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LostCoastNinja

Dedicated GPS Better than a Smartphone?

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I own a Droid 2 Global, and in the past few weeks it's helped me on 67 successful finds. I occasionally experience some hiccups with it, but it has a self-updating signal (it "pings" and updates your location/cache location) and seems to get much closer than the 10 to 20 foot margin of error I've heard so much about. It's super-accurate, even in the woods...

 

Two drawbacks: it sucks in the blazing sunlight, and it sucks in the pouring rain.

 

Besides these two factors and the obvious need to be "gentle" with it (and its glass touchscreen), are there any benefits to a dedicated GPS?

 

I recently logged over 23 caches in half a day with the Droid; I believe I had but 2 DNF's that day.

 

LostCoastNinja

Edited by LostCoastNinja

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I love caching with my iPhone. Love it. Caching on fly, caching offline, caching in dark etc. Love it. 300 finds with it.

The ONE drawback to it for me is I can't place caches with it.

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There is one or two other bennies to a dedicated GPSr...

 

No app to purchase, no subscription/data fees AND they work well when there is no service! Try that in downtown Wyoming or uptown South Dakota, or even the cedar swamps of Michigan's U.P.

 

Placing hides is a different story.

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In reply to Team Pixos:

 

You can if you're creative ;) Try using your preferred geocaching app to create a "new waypoint" that, in reality, is actually the location for your new cache. I use c:geo, and to accomplish this I have to go to a stored, offline cache and select "new waypoint". It's not a perfect system, but it works, and the coordinates you get are accurate (not to mention that it's much quicker when you have auto-updating sat signal; I also wonder if the added wifi/celltower-based locators have anything to do with the accuracy...?).

 

To complete the process you can go to your web browser and create the cache on geocaching.com- use those coordinates you saved earlier. You can also use your phone to take pics of the spot to upload if you want, and make the requisite phone calls to land managers after checking your local planning departments' GIS (also available on your phone, btw :)

 

Unless it rains constantly like it does where I live, smartphones are the geocachers' best friend, as far as I can tell.

 

LostCoastNinja

Edited by LostCoastNinja

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I own a Droid 2 Global, and in the past few weeks it's helped me on 67 successful finds. I occasionally experience some hiccups with it, but it has a self-updating signal (it "pings" and updates your location/cache location) and seems to get much closer than the 10 to 20 foot margin of error I've heard so much about. It's super-accurate, even in the woods...

 

Two drawbacks: it sucks in the blazing sunlight, and it sucks in the pouring rain.

 

Besides these two factors and the obvious need to be "gentle" with it (and its glass touchscreen), are there any benefits to a dedicated GPS?

 

Yeah, better accuracy. :unsure: Self-updating? Pinging? What are you even talking about? :huh:

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I own a Droid 2 Global, and in the past few weeks it's helped me on 67 successful finds. I occasionally experience some hiccups with it, but it has a self-updating signal (it "pings" and updates your location/cache location) and seems to get much closer than the 10 to 20 foot margin of error I've heard so much about. It's super-accurate, even in the woods...

 

Two drawbacks: it sucks in the blazing sunlight, and it sucks in the pouring rain.

 

Besides these two factors and the obvious need to be "gentle" with it (and its glass touchscreen), are there any benefits to a dedicated GPS?

 

I recently logged over 23 caches in half a day with the Droid; I believe I had but 2 DNF's that day.

 

LostCoastNinja

 

does it "pong" too? :unsure:

 

now go find 67 caches in the woods with heavy tree cover and come back and report your experience

Edited by t4e

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I own a Droid 2 Global, and in the past few weeks it's helped me on 67 successful finds. I occasionally experience some hiccups with it, but it has a self-updating signal (it "pings" and updates your location/cache location) and seems to get much closer than the 10 to 20 foot margin of error I've heard so much about. It's super-accurate, even in the woods...

 

Two drawbacks: it sucks in the blazing sunlight, and it sucks in the pouring rain.

 

Besides these two factors and the obvious need to be "gentle" with it (and its glass touchscreen), are there any benefits to a dedicated GPS?

