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The future of dedicated GPS receivers


luvvinbird
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This is a done discussion

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The dedicated Gps will be for dedicated users only in the future, most people don't use the gps for a long time (out of the car) and off celltower coverage.

 

Many new smartphones are more robust and have longer batterytime, else there are solutions now.

 

More important, the smartphone apps are so modern and flexible, a dedicated gps is like going to the stoneages.

Also Garmin didn't do a very good job with their software last few years, while the hardware is almost perfect, the often lack of good working software (updates) and support has driven many people away.

 

Hopefully the Monterra solves this problem.

Edited by splashy
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I must be an extreme or unusual GPS user and in minority then, 90% of where I go has no cell coverage.

 

+1

 

You are completely right, but make a simple calculation.

Most people live, work and recreate in the neighborhood of a celltower.

Many people just take their caches loaded gps (smartphone), drive to a parking lot walk a bit find the cache and go to the next.

 

The people really going on a hike in the middle of nowhere for a longer time isn't much, let alone in pouring rain.

 

Because of this, most people don't need anything else then a smartphone.

 

But I agree with you, I don't go into the wild without a Gps and a spare set of batteries. Just to find my way back in case I get lost.

Edited by splashy
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The dedicated Gps will be for dedicated users only in the future, most people don't use the gps for a long time (out of the car) and off celltower coverage.

 

You don't need cell coverage to use a smartphone GPS. In fact, we turn off our cell signal when out and about caching.

 

We've used our smartphones in areas without cell coverage. Granted, the hikes were less than 5 km, but we sure didn't need a dedicated GPS for them.

 

Long hikes or multi-day trips, such that the GPS has to be on for hours? Sure, dedicated GPS is best.

Edited by TriciaG
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The discussion isn't about celltower coverage or not, it's about smartphone or dedicated gps.

I know you don't need celltower coverage to use a smartphone gps with offline maps.

 

Only say, most people own a smartphone and most people are near to a celltower and most people will never buy a dedicated gps, because they have what they want and need.

Edited by splashy
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It's only a matter of time before the phone manufacturers make a smart phone that is fully waterproof and shockproof on its own. Then again, maybe Garmin will release a Monterra with a phone in it, or at the very least, 4G data support.

 

Already exists....

I honestly don't think this will perform much worse in torture tests than the outdoor Garmins:

 

http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/mobile-devices/smartphones/android/GT-S7710TAABTU

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It's only a matter of time before the phone manufacturers make a smart phone that is fully waterproof and shockproof on its own. Then again, maybe Garmin will release a Monterra with a phone in it, or at the very least, 4G data support.

 

Already exists....

I honestly don't think this will perform much worse in torture tests than the outdoor Garmins:

 

http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/mobile-devices/smartphones/android/GT-S7710TAABTU

 

Interesting unit...has high sensitivity/glonass receiver.

What kind of antenna do these things have ( or an iPhone 5 for that matter )...I've always been a fan of the quad on my gps and you could never squeeze a 62 series antenna into a phone.

How would these perform under heavy canopy ?

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I hike in any weather here in Canada on the west coast in the 3rd largest city and can be out of cell range in no time flat due to mountains ,there's a huge market here for boaters, hikers, snowshoers, climbers ,ATV'ers ,hunters, to have GPS non cell units, and I know the same for the same activity users to the south in the USA ,as I go there quite often to the Cascades Mt range, where all you can see are mountains forever and NO cell towers.

Edited by Forkeye
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I've tried the apps that claim to store mapping data on internal or expandable memory. My cell phone model (Motorola) doesn't store the data properly where the app can reference it. Documentation on file storage is poor between the various manufacturers and the makers of a very popular mapping app have told me that there's nothing they can do since the issue is with my phone. One of the inherent issues with Android, there are so many devices that operate and handle files differently. When I reach for my Garmin, I know the maps, aerial imagery, and data such as tracks and waypoints will be there always and it's easy for me to store, organize, and query them on and off my unit.

 

The screen visibility of my smart phone is extremely poor in bright sun, even with the backlight on 100%

 

The battery life of my Garmin Oregon 650 is darn near 20 hours (with power saving modes). If I leave my phone's GPS on, even in sleep mode, the battery life is much less. Oh and if I run out of juice I can pop some AA's out of my flashlight and poof, another 20.

 

My phone doesn't work even with the thinnest of gloves. All of my Garmin's work very well with gloves. It's cold here in Montana and there are times (0 to 20 below) that removing my gloves to operate a device would be a bad decision.

 

If I collect data with my Garmin I can go back to a computer and interface nearly seamlessly with ArcGIS applications to transfer and transform that data into ESRI format feature classes. I couldn't do this reliably with my phone, not even close.

