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GPS Systems


David

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It's a bit of a minefield to be honest. Some stuff is so complicated you need a degree in astro-physics just to programme the things.

I've got a Magellan 700 which I bought in the States. It has a 20Gb hard drive built in plus space for an SD memory card. It has the whole of the US and Canada plus Europe and takes no longer than half an hour to familiarise with. Uploads are expensive but you don't need them that often.

I use it in the car and when touring on the bike and am really quite happy with it.

My advice, for what its worth, is to try as many as possible and avoid ones where you have to programme a route on your PC before a journey.

Good luck.................................[:D]

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I have used Garmins - ranging from the III (bought in Calgary) , 2610, BMW Nav 11 (rebadged 2610) and BMW Nav III (rebadged 2820) - since the late 90's.  They are all, excepting the Garmin III, easy to use and mapsource software upgrades are now relatively cheap at about £50.  You can also use the same mapsource for 2 or more Garmin GPSs that you own - good idea for SWBO and I since the 2610 is in the car and I have the Nav III on the motorbike. 

If you are only a car owner ignore below:

Our 2610, originally on my R1150RT, was bought from Adventure Motorcycles (they have a website) - ex-servicemen that ride bikes - and I would have been happy with this on the R1200RT but SWBO kept borrowing it for the car.  I had a BMW Nav II that had a fault (BMW quarantee all their accessories for 2 years) so this was swapped for the Nav III FOC (cos they had stopped producing the Nav II).

Gen 1 bluetooth for motorcycle helmets is in its infancy so wise not to worry - several recenr revues have castigated in particular the BMW System V bluetooth.  Probably worth waiting another year or so for the manufacturers to sort their lives out. 

I am sure you will also hear from a TomTom owner shortly.

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[quote user="David"]I am thinking of buying myself a simple GPS system, no bluetooth, ipods, etc, but simple to use and with a large screen.Any thoughts anyone? Many thanks, David[/quote]

I've been looking at GPS too, usually because Mr Clair, who's a gadget freak, is standing, mesmerised, in front of the diaply case!

I've found some basic info on the various types on this French website and this other French website.

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Many thanks Clair for your time and trouble.  Unfortunately my French is not up to understanding properly the sites you linked to.

I drive a car, and just wanted peoples opinions of GPS systems they have experience of.  For example, my friend bought a ViaMichelin X-950T which seemed absolutely great with free speed cameras, free traffic info, restaurants and the green guide.  No bluetooth etc.  Brilliant concept.  However, he said the machine came with out of date maps, and was extremely difficult to program.  He said you needed to be a computer expert just to get it up and running with all options activated.  Once running there was no way to express route preferences other than to say either quickest or shortest.  When used both provided wierd routes.  No provision for way points or route planning.  Once screen was occupied with various warnings such as next junction, very very little space left for the actual and most important route map, which was too small to see when driving.

TomTom seems better, but also no choice of routing other than quickest or shortest, good route planning, but pay for speed cameras and traffic warnings.  Also pay for the facility to run mobile phones, ipods, etc., which I will never use.

Thought this might be a good way of exchanging ideas for a simple to use machine, with a big screen, no un-necessary gizmos or gadgets, for those of us retired, non technical people, who want to get about and find obscure addresses.  e.g. Tomorrow I go to a medical specialist in Thouars and I only have the address, I would hope that a GPS would take me there.  I say this with feeling after getting lost trying to find the hospitals in Angers and Tours.

Any ideas?

David

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Any modern Garmin takes approximately 10 mins to learn to use.  It will find an address in Europe using postcode or address.  They talk to you so you can concentrate on the road (you can choose the language).  Their mapsource CDs can be purchased annually and they update new roads.  Go to the Garmin site and see which suits you best then buy it from Eb*y or do a search.

Garmin products are widely tested and relatively cheap when you compare cost of software etc.  I have had 4 and I am a relative Luddite aged 47.  It ain't hard.

regards

Vern

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I’ve owned or used several TomTom and Navman SatNav systems over the last 4 years also saw some of the others available working at the Paris Motor Show.

I have found that the TomTom menu system is the most “user friendly” and easiest to operate (although owners of other makes will probably say the same about theirs!)