 

Yeah, better accuracy. :unsure: Self-updating? Pinging? What are you even talking about? :huh:

 

The only situations this applies to are when you're out to place a cache. I read about it somewhere in a private tutorial on hiding caches... from a link in the forums. Some gps receivers are set up so that they continuously and autonomously recalculate your location based on the movement of the satellites and the earth, not yourself- My phone does this. Many GPS devices do not do this.

 

More interesting, now that I look into it, is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_GPS

 

That's why the phones are so accurate, and acquire their signal so fast...

Worthy to note that you PAY DEARLY for this service: my monthly bill is about $130

 

LostCoastNinja

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I own a Droid 2 Global, and in the past few weeks it's helped me on 67 successful finds. I occasionally experience some hiccups with it, but it has a self-updating signal (it "pings" and updates your location/cache location) and seems to get much closer than the 10 to 20 foot margin of error I've heard so much about. It's super-accurate, even in the woods...

 

Two drawbacks: it sucks in the blazing sunlight, and it sucks in the pouring rain.

 

Besides these two factors and the obvious need to be "gentle" with it (and its glass touchscreen), are there any benefits to a dedicated GPS?

 

I recently logged over 23 caches in half a day with the Droid; I believe I had but 2 DNF's that day.

 

LostCoastNinja

 

does it "pong" too? :unsure:

 

now go find 67 caches in the woods with heavy tree cover and come back and report your experience

 

"In very poor signal conditions, for example in a city, these signals may suffer multipath propagation where signals bounce off buildings, or be weakened by passing through atmospheric conditions, walls or tree cover. When first turned on in these conditions, some standalone GPS navigation devices may not be able to work out a position due to the fragmentary signal, rendering them unable to function until a clear signal can be received continuously for up to 12.5 minutes (the time needed to download the GPS almanac and ephemeris).[2]

An Assisted GPS system can address these problems by using data available from a network. For billing purposes, network providers often count this as a data access, which can cost money depending on the plan.[3]"

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_GPS

 

LostCoastNinja

 

Yes, I do have Pong on my phone. LOL.

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The only situations this applies to are when you're out to place a cache. I read about it somewhere in a private tutorial on hiding caches... from a link in the forums. Some gps receivers are set up so that they continuously and autonomously recalculate your location based on the movement of the satellites and the earth, not yourself- My phone does this. Many GPS devices do not do this.

Maybe you're thinking of the feature commonly known as "static navigation"? All modern handheld receivers have that turned off, as do most smartphones, which is what you want. Bluetooth/USB GPS dongles may need reconfiguration to get it turned off.

 

More interesting, now that I look into it, is this: http://en.wikipedia....ki/Assisted_GPS

 

That's why the phones are so accurate, and acquire their signal so fast...

Yeah that's why they acquire the signal so far. The better handhelds use prediction algorithms to yield similar results. But it doesn't help with accuracy. Not at all.

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The only situations this applies to are when you're out to place a cache. I read about it somewhere in a private tutorial on hiding caches... from a link in the forums. Some gps receivers are set up so that they continuously and autonomously recalculate your location based on the movement of the satellites and the earth, not yourself- My phone does this. Many GPS devices do not do this.

Maybe you're thinking of the feature commonly known as "static navigation"? All modern handheld receivers have that turned off, as do most smartphones, which is what you want. Bluetooth/USB GPS dongles may need reconfiguration to get it turned off.

 

More interesting, now that I look into it, is this: http://en.wikipedia....ki/Assisted_GPS

 

That's why the phones are so accurate, and acquire their signal so fast...

Yeah that's why they acquire the signal so far. The better handhelds use prediction algorithms to yield similar results. But it doesn't help with accuracy. Not at all.

 

"Accurate, surveyed coordinates for the cell site towers allow better knowledge of local ionospheric conditions and other conditions affecting the GPS signal than the GPS receiver alone, enabling more precise calculation of position"

 

Are you sure?

 

No, its not static navigation. I'm gonna find you the tutorial I read.