 

90% of where I would need a GPS has no cell coverage. Combine that with the variables above and you're way better off with a Garmin handheld than any smartphone on the market today. Unless of course you're a casual geocacher in a populated area with an abundance of cell towers and little in the way of undulating terrain and/or large expanses of open space.

 

Just my opinion of course. In Montana if you bring your smartphone on a hike or a hunt to use for navigation you'll soon be asking the guy with the dedicated GPS where the heck you are and how to get back to the truck. A smartphone would be worthless jetsam in short order. Yeah, you could bring your otterbox a spare LiIon battery or USB power crib but with all that BS and your phone swinging from your pack strap you might get hung up in the brush with frozen digits trying to activate your app's "Where TF am I" feature. The guys with the dedicated GPS will come back for your carcass in the spring.

 

Those of you who think the current crop of smart phone's can hang with a dedicated GPS must all be geo-cachin' city slickers. :) Ten years from now probably, but right now, huh uh, no way.

Edited by yogazoo
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Those of you who think the current crop of smart phone's can hang with a dedicated GPS must all be geo-cachin' city slickers. :) Ten years from now probably, but right now, huh uh, no way.

 

Yawn.

Yet another generalization that is WRONG.

Many of my finds are in the woods. In the rain. In the mountains. Dare I say, under trees!

 

Cell towers mean squat as I turn my data off while out on the trail.

 

Right now, yup. Yes way!

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"Many of my finds are in the woods. In the rain... "

 

Sure, if you're primary activity is to geo-cache (casually navigate to a single pre-determined point... under an umbrella) then I would agree, smart phones are the way to go. I'm not saying they haven't replaced a GPS for some activities. My "generalization" was mostly for humorous effect but in all seriousness, if someone on our field crew said they were going to collect geo-data and navigate through the wilderness for days on end using a smart-phone, myself and the rest of the crew would find it difficult to contain our laughter. We've tried smart phone's for these tasks, we wanted them to work, but they're simply not there yet.

 

Smart phones have no doubt replaced the majority of point and shoot camera's for the casual photographer for quite some time now. However if I want a high quality photo of something I'm still going to reach for my Nikon SLR, i.e. my "dedicated" camera.

 

The main obfuscation in this whole discussion is how different people use a GPS unit. Geocaching is barely scratching the surface of purpose. It is however the yardstick of many, if not most, here.

Edited by yogazoo
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I've hiked for 9 hours in the mountians, in the pouring rain, in the cold. With only my iPhone guiding me.

Several, several times even.

 

Good to know .... but ...

 

When the s*** hits the fan, when your planned 9 hour hike turns into a nightmare due to an incident and so you're out longer than planned then as yogazoo points out 'smart phones just don't cut it'. Yep, for all the geocachers here I can understand the attraction ... you already have a smart phone so why also pay for a GPS, camera, music player etc etc.

 

Geocaching for me though is just part of what I need my GPS for, and a minor part. I'm not alone. For serious hikers and many other users a dedicated GPS wins hands down ... just like a professional photographer wouldn't dream of just using a phone as his primary camera or someone serious about music would just ditch his hi fi and use his phone instead :)

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. just like a professional photographer wouldn't dream of just using a phone as his primary camera or someone serious about music would just ditch his hi fi and use his phone instead :)

 

Indeed. It is however another thing entirely if the professional finds the combo-tool actually better and more well functioning for the task than the uni-tool.

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I prefer my GPS for hardcore Geocaching and hiking...it's what I am used to(Retired Military)...I have tried my smart phone and use it for quick finds when on the go it just doesn't seem as accurate to me....The only benefit I see is that I can log finds on the spot and give more accurate details of my journey than if I wait a few days to download my field notes from a GPS..

 

Hopefully both tools keep advancing and remain available to customers.....Why should you have to pick one or the other, makes no sense to me...I will continue to do PQs and load up my GPS before long hikes and have my Smartphone with me for safety and backup....

Edited by basscat5
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IMHO, standalone GPS receivers will still be purchased in the future, but in dwindling numbers. So who knows where Garmin will head -- my prediction is that they will become less and less relevant for recreational users, and turn towards professional markets (military, aviation, marine, etc.). Or perhaps they will license their name and patents to other tech or cell companies. Look at the rift between GC.com and Garmin, who went and created their own caching system. Add in the ongoing poor firmware updates, wonky software, outdated maps, the constant barrage of new models, and ever-increasing prices... and I can't help but shake the feeling that Garmin is struggling and having an identity crisis lately. They are rapidly being eclipsed by the other markets (smartphones, GoPro and similar video cameras, in-dash car navigation systems, online maps, etc.).

