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Is this what a GPSr should look like?


gpsdork
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This is the new iPhone unveiled by Apple this week. I think the design and UI are revolutionary, but the strongest reaction I had when first viewing it was that this is the way handheld GPSrs should be deisgned: large, hi-res touch sensitive screen covering almost the entire front of the device - and only one button.

 

The iPhone has four times the pixels (320 X 480) of the highly regarded Garmin CS60 (160 X 240). And you can zoom, shrink, or scroll using your index finger - no buttons required.

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indexhero20070109.jpg

 

This is the new iPhone unveiled by Apple this week. I think the design and UI are revolutionary, but the strongest reaction I had when first viewing it was that this is the way handheld GPSrs should be deisgned: large, hi-res touch sensitive screen covering almost the entire front of the device - and only one button.

 

The iPhone has four times the pixels (320 X 480) of the highly regarded Garmin CS60 (160 X 240). And you can zoom, shrink, or scroll using your index finger - no buttons required.

 

Screens smudged with finger prints drive me batty! Something about wearing bifocals, I guess.

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This is the new iPhone unveiled by Apple this week. I think the design and UI are revolutionary

I agree that Apple knows design better than anybody, and it's been a long time since I coveted anything as much as I do this phone. I almost cried when I realized that Cingular was to be the carrier: I dropped them two months ago and signed a different contract!

 

As far as ruggedness, the others have a good point. Of course, I use screen covers on every gadget I have, but even a good case wouldn't work with a touch-screen that advanced (the "accidental touch" feature). Come to think of it, a screen cover would likely jik things up, too.

 

Ironically, nothing I've seen indicates the iPhone will have native GPS. Anybody see anything to the contrary?

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...nothing I've seen indicates the iPhone will have native GPS. Anybody see anything to the contrary?
I've read some news reports that say yes, some that say "maybe" but most don't mention it at all. Apple's own website doesn't mention it, and even while Jobs was giving the keynote demo with Google Maps there was no mention of it.

 

If the device isn't feature complete yet, so "maybe" may be the best answer.

 

Alternately, it may be able to approximate your position from cell phone towers. Maybe not close enough for geocaching, but good enough to get you to the nearest Starbucks (where you can get 4000 lattes to go).

 

And even if it does't do that much, the iPhone has BlueTooth. Add-on devices will become part of its market ecosystem, and a GPS would be an obvious accessory to make if it's not built-in.

Edited by lee_rimar
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...nothing I've seen indicates the iPhone will have native GPS. Anybody see anything to the contrary?
I've read some news reports that say yes, some that say "maybe" but most don't mention it at all. Apple's own website doesn't mention it, and even while Jobs was giving the keynote demo with Google Maps there was no mention of it.

 

If the device isn't feature complete yet, so "maybe" may be the best answer.

 

Alternately, it may be able to approximate your position from cell phone towers. Maybe not close enough for geocaching, but good enough to get you to the nearest Starbucks (where you can get 4000 lattes to go).

 

And even if it doesn't do that much, the iPhone has BlueTooth. Add-on devices will become part of its market ecosystem, and a GPS would be an obvious accessory to make if it's not built-in.

From what I've read, it won't have GPS. Other problems - watching video will drain it in about 5 hours. And because it's a touch screen, there's no tactile feedback to the "buttons". Lastly, the camera function is way behind the times - no zoom, no flash, and only 2 megapixels.

 

And then there's the whole issue of whether or not it can even be called the iPhone, since it seems that Cisco already has dibs on that name.

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Lastly, the camera function is way behind the times - no zoom, no flash, and only 2 megapixels.

 

Are there other phone cameras that do better? I guess I wouldn't buy a phone if I wanted a good digital camera. My Motorola phone has no flash, and only does 640x480 with pathetic light metering capabilities. Only zoom is digital zoom, which is completely worthless.

 

The camera wasn't a consideration when I bought the phone. It's a fun toy, and I've actually used it a couple times when I forgot the *real* camera. I got this model because of the external antenna jack.

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I have used both the Magellan eXplorist 500 and the Garmin 60Cx among other units. It seems that maybe if there was some more real competition for GPSr manufactures the products would be better designed! All units from all manufactures are lacking intellegent design.

*Most GPSr units can not be easily used with gloves on (a must for Canadian winters)

*Screens are still to small

*Mapping software is poor and out of date

*Unit cost is very high

*Warrantees are limited

*Customer support is limited

Products are not produced with the end user in mind!

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I like the iPhone, so let's get that out of the way.

