June 3, 2011

Garmin in talks to buy Navigon?

According to Financial Times Deutschland, Garmin is in talks to buy the German maker of GPS devices and Navigation software for somewhere in the mid double digit million Euros. This would bring Navigon, strong in Europe, under the wing of Garmin, the leader in the US to make a GPS/PND powerhouse. It makes sense to see consolidation in this market where the PND market has come under pressure by the prevalence of smartphone apps.

Navigon was in the US with their GPS/PND devices until their exit in May 2009, leaving only their very well done iPhone apps here. They were one of the first to launch the Navigation iPhone app, and continue to innovate it while also launching an Android version. when they were in the market with PND's here in the US, they brought innovations to the market that were quickly adopted by others such as Lifetime Maps, and Lifetime Traffic.

Stay tuned.....

Via Reuters and Engadget

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Garmin GPSMAP 62sc and 62stc; Updated Handhelds

Garmin_gpsmap62stc.jpg

Garmin is unleashing the hounds this week with several outdoor announcements that update much of the handheld line. The new GPSMAP 62sc and 62stc both come with a 5-megapixel camera that geotags the pictures for you every time you snap one. They come with a 2.6-inch color display that is not touchscreen, offering easy sunlight readability, while still boasting 16-hour battery life. both come with integrated electronic compass and a barometric altimeter.

Garmin laid out the surnames for us; "s" for sensors - the added 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and altimeter, the "c" for camera and the 't" for topographical maps that come pre-loaded. Those TOPO maps by the way offer 3D digital elevation model (DEM) data, allowing you to see what elevation changes lie ahead on your route.

Both the GPSMAP 62sc and 62stc come with wireless ANT+ sharing, which allows you to send other similarly equipped models tracks, routes, waypoints and geocaches. It's a great feature when you can pre-plan a route, show up to the trailhead and share all of the day's hike detail in under a minute.

The GPSMAP 62sc is listed at $499, while the GPSMAP 62stc is listed at $599.

See their minisite on the Garmin GPSMAP 62 series

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Pioneer AppRadio with Inrix Traffic and MotionX Nav

Pioneer_AppRadio_INRIX_Traffic.jpg

If you've been paying attention to the telematics game, you've probably noticed that pushing the Blue Onstar button to use its cellular connection is so 1990's. The future is headed in the direction of infotainment (Ford's Sync and MyFord capabilities) and the concept of using your smartphone as the center of your infotainment universe while porting it to your car's dashboard.

Pioneer is doing that now with AppRadio, bringing select Apps to the screen while you drive. Being able to interact with the large touchscreen of the AppRadio while having the connectivity of your iPhone is pretty powerful. Of course it will play your iPod music too. The AppRadio will also plug into your iPod Touch (latest version) to play music, but you obviously lack the connectivity piece.

inrix Traffic (shown above)- Their top notch traffic is ported to the screen giving you the ability to see in large, full color beauty the traffic snarls you get to run into or around on your outing will make the experience much better. With the App's prediction engine, you can also see what life will be like if you start to run into that traffic in a few minutes to a few hours if the trip is just a bit longer than usual. inrix Traffic at iTunes.

MotionX Drive Navigation (shown below) - The navigation capabilities that you bought on your iPhone, get ported to the AppRadio.It's the best $0.99 you'll spend at the App store; really. Unfortunately that only covers the first 30 days, then the price is $19 a year. Still a bargain. MotionX Drive at iTunes.

appradio_motionx.jpg
The other Apps at iTunes available on the Pioneer AppRadio are Rdio and Pandora. The AppRadio is going to be available in about a month and cost $500.

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June 2, 2011

New Garmin RINO 610, 650, 655t - Touchscreen, 20-mile Radio Reach

Garmin_Rino610_650_655t.jpg

Garmin is rolling out another new innovative line upgrade, and this time it's their GPS/FRS Radio mashup, the Garmin RINO. The new line offers touchscreen performance, up to a 5-watt broadcast capability (on the 650 models, 1-watt on the 610), NOAA weather radio and of course GPS tracking and mapping capabilities that you've come to expect from Garmin.

The older 530 RINO series didn't offer the touchscreen capabilities, but did offer what I think is the best feature - buddy tracking. Continued as what I think is the best feature of the series, you can see your GPS location and because of the FRS radio, you can poll and then see where your friend is at on the map.

NOAA radio is available on the RINO 650/655t, which offers you the ability to monitor for hazardous weather conditions, and supports specific area message encoding meaning you can set your county as your location to only receive updates when you are out on the trail that mean something to you instead of listening to the 'bot scroll through the whole region.

The RINO 650/655t also offer wireless sharing with other compatible Garmin Devices (most recent mid range and higher handheld models at this point) giving you an easy way to send trip information to others in your party - waypoints, tracks, routes, and geocaches.

RINO 610 - the color touchscreen model comes with a slightly down-powered FRS radio, and comes with a pre-loaded base map, and 1.7GB of space to add in plenty of TOPO maps, or even Birdseye satellite imagery. Recommended pricing for the Rino 610 is $349.

