August 27, 2008

Nextar M3-MX - Mexico and US Maps


Nextar announced that they now have the new M3-MX navigation system that provides maps of the US and Mexico along with English and Spanish voice prompts. The maps come on a 2GB card, while the unit features a 3.5-inch screen. The cross border travel must drive the demand and sounds like a pretty good idea. The MSRP is $199 and is available at and at

Press Release follows....

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August 15, 2008

GPS/PND Unit Shipments Double in Second Quarter

Shipments of Personal Navigation Devices (PND) doubled in the second quarter of the year versus year ago, according to Canalys, an independent research firm. This growth comes despite the tough economy, but probably because prices continue to fall on GPS units at the stores. With the advent of the $150 entry level unit from a top brand name, you can pretty much assume most people interested in a unit will be able to go out and get one.

In the US market for the second quarter, Garmin maintained a 47% market share, while TomTom came in second at 25%, Magellan at 11%, Mio at 4.5% and Navigon at 3.6%. In the remaining "Other" category, Nextar was mentioned as an up and comer. I have hands on reviews on a lot of models from these brands check out the Reviews page.

Via Twice

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July 24, 2008

Garmin Market Share Solidifies

According to DigiTimes, NPD is indicating that Garmin's market share has solidified in the second quarter at 55% of the US market, opening up a 37% share gap versus the #2 in the Market TomTom. Recall TomTom knocked out some great deals over the holidays and shrunk that gap to 9%. The other big GPS sales season - the Summer Driving Season wasn't as kind.

Garmin appears to be focused on delivering solid models to the market at very attractive prices with little to no price premium versus TomTom for a "similarly" featured model. On the Entry Level, there are some subtle differences, which make it hard for TomTom to position its TomTom ONE versus the Nuvi 200; as the TomTom is more feature packed than the Nuvi, but they both command the low priced entry level spot in their respective lines making them an easy comparison.

Magellan remains in the number three spot, while Navigon and Mio round out the pack.

NPD Reported Shares Second Quarter 2007:

Garmin - 55%
TomTom - 18%
Magellan - 13%
Navigon - 4%
Mio - 3%

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

July 9, 2008

BestBuy - Free GPS "Set-Up"


I'll say it right off, I am not a big fan of BestBuy, with the illusion of low prices, they suck people in. On a typical GPS, when you take a look at online prices, you can usually beat them by a tank of gas worth of money. At today's prices, that's saying something! What galls me the most is when they offer "Now $100 off", and you can still beat their new price by $40 online everyday.

They have smartly been offering free "Set-Up" for you when you buy a GPS; it's been advertised on TV and in the papers. Someone in the marketing department should pat themselves on the back for this one, because if they keep to Garmin or a TomTom, this should take no more than a couple of minutes. Any idiot can do this "Set-up" for themselves.

As you would imagine, I offer a lot of advice to people in person about buying a GPS, and from elderly friends right down to post-college 20-something's, I always hear back that they "So easy to use. I just took it out of the box and it worked."

I will say that some of the higher end units may be a bit more difficult to master, but advanced set-up and instructions won't be dispensed by your average geek squader.

So, feel free to ask questions here, and to take the leap of faith to buy a quality brand name GPS where you can get a good value, and don't worry about the geek patrol, you won't need their help.

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

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

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June 17, 2008

Microsoft Enters the GPS Software Space - NavReady

After years of GPS Makers using Windows CE as a platform to build sometimes mediocre user interfaces at best, Microsoft decided to make a GPS platform that works well with advanced features to integrate into the connected lifestyle; enter Microsoft NavReady.

The software platform will be available later this year and will allow GPS makers to have their own hardware and a well made software platform together that will incorporate some potentially interesting features like MSN Live search, Bluetooth connections, MSN Direct integration for the use of traffic and gas prices, and SideShow. SideShow is a way for the GPS to act as a second screen for a handheld Windows device that will allow you to display information as well as exchange it.

So What?
First, you can insert the standard Microsoft taking over the world joke here, then another Apple Guy vs. PC Guy Joke before we continue.... But seriously, no doubt this will change how the market looks in a year or so, with new units coming to the market faster, and from more makers by removing a big barrier to entry and if Microsoft does their job well, making a whole bunch of manufacturers who previously couldn't program a user interface have access to a decent market.