 

But I would like to discuss the topic of touchscreens for handheld outdoor GPSrs. I don't think it will ever happen. There's too much of a chance of accidental touching either by you or what you're bushwhacking through. Sure, a toggle switch can be placed on the unit to turn off the touchscreen capability, but it would be a major PITA to be flicking the switch back and forth during a cache hunt.

 

Then there's the utter bashing a GPSr takes while in use outdoors. I try to be careful, but my eXplorist has been dropped on rocks, parking lots, and sidewalks so many times I have lost count. It also got run over by an SUV. The thing is so scuffed up and dirty that it looks nasty. I don't know that a touchscreen would be able to handle getting bashed on the rocks. Also, would getting the screen scratched affect the touch sensing?

 

Touchscreens for outdoor use are a bad idea IMHO, even though I cache paperless with a Palm. It only comes out when I am standing still or walking something easily navigable like a sidewalk. Though even this amount of care isn't foolproof. I was standing next to a cache logging the find in the Palm and dropped the thing on some nearby rocks. The Palm was unscathed since it landed on the battery door. Pretty sure it would've broke if the flipcover wasn't closed and it landed on the screen.

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Touchscreens for outdoor use are a bad idea IMHO...
Ah, you didn't even touch on my favorite gripe. Touchscreen or not, most COLOR screens are lousy in full daylight. And even ones that are usable don't have the same contrast and viewing angle that a decent monochrome LCD has.

 

Color screens have their place, but for general outdoor use, monochrome is better.

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I have used both the Magellan eXplorist 500 and the Garmin 60Cx among other units. It seems that maybe if there was some more real competition for GPSr manufactures the products would be better designed! All units from all manufactures are lacking intellegent design.

*Most GPSr units can not be easily used with gloves on (a must for Canadian winters)

*Screens are still to small

*Mapping software is poor and out of date

*Unit cost is very high

*Warrantees are limited

*Customer support is limited

Products are not produced with the end user in mind!

 

OK let me touch on this a bit

If we were given bigger buttons for use with gloves and a larger screen. The entire unit would have to be made bigger then we would complain its to big for a hand held. Seems to me the manufacturers are doing a excellent job trying to give us users the functions we want. When they design these units it based off a consensus(you can please most of the people most of the time but not all the people all the time.) As far as customer support Garmin has always treated me well my Garmin gps ll+ plus is 10 years old they just replaced the internal battery, the data port dust cover and updated my software version free of charge. Mapping software is like any software constantly evolving and changing, technology steadily advancing. As far as price we all know there are cheap units but they don't have many features you get what you pay for.

 

The first unit I ever used was in the Army in Egypt for a training exercise it was huge and pretty much a bare bone gps. We would be given co-ordinates of a broke down vehicle and we would go repair it or tow it back. this was great just follow the arrow across the desert. which was great in day light. But at night the military uses what called blackout drive when on maneuvers (basically you have a little 4 watt bulbs that lights up about 6 feet in front of your vehicle so might as well have no light) We were sent out one night for a APC(armored personnel carrier) we ended up driving down into a salt quarry in the dark crawling over huge rocks in a Hummer eventually our warrant officer told me to turn on the headlights because safety was defiantly a issue at this point. we made it up out of there with some serious 4 wheel action and found our Broke down APC. They said they saw us coming for miles away headlights going straight up in the air then gone then straight up and gone. Now the military units use pretty much the same mapping that would have been a great function back then but we got by. So My moral of the story its only gonna get better.

Edited by Billk72
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The iPhone has four times the pixels (320 X 480) of the highly regarded Garmin CS60 (160 X 240). And you can zoom, shrink, or scroll using your index finger - no buttons required.

 

My Garmin iQue has 320 x 480 and a tough screen plus lots of useful buttons. And yes, you can "... zoom, shrink, or scroll using your index finger".

 

Yawn, been there 5 years ago.

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I realize I'm in the minority, but I use a regular GPS for Geocaching and carry a mobile phone just in case I fall and break a leg or have car trouble or something. Amazingly, I can even go to the grocery store, drive across town, or find a geocache without phoning anyone for assistance.

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Lastly, the camera function is way behind the times - no zoom, no flash, and only 2 megapixels.

 

Are there other phone cameras that do better? I guess I wouldn't buy a phone if I wanted a good digital camera. My Motorola phone has no flash, and only does 640x480 with pathetic light metering capabilities. Only zoom is digital zoom, which is completely worthless.

 

The camera wasn't a consideration when I bought the phone. It's a fun toy, and I've actually used it a couple times when I forgot the *real* camera. I got this model because of the external antenna jack.

 

My wife has the new LG Env. It has 2mp camera with zoom and a flash with red eye reduction, along with some limited photo editing tools. Granted it doesn't have the fancy features as the Iphone, but there are definatly better camera phones.

