Mio H610 Handheld

 

GPS Review

 

Mio H610 Handheld GPS

The Mio H610 Handheld GPS is a pretty unique beast. Featuring navigation, music, video, games and more, it definitely beats the pants off my Blackberry. This unit features Mio Map v3, which has all your standards – Points of Interest, address based navigation, 3d display, voice prompting, visual prompting – as well as some neat features like speed cameras (preset and user defined) and the ability to tilt and tile on the 3d map (zoom in and out, pan up and down – its very cool to see. Mio has some videos here,) The Mio H610 Handheld comes preloaded with 24 European countries as well as 16 languages – sadly, this one isn’t for us in the States. A quick side note: I was checking this unit out for a friend who is taking a trip abroad, as he had asked me to suggest something portable that he could use while on his trip, and I figured there may be some readers of my blog who aren’t confined to the US who would also appreciate the info.

The H610’s biggest draw, to me anyway, was the inclusion of MioPlayer – a picture viewer, movie player and music player all rolled into one. I have personally been looking for a portable nav unit that had the ability to play video for a long while (I’m a movie buff, I admit it) and Mio has delivered this in spades – between the H610 handheld and the DigiWalker C520, I’m set anywhere I travel. The H610 also features the ability to play video games, and although they all have “unique” names you’ll quickly recognize them as knockoffs of some of our favorite games, like tetris, pipes, bejeweled, etc. A selling point? Perhaps not. A good way to kill ten minutes waiting for your train? I’d say so.

The H610 has a feature called WorldMate, which I was not familiar with until I saw this unit (they do not feature this option on the Mio’s I sell at my day job.) WorldMate enables the user to get information from all over the world, such as local time and weather conditions, and it also has a currency and measurement converter, and a packing organizer to help you make sure you didn’t forget anything when you left on your trip. I could also see myself misappropriating the packing organizer for use as a shopping list or to do inventory at work, etc. A very neat set of features similar to some of the Garmin Nuvi‘s travel kit options.

Down to the technical nuts-and-bolts: the unit has a SiRFstar III chipset for maximum accuracy and quicker lock times, a 400mHz processor for faster calculation and application loading, TMC traffic ready (requires antenna that is sold separately), the unit features a pedestrian mode for on foot travel as well as in car navigation, 2gb onboard memory for updates, POIs, movies, music, games and pics, 64mb of onboard RAM, approximately 4.5 hours of battery with the GPS antenna active (note: I can’t vouch for the unit’s battery life this time, but if the friend I mentioned earlier does end up with this unit, I’ll get some info from him and update the post at a later date to reflect the true battery life), built in speaker and 3.5mm headphone jack for audio output, 320×241 resolution display, SD/MMC memory card slot, running on a Windows CE (Net 4.2 Core) platform. Physical dimensions are 22mmx60mmx87mm and about 165 grams (sorry for the metric weights and measures but as I pointed out earlier this unit is for our friends across the pond, so “americanized” units were not available from the manufacturer, and I’m feeling too lazy to convert them myself.)

The unit has a fully stocked Points of Interest selection, with all the usual suspects – gas stations, ATMs/banks, hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, etc. One other neat feature in the Mio H610 Handheld GPS is the ability to import contacts from Microsoft Outlook and navigate directly to them. By simply syncing the unit to your PC that has Outlook installed, you can download your contacts and with a click navigate to their home or office – as long as you have saved their address, of course. This is the first (and possibly last) time I will have said this, but I guess it’s a good thing that it’s running Windows as its OS. Normally, I’m not a big fan of Windows CE based devices, but this feature has swayed me.

FEATURES: changeable face plates, SiRFstar III GPS chipset, 2gb onboard memory for movies, games, pics and music, preloaded European maps that cover 24 countries, 16 Languages, built in WorldMate utility set (world clock, currency converter, measurement converter, packing list), MioPlayer (music and movie player with picture viewer), onboard games (preloaded), MioMap v3 with 3d navigation (tilt and tile features as well), 4.5 hour lithium ion battery, Windows CE (Net 4.2 Core) OS, built in speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, available traffic antenna, Outlook contact integration, comes with: USB cable, car charger, AC charger, earphones with headset remote, windshield mount, wriststrap/stylus, neckstrap, additional faceplates, carrying case and application cd.

