Monday, January 31, 2011

GPS signal simulator with 16 channels and SBAS (WAAS, EGNOS) - GSG-55

The Pendulum GSG-55 is a GPS constellation simulator that expands on the set of features of the popular GSG-54, adding 16-channel simulation, SBAS simulation and white noise generation. These new features make the GSG-55 capable for in-line production testing, including navigational fix and position testing, for engineering and development of even more applications than the GSG-54.
Spectracom announced the Pendulum GSG-55 GPS receiver test instrument capable to simulate Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS). Navigation systems that use SBAS can improve the accuracy and reliability provided by the GPS satellite signals alone, enabling critical applications such as aircraft navigation, and surveying and mapping. SBAS simulation (support for Europe’s EGNOS and North America’s WAAS) is a new feature in the GSG-55.

The GSG-55 user can configure scenarios on-the-fly without the need for external PC and pre-compilation phase. Via the front panel the user can swiftly modify parameters such as user position, time and specify output powers in carrier to noise ratio instead of absolute output power. Utilizing the white noise generation extends the usability and flexibility.
  • Versatile 16-channel GPS signal generator with pre-configured test scenarios
  • SBAS (WAAS, EGNOS) simulation
  • Configurable multipath simulation
  • White noise generator for receiver SNR testing
  • Easy-to-use and intuitive
  • Fully operational via front-panel
  • Multiple interfaces for remote control
  • Affordable and powerful GPS Simulators
12-channel GPS receivers are popular in GPS applications today, the GSG-55 16-channel simulator makes it possible to simulate all the channels those receivers can track. In addition other channels can be used for SBAS simulation of EGNOS or WAAS satellites.
GSG-55 is shipped with several multipath scenarios where the receivers’ response to an increased multipath environment can be analyzed. It also has a set of trajectories (static, circles, rectangular according to 3GPP TS 25.171) that allows the user to upload their own trajectories in NMEA standard format. The user can upload their own ephemeris data in standard RINEX format or re-use the default data for any time periods. GSG-55 can even automatically download historical RINEX, WAAS and EGNOS data from official ftp sites, as needed. GSG-55 has USB, GPIB as well as Ethernet interface, allowing remote control via network connection.
Besides the variety of built-in navigation/positioning tests, the GSG-55 is also suited for accurate testing of timing GPS-receivers. The GSG-55 can be equipped with an ultra-high-stability OCXO timebase for precision timing of the satellite data, or use external synchronization from a 10 MHz reference from e.g. a Cesium or Rubidium clock. A built-in 1-pps output, synchronized to the generated satellite data, allows comparison with the 1-pps signal from the timing receiver under test.
The GSG-55 is a perfect fit for a wide-variety of test cases including:
  • Test of simulated movements (user trajectories).
  • Test of receivers’ sensitivity to loss of satellites, multi-path, leap seconds and atmospheric conditions.
  • Fast production test of connectivity and sensitivity (conducted or over-the-air).
  • Production test of positioning receivers' accuracy.
  • Test of timing receiver accuracy.
  • Test of receivers’ dynamic range.
  • Test of receivers' susceptibility for noise (SNR limit testing).
It is also able to generate white noise, making it possible to test receiver sensitivity under different signal-to-noise ratios. The GSG-55 builds on the popular Pendulum GSG-54 eight-channel simulator including accurate testing of GPS timing receivers and portability through its compact and lightweight bench-top chassis. The 16-channel GPS simulator will be available in March 2011.

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TomTom Rider Pro Bike waterproof GPS

TomTom Rider Pro GPS - waterproof GPS unit with touchscreen, 3.5" glove-friendly touch screen, improved glove-friendly screen for easier and safer navigation.The display screen of the unit, though fairly small (3.5 inch, 320x240 pixel), is very clear and manages to pack a lot of information within its frame.The display also packs in current speed versus the speed limit (highlighted in red when exceeded), eta, distance, and time to final destination, phone and headset status and the all important battery status.The main menu has just two simple buttons 'Navigate to' and 'Browse map', so you can get going without any hassle.

Clearly shows which lane to take at junctions so you don’t miss your turning. On the most difficult highway intersections, realistic 3D representation of the junction keeps you relaxed and safe. An impressive feature is the extremely clear lane guidance it gives especially on motorways.Although I’m a regular up there it still requires concentration and planning to get into the right lanes yet the TomTom highlights which lanes you need to be in as it expands the display to concentrate on the junction only. Once the junction has been negotiated it returns to the normal distance view, and the whole thing works seamlessly.

Only TomTom uses actual speed data collected from millions of users to calculate the fastest routes at any point in time. Imagine a route that takes into account rush hour, traffic lights, zebra crossings, school exits or even shopping crowds, every minute of every day.The display also packs in current speed versus the speed limit (highlighted in red when exceeded), eta, distance, and time to final destination, phone and headset status and the all important battery status.

You get a ‘U’ bracket to clamp around something – usually your handlebar or in my case the windscreen brace (the benefits of an old bike). Both long and short stemmed ball sockets are supplied, the short one I’ve got permanently attached and used it again. The long one would be needed if the unit is going to be used from the handlebars, you don’t want to be fouling the unit while reaching for levers etc.

To the ball socket is attached a double ended collar, and into this the ball from the unit cradle sits. That way you have movement at both ends of this ‘arm’ and should be able to find a comfortable viewing angle whatever bike you’ve mounted it to. Tighten the arm up and it clamps both ball sockets, and away you go.

Start driving with the latest map - guaranteed! If a new map for your device is available within 30 days of first use, you can download that map once for free via TomTom HOME, please note you are only entitled to one free map download. Due to the continuous improvements in our map quality, some new maps may not fit on your device. In these cases, detailed Map Zones are offered for download. You can only use one Map Zone on your device at a time but it's easy and free to change to another zone at any time using TomTom.

