including a trip to New Jersey that had me navigating in unfamiliar territory, from the Philadelphia airport, up to the Princeton area, and back. The Nuvi 760 did a very good job of getting me to where I was going with comfort and confidence. I of course expected this; it's a Garmin.

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    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (96) | social bookmarking

    November 1, 2007

    New TomTom TV Ad - Go Confidently

    New TomTom TV Ad is out on You Tube, and they pick up on a theme that I think is the essence of the GPS for so many users, especially people who see the device as a safety device. "Confidence" - the GPS gives you confidence to go where you may not have been so confident before, and with the advent of buttons like "Help Me" on the TomTom and others, you get the confidence to know that you can find help and that they can find you.

    Key to this confidence message in this ad is the mom driving in the middle of no where, with her sleeping baby in the back seat. I like the cry of the bird in the middle, making you think that a bird of prey is about to get you.

    Via Club TomTom

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    October 31, 2007

    Harman Kardon GPS-310, GPS-510, GPS-810


    Harman Kardon added 3 new GPS systems to their line-up. The new devices range in price and features; the GPS-310 ($349) includes text-to-speech and 10 million points of interest, much more than your standard entry model. The GPS-510 ($449) has larger 4-inch screen and has TMC Traffic capability. Finally the GPS-810 ($599) has Bluetooth handsfree phone calling capability and a remote control.

    Harman Kardon Website

    Press Release follows...

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    October 28, 2007

    Nextar C-3 Full Review

    The Nextar C-3 is an entry level GPS that has a basic feature set and older design features that underline its low price. The unit can be had for some of the best prices around on a GPS, and I got this one for the purposes of this review at about $50 less than a TomTom ONE. The Nextar C-3 has a 3.5-inch screen, a flip up antenna and a forward firing speaker that is reminiscent of the rocker switch on the old Magellan RoadMate 800 series. The Nextar C-3 uses a SiRF star III chipset , Windows CE as an operating system, voice prompted turn indicators (Not Text-to-Speech) and a flip up antenna.

    Overall, the unit navigates well; most GPS units do, but the operating system is not the easiest to navigate, making it a rough overall experience. The concern here is that the operating system is basically ported over to the other Nextar units like the Nextar X3-02, and the Nextar X4B, making me concerned that the line is and will be an issue for many who buy them.

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    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (6) | social bookmarking

    October 19, 2007

    Garmin Nuvi 760 Arrives for Review


    Update: I have posted my Full Review of the Nuvi 750/760/770.

    A Garmin Nuvi 760 arrived for review today at the GPSLodge, and as always we are happy to try out new models before they hit the street. The Garmin Nuvi 750/760/770 line was announced at the end of August, and is setting itself up to be a high end performer just in time for the big holiday shopping season. Gone is the old flip up antenna from the legacy Nuvi line-up, and in is the sleek and slim form factor from the Nuvi 200W genre.

    All the info, including Product Review information about the Garmin Nuvi 750/760/700 Line, here at GPSLodge.

    Building on the Nuvi 660, a very capable unit, Garmin has come out with a more full featured upgrade with a Help! Button, a traffic receiver, as well as the capability to navigate back to your car when you via the Pedestrian Mode, and the Nuvi’s built in ability to waypoint your car so you can find it after a long stroll in the city.

    One thing that I am excited about is the Route Planning. This isn’t supposed to be just stringing together a list of stops, but a capability that optimizes your route so that it spits back the shortest route to all of your destinations. So, pop in several garage sales, sales call locations or shops and let it give you back the optimized route. Looking forward to trying this out to see how well it works.

    Finally, the shell of the operating system has changed, reflecting a more sophisticated look and feel of the high end line; subtle changes. The basis is mainly a better use of the widescreen, so that buttons have a double row layout, but again I think it's worth noting and certainly easier to work through given more options and more configuration that accompanies a full-featured unit. The first image is of the Nuvi 760 sub-menu with a double row layout, giving you plenty of information without scrolling. Below is the same menu for the Nuvi 200W series, with a vertical layout.


    What's in the Nuvi 750/760/770 Box:

  • Nuvi 750/760/770
  • Preloaded City Navigator NT for North America and Europe for the Nuvi 770
  • FM traffic receiver with vehicle power cable
  • Real-time traffic services (3 month trial subscription)
  • Vehicle suction cup mount
  • USB cable
  • Dashboard disc
  • Quick start manual

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking
  • October 16, 2007

    Mio C230 Full Review

    The Mio C230 is a standard screen GPS follow-up to their Mio C220 model that established a solid entry in the GPS market below the $200 price point. The Mio C230 unit adds text-to-speech to the entry level that will quickly set the pace for other makers to add text-to-speech to the low ends of their lines (we hope). I like text-to-speech a lot and will be happy to see more text-to-speech models in this price range.

    With the Mio C230 you still get SiRF star III chipsets, and maps of the US (of course, right?). The unit does not offer some of the higher end features like Bluetooth handsfree phone capability, or video playback.

    ArrowContinue reading: "Mio C230 Full Review"

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (4) | social bookmarking

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