PROS: small size, decent battery life (if manufacturer’s estimates are correct), SiRFstar III chipset, MioPlayer and WorldMate features, Outlook contact integration, comes with all the accessories you’d ever need

CONS: Europe only (ok, so maybe that’s not a con, but I wish I could have one for home), 2gb is not a lot of memory for music, movies, games and pics, preloaded games all appear to be the same basic game (bejeweled clones galore), faceplates are downright ugly, does not come with traffic antenna for free (purchased separately)

RATING: 4.0/5.0

Very cool portable device, a nice blend of navigation and pocket computer, but it may be lacking due to the small amount of onboard memory and lack of decent gaming titles. This may be the GPS for the adolescent crowd.

-Bill

TheGPSGuy Blog – http://www.thegpsguy.info :: bill at thegpsguy dot info

 

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(c)2007 http://www.thegpsguy.info Mio H610 Handheld GPS review

 

Mio DigiWalker C220

GPS Review

Mio DigiWalker C220

Accurate navigation. Sub-$200 price tag. The Mio DigiWalker C220 is every customer’s dream. It may lack the bells and whistles of the Nuvi’s, or the glitz and glamor of its big brother (the Mio DigiWalker C520), but what it does, it does well – it has rock solid navigation at a price that almost anyone can afford. The unit has a fairly bright screen – not the brightest but I’ve seen worse, although it is hard to read in strong sunlight – and has a built in Lithium Ion battery, good for roughly two hours.

Navigation in the C220 is based on the Mio Map 3.2 system, which is based on a TeleAtlas mapset. As anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows, I’m not a big fan of the TeleAtlas maps. While they may be great in Europe, their North American maps are lacking. I wish this unit had NavTeq maps, but at this price beggars can’t be choosers. It still does a fairly decent job, and – to be honest – the newer TeleAtlas maps aren’t that bad. They could be better, and they’ve definitely been worse in the past. One shortcoming, in my opinion – the maps are on a preloaded SD card, similar to the original TomTom One. I do not like this setup, because if you lose that card, you’re SOL until you pony up for another one (and that isn’t always cheap.)

One cool feature of this unit is something called “Start Somewhere Else” which does exactly what you think it would. It lets you plot out a route starting from somewhere besides where you are currently. It may have no use for actual in car navigation, but it is amazingly useful for plotting out vacations or roadtrips.

The C220, like most other GPS navigation units on the market these days, has a Points of Interest system built into it. Preloaded with your standards such as ATMs/Banks, Restaurants, Hotels, Gas Stations, etc, it will help you effortlessly find what you’re looking for. Nothing proves that the GPS you bought was worth the money quicker than seeing your gas light come on in the middle of nowhere and not having to scramble to find your AAA card, since you already know where the next gas station is and how to get there.

The C220 has a mini USB connection on the bottom of the unit that does double duty by allowing you to download maps when connected to your PC (to the SD card anyway) and acts as a charging port when in the vehicle. The system is powered by its Lithium Ion battery, and charged/operated on a 12v cigarette lighter plug style adapter. The mount is your standard lever-loaded suction cup device, similar to the popular Garmin suction mount.

FEATURES: 2 hour Lithium Ion battery, SiRFstar III (20 channel) GPS receiver, 3.5″ diagonal color TFT display (320×240 resolution), built in speaker, 3.5mm headphone output jack, full touchscreen interface, pre-installed Mio Map 3.2, maps preloaded on SD card, turn-by-turn voice prompting (no text to speech), US maps preloaded on SD Card

PROS: low price (Sub-$200), fast mapping animation, easy to use

CONS: maps aren’t all that accurate, hard to see screen in strong sunlight, hard to adjust volume, no internal memory for maps (SD card only)

RATING: 3.9/5.0

Excellent budget GPS, but there are better out there that aren’t much more expensive. Would make a great gift.

-Bill

TheGPSGuy Blog – http://www.thegpsguy.info :: bill at thegpsguy dot info

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(c)2007 http://www.thegpsguy.info Mio DigiWalker C220 GPS review

Garmin Nuvi 660

 

GPS Review

Garmin Nuvi 660

The Garmin Nuvi 660 is definitely part of the future of personal travel assistants. Taking a step ahead of the Nuvi 350, and just past the Nuvi 650, the Garmin Nuvi 660 features a widescreen format display (4.3″ diagonal QVGA), built in wireless FM Transmitter (for broadcasting music and voice prompting through your car stereo), walking and driving directions, internal memory for music and map expansion, onboard Bluetooth for hands free calling and a built-in lithium ion battery (4.5 to 5 hours on average).

The physical design of this unit is outstanding. Small size, light weight and large display make for an all-around enjoyable experience. Weighing in at just over 6 ounces, and with a size of just under 5″x2″x1″, it is not a pain to lug this travel assistant around. Honestly, in its carrying case it’s barely noticeable in a cargo pocket or bag.