Your device comes with fixed speed camera alerts pre-installed, to help you to drive more safely and responsibly, while saving money on speeding fines.The final thing I was able to test was the speed camera alert system. Since I hadn’t studied the reference book I was somewhat taken aback by the level of detail in which the speed cameras are notified. All the current types of camera have their own symbols and noises, including the average ones which don’t work on bikes as they face forward – I would disable these to be honest. Which is a shame because you are warned on approach, when entering the zone, while in the zone (aural if speeding), and at the end of the zone. All very clever but on a bike, in this country, we don’t need warning of average speed cameras.
Cardo wireless headset includes: Cardo scala-rider Bluetooth headset - receive clear voice instructions, and receive phone calls easily, through wireless technology.The Rider Pro set does indeed come with one of Cardo Systems Scala headsets so the unit doesn’t have to bellow directions at you like a crazy person, which would be pretty startling for passers as a voice. I was a little sceptical I will admit, sceptical about how I’m going to make myself heard at 80mph in a full face lid but more of this later.Also in the box were a couple of bags of bolts and brackets for fixing the unit to the bike, plus the Scala microphone and of course the actual TomTom Rider itself and you can also listen to music this way too directly via the Scala Rider headset (not the TomTom).

The Cardo Scala-Rider headset is state-of-the-art Bluetooth enabled, completely waterproof and apparently easily mounted in the helmet. With that marketing guff in my head I set about my beloved Xlite, and a few minutes later I’d attached the mounting plate (with microphone attached) to the side of the lid, a small cut being needed in the plastic collar on the neck padding, and I’d run the very thin speakers through the lining and velcro’d them into position. The main guts of the Scala-Rider is a waterproof rubberised ‘pod’ which clips over the fixed plate and lives on the outside of the helmet where you have the on/off and volume controls.I tried the helmet on and it was no bother. I could feel one of the speakers against an ear but it was far from uncomfortable and something I’d spend more time fiddling with if I was keeping the unit.

It would appear so although there is a battery cable available on the TomTom website for the princely sum of £6.84. Why it isn’t included is a mystery to me, no matter how good the battery is on the Rider it will only get worse through use and not everyone will remember to recharge the unit after use, plus it surely means taking a charger with you for overnights etc? In its defence the mains charger is basically a USB cable and a small plug unit so it’s dual purpose and indeed I suspect could be charged off a computer if you forego the wall plug adaptor.

TomToms are supplied fully loaded before shipping so there was no CD enclosed, and any further map updates are done online via the TomTom software on the unit itself. Plug it in via the mains/USB cable mentioned and it’ll load up. Subsequent maps are a chargeable download normally, although if a new one is available within the first 30 days of you using the Rider you get it free (one only). Upgrade bundles are available – 2years costs £70 for example.

To explain fully, this is the Rider Pro (£400 per TT website) which comes with Western Europe, (except some of the Balkans) as standard. You could save some money and dispense with the headset to get the Urban Rider (£300) unit, the GPS unit on its own. Or there is the Urban Rider Regional for nigh on half the price (£250) of the Pro which has only a map of the UK on it. So you won’t need to be buying maps left and right, city by city, as the buying of maps is about keeping the unit up to date rather than, Regional unit aside, expanding its coverage.

Without bothering to download the user reference guide (the manual supplied is little more than a fitting guide in about 30 languages) I set about programming both my home address and my client’s address. It is a simple and intuitive task although I did struggle with the keyboard letters in the corner of the screen but if I’d bothered to read the online reference manual I’d have found the ‘Glove Friendly’ screen option which resizes the buttons.
My travel time  was about 8hrs, and the unit came back with a shade under half its battery life intact. I was using it in the power saving mode whereby it only illuminates the display when there’s something to tell you about – a change in direction, a speed camera etc, which I don’t think is too bad at all. There won’t be many times you ride for more than 8 hours without charging opportunities, and certainly it will cope with the occasional night where it isn’t charged. Battery cable? Ok maybe it doesn’t need one right away.

If the standard display shortcuts aren’t enough for you there is a custom menu (the Quick Menu) you can control which is accessed straight from the main driving screen as the blue pointing hand. By the time I get a chance to use the unit on the bike I’m really warming to it, and can already see numerous advantages over my current system. But using it in the car is one thing, but how will it work in its proper environment on the bike? And how does the touch screen handle my big winter gloves?

I called home and once the mic was better placed Lou could hear me and despite having my ear plugs in I could hear her too! Amazing, and I was really impressed. I hate riding without plugs, albeit only cheap everyday bike-shop plugs, and really doubted I’d be able to hear the conversation. Operating the phone via the TomTom is easy although I’d advise pre-programming all numbers you want – tapping in a number while riding really isn’t on for safety reason as much as the practicality of it.

I was surprised to receive a call while en-route too, I had the TomTom set to answer automatically after 3 seconds and no sooner had I realised what the warbling in my ears was then someone was asking how I was! I will admit that at illegal motorway speeds it was difficult to hear this call and he couldn’t make out properly what I saying either. I slowed to about 50mph and it was much better but stopping was the answer.

I’m not a fan of phone calls on the move, hands free or otherwise, anything other than a social chat and too much concentration is involved. So I pulled over when it was safe to do so. Despite this advice, I would still go equipped as it is so much easier to deal with a call after pulling over than to remove helmet, gloves and plugs then dig out the phone to hear the voicemail and make a call.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bavaria Yachts takes Garmin marine electronics on-board

Garmin International Inc. the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced that Bavaria Yachts, one of the world’s leading yacht manufacturers, has selected Garmin to be the exclusive electronics supplier to outfit their robust line of sailing and cruising yachts. Garmin equipment will be onboard all motor and sail boats by BAVARIA and can first be purchased at the Düsseldorf boat show 22nd to 30th January.

Bavaria Yachts, one of the world´s leading top yachting manufacturers with international presence, and Garmin, the global leader in satellite navigation, is delighted to announce their partnership with effect from January 2011 onwards.

Bavaria has selected a complete Garmin marine electronics package to offer its customers that includes multi-function displays from the GPSMAP 4000 and GPSMAP5000 series, the GPSMAP 720s with its brilliant 7-inch touchscreen display, Garmin’s GHP 10V autopilot system designed specifically for the Volvo IPS drive, as well as the GMI 10 marine instrument display, which makes it easy to monitor navigation, heading and environmental data. Bavaria Yachts is the first marine OEM to offer its customers the new, award-winning GHP 12 sailboat autopilot system which is designed for 20- to 70-foot sailboats with linear-actuated steering systems.