Edited by LostCoastNinja

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"In very poor signal conditions, for example in a city, these signals may suffer multipath propagation where signals bounce off buildings, or be weakened by passing through atmospheric conditions, walls or tree cover. When first turned on in these conditions, some standalone GPS navigation devices may not be able to work out a position due to the fragmentary signal, rendering them unable to function until a clear signal can be received continuously for up to 12.5 minutes (the time needed to download the GPS almanac and ephemeris).[2]

An Assisted GPS system can address these problems by using data available from a network. For billing purposes, network providers often count this as a data access, which can cost money depending on the plan.[3]"

Yep, again, it can help with acquisition times. Not with accuracy.

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"Accurate, surveyed coordinates for the cell site towers allow better knowledge of local ionospheric conditions and other conditions affecting the GPS signal than the GPS receiver alone, enabling more precise calculation of position"

 

Are you sure?

Yes, very sure. The position of the cell towers may be accurately known, but any position of the phone derived from those data points is way worse than anything derived from a GPS signal.

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Well I see there seems to be two sides to this one. I'll keep finding caches, and the day that I can't find one with my phone, I'll post it here. Sorry, but I can't find that webpage in my history that I was looking for, pertaining to that "auto-updating signal feature" (I forget what it's actually called), but I can assure you that there are devices that require you to take coordinates, then reset and take them again many times; Other devices like my phone, for instance, are able to sit in one location and continuously update the precise location: the longer you sit in one spot, the more accurate the reading gets. I'm not going to address you all on what "pinging" is...but the use of the word fits the definition and this is what the "feature" was said to do.

 

Thank you all! :)

 

LostCoastNinja

 

-I thought I should mention that I live in some very rugged terrain- some of the caches i've found have been under dense tree cover, in the mountains (Pacific Northwest, Redwood Country...)

 

edit 2: Looks like there's some caches fairly close that appear to be outside of cell-service areas...let's see what happens when I try one of these- it isn't a long drive, given that I already live 10 miles from nowhere...

Edited by LostCoastNinja

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Well I see there seems to be two sides to this one. I'll keep finding caches, and the day that I can't find one with my phone, I'll post it here. Sorry, but I can't find that webpage in my history that I was looking for, pertaining to that "auto-updating signal feature" (I forget what it's actually called), but I can assure you that there are devices that require you to take coordinates, then reset and take them again many times; Other devices like my phone, for instance, are able to sit in one location and continuously update the precise location: the longer you sit in one spot, the more accurate the reading gets.

This is known as averaging, another common feature in all kinds of GPS devices. It will only work with static navigation disabled, which all handhelds have.

 

I'm not going to address you all on what "pinging" is...but the use of the word fits the definition and this is what the "feature" was said to do.

Too bad, I was really curious about that one. Especially since GPS receivers are just that, receivers... they don't transmit anything.

 

And btw, the ability to find caches proves nothing. There's lots of people out there who find caches without the aid of GPS at all.

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Well I see there seems to be two sides to this one. I'll keep finding caches, and the day that I can't find one with my phone, I'll post it here. Sorry, but I can't find that webpage in my history that I was looking for, pertaining to that "auto-updating signal feature" (I forget what it's actually called), but I can assure you that there are devices that require you to take coordinates, then reset and take them again many times; Other devices like my phone, for instance, are able to sit in one location and continuously update the precise location: the longer you sit in one spot, the more accurate the reading gets.

This is known as averaging, another common feature in all kinds of GPS devices. It will only work with static navigation disabled, which all handhelds have.

 

I'm not going to address you all on what "pinging" is...but the use of the word fits the definition and this is what the "feature" was said to do.

Too bad, I was really curious about that one. Especially since GPS receivers are just that, receivers... they don't transmit anything.

 

And btw, the ability to find caches proves nothing. There's lots of people out there who find caches without the aid of GPS at all.

 

Oh man, you beat me to it lol...I was just going to add that if I couldn't find it using my phone, i'll dig out one of my old compasses and print out a map. Cheers to the old-school ways.

 

...I'm definitely iconoclastic: Sure, tech is great, but the older techniques are just as fabulous in their own way: I've been orienteering since I was about 11...back then, there were no "smart phones" to speak of. At the same time, I geocache with a Droid, and I'm an Ableton Live geek who DJ's without decks...and yes, I actually mix, I don't autosync. ;)

 

LostCoastNinja

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Found it, dfx: http://www.ratisher....ache_hiding.htm

 

Section 3: Hide Quality

 

Yup, averaging, just what I said. The "ping" in this article (what a term :rolleyes:) is just a single location reading. Put the GPS in averaging mode, let it average for say 2 minutes, and it will have 120 "pings" (single readings). Nothing special there at all. All handhelds do that.