This unit comes preloaded with maps for the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, as well as several million Points of Interest (such as banks/ATMs, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc). The preloaded maps are from the CityNavigator NT system, which is excellent for street level navigation. Walking and driving directions together make this unit useful no matter how you travel. The Garmin’s also have the ability to handle navigation for commercial vehicles – which is very handy if you drive a CDL-required vehicle that’s high, wide and heavy.

Onboard memory tops out at 2 gigabytes which is plenty of room for additional maps and music. Besides the internal speaker and headphone output, this unit features a wireless FM transmitter which allows you to broadcast turn-by-turn directions, music and calls through your vehicle’s stereo.

Onboard Bluetooth allows for hands free communication using this unit. Clarity isn’t bad but unfortunately the unit doesn’t always sync properly with every phone. In the short period of time I worked with this unit, I couldn’t get my Blackberry to sync whatsoever.

This unit features the standard Nuvi travel kit – world clock, currency converter, measurement converter, calculator, available Language Guide (English to German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portugese, text and speech), available Travel Guides (landmarks, directions, reviews and info for popular tourist spots), and available SaversGuide (20% or more discount on hotels, retail and restaurants in the program – the selection is rather large, they supply reviews, contact details and also directions). The travel it alone makes this unit stand out above your normal GPS navigation units.

FEATURES: Onboard Bluetooth, 2gb internal memory, internal wireless FM transmitter, MP3 player, picture viewer, US Canada and Puerto Rico maps, 4.3″ widescreen display (QVGA), NavTeq maps with CityNavigator NT street level mapping system, comes with carrying case, USB cable, car charger, household charger, and suction cup mount

PROS: widescreen display, small size and light weight, mp3 player/picture viewer/travel kit, wireless fm transmitter, comes with all necessary accessories

CONS: Bluetooth isn’t compatible with some phones, 2gb isn’t much room for music these days

RATING: 4.5/5.0

If the Nuvi 350 isn’t what you’re looking for, the Garmin Nuvi 660 might be the unit for you.

-Bill

TheGPSGuy Blog – http://www.thegpsguy.info :: bill at thegpsguy dot info

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(c)2007 http://www.thegpsguy.info Garmin Nuvi 660 GPS review


 

Mio DigiWalker C520

 

GPS Review

Mio DigiWalker C520

Wow.

That’s what I thought when I first saw the Mio DigiWalker C520. It’s sleek, it’s got a really nice display (4.3″ touch screen QVGA display,) 2gb of on-board memory, small stature and it weighs very little. The screen has a very good Anti-Glare coating that makes it much easier to see in the daylight than most units. Also, it’s got on-board entertainment – and not just music and pictures; this unit plays video as well.

To sidetrack to the entertainment aspect for a minute: this unit has a built in speaker as well as a 2.5mm headphone jack, which you can use to listen to the navigation, music or videos. The unit has 2gb of on-board memory for storage of pictures, music files and video files as well as POIs and maps. The built in Bluetooth hands free makes taking phone calls in the car a breeze – not to mention, with the new laws in some states making talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device illegal it’s much safer this way. I find the Bluetooth in GPS devices to be a much better solution than the earpieces, considering that it’s easier to hear the person you’re talking to, and it doesn’t look like you’re having a conversation with yourself. Also with this unit you can sync the Bluetooth to a Bluetooth-enabled stereo headset for optimal music listening while out and about.

The Mio C520 features full text to speech (it will announce upcoming streets by name) and also supports 16 languages (Including French and Spanish.) The text to speech will only work in English, however.

One really cool feature of the DigiWalker C520 is the interface. The split screen interface puts everything at hand without digging through menus. Your current route information, map, Points of Interest and upcoming turns are all on the display for ease of use. The unit has a really intuitive interface that should make learning the ins and outs of the unit a breeze.

The C520 comes loaded with over 6 million Points of Interest, in the form of restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc. It also comes preloaded with complete North American maps (US and Canada.) For the other tech junkies like myself out there, the chipset it uses is a 20 Channel SiRFstarIII setup, similar to other major GPS units I’ve reviewed.