Bavaria Yachts is among several new OEM contracts Garmin has won recently. In 2011, Garmin has also added Ranger Tugs, Cutwater Boats and Broom Boats to its growing roster of marine OEMs.

Since its inception in 1989, Garmin has delivered 75 million GPS enabled devices – far more than any other navigation provider. Garmin’s market breadth in the GPS industry is second to none, having developed innovative products and established a leadership position in each of the markets it serves, including automotive, aviation, marine, fitness, outdoor recreation, tracking, and wireless applications.

Equipment on board will include:
  • NMEA 2000 compatible 4000 and 5000 series of chartplotters which have a multifunction display,
  • satellite enhanced worldwide basemap, 
  • XM weather and radio
  • compatible with optional remote control and much more 720s (received a special mention at the Dame awards, METS 2010), 
  • featuring a brilliant 7-inch display putting all the information you need right at your fingertips.
GMI 10 Digital Marine Instrument display adds a new dimension of flexibility for boaters who want a fully integrated marine instrument system.
And last but not least, the autopilots – the GHP 10 designed for powerboats with hydraulic steering, delivering stunning performance in all sea conditions, and the GHP 12, second-generation autopilot designed for 20- to 70- foot sailboats with linear-actuated steering systems.This collection of products from Garmin combined with BAVARIA kicks off the First Sailboat manufacturer to use the new Garmin sail pilot and starts an exciting partnership for the marine industry in 2011.

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Garmin GHP12 Sailboat Autopilot System

Garmin have announced the GHP12 sailboat autopilot system – bringing robust performance and sophisticated control capabilities to 20 to 70  feet sailboats equipped with linear-actuated steering systems.The Garmin GHP 12 brings Garmin’s full-featured marine autopilot technology to the sailing community. Using the GHP12 sailboat autopilot system is like having an extra set of hands aboard your vessel. When interfaced with Garmin's GWS 10 or compatible wind sensor, GPS and network electronics (all sold separately), the GHP 12 can support heading hold, wind hold, step turns, tack/jibe and much more. This allows you to safely attend to your sails, lines, winches and radios without worry.

Designed for sailboats with linear-actuated steering systems, the GHP12 is a below-deck autopilot system that acts as a second set of hands aboard your vessel. This new system is available with two linear drive options: the Class A Drive Unit for sailboats with up to 28,500 pounds of displacement, or the Class B Drive Unit for larger sailboats with up to 79,000 pounds of displacement, and is designed primarily for sailboats 20 to 70feet. For optimal performance, the GHP 12 features a built-in gyro that maintains precise turn response and control stability. In addition, the integrated rudder feedback ensures ease of installation and exceptional reliability. And the GHP 12 offers minimal power consumption to conserve onboard power systems.
The GHP 12 is accessed through the GHC10 helm control unit, which is fully NMEA 2000 certified. In addition to easy installation, NMEA 2000 compatibility allows you to share autopilot heading data with other devices on your network, including Garmin chartplotters that can provide GPS-enabled route guidance. The GHP 12 supports both linear actuated steering systems on sailboats on a single system. For sailboat applications there are two linear drives available from Garmin capable of driving many different steering systems to fit almost any midsize to large sailboat (depending on the particular installation):
  • GHC 10 dimensions, WxHxD: 4.3 " x 4.4 " x 1.9 " (10.9 x 11.2 x 4.8 cm)
  • CCU dimensions: 3.6 " diameter (9.1 cm diameter)
  • ECU dimensions: 6.6 " x 4.6 " x 2.1 " (16.8 x 11.7 x 5.3 cm)
  • GHC 10 display resolution, WxH: 320 x 240 pixels
  • GHC 10 display type: QVGA color LCD display
  • NMEA output: NMEA 0183 (GHC 10), NMEA 2000 (GHP 12 & GHC 10)
  • Supply voltage:GHP 12: (10V to 28V);GHC 10: (7V to 32V)
  • Operating temperature: -15° C to 60 C° (5° F to 140° F)

With a 3.5-inch full-colour display, the GHC10 is a dedicated autopilot control unit designed to engage and disengage the GHP 12 autopilot. Three GHC 10 controllers can be interfaced to a single GHP 12, allowing autopilot functionality at a remote location on the boat. When interfaced with Garmin’s GWS10 or other compatible wind sensors, GPS and network electronics, the GHP 12 can support workload-saving features such as heading hold, wind hold, step turns, tack/jibe, MFD route following and more. In addition, this new system features sailing-specific software and employs the industry-standard NMEA 2000 interface, ensuring ease of installation and network access to autopilot heading data.

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Sony XNV-770BT GPS (TOMTOM navigation) with LCD monitor, digital player, DVD player and radio

The Sony XNV-770BT GPS features TomTom navigation and delivers incredible audio and video picture quality. TomTom incorporate real world, real-time feedback, providing the most accurate maps available. An external GPS module essentially puts a TomTom navigation device inside the Sony, utilizing all of the technologies and interface design of TomTom's midtier PNDs. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Sony's newest all-in-one car audio receiver pairs a brilliant 7-inch display with GPS navigation powered by TomTom. The result is almost the best of both worlds, but we'd like to see a bit more integration.

The Sony XNV-770BT features an extra-sharp TFT (WVGA) 7-inch touch-screen display with gesture command and on-screen touch buttons and checks all of the audio and video playback boxes we like to see with iPod, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity. Separate audio and video power supply circuits provide added clarity.
Despite a few forays into the world of turn-by-turn navigation and two generations of Nav-U portable GPS devices, Sony simply isn't a manufacturer that comes immediately to mind when most of us think "navigation." Instead most think of a brand like TomTom for GPS, associating Sony with nice displays or crisp PlayStation-esque graphics. Rather than fighting this brand perception, Sony embraces it with the XNV-770BT in-dash AV/GPS receiver.