All SatNav manufacturers use maps supplied by either Tele Atlas or Navteq.  The main difference between models apart from physical size / shape / screen / mounting arrangements is how you enter the destination, make route choices, “waypoints” (via locations) and so on.

TomTom’s allows you to choose if you want the fastest route; the shortest route; whether to avoid motorways; a walking route; cycle route or limited speed route.  The Navman’s I’ve used have had a couple of slider controls which allow you select route preferences.  In practice I’ve found the TomTom method simpler, but the latest Navman units may work differently?

It is important to bear in mind that these devices are just like mini computers – if you ask one to give you the “shortest” route from A to B, then that is exactly what you will get.  This could mean a route through housing estates, single track roads with passing places on so on – if such as route is the absolute “shortest”!  The machines seem to assume that you will be able to drive at the speed limits on all roads, therefore will happily propose to take you round the M25 or Paris Peripherique at rush hour as the “fastest” route to a destination.

Once you understand the way they work, you will be able to make a better judgement as to whether (eg) the “fastest” or “shortest” route is more appropriate - I’ve found the more rural the location, generally the safer it is to stick to the “fastest” route.  I look forward to the day that someone will produce a SatNav that gives the option of the most “logical” route, taking into consideration the time of day etc.

Most owners will be able to tell a story about a daft route their SatNav has taken them – this is more likely to be the fault of the map information from Tele Atlas or Navteq rather than Navman or TomTom etc.  I’ve found that on a particular short local journey, TomTom, Navman and Navicore (which works on Nokia Symbian mobile phones) devices all give the same, illogical route – it’s just one of these things you learn to live with!

Just to pick up on a couple of points that have been mentioned:

Out of date maps – When you buy a SatNav the map information could be a year out of date.  There will be occasions when manufacturers who use Tele Atlas mapping will be more up to date in a particular location than those who use Navteq.  But the opposite will be true at another time / location.  SatNav manufacturers allow you to download “updates”.  Operating system updates are free; you have to pay for new versions of maps.

TomTom routing options – There are more options than just quickest / shortest.  You can choose fastest / shortest / motorways? / walking / bicycle / slow speed routes.  If the proposed route involves toll roads you have the option to avoid them.  When first taken out the box TomTom will by default only provide the fastest route.  The choice of route menu has to be activated in “planning preferences”.

Free speed cameras – There was a voucher in my GO 700 for a free download from TomTom.  My GO 910 had them pre-installed.  Remember, new speed cameras go up all the time and a SatNav wont tell you about an unmarked police car round the corner!

Points of interest – You mention finding hospitals.  Hospitals along other categories, eg, car parks, petrol stations, airports … are referred to “points of interest” in SatNav jargon.  You can choose a route to a POI in a town.

Good size screen – I upgraded from a GO 700 to a GO 910.  Although in theory the widescreen shape screen of the 910 may be bigger than the “normal” shape of the previous models the GO 700 screen felt bigger.  It’s like comparing a 28” widescreen TV with a 28” normal TV – the picture on the old TVs looks bigger!

Russethouse mentions having to rely on the voice instructions.  Ideally, it’s safer to listen to the instructions and only glance at the screen if clarification is needed.  Some cars have deeply angled windscreens so it may be necessary to position the SatNav higher up on the window in order to be able to reach it or see it easily.

If you’re not interested in gimmicks like cameras, MP3 player, Bluetooth handsfree, unnecessary maps, I’d suggest you have a look at the new TomTom One.  There are 2 versions – single country map version about £200 and a “European” street level map version for about £270.  If you intend to take your SatNav abroad at any time it will be cheaper in the long run to buy the “European” version rather than buy extra maps later.

The new Garmin Nüvi models I saw at the Motor Show (eg Nüvi 300) looked good and work well and I’d say are also worth consideration.

Try and find a shop that has them wired up so you can try planning routes on the menu system and see if you like the touch screen / display / sound.

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We use a garmin 2610 on the bike and in the car .

In the car it sits on the dash but as we don’t look at it whilst driving ,just listen to the voice directions it could be in the glove box if we turned the volume up.

Most have to have the GPS fixed or wedged on the windscreen so that they get a signal

But as we have a heated front screen  we have fitted a small external receiver .