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I'd love a GPS with the iPhone form factor but there are some issues. The main problem is the iPhone does not seem rugged enough compared to my 60CS.

 

It does have some awesome features though that would translate well to a GPS. The fact that the screen doesn't show fingerprints (according to those lucky enough to get a hands on demo) and the multi touch lcd is exciting.

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Touchscreens for outdoor use are a bad idea IMHO...
Ah, you didn't even touch on my favorite gripe. Touchscreen or not, most COLOR screens are lousy in full daylight. And even ones that are usable don't have the same contrast and viewing angle that a decent monochrome LCD has.

 

Color screens have their place, but for general outdoor use, monochrome is better.

You've obviously not see a modern trans-reflective color screen in the sunlight. It's worlds away from the old color screens that washed out in the sun.

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You've obviously not see a modern trans-reflective color screen in the sunlight. It's worlds away from the old color screens that washed out in the sun.
Actually, I have. I've used a Garmin 60csx and it's the best I've seen on a handheld unit. And I frequently carry a Palm T|X for reasons other than geocaching.

 

But my gripe isn't about "washing out," it's about viewing angle, glare, and contrast.

 

There's no problem if you use it ONLY as a hand-held unit. You instinctively hold it at whatever angle gives you the best view for the lighting conditions.

 

But mount it on the handlebars of a bike -- you have a fixed viewing angle, while the lighting around you constantly changes with your direction and relative position of the sun. For this situation, a monochrome screen gives me better overall contrast and visibility. This is based on my own testing of five different GPSRs: Garmin 60csx, a Lowrance iFinder H2O and H2Oc, and a Magellan eXplorist 400 and 500.

 

That's just been my experience - each person's needs and perceptions are different. The biking scenario I just gave might not matter to some people, but it's more than 50% of my GPS usage.

Edited by lee_rimar
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The problem with multi-use gadgets is that you only have to lose one to be totally screwed.
True - but the same could be said for losing your wallet. Lots of important stuff in there. You could mitigate the risk by keeping your cash in one pocket, ID cards in another, credit cards elsewhere, and so on - but that would be a bother.

 

I have lots of gadgets I don't carry all of the time because I don't want to look like I'm wearing Batman's utility belt or Tim Taylor's tool belt. Put my cell phone, PDA, music player, GPS etc into one device, and I'll be happy to carry it - and safeguard it appropriately.

Edited by lee_rimar
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If Cingular is like Verizon, they'll charge extra for GPS service, auto-navigating with maps etc. Better off getting a Pocket PC and pay a one time charge for all the programs, and keep the cell phone you've been using as a phone.

 

If cost doesn't matter, then it looks like a nice toy. Like an upscale Blackberry without the keyboard.

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Verizon... charge(s) extra for GPS service, auto-navigating with maps etc.
Y'know, this might be a good deal for some users.

 

Verizon's VZ Navigator service costs $10/month ($120 year).

 

If the "total cost of ownership" for your GPS or Pocket PC is much lower than $10/month - and the convenience of carrying one less device doesn't appeal - then the service fee model obviously wouldn't work for you.

 

BUT: I'm guessing the TCO of a GPS or Pocket PC for many users is close to (or even more) than VZ's service cost - when you factor in software and map data updates, plus buying a new GPS or Pocket PC device every few years.

 

The service fee model works even better as more more features converge into one device. The more the gadget can do, the easier it is to bundle more services for less than what it might cost to buy and routinely upgrade lots of stand alone devices.

Edited by lee_rimar
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You've obviously not see a modern trans-reflective color screen in the sunlight. It's worlds away from the old color screens that washed out in the sun.
Actually, I have. I've used a Garmin 60csx and it's the best I've seen on a handheld unit. And I frequently carry a Palm T|X for reasons other than geocaching.

 

But my gripe isn't about "washing out," it's about viewing angle, glare, and contrast.

 

There's no problem if you use it ONLY as a hand-held unit. You instinctively hold it at whatever angle gives you the best view for the lighting conditions.

 

But mount it on the handlebars of a bike -- you have a fixed viewing angle, while the lighting around you constantly changes with your direction and relative position of the sun. For this situation, a monochrome screen gives me better overall contrast and visibility. This is based on my own testing of five different GPSRs: Garmin 60csx, a Lowrance iFinder H2O and H2Oc, and a Magellan eXplorist 400 and 500.

 

That's just been my experience - each person's needs and perceptions are different. The biking scenario I just gave might not matter to some people, but it's more than 50% of my GPS usage.