This all-in-one receiver plays to its strengths and outsources its perceived weaknesses with an external TomTom GPS module that fills its crisp 7-inch Sony video display with the full TomTom .The XNV-770BT integrates seamlessly with Satellite Radio and HD Radio using Sony Bus adaptors so you can receive digital satellite radio or HD Radio broadcasts.
The menu structure can be a bit clunky, requiring multiple button presses to jump between the device's three modes. The navigation interface runs at a lower resolution than the screen's native resolution, causing maps to look blurry relative to the crisp menus and audio source screens.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Galileo Europe GPS project will be started ....when?

Galileo is a multi-billion-euro venture which will complement - but also compete with - the US Global Positioning System (GPS), providing very accurate timing and location data that can be used in a host of applications from landing planes to co-ordinating financial transactions. The endeavour is controversial because its deployment is long overdue and significantly over-budget.
Satellite navigation users in Europe today have no alternative other than to take their positions from US GPS or Russian GLONASS satellites.As the use of satellite navigation spreads, the implications of a signal failure will be even greater, jeopardising not only the efficient running of transport systems, but also human safety.

OHB-System and UK-based company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) were awarded a contract valued at 566m euros (£465m) in January 2010 to start the production of the Galileo constellation.
Surrey will assemble the electronic payload for each satellite in Guildford before shipping it to Germany to be incorporated in the spacecraft bus, or chassis, prepared by OHB.
Bremen-based OHB-System is part of the consortium that will build Galileo's first 14 operational spacecraft.The consortium's contract win was a spectacular achievement for the two firms which beat off the combined bid of Europe's two biggest satellite manufacturers, EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space (TAS).OHB-System then followed this triumph by winning the other high-profile European satellite-manufacturing deal of 2010 - the 1.3bn-euro contract to produce the next generation of weather satellites for the continent. In this case, the contract is shared with TAS.
When Galileo, Europe's own global satellite navigation system, is fully operational, there will be 30 satellites (27 operational + 3 active spares) in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) at an altitude of 23 222 kilometres. Ten satellites will occupy each of three orbital planes inclined at an angle of 56° to the equator. The satellites will be spread evenly around each plane and will take about 14 hours to orbit the Earth. One satellite in each plane will be a spare; on stand-by should any operational satellite fail.
Planners and engineers at ESA had good reasons for choosing such a structure for the Galileo constellation. With 30 satellites at such an altitude, there is a very high probability (more than 90%) that anyone anywhere in the world will always be in sight of at least four satellites and hence will be able to determine their position from the ranging signals broadcast by the satellites. The inclination of the orbits was chosen to ensure good coverage of polar latitudes, which are poorly served by the US GPS system.
From most locations, six to eight satellites will always be visible, allowing positions to be determined very accurately – to within a few centimetres. Even in high rise cities, there will be a good chance that a road user will have sufficient satellites overhead for taking a position, especially as the Galileo system will be interoperable with the US system of 24 GPS satellites.
ESA will launch the first four operational satellites using two separate launchers. The first two satellites will be placed in the first orbital plane and the second in the second orbital plane. These four satellites, plus part of the ground segment, will then be used to validate the Galileo system as a whole, together with advanced system simulators.Then, the next two satellites will be launched into the third orbital plane. They will be followed by several launches with Ariane-5 or Soyuz from the Europe’s Space Port in French Guyana. The first services will be delivered when the constellation has reached its Initial Orbital Configuration.
When the 30 satellites are in space on all its three orbital planes, Galileo will be fully operational, providing its services to a wide variety of users throughout the world.

A user will be able to take a position with the same receiver from any of the satellites in any combination. By offering dual frequencies as standard, however, Galileo will deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to the metre range.It will guarantee availability of the service under all but the most extreme circumstances and will inform users within seconds of a failure of any satellite. This will make it suitable for applications where safety is crucial, such as running trains, guiding cars and landing aircraft.

Thereafter, four operational satellites - the basic minimum for satellite navigation in principle - will be launched in 2011 to validate the Galileo concept with both segments: space and related ground infrastructure. Once this In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase has been completed, additional satellites will be launched to to reach the Initial Operational Capability. At this stage, The Open Service, Search and Rescue and Public Regulated Service will be available with initial performances. Then along the build-up of the constellation, new services will be tested and made available to reach the Full Operational Capability (FOC).

Once this is achieved, the Galileo navigation signals will provide good coverage even at latitudes up to 75 degrees north, which corresponds to the North Cape, and beyond. The large number of satellites together with the optimisation of the constellation, and the availability of the three active spare satellites, will ensure that the loss of one satellite has no discernible effect on the user.

Two Galileo Control Centres (GCCs) will be implemented on European ground to provide for the control of the satellites and to perform the navigation mission management. The data provided by a global network of twenty Galileo Sensor Stations (GSSs) will be sent to the Galileo Control Centres through a redundant communications network. The GCC’s will use the data from the Sensor Stations to compute the integrity information and to synchronise the time signal of all satellites with the ground station clocks. The exchange of the data between the Control Centres and the satellites will be performed through up-link stations. Five S-band up-link stations and 10 C-band up-link stations will be installed around the globe for this purpose.

As a further feature, Galileo will provide a global Search and Rescue (SAR) function, based on the operational COSPAS-SARSAT system. To do so, each satellite will be equipped with a transponder, which is able to transfer the distress signals from the user transmitters to the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, which will then initiate the rescue operation. At the same time, the system will provide a signal to the user, informing him that his situation has been detected and that help is under way. This latter feature is new and is considered a major upgrade compared to the existing system, which does not provide feedback to the user.

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Magellan RoadMate 1700

The Magellan RoadMate 1700 looks a lot like every other RoadMate, until you put it side by side with any other GPS device on the market. Its 7-inch wide WVGA color touch screen monitor seems freakishly large compared with the usual 3.5 inch and 4.3 inch PND screens. However, while the 1700 is much taller and wider, the device is also one of the thinnest PNDs.

Tapping anywhere on the map screen puts the map into an exploration mode. Here you can change between 2D and 3D views, zoom in and out, touch and slide to move around the map. Tapping a location in this mode drops a pin and displays an address along the top of the screen. Subsequently touching the icon next to the address chooses that point as a destination and takes you to the destination confirmation screen.