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They both have their uses. Before I had a paperless I found myself pulling out my iphone even with the GPS.

 

I also find the iphone has a pretty decent map showing nearest caches. In town it clearly gives me a path there. The GPS not so much!

 

I wouldnt want the iphone pulled out in a rainstorm!

 

It also makes a great backup flashlight.. I found a micro in a tree that way!

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They both have their uses. Before I had a paperless I found myself pulling out my iphone even with the GPS.

 

I also find the iphone has a pretty decent map showing nearest caches. In town it clearly gives me a path there. The GPS not so much!

 

I wouldnt want the iphone pulled out in a rainstorm!

 

It also makes a great backup flashlight.. I found a micro in a tree that way!

 

I take some liberties with mine seeing as it's already on its last legs...I broke the screen months ago, and soon enough I'll need to replace the phone.

 

I have no problem using it in the rain carefully, and it takes the abuse in stride... :)

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There is one or two other bennies to a dedicated GPSr...

 

No app to purchase, no subscription/data fees AND they work well when there is no service! Try that in downtown Wyoming or uptown South Dakota, or even the cedar swamps of Michigan's U.P.

 

Placing hides is a different story.

 

I agree. I was thinking about this today when using my HTC's The data connection dropped out so the maps and other data took forEVER to load. The GPS signals worked great but without knowing where I was trying to get to, they were useless.

 

So, smart phones are great for urban caching, satellite maps, posting of logs and pictures on the fly but only as long as a good data connection exists. So I'd say use it till you decide you want to spend the money to buy a GPSr and are really into this hobby.

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In reply to Team Pixos:

 

You can if you're creative ;) Try using your preferred geocaching app to create a "new waypoint" that, in reality, is actually the location for your new cache. I use c:geo, and to accomplish this I have to go to a stored, offline cache and select "new waypoint". It's not a perfect system, but it works, and the coordinates you get are accurate (not to mention that it's much quicker when you have auto-updating sat signal; I also wonder if the added wifi/celltower-based locators have anything to do with the accuracy...?).

 

To complete the process you can go to your web browser and create the cache on geocaching.com- use those coordinates you saved earlier. You can also use your phone to take pics of the spot to upload if you want, and make the requisite phone calls to land managers after checking your local planning departments' GIS (also available on your phone, btw :)

 

Unless it rains constantly like it does where I live, smartphones are the geocachers' best friend, as far as I can tell.

 

LostCoastNinja

 

Why does it need to be offline? This is very intriguing.

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I was in a valley that had zero cell service. I went to top of nearest hill, found cell service, downloaded 17 caches to find offline, went back down and found all but one of them.

 

I have also cached in the mountains, and in forested areas.

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In reply to Team Pixos:

 

You can if you're creative ;) Try using your preferred geocaching app to create a "new waypoint" that, in reality, is actually the location for your new cache. I use c:geo, and to accomplish this I have to go to a stored, offline cache and select "new waypoint". It's not a perfect system, but it works, and the coordinates you get are accurate (not to mention that it's much quicker when you have auto-updating sat signal; I also wonder if the added wifi/celltower-based locators have anything to do with the accuracy...?).

 

To complete the process you can go to your web browser and create the cache on geocaching.com- use those coordinates you saved earlier. You can also use your phone to take pics of the spot to upload if you want, and make the requisite phone calls to land managers after checking your local planning departments' GIS (also available on your phone, btw :)

 

Unless it rains constantly like it does where I live, smartphones are the geocachers' best friend, as far as I can tell.

 

LostCoastNinja

 

Why does it need to be offline? This is very intriguing.

 

I am not a hard-core c:geo user, but when you are looking at caches not "stored for offline use" you are just accessing the database (similar to being on the website), so the app won't allow you to do a "new waypoint" without storing the cache/cache data on the phone itself.

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Sure sounds to me by reading all these comments, that, the only ones that do not subscribe to the usefulness of a smartphone for geocaching, are the ones who have already invested in a dedicated GPSr.