 

Personally, I don't want to rely on my iPhone in the backcountry or off the beaten path. There are too many rural spots with zero cell coverage (especially in the western states), let alone trying to get some sort of data bandwidth to find a cache. But I'm sure that places me in the minority, with a far different need versus a cacher in the middle of NYC. I wish Garmin would return to what they know how to do -- make a solid, basic GPS receiver with good battery life and stable, mature firmware. Doesn't do much for the shareholders, though.

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I've hiked for 9 hours in the mountians, in the pouring rain, in the cold. With only my iPhone guiding me.

Several, several times even.

 

Good to know .... but ...

 

When the s*** hits the fan, when your planned 9 hour hike turns into a nightmare due to an incident and so you're out longer than planned then as yogazoo points out 'smart phones just don't cut it'. Yep, for all the geocachers here I can understand the attraction ... you already have a smart phone so why also pay for a GPS, camera, music player etc etc.

 

Geocaching for me though is just part of what I need my GPS for, and a minor part. I'm not alone. For serious hikers and many other users a dedicated GPS wins hands down ... just like a professional photographer wouldn't dream of just using a phone as his primary camera or someone serious about music would just ditch his hi fi and use his phone instead :)

 

Neither will my Garmin.

 

If the s*** hits the fan, my smartphone may be the thing that helps me the most. I have at least 2 days worth of battery life in my bag as well

 

I have my Garmin in my bag, and a map and compass. I refer to all three.

 

You can dismiss us a "casual" hikers, photographers, cachers....whatever. Whatever makes people feel better. You're wrong....but if you feel better then great!

 

The smartphones are getting better...and the GPS is getting obsolete. The Garmin is my tool to supplement my iPhone. Not the other way around. And the Garmin has failed me far more times than my iPhone.

 

Btw. Re: the professional photography reference. You are not, nor am I a professional geocacher. (The "you" is a general reference)

 

Please stop comparing our hobby to that of a profession. We are talking about geocaching (that is the forum I'm on, right?) not SAR missions, or hiking the PCT.

 

The iPhone isn't perfect, but please....haven't the anti smartphone falsities grown tiresome by now?

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Nobody here is "anti smart-phone" and we're not degrading or dismissing your particular use of either your smart phone or Garmin.

 

Also, nobody is saying there are professional geocachers. The camera was an analogy that was apparently lost in translation.

 

"The smartphones are getting better...and the GPS is getting obsolete.". I think we're mostly in agreement.

 

 

My stupid point was that we all use GPS differently for various uses and smart phones can't satisfy my needs nearly as well as a dedicated GPS. The smartphone obviously satisfies your needs and the needs of many others who don't use GPS the same way and that's great too.

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Nobody here is "anti smart-phone" and we're not degrading or dismissing your particular use of either your smart phone or Garmin.

 

Also, nobody is saying there are professional geocachers. The camera was an analogy that was apparently lost in translation.

 

"The smartphones are getting better...and the GPS is getting obsolete.". I think we're mostly in agreement.

 

The camera analogy was one of the things that first came to my mind. Iphoneography is developing into its own art form and I like various smartphone camera apps a great deal. Still, if I am going to go out and take a picture of Sandhill Cranes flying overhead, I will probably be picking up my dslr with a large telescopic lens. Perhaps I do not pick it up enough to make me go out and buy a somewhat upgraded dslr, but we'll see what happens when my daughter finishes college. . . .

 

On the other hand, the combination of my iphone and handheld gpsr works great. It would take a very specialized need for me to want to go out and get another gpsr unit, and even then I would not want to pay for a premium model. I suspect I am not alone.

 

Perhaps the immediate future of dedicated gpsr units is with gadgets like the GLO that can work in conjunction with a smart phone or tablet (it was very nice to have on a recent trip overseas). Or it may be with the units like the new etrex series for people who want to supplement a smartphone with a handheld but do not need every bell and whistle that might be out there.

 

It will be interesting to see if the Monterra works for Garmin. Their foray into phones was a disaster and it still seems like they are playing to a very limited niche market -- a unit that may not be the best as a standalone wifi android and does not offer me any real gps/caching capabilities beyond what I already can do with what I have.

 

As far as the slightly less than immediate future goes . . . it does not look good for either smartphones or dedicated gpsrs. Michio Kaku (Physics of the Future ) projects a foreseeable future where we will use nano tech and other advancements - when nano sized gpsrs will get us within inches of where we want to go and contact lenses will provide virtual access to the entire expanse of knowledge. Cars will drive themselves so people younger than myself will be able to plan caches down the line even while going to the next one. Or something like that. I realize that I was promised personal jetpacks by now back when I was a kid, which did not happen. Predicting the future is always risky, but Kaku is smarter than any of us.