This smartly designed ,ultra-clear display lets you clearly see where you are on your route with four times the detail found in a standard GPS device. Intuitive and robust navigation The Magellan RoadMate 1700 device lets you bookmark your favorite destinations and searches with the OneTouch favorites menu so you can access them anywhere you travel. With a single touch, find your favorite café or restaurant when you're traveling within any city. QuickSpell with SmartCity search helps you quickly enter addresses and narrow your address and city searches, making destination entry easy. Multi-destination routing with route optimization lets you plan your trip with multiple stops in the order you want or optimize a trip for the most efficient route, saving you time and money.

Go To takes you to the destination selection menu, where they are given a choice of address entry, POI search, or address book browsing.Entering an address or searching for a POI is quick thanks to the 1700's responsive touch screen and QuickSpell system, which attempts to predict what you're typing and blanks out invalid letters and numbers to prevent mistyping. Unlike the smaller 1470, the onscreen keypad is laid out in the more familiar QWERTY layout, which is very conducive to two-handed input.

Once a destination is chosen, the destination confirmation screen gives you the option of simply hitting a large GO button to start a route or, through a route options menu, comparing a variety of potentially different routes. Available options include Fastest time, Shortest distance, Mostly freeways, and Least use of freeways. You are presented with estimated times for each of these routes and can even compare all four routes on the same route screen. Typically, these granular routing options are hidden deep in the menu structure. We like that the RoadMate makes them easily accessible.

The second button on the main menu is the View Map button. The RoadMate's map screen features a volume icon on the right side that brings up a volume slider. Along the bottom is a bank of soft keys, one of which is customizable to display current speed, current time, elevation, time remaining on route, estimated time of arrival, and direction of travel. There are also buttons for zooming in and out, and a menu key.

Along the unit's top edge is the power switch. This slider has settings for on, off, and reset. When powering the unit off, you are presented with a 10-second countdown and the option to return the slider to On or shut down immediately. If no option is chosen, then the shutdown is completed. If power is disconnected or if the battery level gets too low, a similar countdown timer is displayed on the device, but the length is increased to 30 seconds, at the end of which the device goes into standby.

At the top center of the unit is a microSD card slot. Along the bottom edge are the Mini-USB port for charging and connecting to a computer, a 3.5mm AV input, and a connection for the 12-volt charger. On its back are a speaker and the slotted connection for the windshield suction-cup mount. The 1700 ships with a Mini-USB cable for synchronizing, a 12-volt charger to keep the vehicle powered when used in a car, a suction-cup windshield cradle that attaches to the 1700 with a tongue-in-groove-type connection, and a soft slipcover. In the box, you'll also find an adhesive disk for dashboard mounting and a nice full-color, multilanguage guide.

Text-to-speech turn-by-turn directions enable the unit to read street names and exits aloud. English, Spanish, and French languages are supported out of the box, but with only one voice per language. It has graphic lane guidance that helps with navigating complex freeway interchanges by displaying a representation of the intersection and highway signs, while indicating what lanes are valid for the current route.

You can keep your eyes on the road as you drive because spoken street name guidance announces street names with every voice direction so you'll know when to make your next turn. Highway lane assist offers visual aids to point you in the right direction and ensure that you'll choose the correct lane well before your next turn.Should your vehicle unfortunately break down as you travel, the AAA locate screen provides your location so help will know where to find you. Get support fast with the AAA Member Roadside Assistance phone number and your location displayed on the Magellan RoadMate 1700 device screen.

Traffic is always a headache, but your Magellan RoadMate 1700 device has the SmartDetour™ feature that prompts you to route around suddenly slow or stopped freeway traffic, automatically calculating the quickest detour. The new Magellan RoadMate 1700 device is designed to help ensure driver safety, while providing useful features that make navigation truly enjoyable. Your Magellan RoadMate 1700 is ready to travel with preloaded maps and points of interest for the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. (Mexico map upgrade is sold separately).With 6 million points of interest at your command you can easily locate gas stations, restaurants, ATMs, coffee shops, and much more.

When you're traveling down the Interstate and need to find gas, food, or lodging in a hurry, touch the highway exit POI icon to see which upcoming highway exits have the services you need.Turn it on and go!The Magellan RoadMate 1700 device is loaded with premier features you'll need to get you where you want to go.  If you need more information or you want to save money, select the AAA search menu after your search entry. The integrated AAA TourBook provides ratings and descriptions on AAA approved places to stay, play, dine, and save.

Some of disadvantages:In urban environments, the 1700 takes longer to establish satellite lock and can be inaccurate. Its 7-inch screen size may be too much for smaller dashboards and can make mounting it awkward. Its battery life is extremely short.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Magellan eXplorist GC GPS handheld device

GPS device maker Magellan introduces the eXplorist GC, the first dedicated GPS device for geocaching. The handheld device features -the-box paperless geocaching and is pre-loaded with the most popular geocaches in the world.
The eXplorist GC utilizes SiRFstarIII GPS chipset that provides 3-meter accuracy and features a 2.2-inch color display. It rugged, waterproof, and submersible (IPX-7). The device is powered by two AA batteries that is enough for 18 straight hours of outdoor adventure. It comes with a 30-day free premium membership to and is priced at $149.99.
Magellan eXplorist GC is built for a premium geocaching experience. Whether you're a seasoned geocacher with more than a thousand finds or a newbie that's interested in getting in on the action, eXplorist GC provides all the tricks of the trade.
Probably most important, eXplorist GC supports paperless geocaching, which allows you to download more than 20 unique characteristics of each cache, including name, location, description, hider, size, difficulty, terrain, hint, spoilers, attributes, and last 20 user logs among a number of other details.
Magellan eXplorist GC comes with the most popular geocaches pre-loaded to provide a unique out of box experience. You can literally "turn it on and go!"
To customize your geocaching experience with caches that meet your specific criteria, the eXplorist GC has seamless connection to This allows you to search more than one millions caches worldwide. With a click of the mouse, you can transfer the information with the Send to GPS feature. Additionally, with a Premium Membership to, you can create custom Pocket Queries and update your device with fresh cache information easily on a weekly basis.
Did we mention that eXplorist GC comes with a free 30 day pass to premium member services? Yes it does! Get access to full GPX file downloads, pocket queries, member only caches, and a host of other great features.
Now that you're hooked up with a premium membership to, download thousands of geocaches to the eXplorist GC. The device can hold up to 10,000 geocaches so you can continue to load new caches for each and every new adventure.
Searching for the right cache is easy by setting your search preferences: by nearest, by name, by type, by date, or by geocache ID. Also, you can customize your cache list. For example, show all regular size, traditional type caches that have not been found.
To support all your geocaching adventures, the eXplorist GC comes packed with tons of helpful hardware features. Most striking, the vibrant color screen is transflective, which allows for the best readability in direct sunlight. To zero in on the exact location of a hidden cache, the SiRFstarIII GPS chipset provides accuracy of 10-feet (3-meters). To keep your fun going all day long, the device is powered by two AA batteries for 18 hours of constant usage. Finally, to keep your new favorite toy safe as you explore the outdoors, eXplorist GC is rugged, waterproof, and submersible (IPX-7). All of this is packed into a small and attractive handheld form factor that can be hung around your neck or attached to your pack with the built-in carabineer hook.