FEATURES: 6 million Points of Interest, Bluetooth compatibility for hands free calling and stereo audio output, Entertainment on board (music, movies and pictures,) complete North American maps, 2gb on-board memory, SiRFstarIII chipset, built in Lithium Ion battery (up to 7 hours,) car charger, household charger, suction cup mount, split-screen interface, text to speech, support for 16 languages

PROS: wide screen format, movie player (adds to the usefulness of the unit outside of the vehicle,) Bluetooth for hands free calling and stereo audio, long battery life, comes with home charger

CONS: running windows ce 5.0 (while I had no problems with it, some things I’ve read on the internet make me nervous about this choice of OS,) TeleAtlas maps (I don’t understand why people use TeleAtlas for the US, or NavTeq for Europe)

RATING: 4.6/5.0

Really cool hybrid navigation unit for the trendsetters and younger crowd, definitely a competitor with the Nuvis, IMHO.

-Bill

TheGPSGuy Blog – http://www.thegpsguy.info :: bill at thegpsguy dot info

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(c)2007 http://www.thegpsguy.info Mio DigiWalker C520 GPS review

TomTom One

 

GPS Review

TomTom One

The TomTom One is one of TomTom’s newer GPS units. Unlike its predecessor, the Go300, it is compact, thin, and fairly attractive. The first generation TomTom One units came with their maps on an SD card; the newer units have the maps on an internal memory but still feature an SD Card slot for expansion. It features a 3.5″ diagonal TFT color touchscreen, as well as Bluetooth compatibility (2.0) for the TomTom Traffic and Weather service (at an additional cost.)

Similar to the Garmin units, the TomTom One has all the standard GPS features – route preference, waypoints, Point of Interest system, 3D navigation and voice prompting. It comes preloaded with the maps for Canada and the United States. One complaint – they use TeleAtlas maps for their North American mapset – while TeleAtlas has amazing European maps, their American maps leave something to be desired. They should have gone with NavTeq like everyone else, imho.

One thing I do not like about TomTom’s navigation is address entry. Unlike the Garmin units which use a short list feature and go in a sensible order (State, City, Street and then navigate,) the TomTom units ask you to type out the entire city name first (which, hopefully, you can spell correctly,) and then select the city you want from a list of every city with that name in the whole country. This is worse on the TomTom 910, where you only get to see TWO STATES at a time on that list. Twenty Five hits for “Middlesex” and yours is at the bottom? That’s going to take a while.

Despite the gripes with the entry of addresses, the actual navigation isn’t too bad, even with the TeleAtlas maps. I’ve used GPS units that were much less accurate. Also, even though the screen isn’t a QVGA, it is still fairly sharp and bright. I prefer the QVGA found in some of the higher end units, such as the Garmin Nuvis, but for the price this unit looks nice, and maybe even better than the Garmin StreetPilot C330 which uses the same screen technology.

FEATURES: Internal battery (2 hour lithium ion,) US and Canada maps, Bluetooth for TomTom PLUS services, 3.5″ diagonal TFT color screen, SD Card slot for expandability, SiRFstar III chipset, car charger and suction cup mount

PROS: Smaller size than its predecessor (Go 300,) bright screen, available traffic and weather through TomTom PLUS service

CONS: TeleAtlas maps leave something to be desired, somewhat bulky address entry, subscription necessary for traffic and weather, short battery life

RATING: 3.7/5.0

It’s a nice unit, and worth it for the price, but if the StreetPilot C330 is on sale for the same amount, I’d go for that.

-Bill

TheGPSGuy Blog – http://www.thegpsguy.info :: bill at thegpsguy dot info

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(c)2007 http://www.thegpsguy.info TomTom One GPS review

 

The Development of GPS

by: Gary Lowry

(Note: I found this article on a free article site, and thought it was well written and would be valuable to my readers so I’m reposting it here. If you enjoy it, you can find more by this author at http://www.ArticleCity.com. -Bill)

The Push for Development

The development of GPS came about out of necessity. As technology has advanced, GPS has also advanced to what we know it as today. We could not have a Global Position System without the advancement of rockets and satellites. Ironically we may owe a lot of this to the Soviet Union with them launching the first satellite and the cold war along with them shooting down civilian airliner KAL 007 in 1983 when it strayed in the Soviet Unions airspace. This pushed the United States to step up the pace to develop the Global Positioning System and for the first time is open to civilian use. Now GPS can be found in just about every facet of our lives, from driving navigation to outdoor uses, on job sites or in the mountains.

The Necessity

During WWII the military realized that they needed to find a better way to navigate than by the stars and weak or fading radio signals from radio towers. Many times when pilots were flying missions they would use radio signals to home in their home bases when they were returning home. This was fine if the pilot or navigator were near their planned return routes, but if they were off in their navigation to begin with they would have a hard time picking up the radio homing signal. They had to be within a given distance that was determined by the strength or power of the signal. In the early 1940s the LORAN system was in development for use for the military and used both on land and sea.

