July 7, 2008

TomTom GO 930 Full Review

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The TomTom 930 is the new top of the line TomTom that is starting to gain some steam these days in the stores. TomTom has folded in Historical Average Speeds into the GO 930 to make the unit more accurate in setting travel times, especially when traffic is concerned. While TomTom's map supplier, TeleAtlas is teamed up with Inrix, and has the ability to fold their traffic speed data into the Map offering, TomTom went out and grabbed their own historical average speeds from users like you and me. If you agreed to submit anonymous user data when you sync'd your TomTom to TomTom HOME, you sent up some data that presumably included some road speed data; including traffic hot spots and slow downs. We will see how broad the coverage is and how it affects our usage of the unit.

Other than the TomTom IQ Routes, the unit offers "Lane Guidance" which shows you what lane to be in when the going gets tough on the highways.

The TomTom 930 still encompasses a lot of features that were rolled into the GO 930, including membership to the MapShare community, a Map guarantee for up to date maps for the first 12 months that you own the device, enhanced positioning that helps to track your position through an accelerometer when you enter tunnels, Bluetooth Handsfree and voice address input.

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

July 2, 2008

Garmin Edge 605/705 Full Review

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The Garmin Edge 705 is a great little Bike computer/GPS unit that brings data capture to a new level. With the ability to capture not only bike computer information, but to combine it with location specifics, wrapping in the wireless data capture of a heart rate monitor and a cadence meter, the Edge 705 rocks. By GPS standards, the unit is small, maybe not small in the bike computer world, but unless you are climbing the Alp d'Huez during July, you won't notice the added weight. The Garmin Cycling Team must think they are great - the Tour de France starts Saturday for them - Good Luck!

The Edge series has been around for a couple of years, but the Edge 605/705 series made two huge leaps in capability. The Edge 605/705 now offers mapping and in my mind this was a big disadvantage of the original 205/305; something that is worth paying up for in the 605/705. I think it makes all the difference. The Edge is also now in color, which as a veteran of the original Garmin eTrex monochrome days, I can say that without a doubt, the change makes a huge difference in the readability of the screen. It makes a difference on the trail with an eTrex and makes a difference on the road with a color Edge. Finally, the Edge 705 offers wireless sharing; an innovative feature that I think is a total luxury, and one that I have been wanting for a long time across a lot of Garmin models. When you are hiking or biking, being able to show up and immediately share what the route plan is with everybody there is a huge deal. In this case though it means that you need a lot of like-minded friends who also see the value of dropping a few hundred bucks on a GPS enabled bike computer. For those of us here at GPS Lodge, we think it's totally justified.

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

June 23, 2008

Navigon 2100 MAX Full Review

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The Navigon 2100 MAX is is a widescreen entry level GPS that adds might to the value end of the Navigon offerings. The GPS market is getting crowded in the value end, as more competitors come to the market, while the big guys continue to innovate in this arena to stay competitive. The 2100 MAX is of course the follow-up to the blitzing Navigon 2100 (See my Navigon 2100 Full Review) that vaulted onto the market in the holiday period with $99 sales and lifetime traffic deals. The standard screen (3.5-inch) Navigon 2100 did well, and got a lot of attention for its innovative interface design and their overall design aesthetic. They also got some unwanted attention for some rough spots on their interface and what I would call "Cultural Adaptations" that didn't translate from the native German design to the American expectations. Navigon showed that they were in the game in a serious way and have brought software updates and launched the FreshMaps (after market map subscription), which shows that they are serious about the US market.

The Navigon 2100 MAX adds the 4.3-inch screen to the entry level where a lot of people are interested in a sub-$250 widescreen unit. The Navigon 2100 comes with 48-state maps, Text-to-Speech, and the ability to create multi-destination routes. With a fairly robust POI database, and branded POI listings, how's the new widescreen from Navigon do?

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

May 21, 2008

Nextar Q4-01 Full Review

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The Nextar Q4-01 was recently released into a competitive market where more consumers are deciding to move to the widescreen instead of the standard 3.5-inch screens that so many people know. The Nextar Q4 has the 4.3-inch screen which is based on a new user interface. The interface update is a welcome one, as the last Nextar interface was not much to talk about. I reviewed the Nextar C-3 last year and definitely saw room for improvement in the interface and the mount. The Nextar Q4 packs some decent stats into the package along with the redesign including text-to-speech, maps of the 50 states from NAVTEQ, and a light 1.6 million Points of interest. The unit also features an MP3 player and a photo viewer.

So can the Nextar Q4 with its widescreen and new user interface compete for your dollars in the GPS market?