eXplorist GC provides unmatched assistance with navigation, such as the combination of the world's two most useful navigational tools - a compass and a map! Overlay a series of different transparent compass styles on top of a pre-loaded worldwide map that show roads, water features, parks, and city centers. Access the dashboard screen that shows a mini-compass for quick reference and customizable navigation data fields, such as latitude, longitude, heading, bearing, distance to end, trip odometer, and many more. Go back to the map screen and view your active track, which is a series of digital breadcrumbs to record all yours movements. Mark your starting point (car, trailhead, parking lot...) with a waypoint and easily navigate back to that location once you've unearthed your fill of caches. eXplorist GC will not only find hidden treasure, but it will also help you find your way back.
Compete with your friends with the unique geocache tracking features. The "time to find" cache feature records the time is takes to find each cache. eXplorist GC will keep a record of the time it takes to find each cache in the geocache details page and average all finds in your user profile. The device also tracks the number and type of geocaches found. Keep track of your finds on the geocache awards screen and stats page.
Reference your Trip Summary to keep track of your distance travelled, complete travel time, moving time and stopped time, and average time to find. Easily reset your Trip Summary statistics to track the details of your next geocaching adventure.
Whether you are searching for treasure in the Nordics, the Orient, or in the West Indies, eXplorist GC will provide accurate GPS signals thanks to the Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) of WAAS, EGNOS, and MSAS, which is identified in the GPS status bar. eXplorist GC also displays coordinates in a myriad of different global systems, including UTM and WGS84. Geocaching is a worldwide phenomenon and eXplorist GC will help guide you accurately to treasures all over the globe.
eXplorist GC has the ease-of-use to help a novice geocacher discover the world of high-tech treasure hunting and the sophistication to keep an experienced hunter satisfied with loads of advanced features. "X" marks the spot and eXplorist GC can help to find it!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

TeleNav GPS Navigator 6.2

Today, they announced TeleNav GPS Navigator 6.2 that you will first see appear in the Android Market as Navigator 2.2 on AT&T Android phones, such as the Samsung Captivate, HTC Aria, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, and Motorola BACKFLIP devices. This latest update will roll out soon on other Android smartphones.
You may wonder why you would pay the monthly fee for this when you get Google Maps Navigation, but as you can see TeleNav’s solution provides a much more feature packed option and reliability that is critical to those who must get someplace on time.

A list of the key enhancements in this latest update include:

Multiple Route Suggestions: Users are presented with up to three route suggestions overlaid on a map with route distance and estimated drive times.
Quick Search: Users can simply touch the Quick Search box on the Home screen and type an address, landmark, category, or a business name. TeleNav GPS Navigator 6.2 uses predictive search technology.

Speech Recognition: TeleNav has included an expanded Speech Recognition feature, allowing users to press a single button on the home page and speak a command, including common phrases such as “How’s the weather” or “How’s traffic.”
Map Overlays: The map view includes one-click options to layer information on the map screen, such as traffic flow information and the locations of traffic cameras.

Expanded POIs: We added millions of new Points of Interest (POIs) to our search database, giving TeleNav users access to more than 22 million U.S. business locations, historical landmarks, airports and more.

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Garmin Approach G5 golf GPS

Give your game a boost of confidence with Approach G5, a rugged, waterproof, touchscreen golf GPS packed with thousands of preloaded golf course maps. Approach uses a high-sensitivity GPS receiver to measure individual shot distances and show the exact yardage to fairways, hazards and greens. The Garmin Approach G5 has been extremely successful for Garmin. After being on the market a short 6 weeks, Garmin has updated the Approach G5 with another 2500 courses to bring the total number of loaded courses to 7500.
The Garmin Approach G5 golf GPS now boasts even more top notch courses. We are confident the list of courses for the Approach G5 will continue to be added to quickly and on a regular basis.Golf course updates are always free with the Garmin Approach G5, and no subscription is ever needed! The complete list of all included golf courses for the Garmin Approach G5 Golf Rangefinder is available here.

Approach displays and updates your exact position on stunningly detailed, preloaded course maps throughout the United States and Canada. Approach’s highly sensitive GPS receiver pinpoints your position and removes guesswork from your game. And as you move, Approach automatically updates your position, so you’ll always know your yardage. There are no subscriptions or setup fees, and Approach is compliant with USGA and R&A rules.

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Nike GPS SportsWatch Powered by TomTom

Portable navigation device (PND) maker TomTom has teamed up with Nike to offer a GPS-equipped sports watch targeted mainly to runners but also to joggers and walkers.
Called the Nike+ SportsWatch GPS Powered by TomTom, the product will be available in April in the U.S. at a price to be determined. Nike and TomTom will offer the device through their websites, and Nike will take it to runner specialty stores. TomTom will take it to Best Buy, a spokesman said.