The First Big Break Through

When Sputnik was launched in 1957, a collection of United States scientists were monitoring its radio transmissions. They soon realized that Sputnik’s signal was higher on approach of the satellite and lower as the satellite had passed over and was moving away from them, because of Doppler Effect.

They theorized that if they knew what their fixed position was on the earth that they could figure out the exact position of the satellite by measuring the Doppler distortion or figuring where the satellite was in its orbit from their ground position.

The US Navy was the first to successfully test a satellite navigation system in 1960, it was known as Transit. This system was based on a constellation of five satellites orbiting the earth, in a geo synchronous orbits. The draw back to this system was that you could only get a navigation fix once an hour. In order for GPS to ever work they needed to have reliable accurate clocks in space. The US Navy once again stepped forward by launching the Timation satellite in 1967 which accomplished this. The first world wide ground, based radio navigation system became operational in the 1970’s. It was known as The Omega Navigation System, but it was based on a single phase comparison.

Advancement

In early 1978 another experimental line of GPS satellites known as Block-I was launched, with ten more to follow that would be launched by 1985. Modern Block-II satellites were beginning to be launched by early 1989 to start to replace and enhance the Block-I system already in place. By December 1993 the finally attained operational capability and a complete constellation of 24 satellites were in place by January 1994. The oldest operational satellite in the system was launched in early 1989, with the newest satellite being launched in September of 2006.

After the Soviet shooting down of the Korean airliner KAL 007 in 1983, President Ronald Regan announced that the civilian population would have access for use to the GPS navigation system once it was completed.

During President Bill Clinton’s administration the government realized the importance of the GPS system to civilian users as well as the military. Clinton then created the Interagency GPS Executive Board to administer and over see the Global Positioning System. At this point GPS really became a dual-use system for both civilian and military use. In 1998 then Vice President Al Gore announced future plans for an upgrade to the GPS system to include two new signals for civilian use, in point for aviation use and safety, and to enhance the reliability and accuracy of the system. In 2004 with an updated national policy President George W. Bush announced that the Interagency GPS Executive Board would be replaced by the National Space- Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee because of the importance of the GPS system to us in our everyday lives.

With the rapid advancement of technology in today’s world there will be many changes in the GPS industry. We will find it more and more intertwine with our lives as more uses are developed for it.

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(c)2007 http://www.thegpsguy.info Development – GPS, General Technology

 

Garmin Nuvi 200

 

 

 

GPS Review

 

Nuvi 200

The Garmin Nuvi 200 is one of Garmin’s newer units. It gives you the simplicity and quality of the StreetPilot C330, with the small size and portability of the Nuvi series. This unit features Garmin’s standards: NavTeq maps, Address Book, one touch return home, internal Lithium Ion battery, and 3D display. The Garmin Nuvi 200 features a 3.5″ diagonal QVGA screen which is brighter and sharper than the TFT display on the StreetPilot series, as well as an incredibly small case and loud internal speaker. The unit features voice prompting but does not say street names out loud. The internal battery is good for 4.5 to 5 hours, in my experience.

The Nuvi 200 has a built in picture viewer, world clock, currency converter, measurement converter and calculator, but lacks the MP3 player found in the higher end Nuvis. Also, it does not have walking directions. Out of the box you get the unit, car charger and suction cup mount. The preloaded maps on these units are regional – the ones sold in my area feature the continental United States only – unlike the other Garmin GPS units that have Canada and all 50 US states off the bat.

The screen is very bright and easy to see – holding one next to a StreetPilot shows you why this unit is worth more money even though it comes with fewer maps. There is an available AC (household) charger for the unit, which you can get at most retailers or via Garmin’s website.

FEATURES: 3.5″ diagonal QVGA screen, internal Lithium Ion battery rated up to 8 hours (4.5-5 in my experience,) picture viewer, small size, car charger and suction cup mount, world clock, currency converter, measurement converter, calculator, 3D view navigation, 250 slot address book, several million Points of Interest on board, SD Card expandability (for maps and pictures)

PROS: small size, long battery life, amazing screen, travel kit

CONS: no walking directions, no text-to-speech, does not come with carrying case or household charger like the higher end Nuvis

RATING: 4.6/5.0

This is a great alternative to the StreetPilot C330 – the Garmin Nuvi 200 is highly recommended as a gift for Father’s Day for all those gadget junkie dads out there.

-Bill

TheGPSGuy Blog – http://www.thegpsguy.info :: bill at thegpsguy dot info

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(c)2007 http://www.thegpsguy.info Garmin Nuvi 200 GPS review

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