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Sure sounds to me by reading all these comments, that, the only ones that do not subscribe to the usefulness of a smartphone for geocaching, are the ones who have already invested in a dedicated GPSr.

 

Meh. I have both and I use my smartphone quite a lot, but when it comes to geocaching, all I ever do with it is occasionally load up a cache listing to get more logs or spoiler pictures or w/e. If I didn't have my GPS yet, I would buy one.

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(surprise, I'm joining in! hehe)

 

Lifetime iPhone geocacher here, over 1200 finds. Cached with a 3GS for over 2 years - cached in a desert with no data signal (only gps), cached under dense forest, and in dense urban jungle.

 

It's not the device, it's how you use it.

 

Recently upgraded to the 4S, and it is absolutely superb! "Smartphone" is a term that has such a wide variance in quality that one can't compare "smartphones" vs "handhelds". You have to provide makes/models for comparison. Certainly the cream of the crop of smartphones (iPhone 4, 4S, perhaps some recent droids?) can rival upper class handhelds, but of course the cream of the crop of dedicated handheld GPS devices will be faster and more accurate. There's no debating that.

 

But are smartphones good for geocaching? Depends on your smartphone. 4 and 4S? Yes. Just don't be lazy in how you use it (whether you're finding or hiding caches) - and that goes for handheld GPS owners as well - that alone doesn't guarantee good accurate hides.

 

I would never use older cellphones or cheaper smartphones that are only just getting into supporting GPS technology, at least without a handheld as others have described.

 

I use the Geosphere app, which is great for online and offline geocaching as it caches maps and maintains its own cache database via PQs. I have alternate apps for other mapping services as well (Geosphere support Bing and Google maps). For tracklogs I use Everytrail - excellent system.

 

A quality smartphone is a one stop shop for geocaching. Don't shrug'em off just because people with a dedicated device like them better :) And always qualify "smartphone" with a brand or model in these comparison inquiries (same with handhelds), hehe :anibad:

Edited by thebruce0

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Sure sounds to me by reading all these comments, that, the only ones that do not subscribe to the usefulness of a smartphone for geocaching, are the ones who have already invested in a dedicated GPSr.

 

Not really. I bought my Montana 650 long after I bought my smartphone. I prefer using a dedicated GPS to using my smartphone, for the reasons I already described.

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I compared my Atrix to my new Garmin Montana. The Atrix usually off by 20 or so feet vs the Montana. The Montana is definitely better under a tree canopy.

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I dropped a PN-30 into about a knee deep creek, where it bounced off of the rock at the bottom. The only ill effect was that it got dirty. When someone shows me a phone that I may quite literally have to stake my life on (depending on where you cache, this may not be an issue for you. We try to get out of town when we can.) that can survive that, and still navigate me home, I'll think of using only a phone. Until then, even with the most wiz bang phone, I'll have a GPS with me.

 

Later!

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I'm going to start leaving my Android in the truck during hiking cache hunts from now on. I just got an old Motorola Razr that was on Verizon for free and activated it on PagePlus. $10 every 3 months, plus Verizon has better coverage in the boonies than AT&T. That gives me 100 minutes a quarter for emergencies.

 

No one is going to get that number because when I'm out in nature I don't want to be disturbed. :)

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I quickly lost my 3G to a pond while caching. I upgraded and almost lost my 3GS to a lake many months later, but it survived its submersion of about 2 seconds, and remained my primary geocaching tool until this October with my 4S upgrade. iPhones are tough beasts (don't quote me on that). But the 4S does seem more fragile in its design. Nonetheless, I would hope anyone with a quality smartphone would be super careful with it anyway. :P If you give it protection, you're more likely to be less cautious ;) I just don't do anything that's risky with it, or put it in a position where an accident can easily happen.

I should get an otterbox for it though. I keep telling myself that.

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If you really enjoy this hobby....get a dedicated GPS. Get the premium membership and you won't be disappointed. In fact, you'll be glad you did!!

 

We use both the iphone (mostly for logging instantly) and the GPS every time we cache. I bought a plastic waterproof cell phone case (at Walmart $5) to put my phone in while I'm on hikes/biking/kayaking/or whatever. This keeps it dry and protected.