Does this make Garmin and TomTom want to use NavReady? Probably not, but what if everyone else does? Mio is already signed on, making for the third operating system in a year (iGo, then recently their NavMan based OS on the Mio Moov Series, and now MS NavReady). What if Magellan dumps its aging OS? Will they merely fade into the pack of NavReady powered GPS units or become more competitive with technologies coming to the market at a faster pace?

I think the net effect if this NavReady OS is reasonable is that the GPS market becomes a lot more competitive. This will allow almost any hardware maker to launch a GPS at rock bottom prices, while the titans battle to stay one step ahead of the rolling pack. Should get interesting.

Full Press Release Below

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June 16, 2008

Nextar K4 GPS


Nextar is letting another GPS fly - this time it's the K4 with some media extras like a video and MP3 player. The K4 comes with a 4.0" screen and has the ability to play MPEG4 & AVI files while supporting JPG/BMP/GIF formatted pictures. The unit has the entire US for maps and comes with voice prompts in English/Spanish/French. The Maps and 1.6 Million POI fit onto the 2GB built in memory.

No word on price, available this summer.

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May 15, 2008

Drive Europe with a GPS


As more people ask, and the summer travel season is right around the corner, I thought I would again offer some advice on driving around Europe with a GPS.... you bought here.

If you don't have a GPS and want to use one in Europe, I highly recommend that you get one now, before you go. If you do, you can drive here, and get used to it before taking it overseas where things will be a little different; better to be confident of what you are using and navigating with.

If you are thinking about renting a GPS in Europe, limited non-guaranteed availability and steep rental prices (up to $60/day) can cramp your style, so I thought I would review your options for getting a GPS for Europe. With rental prices that high, it can pay to either buy a GPS and keep it, or buy a GPS and then eBay it when you get back. I will say that the addition of Euro Map data isn't always cheap. I especially recommend a thin GPS for travel as it will save space and hassle.

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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
  • May 5, 2008

    Find Cheapest Gas Prices - GPS Options


    Let's face it, gas prices are pretty high, and finding cheaper gas can save some big bucks. There are some great options to help find cheap gas prices around you where ever you go. Instead of driving around and keeping track of the ever changing gas prices there are a couple of ways to keep track of gas prices when you need them and where you need them. Let's run through some options for GPS units:

    Garmin Nuvi 680 & Garmin Nuvi 780 - Both Garmin Nuvi models come with MSN Direct services optional, which with a $50 annual subscription you will get the ability to search nearby regular gas prices. The feed comes over the FM airwaves and is cached on the unit. When I reviewed both units, I found that the gas price capability was one of the most attractive features on the units. It was easy to find gas for a nickel or a dime cheaper per gallon without working too hard. See my Full Review of the Garmin Nuvi 680, and my Full Review of the Garmin Nuvi 780.

    TomTom PLUS with Gas Prices - Compatible right now with the TomTom GO 920/920T, the ability to pull in gas prices is only a low <$20 per year subscription away. The system goes through the Bluetooth connection to your COMPATIBLE bluetooth phone running on a data network. This will pull in data through your phone and populate the data into the TomTom to give you a bead on cheaper gas. After subscribing through you TomTom HOME computer application, you will select which grade of fuel (regular, mid, premium, or diesel) which will then show up in your Gas station POI search.

    Dash Express Connected GPS - This new generation GPS has a a cellular radio built in so it is connected to the network whenever you need it (and are in range of a cellular tower). A quick search for gas on the Dash allows you to pull up station by station listing and with the tap of the button, you can grab not only the "Regular" gas price as well as the prices on other grades.

    Finally, you can always get local cheap gas prices on MapQuest with their new gas pricing capability and MSN. Cool searches allow you to search around addresses, with the ability to search by price, distance and by name.

    How's it all work? No, there isn't someone riding around phoning in the latest gas prices.... A company called OpisNet scans the credit card transaction streams for fleet vehicles and watches for gas transactions, checking for gas prices and reporting them. These updates can come several times per day in the case of Dash (although any particular station might get updated less than that), to slightly less frequently for other manufacturers.

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

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