The watch's GPS receiver tracks a person's pace, distance and route. During a run, the watch shows runners their time, distance, pace, and calories burned.
Information on routes taken and past runs can be displayed on the watch's small 1-inch by 0.75-inch screen, but to improve the viewing experience, consumers plug the watch's USB connector into a PC to upload data to, where the user's route appears on a cloud-based map that includes information on elevation. Consumers will also be able to use the site to find new routes, set and track goals, receive coaching tips, challenge friends, and share information on runs through Facebook and Twitter, the company said. also lets users search a catalog of potential routes by location, length, difficulty and landmarks.
The watch's GPS is backed up by a shoe-based accelerometer that communicates wirelessly with the watch and comes into play when a GPS signal is lost. The watch also communicates wirelessly with an optional Nike heart-rate monitor that is strapped to a runner's chest.
The watch stores data on up to 50 runs, but the Nike portal displays all previous runs, a spokesman said.Users tap the watch's LCD screen to access a menu and information.Nike already offers a Nike+ GPS iPhone application for use with a shoe-based accelerometer that communicates wirelessly with the app.
The Nike+ SportWatch GPS is designed to be simple and intuitive with only three buttons and a Tap Screen for navigation. During the run, the new Nike+ SportWatch GPS captures location information while showing runners their time, distance, pace, and calories burned on an easy-to-read screen featuring a customizable layout. Throughout the run, the GPS receiver works in tandem with the shoe-based Nike+ Sensor to deliver highly accurate pace and distance data.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TOM TOM GO 2505 M Live with HD traffic service

Virtually instantaneous traffic updates come to TomTom’s line of GPS devices with the launch of its Go 2505 M LIVE model. The $349 product, which will be available by mid-2011, uses both satellite and GPRS radio signals to update traffic conditions every two minutes, compared with every 15 minutes for the company’s other models.

The TomTom Go 2505M also features other live services that are available free for the first year, including local search, updated local fuel prices and weather. Standard spoken commands can summon directions to the nearest fast-food joint or gas station. “The data is twice as accurate as Navteq,” said Tom Murray, a TomTom senior vice president for marketing.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, the company is also announcing new lower-cost GPS products starting at $169. Its new Via line comes in 4.3- and 5-inch diagonal screen sizes, includes Bluetooth and voice recognition and, depending on model, free lifetime traffic and map updates.
Unlike TomTom’s other models, the Via remains permanently attached to its mounting base, making setup easier, Mr. Murray said. This will also mean that you won’t leave the mounting bracket in a rental car as you dash to your plane.

TomTom has just expanded its flagship Go series of portable navigation devices with the addition of the new Go 2505 M Live, which adds TomTom's Live connectivity suite and is the first unit in TomTom's lineup to feature the HD Traffic service.
As a Go series device, the Go 2505 M Live features the same hardware as the previously reviewed (and quite similarly named) Go 2505 TM, including a 5-inch, glass, capacitive touch screen with multitouch capabilities, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, and a metal-backed chassis that attaches to its windshield mount with magnets. The unit also features TomTom's new WebKit-based software with voice recognition and faster routing and processing.
Where the 2505 Live model differs is the inclusion of a GSM data connection powered by AT&T that enables TomTom's Live service. We've seen this service in action before in the 2009 Editors' Choice winner--the TomTom Go 740 Live--adding Local Search by Google, fuel prices, and weather forecasts to the navigation toolbox. However, this time around, TomTom has a new trick up its sleeve: HD Traffic.
TomTom's HD Traffic service has been running over the past year in the European market, but the Go 2505 M Live will be the first consumer product available in North America to feature the service, so we're excited to see it in action. The Go 2505 M Live gets its HD Traffic stream from the Internet using the Live data service, which means that TomTom's new service should provide faster and more frequent updates than the relatively slow-to-update RDS-TMC FM band utilized by most traffic services for data transmission. However, that's the beginning of the differences. Standard traffic flow data is polled by road sensors and traffic camera services and is usually only available on major highways.
TomTom's HD Traffic system takes a three-pronged approach, taking advantage of road sensor data, IQ Routes time-based predictive traffic flow data generated anonymously by the millions of TomTom device and app users, and real time traffic data generated by users and fleets equipped with connected TomTom and Tele Atlas devices. All of this data is blended using a proprietary algorithm at TomTom's traffic center to create what TomTom calls the most up-to-the-minute and accurate view of what's happening on the road. Additionally, because TomTom isn't relying solely on highway road sensors, the HD Traffic service should also provide flow data for surface roads and city streets--roadways previously neglected by most traffic services.
The TomTom Go Live will be available in mid-2011 at an MSRP of $349, which includes a trial subscription of the TomTom Live service with HD Traffic.

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GPS device for ski school - FLAIK

Parents nervous about sending their children off to ski or snowboarding school may fret over the possibility that their kids might be cold or get hurt, but now they no longer need to worry that they'll get lost on the mountain.

Nearly a dozen ski resorts worldwide are starting to use a GPS tracking system for students and instructors called flaik (pronounced like snowflake). A flaik is a small beacon the size of a deck of cards that is strapped to the leg. If a student moves beyond a certain distance from her instructor, it sends out an automatic alert. The distance is set by the ski resort based on the level of the class.
"If we see that a student is not with the rest of their class, we'll call the instructor to resolve the situation," said Paul Reuter, the flaik supervisor at the Steamboat Springs ski resort in Colorado.
During busy times at Steamboat, on a day between Christmas and New Year's for instance, about 10 to 15 of the 800 students will become separated from the 115 instructors, Reuter said. A slower day might have about 300 students, and still somewhere between 1 percent and 2 percent will be located by flaik.
The public can't access the flaik tracking information during the day, but when ski school is over, each student is given a card with a code that will allow him to log into the flaik website. There, parents and kids can view a map, charts and graphs that show where they skied, how long they spent on each run, the difficulty of each trail, their vertical feet, the distance covered, their average speed and their top speed.
Because it's fun to look at the tracking information, Steamboat and Smugglers' Notch in Vermont also rent the flaik to anyone who wants it for $10 a day — including adults who'd like a record of their own day in the snow.
A word of caution: Skiers who go to the flaik website and create an account will see a pull-down menu of more than three dozen ski resorts. Not all of these use the flaik in their ski school programs; some only use them for specific events. As of early 2011, resorts using it in teaching programs include: Steamboat, Winter Park and Copper Mountain in Colorado; Alpine Meadows and Homewood Mountain Resort in California; Smugglers' Notch in Vermont ; Pats Peak in New Hampshire; Mont Tremblant and Whistler-Blackcomb in Canada, and Meribel and Courchevel in France.