 

 

On the bike it sits between the handle bars and the directions are played through our

Intercom system ,so no need to look at it.

 

With the Garmin you can adjust driving speeds and preference of types of roads you wish to use in the set up .

Has a detour button should the road be closed .

And a get me home button for the wife .     

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Most fixings are a vacuum cup and the texture of the dashboard means that they rarely stay fixed, that’s if you can fix them in the first place.

I have not heard of this in France YET but I am sure it will catch on here. In the UK you are advised to keep some 'wipes' in your car and when you part removed the GPS and mount wipe the place where it was stuck to the window. The reason for this is that these units are considered easy picking by car thieves and the circle on the windscreen made by the 'sucker' gives its usage away and they are then more temped to break in to your car. No longer living in the UK I don't know if this is really true but I can see the point.

There are companies that make alternative mounts and I have seen one on a website that clips in to your air vents.

You also really want to buy a unit that has a SiRF Star III chip set which is far more sensitive and works better in towns and forests better. Better still is to have EGNOS as well which picks up the new EU satellites for greater accuracy.

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Pancake,

All the SatNavs I’ve seen come as standard with a bracket which has a heavy duty “sucker” for fixing to the windscreen.  As Quillan says, the top surface of most dashboards has a textured / rough finish, which may also be curved, so the sucker will not fix directly to the surface of the dash.

Having said that, it is possible to obtain (very) adhesive smooth circular discs (a bit like the top of a “Pringles” tube – if you get them in Australia!) which you first stick to the top of a flat dashboard and then you can fix the windscreen sucker mount to the disc.

TomTom sell an “alternative mount plate” for the GO 300 style range http://www.tomtom.com/products/accessories/index.php?Lid=1&AccessoryCategory=5 which can be screwed to a vertical surface on the dashboard or used in conjunction with a vent / dashmount like these http://www.dashmount.co.uk/nav%20brackets.htm

The SatNav can really be mounted anywhere you like, so long as the antenna has a clear view of the sky.  However if it is mounted too low and you have to take your eye off the road to look at it, it could be dangerous!

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I agree with all Ecossais says.

I have a Tom Tom 910 (as this model includes detailed European street level mapping) and am very happy with it indeed. It does get a bit 'lost' sometimes - mainly where roads have changed and not yet been updated on the digital maps (like on the new part of the A28 which it still thinks is a field) or where the Local Autority have changed the road system (like in Rouen where it asks you to turn right although there is a no entry sign). However you just need to drive on a little further and it quickly re routes you.

We took a route from La Tranche sur Mer on the west coast to Chinon and set it up to avoid motorways. Excellent drive through some pretty villages and it took us straight to the door of our hotel.

I do a bit of hiking and a useful feature is, when you have found the starting point for a walk, you can record it into the Tom Tom as a point of interest so that if you want to repeat the walk another time you can find the parking area easily. You can also carry it with you and it will take you back to the place that it was last docked (i.e. when you removed it from the car and turned it off) although I have not done this myself since I use a Garmin hiking GPS for navigating off road.

I like the way that you can do route planning etc on a PC too.

Andy

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When you have decided what to buy I would recomed these people.  http://www.globalpositioningsystems.co.uk/. I got my Garmin Etrex Vista handheld from them and it was cheaper by far than anywhere else. They are good because they use the kit they sell and can advise you, not always to buy the most expensive... I  made a bracket from perspex that clips into the central air vent.

As far as the signal is concerned I use a re-radiating ariel. It has a receiver, magmount, that is fixed on the metal roof just behind the center of the windscreen and the cable is fed under the screen seal down to the door. The re-rad transmitter is fixed, with suckers, to the top of the inside of the screen behind the mirror. That allows the GPS to work just about anywhere in the car, range 3 meters. It doesn't have voice ability, but when we get to where we are going to it goes with us on our walks through the vine fields, or anywhere. It's about the same size as a mobile phone, but has a large-ish screen.

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I have allways had Garmins from the first one on my microlight. I now use an older model a Streepilot 3 on both the bike and in the car. I don't get any sound as the bike has too much wind noise to hear it and I have broken the plug on the car adapter. It is pleasant not to hear the voice saying "Off route, recalculating" everytime that I am on a newly built road!