 

Or we could go the other way and blow ourselves up or fall victim to climate change first. In which case, the future might be in compasses.

Edited by geodarts
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All I know is this.....I've used iPhones for geocaching and I've used GPS units for geocaching and I prefer GPS units hands down.

 

I agree completely, especially after using my smartphone extensively for geocaching since I bought it. Yeah, I could buy a waterproof, shock resistant case and I can constantly shut it off when not needed to save battery life, or buy a battery charger and the other things to make it comparable to a dedicated GPS, or I can just use a dedicated GPS.

 

Unfortunately the trend in smart phones is away from field replaceable batteries, so when you're out of juice, you're out - unless you have a charger, in which case you have to walk around with a charger hanging from your phone. Nah.

 

When they come out with a smart phone that can withstand a dunk in a stream, or even being in your sweaty pocket on a hot, humid day AND can survive a fall from the roof of your car onto the road at 20 mph, AND can last for a full day of constant use on one battery, AND has field replaceable batteries AND (above all), is actually readable in sunlight, then I will probably become a convert. Until then, give me a dedicated GPS.

 

I like my smart phone for spur of the moment caching around town, but for everything else it falls short. It also falls short at what it does best because of how the screen washes out in sunlight. Maybe if I lived in Ireland it would be great.

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I think its ridiculous to think cell phones will replace stand alone gps. In North America you can be out of cell phone coverage in no time once you leave many large cities. GPS was originally developed for navigation purposes, and then geocaching came along later. There are also many hundreds ,perhaps more geocaches that I know of that are way out there, planted by backpackers, hikers, climbers, ATVers, way beyond cell phone coverage. Geocaching is not just a game played in cities.

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All I know is this.....I've used iPhones for geocaching and I've used GPS units for geocaching and I prefer GPS units hands down.

And my GPS units, aside from the initial purchase price, cost nothing to operate. In fact, the introduction of newer models force the cost of older, but well-featured receivers, down to very reasonable levels. **Edited to add that no cost to using a GPSr versus smart phones refers primarily to travelling, especially out of country.

Edited by luvvinbird
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To be fair to the smart phone group you don't need cell coverage to run your smart phone in GPS mode.

 

There are other reasons why I have a stand alone GPS, but not working away from cell coverage isn't one of them :)

 

I have been geocaching with a Samsung Galaxy S2 since Feb and have just ordered a Garmin Montana. I was sick, fed up of an unreliable GPS signal on the phone, especially in tree cover and especially when there was no cell coverage. The GPS signal was always stronger and more reliable when I had a cell signal and could activate a data connection, however in the countryside of Scotland it's not often an option.

 

I am expecting the Garmin to be an improvement, as far as GPS signal is concerned. I hope I am not mistaken.

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The GPS signal was always stronger and more reliable when I had a cell signal and could activate a data connection, however in the countryside of Scotland it's not often an option.

 

I am expecting the Garmin to be an improvement, as far as GPS signal is concerned. I hope I am not mistaken.

 

 

This is actually rather interesting, and if I hadn't experienced it myself (on a Galaxy Gio), the only phone where I ever saw it, I would not have believed you.

 

I don't understand how the crud they can have failed that miserably with the GPS implementation. Somehow the GPS signal seemed to be in symbiosis with the 3G reception. No 3G signal and you would have a hard time locking and keeping a lock. Easier to get a lock with A-GPS, sure, but once the lock is there... ehm??? makes really no sense!

 

It could, by the way, be fixed by some obscure software called "GPS fixer" or the like on the android market.

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To be fair to the smart phone group you don't need cell coverage to run your smart phone in GPS mode.

 

There are other reasons why I have a stand alone GPS, but not working away from cell coverage isn't one of them :)

 

I have been geocaching with a Samsung Galaxy S2 since Feb and have just ordered a Garmin Montana. I was sick, fed up of an unreliable GPS signal on the phone, especially in tree cover and especially when there was no cell coverage. The GPS signal was always stronger and more reliable when I had a cell signal and could activate a data connection, however in the countryside of Scotland it's not often an option.

 

I am expecting the Garmin to be an improvement, as far as GPS signal is concerned. I hope I am not mistaken.

 

I too have a Galaxy S2. It does have terrible GPS innards. Don't dismiss all phones though. My previous Android was an LG Optimus V. That thing would rival any handheld GPS I've used. Even my 60csx. For the woods, though, I still prefer the dedicated GPS for it's better life and ruggedness.

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