 

I have to agree with that, in that my 60Cx was really bad on my bike if the sun was behind the GPS instead of shining on the screen itself. While on my bicycle I had to sometimes use the backlight.

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Verizon... charge(s) extra for GPS service, auto-navigating with maps etc.
Y'know, this might be a good deal for some users.

 

Verizon's VZ Navigator service costs $10/month ($120 year).

 

If the "total cost of ownership" for your GPS or Pocket PC is much lower than $10/month - and the convenience of carrying one less device doesn't appeal - then the service fee model obviously wouldn't work for you.

 

BUT: I'm guessing the TCO of a GPS or Pocket PC for many users is close to (or even more) than VZ's service cost - when you factor in software and map data updates, plus buying a new GPS or Pocket PC device every few years.

 

The service fee model works even better as more more features converge into one device. The more the gadget can do, the easier it is to bundle more services for less than what it might cost to buy and routinely upgrade lots of stand alone devices.

 

Just like games on Verizon phones, their site says you get charged airltime and you must be in their coverage area. That might be great to get around urban areas, but you lose the coverage on remote roads and certainly in the woods. Plus, how to you load up the cahe waypoints? Verizon phone navigation does not seem good for caching.

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Well Alan, I guess the "pay for service" business model wouldn't work for you. All I said was that for SOME people it might be a good deal.

 

Trying to steer this back to the original topic: The iPhone itself, at least the pre-release unit shown at MacWorld last week, doesn't even have a GPS, so it's all theoretical as to how (or if) GPS would be available in that exact device.

 

But if you look at the Garmin nuvi series - currently available, unlike the iPhone - there are an awful lot of similarities:

 

- Very compact

- Few external controls

- Large display

- User interface via touchscreen

- Touchscreen uses finger, doesn't require stylus

- Though main feature is GPS, broad integration of other useful features

 

I think that is the direction many (most?) handheld electronics will be going in a few years.

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The iPhone appears to be little more than a Blackberry without a keyboard or a Mac PPC (Pocket PC) with phone. Anyone who's used a PPC would say that deleting all the buttons except one is not an advantage. Being able to tactally feel buttons for some fundtions is better than a touchscreen. PPC's do both.

 

I can move around on my PPC's maps (Mapopolis streets and NG's Topo) just by moving my thumb over the screen (which is twice as large as dedicated GPSr's another no first for Apple).

 

Apple is going to be faced with the same problem with touch screens that PPCs now have. How do you differentiate between small letters in the keyboard display when you try to punch them with your fat fingers? That's where a stylus is better than your fingers. Plus the stylus allows your to write in script which the PPC program converts to words eliminating the need to "type" altogether. You can't write in script using fingers.

 

iPhone doesn't seem revolutionary but is more Steve Jobs' great ability in marketing Apple products - by taking a product that is already there basically and making it appear lightyears above the rest. That's the real genius!

Edited by Alan2
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I've been a long time Mac user, and I'm not seeing this "i-phone" replacing a dedicated hand-held any

time soon. I learned a long time ago not to put all my eggs in one basket! With electronics, one goes

wonkey they're all out of commission, . . . .till it's straightened out.

 

Norm

 

Mac G4

LifeDrive/TomTom(bluetooth)

eXplorist XL

 

The iPhone appears to be little more than a Blackberry without a keyboard or a Mac PPC (Pocket PC) with phone. Anyone who's used a PPC would say that deleting all the buttons except one is not an advantage. Being able to tactally feel buttons for some fundtions is better than a touchscreen. PPC's do both.

 

I can move around on my PPC's maps (Mapopolis streets and NG's Topo) just by moving my thumb over the screen (which is twice as large as dedicated GPSr's another no first for Apple).

 

Apple is going to be faced with the same problem with touch screens that PPCs now have. How do you differentiate between small letters in the keyboard display when you try to punch them with your fat fingers? That's where a stylus is better than your fingers. Plus the stylus allows your to write in script which the PPC program converts to words eliminating the need to "type" altogether. You can't write in script using fingers.

 

iPhone doesn't seem revolutionary but is more Steve Jobs' great ability in marketing Apple products - by taking a product that is already there basically and making it appear lightyears above the rest. That's the real genius!

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In truth, most cell phones have E911 handset side capability. This is a simpler solution to the requirements put forth at http://www.fcc.gov/911/ than server side triangulation.

 

Therefore: It will have GPS. How you can access it is a diffrent matter. (Do I see a JavaGPSr app in the future?)

 

Would I use one? NO! I submerge my IFinder Go often enough. I need to buy a new cell phone every other year (I have this thing about small electronics, they die around me.) The IPhone costs more than some of my cars. (more than this laptop in fact.)

Edited by ac7ss
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