Posts Tagged ‘GPS’

FIRST LOOKS: Navigon Lite Navigation App for iPhone 3G/3GS

July 23rd, 2009 No comments

The first crop of GPS navigation applications are starting to appear in the Apps Store.  AT&T’s version will run you $10/month, which is a little rich for my tastes, especially when I consider how much I’m paying them for my cell/data access.  So when I ran into the free Navigon app, I was interested in comparing it to my current GPS, a Mio 520C.


So the first thing to note is that the icon is clearly labeled “Lite”.  This is because this version does no dynamic routing.  It’s basically intended to be a proof of concept to familiarize potential users with the interface and capabilities before Navigon asks them to shell out serious coin for the full version.  And I’m sure that these apps will not be cheap, btw.


Above is the boot screen for the app.  I’ll be frank – it takes a WHILE to boot.  And this is without the routing logic being loaded.  I have an iPhone 3G, so memory is definately at a premium.  On average, from launch of the app to clear the above screen ran about a minute and a half or more, sometimes entering into the 3 minute range.  And that’s just to boot to the main screen – GPS lock-on could take another one to five minutes beyond that.  Considering that my Mio can get GPS lock from cold boot in about 3 to 4 minutes tops in the summertime, the Navigon app is way slow.


The above screen shows the primary options in the main menu.  To choose a destination, just tap the first option.


You can enter a ZIP code or a city name.  If you enter a ZIP, the app will have a lot less data to filter through.  This is important because of the Navigon’s next screen.


Note the list of streets that are populated once you select a ZIP or city.  The smaller a universe you can provide, the faster it will perform.  My Mio does something similar, narrowing the universe as you type the street name.  Navigon’s approach allows you to scroll to an address, but I can see it getting out of hand if the list is really long (and entering a major city like Philadelphia will produce a LONG list).  I would have liked to have seen Navigon provide a quicknav list on the right a la the Contacts app so that I could quick jump to a letter of the alphabet.


The above screen shows how Navigon allows you to select an intersection.  I thought this was pretty useful – my Mio’s intersection entry is annoying and very hit-or-miss.  This approach is much more intuitive and easier to identify a cross-street location.


In the Lite version, you can see the destination and simulate the trip.  I assume that this is where the real version will allow you to confirm the endpoint and initiate routing.


The above shows the app “calculating” a route and displaying progress in the 3D view.  I’m not sure how much dynamic re-routing will add to the memory footprint.  I’m also concerned about the speed of recalculation.


This is the same route in 2D view.  Note the large number of POI references.    I’m using this in portrait mode, so the screen is rather compact and hard to read.  The landscape view would probably not be as tight and give better spacing.  I didn’t see a way to limit the POIs to only a specific set, but I’m sure that will be there in the final version.


This is the night mode view in 2D.


Here I’ve looked up a POI and had the app plot me  a route.  Note that you can change the route profile to modify the path taken.


This is the map view in 2D mode.  I was viewing this while on the bus.


Here’s the 3D version.  Yes, we actually are going 0 mph.  Traffic was a mess that day.


Hey we’re moving!


Widescreen view.  The widescreen view is much closer to my Mio’s interface and will probably be the default view when using this app.

Overall, the Navigon app is impressive.  But my concerns are really around its ability to dynamically route, which you can’t experience in the Lite version.  My 3G definately felt pushed to its limits by the app.  I was listening to music over a Bluetooth connection while using the app and I definately noticed more stuttering of the music stream.  I’m also curious how phone calls would be handled while the nav app is running.  Since the iPhone OS doesn’t allow multitasking, I wonder if the app continues to maintain a route when a phone call comes in.

All in all, I am intrigued by the app, but my concerns about performance would make me very hesitant to sink a large amount of funds into it.  If there was a way to actually try the full function app without paying full price, I would definately recommend that as the way to go.  The other concern I have about the app is its sheer size.  The Lite version is almost 2GB.  I don’t know how much of the full map universe is in the app, or how much the dynamic routing functionality will add to that size, but it took a good 10 minutes or more to sync my iPhone to install this app.  Owners of 8GB iPhones are not going to be happy.