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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

May 20, 2008

Mio Moov 300/310 Full Review

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I have been testing out the Mio Moov 300/310 for several weeks now driving the highways and byways of the Northeast this spring to check out the latest offering from Mio. The Mio Moov series, including the standard screen 200/210, and the widescreen 300/310 are a big change for Mio, as they adopt a new operating system to carry the brand forward. After the acquisition of Navman, Mio decided to bring the software development in-house and leave the iGo interface behind. Switching to the iGo interface helped to launch the brand in the US and was one that set Mio apart from other GPS brands because it was functional, reasonably good and with their value positioning on the unit cost, not a bad trade-off for the value oriented market. I used and wrote full reviews on a lot of these units including the Mio C310X, Mio C220, Mio C230, Mio C320, Mio 520, Mio C720T. Things are changing though, as the big guys drop prices hard and fast, it leaves smaller slices of the market for value oriented brands. With a more competitive market, the bar raised due to other stronger players (think Navigon) coming to the market, it all raises the stakes for the new Moov line and Mio's new software bet.

From a core product standpoint, the Mio Moov 300/310 comes with maps of the US, and 3.5 million POI on its 4.3-inch widescreened unit. The satellite acquisition times are quick, as it sports the new SiRF InstantFixII chipset. The unit lacks the bells and whistles that are sometimes seen on GPS units, but are barely appreciated; MP3 players, and Picture viewers. The Mio Moov 310 differentiates itself by adding in the TMC traffic receiver for only a few dollars more, and includes a one year subscription to the service which will cost $60 a year afterwards. Pretty good bargain.

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (16) | social bookmarking

March 30, 2008

Review: Garmin Colorado 400t Full Review

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The Colorado 400t recently launched into an ever expanding category of handheld GPS units, where Garmin has had a long track record of offering solid handheld capabilities in a package that suits customers well. I have been using a Garmin handheld for close to 10 years, and in that time, I have used them to navigate up mountains on hikes, navigate to geocaches around the country and navigate across New England on week-long bike rides. Over that time, I've assembled a wish list that pretty much got erased with the release of the Colorado series. The Colorado 400T comes with a lot of key features that make using it a pleasure.

There are a few big features that make the Colorado 400t a hot handheld: Big color screen, shaded Topo maps, easy access to features with the Rock n Roller wheel, wireless sharing of information with other Colorado users, advanced geocaching features, and the ability to set up profiles allowing you to set up preferences for different uses.

There were a couple of key questions in my mind going into this review: Is the Rock n Roller wheel really something that is easy to use, are the interface changes usable and intuitive for a longtime user, will the interface give me any new advantages over what I already have, and is the screen size and overall size of the unit an issue versus my trusted eTrex Vista unit.

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (12) | social bookmarking

March 28, 2008

GPS Review: Magellan RoadMate 1200

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Magellan continues to put out newly packaged units for the market, keeping the line updated with some pretty high end features like voice recognition on the new Maestro Elite 5340 Elite with GPRS mobile connectivity to give you live updates on traffic conditions and some limited connectivity to the internet while driving. So while the high end of the market is important for driving news and profitability with those higher profit units, a lot of people understand that the start of the GPS battle is waged on the entry level end of the market. Those battles are fought with deep discounts, specials where a $15 dollar difference can drive units off the shelf by the dozen. The issue is that with so many people coming into the GPS market, and buying an entry level unit for their first unit, you really need to lock them up with a great experience, so when they are destined to upgrade you keep them as loyal consumers, and they upgrade within your line. Ok; long story short, it appears the Magellan RoadMate 1200 falls short on the quality needed to get people to stay with the Magellan name, according to a recent review by CNet, where they thought the unit fell short in a few key areas.

CNet saw that slow performance in a couple of areas really brought the experience and overall usability to a screeching halt. Slow at registering inputs had them waiting after screen taps so that they said they "Spent a lot of time looking at the hourglass", while some sluggishness in turn commands had then getting the command as they were passing the street they needed.

The Magellan RoadMate 1200 is a standard screen unit, 3.5-inches, with maps of the US (48-state), and 1.3 million POI (A little on the short side for my tastes).

ReadMore on the CNet Review of the Magellan RoadMate 1200

At Amazon - The Magellan Roadmate 1200

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

February 24, 2008

Garmin Nuvi 780 Full Review - MSN Direct 2

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UPDATE: MSN Direct will stop service January 1, 2012 - buyer beware that the traffic and other information services will not work after that date.

Just announced at CES 2008, the Garmin Nuvi 780 is the new widescreen navigator from Garmin that has the MSN Direct version services built in. Being part of the 700 series, it includes a lot of the high end extras that you'd expect including text-to-speech, maps of North America, 5+ Million POI, Bluetooth Handsfree and the ability to do optimized routing. This Nuvi 780 was equipped with the SiRF chipset.

As you start to get into higher end GPS units, you start to add features that are certainly advanced and can make life great if you are an intensive user of the GPS. For instance, the Nuvi 780 has advanced routing features that allows you to input several locations and allow the Nuvi to optimize the route. Something road warriors will appreciate. For me, the MSN Direct services make it pretty obvious that gas prices are going to be a must have capability going forward for any connected GPS.

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (13) | social bookmarking

January 29, 2008

Mio Digiwalker C720t Full Review

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

November 18, 2007

Magellan Maestro 3100/3140 Full Review

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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

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