 

You can't beat it - having your cell phone to take pictures, log you finds instantly, log your trackables instantly, give favorite points instantly, and send pictures to your friends/facebook (when service is available anyway).

 

Ok, so...you're not cut off from society - but who cares? I CAN have my cake and eat it to!!

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*cough*

If you really enjoy this hobby....get a device that has decent GPS capability (dedicated or not), and the premium membership. ;)

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Just some observations about cell phones vs. a handheld GPS...

 

Just bought a Virgin Mobile "LG Optimus V" Android. I've only cached with it twice. No new finds, just used it to check against local GPS finds I've already made to see how close it zeroes out at GZ...something I do with any handheld that comes my way. It worked as well any GPS I've tested in the same way. Note...was using the unmentionable geocaching app. That thing rocks.

 

The main thing that impresses the most so far is how fast this thing aquires a sat-lock. Four times in a row it has even beaten my wonderful 60csx. Note that I also had the GPS function disabled prior to engaging the Google maps app on the Phone. Blam...it locks in my house....Blam....it locks as I leave the house. The Google Navigate app is amazing. Can even "tell" it to go to an adress and it just works. Amazing.

 

Read here once that there is an Android app that can make a smart phone like a handheld (set waypoints/see coords, etc). Soon as I can set WP's with the phone I'll further test it against the 60csx.

Edited by Woodstramp

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It's funny....but when you start with a smartphone (iphone in our case) and you upgrade to a handheld (Oregon450 in our case)and you get a lot of caches under your belt - finding your groove (so to speak).

 

Every once in a while, you come across a situation that the cache IS NOT in your GPS (a newly posted cache for example), which will require you to use the iphone to find it. I'm spoiled when using the Oregon450. Going back to finding caches with the iphone SUCKS compared to the accuracy of the handheld!!!

 

We also have a car GPS (Nuvi) that we use constantly to get us within parking coordinates/distance. Learning how to put geocaches into a car GPS is interesting to say the least, but very doable!!

 

So yeah, when we geocache....we have 3 devices. Handheld, 2 iphones (his & hers), and car GPS. I guess you could get geekier and more nerdy than that if you wanted to!!(laugh)

Edited by Lieblweb

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Is there difference between the operational reliability between dedicated GPS devices and smartphones (iPhone4s, etc.)? I don't own either at the moment. I haven't tried geocaching but might be interested in trying it. I mostly explore city areas and open space preserves with frequently traveled trails. However I travel solo most of the time so the last thing I want to encounter out in the field is having my dedicated GPS or smartphone freeze or crash on me (and losing my traveled path, waypoints, other).

 

Has anyone had any good or bad experiences with operational reliability of dedicated GPS devices and smartphone GPS apps?

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Wow, this topic got some replies since I last checked it. Glad to hear I'm not the only one on the phone while I cache! ;) I just got back from caching under dense redwood cover today, and the Droid did its job quite well.

 

As far as reliability is concerned, one of the constants I've been hearing from the dedicated GPS crowd is the durability and reliability are much better than a smart phone. I definitely feel like I need to be careful when I'm using the phone to cache with; On the other hand, reliability of the android OS and particularly c:geo are both top notch: and if either the Os or the program crashes, it's usually a quick reset and back to caching...unless you're very unlucky.

 

I can't comment on the reliability of the dedicated systems' UI's and OS's(?), as I haven't owned one in years. But it is definitely more of a pain to cache on the fly with them if you don't have WiFi access to download GPX files, maps, etc. I remember having to do similar things with my Magellan car nav back in the day.

 

Premium membership is a must... at $3 a month or less it's very much worth it: For me, it doubled the number of available caches around my home location.

 

LostCoastNinja

Edited by LostCoastNinja

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As far as reliability is concerned, one of the constants I've been hearing from the dedicated GPS crowd is the durability and reliability are much better than a smart phone. I definitely feel like I need to be careful when I'm using the phone to cache with;

I definitely feel like I need to be careful when I'm using the phone (or any device, really) in any situation that could cause it harm ;) I'd also be careful with a dedicated GPS were I water skiing with it in my hand :P that is to say, one should always be careful when using electronics in environments that could be detrimental to it. But that goes without saying :)

 

On the other hand, reliability of the android OS and particularly c:geo are both top notch: and if either the Os or the program crashes, it's usually a quick reset and back to caching...unless you're very unlucky.