Any 3GS owners out there wanna comment on their performance?  I’d really like to know if it will be a big improvement on the faster hardware.

UPDATE:  Since this post was released, the Navigon app has gone live.  For a limited time, it’s $70 in the iTunes store.  iLounge has a very thorough review of it, which I highly recommend you read if you’re even remotely thinking about buying this app.  They give it a “C”, which matches my impressions based on the Lite version.  Also, there are some screen changes that I did not encounter in the Lite version.

Travel Honey GPS detector finds your parked car

May 27th, 2009 1 comment

While I am elephantine in many ways,  memory is not one of them.  I am constantly wracking my brain when it comes to remembering where I’ve placed my keys or my wallet or my girlfriend.  And finding my ride in a megamall parking lot is a royal pain.  Until now.


Travel Honey GPS detector

This handy dandy little gadget is a multifunction GPS tagger and location finder.  Can’t remember where you parked your car?  Well just remember to hold down its little locator button before you leave your car.  A two-second press will lock the current GPS coordinates into its little brain.  Then when you’ve loaded yourself down with consumerism goodies, use the direction finder to navigate yourself back to the set coordinates (and your car).

But that’s not all.  It is connectable (and rechargable) via a micr0-USB port.  When connected, the dongle acts as a GPS unit for your PC, meaning you can use software like Streets and Trips to navigate yourself to your next megamall destination.  It is constantly recording your GPS coordinates so you can plot all that data using Google Maps or Google Earth.  It even provides software to allow you to attach pictures to GPS points.


Travel Honey GPS detector

All that for only $54.  A bargain.

First Store 4 U GPS Receiver + Location Finder + Data Logger + Photo Tagger

Via Chinavasion via Geekalerts via DVICE.

Mio’s new GPS phone – sexy!

March 7th, 2009 No comments

bigMio’s just announced their upcoming product line.  Included in their releases is this sexy beast – the Mio Explora K70.  The picture does not do it justice – check out their web site for more pictures.  It features quad band technology for you world travelers, a 3.5″ screen, WiFi, 3G, 3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and (obviously) a GPS.  I don’t know how they got it so skinny cause it seems they crammed everything but the kitchen sink in.  It will auto-rotate as well, so you can see your trip in portrait or widescreen modes, and it plays videos and music so you can be entertained when you get to wherever it is you’re going.

Biggest downer?  Windows Mobile 6.1.  Dang.


Categories: Cell Phone, Gadgets, Travel Tags: , , , ,

Generate Water from Air Using Solar Energy

February 24th, 2009 1 comment
Ersa Water From Air Using Solar Energy

Ersa Water From Air Using Solar Energy

I must say this is one of the most amazing scientific break-throughs. Ersa generates water from the air using Solar Energy (30W solar module). This has so much implications especially for third world countries where clean water is hard to find.  Scale it even bigger and we may never have famine again! Ersa also generates enough power to charge your cellphone and GPS devices. How perfect is that? We’ll keep you updated as soon as we hear more.

PocketFinder: Never Lose Your Stuff Again

February 15th, 2009 No comments

pocket finder

With Location-Based Technologies’  PocketFinder, you’ll never have to worry about lost pets or luggage again. The GPS device is about the size of a cookie, and is available in several versions: there’s PocketFinder Luggage, which can be slipped into a suitcase before you let it out of your sight. Using the company’s website or automated phone service, you can look up your suitcase’s location in over 100 countries. PetFinder can be hooked to a pet’s collar, offering peace of mind for those who are squeamish about injecting their furry friend with a microchip. The original PocketFinder is a good bet for outdoor enthusiasts or caretakers of the mentally challenged.

PocketFinder is available for $129.99 plus a monthly service fee for the locator service. It runs for seven days on a single charge, alerting you via text message when it’s time to recharge.