RINO 650/655t - You jump up to a 5-watt transmission here and the wireless sharing/NOAA, mentioned above. They also add in a barometric altimeter, and a 3-axis tilt compensated compass to get you around and help document the journey. And speaking of documenting the journey, the RINO 655t comes with a 5-megapixel camera on the back to capture the moment. Of course each photo is geotagged with the location information of where you snapped the picture. Finally, the 't" on the end of the 55t model number also means that it comes packaged with TOPO maps. Recommended pricing is $499 for the RINO 650, and $599 for the Rino 655t.

Available in "the third quarter" according to Garmin

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May 31, 2011

Garmin eTrex 10, 20, 30 - New Look; Great New Capabilities

GarmineTrex_30.jpg

Garmin announced their updated line of the old standard, the eTrex line, with the new eTrex 10, 20, and 30 units - all compact and feature packed. The eTrex line has been around a long time and the Garmin eTrex Vista was my first handheld GPS - a monochrome unit that lacked the high sensitivity receiver of today's units and plugged into my computer with a serial port. Map updates were S-L-O-W. That was over six years ago, and the eTrex has just taken a big leap.

The new line of eTrex 10, 20, 30 support paperless geocaching, have high sensitivity receivers, high speed USB connections, and offer 25 hours of battery life. Very nice.

GarmineTrex_10.jpg

Garmin eTrex 10 - Again, offers paperless geocaching, on a monochrome screen and a worldwide base map which offers little detail, but enough land mass, rivers, lakes and so on to orient yourself in most places. Not my favorite situation, and I would recommend adding to the pot so you can afford at least the eTrex 20. Price on the eTrex 10 is $119

Garmin eTrex 20 - The big advantage here is that the eTrex 20 adds a 2.2-inch 65K color screen that is sunlight readable. No, it is not a touchscreen, so you'll still find yourself thumbing it around the screen old school with a thumbstick. The other big advantage, and one that I recommend is that you can add color maps to this device. The 24K TOPO maps and Bluewater maps for back country contour maps or boating recreation maps, respectively. The eTrex 20 will also accept CityNavigator maps, making it a GPS device that can offer routable directions. It is not a replacement for a Nuvi by any means, but it makes taking it for a bike ride a whole lot nicer. Price on the eTrex 20 is $199.

GarmineTrex_20.jpg

Garmin eTrex 30 (shown at the top of the story) - The next step up here is that like other higher end handhelds, this last step in the product line adds an electronic compass - a 3-axis, tilt-able compass in fact, and a barometric altimeter. I have always liked these features, and get them on my GPS units. The altimeter is nice to have so you can easily track your progress, while the electronic compass is a great tool to have when out in nature. Price on the eTrex 30 is $299.


Garmin eTrex Profile

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May 27, 2011

Five Free Apps to Enjoy Traveling this Memorial Day Weekend

There are a few million people hitting the roads this weekend to enjoy the three days off, and I thought I would pass along a list of a few free iPhone apps that can help make the weekend a little bit better. Main links are for iTunes - use Developer Website links for other platforms.

  1. Inrix Traffic - The best traffic app there is gets its data from a vast network of road sensors, anonymous GPS probes and anonymous mobile phones. Crunch it all together and out comes a pretty accurate depiction of what traffic looks like and what it WILL look like in the near future. Part of dealing with traffic is avoiding it, and sometimes part of it is just knowing how long the current back-up is. Inrix is great at telling you where traffic is bad, but isn't a turn by turn App, "Just the traffic mam, just the traffic." - More at Inrix Site - Available for iPhone and Android.
  2. Waze - part driving app part social game this navigation app allows you to use crowd sourced maps to navigate here and there. Join the community and report police traps, random traffic jams and more. More at Waze Site - Available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Win Mobile and Nokia
  3. AAA Triptik Mobile - App that can give you turn-by-turn directions and a look at reviews and discounts on local hotels, restaurants and more.
  4. Gas Buddy - Open it up, use the GPS to find cheap gas around you; it's that simple. It also will find gas prices by grade, and reports on Diesel too. More at Gas Buddy Site - Available for iPhone, Android and WinMobile
  5. Trapster - Best police trap App out there with tons of current traps and frequently used hiding spaces marked. Join the community and alert them to the ones that you find. Let's face it, a $200 speeding ticket puts a dent in the fun bucket any day. More at Gas Buddy Site - Available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry

Three Free Bonus Apps

When you get there, what are you going to do? Here are three bonus apps that I like.
  1. North Face Trailhead - going on a hike? The Trailhead app gets you community sourced hiking trails. Record your own track and save it for yourself or share it with others.
  2. MapMyRide or MapMyRun - Either one from the "MapMy" App folks will help you track that exercise, show you on a map where you are, show you relevant info on your workout and record it for later. More at MapMyRide website - available for iPhone Blackberry and Android
  3. Opentable - Not exactly what I would call a GPS App, but hey you gotta eat. The restaurant finder and reservation system uses your GPS to fine restaurants around you. They cover about 18,000 restaurants nationally, which is far less than half of the ones out there, so coverage is a bit spotty out in the 'burbs. Probably won't cover the Clam Shack place I am going this weekend, but they do cover a lot of nicer places. Don't need a reservation and just want to read reviews on a restaurant around you? You can always read about more on Yelp. Opentable Site - Available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Palm WebOS, Nokia, Windows Phone Want more on Yelp; check out the Yelp Site - available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry

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May 19, 2011

Inrix App Upgrade - Easier to Use

InrixTrafficVer30.jpg

inrix has updated their Traffic App on both the Android and the iPhone platforms with some cool new features that will make using the App easier and better. I've been a regular user of the Inrix iPhone App since it debuted back in 2009 and have come to trust and rely upon it for accurate information about traffic conditions around me. To some extent, other Apps have leveraged their user networks more overtly and in a social way to gather information on traffic incidents and qualitative information on what life is like out on the roads. Inrix is making their sharing capabilities more overt with this release.

Easier Sharing
Inrix, with its unrivaled network of mobile GPS probes, road sensors and remote monitoring is pretty good, but if a user comes across an incident worth sharing with the greater community, they can now easily tap on the screen to pull up a set of reporting icons that allow you to quickly report an accident, the police, or even an error in the traffic flow.

Inrix is already using your positional data anonymously to learn about traffic conditions, but when you tap the "Traffic color is wrong" button, the Inrix App starts to report back more frequently for a period of time to oversample the traffic situation to get better data on the conditions.

Easier to Use Traffic Readout
inrix has also taken its keen understanding of the traffic data and let you know which spots are worse than normal and which spots are better than normal. Sometimes when you look at the traffic map it all looks pretty messy and confusing, but using this new feature, you can see the BLACK areas are worse than average speeds and the LIGHT BLUE areas are better then average speeds. Quick, easy and informative. It's free with a Pro upgrade for a few bucks. Free is definitely worth it and I happen to like the Pro version too. Start with free and then upgrade.

If you have a smartphone, you deal with traffic and don't have the Inrix App; you need it.


Inrix Traffic App at iTunes


Read More in: Mobile Phone GPS | Traffic News

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SkyGolf SkyCaddie Promo - Free Stuff: Dining and Deals

SkyCaddieSGX.jpg

SkyGolf is offering some free schwag with the purchase of a SkyCaddie Golf GPS Range Finder and buy the Silver Advantage membership including $60 in SkyBucks - redeemable at pro shops for merchandise and $100 in DiningDough redeemable for food at 18,000 restaurants nationwide.

The SkyCaddie system offers access to over 30,000 golf course maps from around the world with sub-meter accuracy that has been verified by precision surveying equipment.

"In addition to saving money, members receive unlimited access to the most complete, most reliable course library in the game, with no hidden fees or per course charges. SkyCaddie® Professional Mappers were trained to map golf courses the same way a Tour Caddie walks a course to verify a yardage book. Only SkyCaddie® maps are created with sub-meter, survey-grade equipment that records thousands of points on each course to verify the exact locations of targets, hazards, fairway run outs, major green contours, false fronts and the perimeter of every green with dynamic front carry and back numbers. "

Learn More about the different models of the SkyCaddie and about their Dining, Deals and Distance promotion at SkyCaddie

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May 11, 2011

Magellan 9055LM - Lifetime Maps on Large Screen Unit

Magellan RoadMate 9055LM

Magellan announced their new RoadMate 9055 LM large screen navigator, complete with lifetime maps for a street price of $299. The 7-inch screen is well suited for the unit has to be mounted far away - think RV, Truck and Van.

The Magellan RoadMate 9055LM comes with a high definition screen, Bluetooth connectivity for handsfree conversations, and lifetime traffic subscriptions to give you a little insight into traffic back-ups around you. The RM 9055LM also gives you multi-destination routing - punch in a few destinations for a day's sight-seeing and off you go. The RM 9055LM also offers battery backup, but is only rated for 30 minutes - no surprise given the real estate that the battery has to power on this large screen unit. The downside is that that's hardly enough time to charge your dying mobile phone on the one power outlet in your car while on that road trip.

Like other Magellan units, the RoadMate 9055 LM has AAA points of interest content for a fuller description of what's around you and what to do when you get to where you are going.

Available for $299 Street price - the Magellan RoadMate 9055 LM (BestBuy)

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April 29, 2011

TomTom iPhone App - Homer Simpson's Voice

TomTomiPhoneAppicon.jpgTomTom has upgraded their iPhone App to version 1.7 recently, adding Homer Simpson's voice to the product - sorry folks, it's an in-app purchase for $5.99.

TomTom's App continues to go through meaningful upgrades, none more important than getting good ol' Homer here, but important nonetheless.

They have Lane Guidance for tough intersections, IQ Routes that help you get more accurate travel times, and iPod music integration. I use it on a regular basis as part of my navigation solution rotation, and like it a lot.

At iTunes - TomTom's iPhone App

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