Echoed for the iPhone, especially 4 and 4S, in every way. The official Geocaching app is plenty reliable, as is Geosphere which is my geocaching app of choice. And neither app nor the OS crashes for me while caching ;)

 

Is there difference between the operational reliability between dedicated GPS devices and smartphones (iPhone4s, etc.)?

Not quite sure what you mean by "operational reliability", but again, being a lifetime exclusively iPhone geocacher with 1200+ finds over all sorts of terrain and environments, I will stand by the fact that the 3GS is certainly a geocaching-worthy device, and most definitely the 4S (and the 4, though I never owned it). The 3GS is caching-worthy, but most handhelds will be faster and more accurate. The 4S is solid competition as a whole package for upper end handhelds (but the highest tier dedicated GPSrs will still be faster and more accurate, and rightly so).

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Of course one advantage of a phone is that if you do spot muggles approaching you can make a real phone call and be holding something that is plausibly a phone. It's harder to get away with doing that if you're holding a bulky GPSr.

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Advantages of a dedicated GPS over a smartphone:

  • Better battery life (and many of them use regular AA batteries)
  • Waterproof
  • No data connection needed

Especially the first item is a problem for me. My HTC Hero works fine on short trips, but I can't use it on all-day trips because the battery won't last that long.

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This was my solution to running out of batt in the field: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=cell+phone+battery+pack&cid=1580475924748116503&ei=I1bYTqruE4S4NOO9jJgB&ved=0CBAQrRI

 

The Occupy procasters (protester-broadcasters) all use these things, which is how I found out about them.

 

It's about 2" by 4" and connects to your phone via usb. I use it when I go caching (or riding in general) on the Ninja. Even with heavy use, I have yet to test it's limits. If price is no object they make some really fancy ones, too, with features like waterproofing, solar panels, and multiple charging ports.

 

Here's a bigger one that fits in a backpack: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=xpal+18000&hl=en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=11215702610195017675&sa=X&ei=PVvYTu3MMeHq2AWowpHzAw&ved=0CGwQxBUwAA

Edited by LostCoastNinja

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I also have a battery backup that holds a full charge. But the 4S lasts long enough for a sufficiently lengthy excursion. I'm doing a cache a day, and I'm already in the habit of charging it once every day or two (I use it for FAR more than caching) and it's perfectly good for a caching session.

I also just picked up a 4xAA external battery pack, since the proprietary battery that itself needs recharging with its own unique plug is just annoying. If I'm out for all day event, it's just easier to carry a bunch of AA's for emergency power.

Also, no data connection is needed with the Geosphere app either, as it's an offline caching app, presuming you have maps cached (when you have data just move around and download the map tiles you'll need). It's its own database built from PQ downloads.

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I agree. I was thinking about this today when using my HTC's The data connection dropped out so the maps and other data took forEVER to load. The GPS signals worked great but without knowing where I was trying to get to, they were useless.

 

So, smart phones are great for urban caching, satellite maps, posting of logs and pictures on the fly but only as long as a good data connection exists. So I'd say use it till you decide you want to spend the money to buy a GPSr and are really into this hobby.

I cache using my htc desire, I store all the caches I'm after in the device (plus others just in case, currently around 1500 "local" caches stored), I also have a full UK map stored, only time I'd need a data connection is to log my finds, and I can do that at home with a coffee.

Downside of my phone (both this and my old samsung spica) is accuracy under trees, though I now have a bluetooth dongle to overcome this issue (and improve phone battery life, although I do carry 2 spare batteries just in case)

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The only benefits of caching with a smartphone I can see are spontaneous caching, real time logging, and Google maps at a whim. And they are why I wish I had one at times. :)

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Well, also note that listing benefits is different than whether it's a decent geocaching tool. A dedicated handheld GPS has benefits, as does a smartphone. Is one better than the other? it depends what you use it for, and what you're comfortable with (and the GPS capability/quality of the devices being compared). If you start by using a GPSr, then you'd be looking for benefits for a smartphone to convert to one. If you're asking which to use and just starting out, well that's sort where you'll have to play around and decide how you're going to use the device, what your price point is, and what you're actually buying.

