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GPS - recommendations?

By demonine - Posted on 30 April 2007

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Hi Folks,

I've been looking around for a while for a hand-held GPS unit for a variety of uses.

Mostly for easy street navigation around Sydney & 'burbs. However I would also like to use it for plotting my MTB rides and off-road navigation.

I've found some potentially useful tools (GPSBabel etc) for converting GPS data to KML/KMZ files for Google Earth etc so I can easily display the data.

Now what I'd like to know is what sort of GPS units do the group use (if any)?

I've been thinking a Garmin Nuvi 300 or Navman N60i (which has the benefit/gimmick of NavPix)

05 Demo 9


Couple points here... yeah, there is GPSBabel and the like, but save yourself a whole load of hassle and upload activities to MotionBased. Permanent Internet record and good to show your mates all the cool places you've been. Their site has list of compatible devices, but just about any GPS should do. From there you can download GPX, import to Google Earth, etc. SportTracks GPS software is also very good from what I hear, but haven't actually tried it yet.

When I was looking for a device I thought long and hard about getting one with mapping, then considered what I'd do with it most of the time? Navigation wasn't the deal, but recording MTB rides and outdoors activities was so hence I chose a Garmin Edge and for the most part it's been pretty good (I wrote a review of it here: Review of Garmin Edge). The trouble I had looking at mapping units is they are bigger, chew more batteries and what isn't immediately obvious is that many don't actually come with local maps which have to be purchased later at quiet an expense.

But, you say MTB is secondary on your list of requirements (eh?!) so it's one of these bigger mapping guys you'll be needing I guess. In which case, be sure it's not too delicate and get a nice padded bag to keep in your backpack.

Sam's device is pretty useful looking, larger than the Edge but has a nice screen and seems to go quiet well clipped to his backpack strap. Come on Sam, tell us more about it's navigation though?

Last to say is that mine came from GPSOZ and the guys there seem pretty good - give them a call, I'm sure they know more about mapping and what-not that I.

Slightly off topic & geeky, but one thing I've just figured out how to do with my old Garmin eTrex is to plan a route using the new Google Maps "My Maps" functionality, then save the route as a kml file and upload it into the eTrex. The eTrex can guide me around the route using "retrace route". To convert and upload the kml file I use kml2gpx and then g7towin.

So anyway, you can get pretty good navigation even with the more basic units.

Thanks Rob for the response.

I forgot about MotionBased! How could I?

True, the primary use is in-car navigation. Access to maps might not be so difficult as my wife works in GIS, haven't explored that option yet.

Just checked around, the more basic GPS models can be had for ~$200 retail with 20h battery life. Makes me wonder if I could just buy one for car and one for MTB Smiling

05 Demo 9

Actually... there are a lot of bluetooth units popping up - think I've seen them for around $100 even. If you have a smart-ish phone you can at least record where you go on an MTB (I assume you'd take your phone anyhow - everyone should carry one in case of emergency).

What with that option, and the couple hundred Garmin option maybe two units is the go. I mean, it's probably worth paying for a smaller, more basic one just to know you're not going to wreck the car's unit on your bike. Although cheaper/older units probably don't have SiRF III.

FWIW, a lot of phones that will be out in the next year or so will most likely have GPS inside so it you're looking to upgrade a handset you could hang back a while. The Nokia N95, BTW, is out now but haven't heard the best things about it's GPS abilities. First off the rank though - bound to have a few teething troubles.

Hi Rob,

Yeah I've looked into this option.

Nokia and Mio both produce phones with GPS. The Mio (Mitac) is a PDA/GPS/MP3/WMA/2MP Camera multi function device. Batter life with GPS (or the built-in BlueTooth or WiFi) is appalling, and really only useful if you have it mounted in the cradle in the car on external power.

So many options Smiling The Garmin Edge looks good, but a bit pricey (I need to justify this new toy to the minister for finance!)

05 Demo 9

Well to keep Rob happy i'll post on this one...although not so tech minded as some on this site.

I did some shopping around and looked at a few hand held models in the higher end of the market. I was looking for the unit with the most funcionality for the cash i was dishing out....(it wasn't about have a flash new toy....well maybe just a little)

I looked at the Magellan explorer series ($1200), they have inbuilt topo maps that are moredetaild than most maps on the market however if you wish to overlay on google earth i was told it is a small response was why would you when you have them mapped on the unit already? I read soem reviews of the units and quite a few mentioned that they tend to freeze up from time to time....not something you want happening.

Following this i went and had a look at the Garmin equivalent as recommended by a mate who has one for 4WD. All reviews i read were more positive than those for the magellan plus the ease of use of the unit was for the price...($800 unit, $400 maps).

I bought the Map 60 CSX and its great, obviously there are cheaper models in the range. I am still working out the finer points of the unit andf have found some inaccuracies but i'm sure they all have them. I bought the unit from johnny appleseed. They have a shop in Strathfield, go check em out and have a chat. The guys in the shop were a great help and try to find a model suited for what funcionality you are after.

Hope this helps, its a little bit of a rant.... Good luck


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