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Spot Connect transforms your smartphone into a satellite messenger

The new Spot Connect satellite messenger and app allows you to send location-based messages from your smartphone from anywhere on the planet.If you're the outdoorsy type, chances are that you've often found yourself off the beaten path and away from the safety of a strong wireless signal. More satellites for SOS detection than anyone for faster signal detection.The Spot product family of GPS-enabled satellite messengers is one solution to your lack of signal bars, with the newest of these devices being the smartphone-enhanced Spot Connect.

The Spot Connect interfaces with a Bluetooth-paired smartphone via the Spot Connect application--versions of the app will be immediately available for Android handsets, iPhone compatibility is pending Apple's approval, and BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 compatibility will follow later in the year. Using this app, you can take advantage of the Spot's more sensitive GPS receiver to determine your location and its satellite uplink to transmit your position to social networks, friends and family, and international emergency response centers. You can also send predefined location-based SMS and e-mail messages via satellite, "Type and Send" custom 41 character messages, or track and share your progress on Google Maps from almost anywhere on the planet. Most importantly, the Spot Connect features an SOS mode that will notify local emergency services that you need help and keep them updated of your location.
All of these interactions are handled via the smartphone's touch screen. Additionally, Spot offers a Web account management interface that allows you to set up lists of recipients, link your Facebook, Twitter, and other social-network accounts, and customize the preset messages.
Granted, these are all functions that any smartphone worth its salt can already handle, but the Spot Connect has the advantage of using the Globalstar/Spot satellite network instead of terrestrial cellular antennas. This means that the Spot Connect will enable your smartphone to transmit its position from almost anywhere that has a clear view of the sky, worldwide. Spot's emergency response system also ties into roadside assistance services and the BoatUS marine towing service. This makes the Spot a great safety net for anyone who regularly goes off of the grid, including weekend warriors, vacationers in foreign countries, boat owners out in open water, and motorists, bikers, and cyclists exploring rural or mountainous backroads.
The Spot Connect's hardware is self-contained, so it can continue to transmit your location when in Tracking or SOS mode even if the paired smartphone dies or is deactivated, and is IPX7 waterproof and shockproof, so it's less likely to be damaged or destroyed than a relatively fragile handset. The Spot Connect can also be utilized as a standalone device to a limited degree and features a physical SOS button for transmitting your location to emergency services. And because the Spot Connect has its own GPS receiver and satellite transmitter, it can also be used to add positioning and messaging functionality to noncellular devices, such as the iPod Touch.
The Spot Connect hardware is scheduled to begin shipping later this month with a $170 cost of entry. The free Spot Connect app will be available for download and an annual subscription service will be required to make use of Spot's satellite network, starting at about $100 per year.

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Garmin Mobile StreetPilot for iPhone

The StreetPilot GPS combines satellite tracking technology with detailed electronic maps to bring Garmin navigation to your automobile. The safety and convenience of knowing where you are anywhere in the world, in any weather, 24 hours a day is as close as your dash.
Official sources at Garmin added that the company’s new mobile applications including StreetPilot for iPhone, Garmin Tracker, myMechanic, and My-Cast Lite will be on display at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Company sources also revealed that Garmin Tracker an application that will be available soon for iPhone and Android, works in conjunction with the Garmin GTU 10 tracking devices. Users can track anything such as a child, pet or vehicle and see the location using their smartphone.The StreetPilot features a high-performance twelve parallel channel GPS receiver for quick satellite acquisition and reliable signal reception, whether you're under dense tree cover or surrounded by high-rise skyscrapers.

The myMechanic app gives performance metrics including horsepower, torque and G-force of a vehicle. myMechanic’s information is available when paired via Bluetooth with Garmin’s ecoRoute HD module. It will be available for download from the Android Marketplace from February 2011, added Garmin sources.
The StreetPilot App has been designed specifically for iPhone and it offers iPhone owners unlimited use of Garmin’s navigation with traffic alerts. The intuitive interface gives users two simple options: “Where to?” and “View Map.” .Garmin StreetPilot for iPhone offers turn-by-turn directions with spoken street names, free traffic alerts, lane-assist with a junction view for complex highway navigation, and integration with iTunes for music playback while you’re driving. A large high-resolution four-level gray scale display offers razor-sharp images, even in direct sunlight—and with Garmin's new, three-level amber backlighting, navigating in low-light situations is easier than ever.

Company sources explained that the StreetPilot App includes some high-end features available on Garmin’s standalone automotive GPS devices like free traffic alerts that enable drivers to avoid traffic accidents, road closures and construction sites. The company announced the release of its full lineup of new smartphone applications for both iPhone and Android.
The lane assist feature with junction view directs drivers to the preferred lane and displays realistic images of upcoming complex junctions. Speed limit indicators display speed limits for most major roads. It is an off-board navigation system enabling customers to get the most up-to-date mapping information. The StreetPilot App also integrates with a driver’s iTunes music library and also integrates with their address book.
Garmin's first product designed primarily for the automobile contains a reference basemap showing Interstate, U.S., and State highways, plus rivers and lakes in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with main arterial streets shown in metropolitan areas. Optional MapSource MetroGuide U.S.A. CD-ROMs can be uploaded for street-level map detail and access to business listings and points of interest in your area. All you need to do is enter a street address or choose points of interest (such as restaurants, hotels, gas stations, banks, and shopping areas) and the StreetPilot will display it on a map along with your current location.
Text and graphics are shown in large type for easy viewing with three-level backlighting for nighttime use. Six AA batteries supply sixteen hours of operation, or you can use an optional cigarette lighter adapter to power the unit. Either way, you can quickly transfer your StreetPilot to another vehicle for continuous pinpoint navigation.

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