I use a 4S. So likewise, I'd need to know what the benefits are of a handheld GPSr, weighed against my current experience, to decide if the cost for the purchase is worthwhile. At this point, for me, the 4S more than plenty sufficient for geocaching in many different terrains and environments.

 

Use what suits you best.

Put less weight on comments from people who simply shrug off alternate tools than what they're used to. :P

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The only benefits of caching with a smartphone I can see are spontaneous caching, real time logging, and Google maps at a whim. And they are why I wish I had one at times. :)

 

Google Maps is somewhat dispensable. Standalone road data is generally very good, even (and sometimes even more so) with free maps for your GPS. Topo and trail data is vastly superior that anything Google has to offer. Aerial views -- there's Birdseye for recent Garmin units, which costs peanuts (about half a month smartphone data plan for a whole year) and generally provides quite good imagery. Competitors have similar services. Google does have a bit of an advantage there (which of course can make a world of difference depending on your location and your usage mode), but I'm quite happy with what I get through Birdseye, it's good enough that I hardly ever want to look at my phone to get a better aerial view. POIs are the feature I use the least and I'd say they're generally better and more current on Google. Standalone maps have a habit of sending you out in the middle of nowhere when you're looking for something in particular. :lol:

 

Oh, and then there's traffic data. Now that is really useful in those traffic-congested areas.

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The only benefits of caching with a smartphone I can see are spontaneous caching, real time logging, and Google maps at a whim. And they are why I wish I had one at times. :)

 

Google Maps is somewhat dispensable. Standalone road data is generally very good, even (and sometimes even more so) with free maps for your GPS. Topo and trail data is vastly superior that anything Google has to offer. Aerial views -- there's Birdseye for recent Garmin units, which costs peanuts (about half a month smartphone data plan for a whole year) and generally provides quite good imagery. Competitors have similar services. Google does have a bit of an advantage there (which of course can make a world of difference depending on your location and your usage mode), but I'm quite happy with what I get through Birdseye, it's good enough that I hardly ever want to look at my phone to get a better aerial view. POIs are the feature I use the least and I'd say they're generally better and more current on Google. Standalone maps have a habit of sending you out in the middle of nowhere when you're looking for something in particular. :lol:

 

Oh, and then there's traffic data. Now that is really useful in those traffic-congested areas.

 

Wait a minute, you mean GPSr's don't all come with aerial map views standard?

 

Just kidding.

 

I'm actually about to pick up a GPSr just for kicks, all jokes aside; Plus, when the world ends and I can't afford to pay my $130/mo cell phone bill I'll still be able to geocache (potentially...lol).

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I'm not sure my Blackberry Bold even qualifies as a Smartphone, but, it is the only means I have used since I started in July and have 270 finds to date. I downloaded Geocache Navigator, and CacheSense, and use them alternately as I see fit. There are subtle differences in these apps that warrant having both loaded up. I have recently started researching stand-alone GPSr's simply for the numerous times when the blackberry simply won't hone in on g/z. I have read every post and every review I can find and there is simply nothing I can find that even comes close to what I have been doing with the phone. I agree with the reasons others have stated for NOT using the phone, even though some of them are more fly specks than cow-plops, but still valid. My question .... is there a way to improve the accuracy of the phones GPS or, is there a simple but accurate stand-alone GPS with no doodads, that I can punch coords into whenever my phone is bouncing the g/z from 0 to 65 feet away.

I'm not trying to be a smart-a**, but I just love the Blackberry, even though I realize there are many better smartphones than mine. I guess my next question should be, are the others, iPhone, Droid, Samsung etc., any better at GPS locations than mine ?

Thank You

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I'm not trying to be a smart-a**, but I just love the Blackberry, even though I realize there are many better smartphones than mine. I guess my next question should be, are the others, iPhone, Droid, Samsung etc., any better at GPS locations than mine ?

Thank You

Probably not. We cache using droid phones, and I've recently bought a bluetooth GPS dongle (£10) to, hopefully, improve both accuracy and battery life. Since getting it we've still been finding without using it :D

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