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I've spent the past two weeks researching in-car GPS systems..the result..I have bought a Navman N60i system from www.rueducommerce.fr (for somewhere around 460€).  It is absolutely superb.  Latest 2006 maps, incredibly easy to program and is just a plain simple GPS system, no stupid bluetooth mp3 junk that you can't use whilst navigating anyway!  Has full European street level maps loaded on it.  I understand the N40i - which is rather cheaper - has the Euro maps, but not pre-loaded so you have to upload from the supplied CD, not that it is a huge issue, but for me the bigger screen size made the N60i stand out.  The interface makes the 510/710/910 Tomtom systems look like they are 10 years old already!  I would highly recommend it.  The huge screen is a joy to use, very bright and clear.  Equally, the voice announcements are loud and understandable.

I've had several systems over the years - all of them awful!!  This is the first really useful one I've had.  I do understand the Tomtom's are good, but really the widescreen is wasted by having about 1/4 of it permanently used up with the status bar.  Plus, I don't see the point of all the bluetooth and mp3 add-ons when I've got a hands-free kit and a stereo in my car which gives far better sound than a crummy GPS speaker!  The camera on the Navman might seem a bit of a gimmic, but once you actually think about it, it is actually very useful.  Navman even have an online repository of photographs you can use to navigate to (they've teamed up with Lonely Planet)  Users can also upload their own photos to the site for others to download.  I intend to buy my father one for his birthday, so then instead of trying to give him complex directions as to how to get around rural France, I can simply snap a photo of the location and e-mail it to him so he can put it on his Navman - it will direct him straight there without even having to know the address!

Matt

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My sister in law came to visit navigating by satnav. She used the postcode which was not very satisfactory as our postcode covers about 6 villages and hamlets over about 40sq kilometers. Plenty of villages in France do not have street names how do they manage with that?
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[quote user="saddie"]My sister in law came to visit navigating by satnav. She used the postcode which was not very satisfactory as our postcode covers about 6 villages and hamlets over about 40sq kilometers. Plenty of villages in France do not have street names how do they manage with that?[/quote]

People would have a village / hamlet name to enter too.

(When surfing for an insurance quote for instance, you're asked to enter a postcode -5 digits- the software then presents you with a list of towns or villages which match that postcode. You select the appropriate one)
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[quote user="saddie"]My sister in law came to visit navigating by satnav. She used the postcode which was not very satisfactory as our postcode covers about 6 villages and hamlets over about 40sq kilometers. Plenty of villages in France do not have street names how do they manage with that?[/quote]

All properties in 79 have to be numbered and all streets named. This was completed last year, and the TomTom has virtually all in.

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Thunderhorse,

I don't think that is quite correct, but I may be wrong.

We live in department 79 and we have neither a number nor a street name.

We have only a house name, post code 79xxx, and commune for our address.

The best the bank can do for a full address on cheque books and formal letters is "Lieu dit (house name) (post code) (commune).

Thus it is not correct to say that "All properties in 79 have to be numbered and all streets named".

I have to say that we are rather rural, and live in the middle of nowhere, or alternatively we are surrounded by fields of grass, maize and cattle.

Our house is, however, marked on the larger scale maps.

David

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@ David - they probably haven't got round to doing you yet... I stand to be corrected, but that was my understanding. It's not just a commune thing either, but it's certainly well implemented sw Deux-Sevres. May be a Pays Mellois initiative.

Further feedback - initiated by the Sapeurs after difficulty locating some incidents out in the sticks. Restricted to some cantons, but envisaged to spread. [:D]

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thunderhorse,

Thanks for that, so it looks as we will have to join the herd, and live on a street.

Actually that might be good for us as presently strangers, who do not know the area such as couriers and delivery vans, cannot find us and leave deliveries at any old house in the local commune.

A few days later we get a phone call and have a 5 kilometer drive to collect the delivery.

It will be interesting to see how they name the road as it starts in a different commune, and then enters our commune where we are at the end of a dead end road, and we are the only house on the road in our commune.

For GPS purposes, our house is named on the map, so the GPS recognises the house name, or at least, one of our friends GPS does.

David

 

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