Author Topic: Which GPS  (Read 2913 times)

Which GPS
« on: January 04, 2011, 08:01:10 pm »
I (think) I have narrowed my possibilities down to a Garmin 800 or Memory Map Adventure 3500 or Sat Map active 10 plus. Which one ?
      What I want is to be able to,
         
          plot a route both on the device and my home PC,

          it must be waterproof, and able to accept maps of France and Spain as well as OS cyclable maps, would prefer a switchable back light for those twilight moments,  ideally I would like voice directions but the manufacturers seem to think everyone has perfect eye sight. Good battery life is also important so I can play on my trike all day and into a balmy summers eve (remember those - pinch myself - dreaming ?)
                                                               :-\
The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so sure of themselves, and wiser men so full of doubt.

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2011, 09:27:15 pm »

      What I want is to be able to,
         
          plot a route both on the device and my home PC,

          it must be waterproof, and able to accept maps of France and Spain as well as OS cyclable maps, would prefer a switchable back light for those twilight moments,  ideally I would like voice directions but the manufacturers seem to think everyone has perfect eye sight. Good battery life is also important so I can play on my trike all day and into a balmy summers eve (remember those - pinch myself - dreaming ?)
                                                               :-\

I've had my Edge 800 for a few months now and I can say that its far from ideal as a mapping device (screen is a little small compared to a modern phone or satmap type device) but excellent as a cycle computer and navigation aid.

Garmin's software for route planning is idiosyncratic but meets the need. The device is waterproof, I've ridden it through the winter and not had a waterproofing issue although I've been quite careful with regard to water ingress around the ports. The battery life and backlight are excellent, and the backlight is easy to activate (just prod) and controllable in how long it stays lit. Also have to mention the interface works really well with winter gloves which was a worry for me before I bought it.

I'd recommend it if you want a ruggedised cycle computer with navigation capability but not as a map reading device - for that I'd use a suitably waterproofed smartphone or something like a Satmap (although I've not used either that you mention). It works for my use case - I like to plan a route but know that I can detour and still navigate or work out a route on the move - and I like the sensitivity of the GPS receiver (seems much quicker to lock and keeps lock better under trees than my old Edge 305) and the focus on cycling features rather than mapping features. Your use case might differ.

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2011, 09:44:48 pm »
Only thing(s) that lean me away from the 800 is all the cycle computer stuff, I have been told it's very good but I already have a very good pooter with altimeter and a very good h/r moniter.
   The mapping part is the most important, thank you for the info.
The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so sure of themselves, and wiser men so full of doubt.

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2011, 10:59:52 pm »
I've used a Satmap Active 10 for a number of years. It has pros and cons as you would expect. I've recently reverted to using a Garmin however, for a couple of reasons. I found the waterproofing of the Active 10 to be inadequate. They have in effect acknowledged this by recently marketing a waterproof case for it, although the design precludes using it with the bike mount. No doubt if you're a handy chap you could make a home made workaround, but it demonstrates one of the primary characteristics of the Satmap which is that IMHO it's designed primarily for walkers rather than cyclists. The Satmap is for example quite good at the things geocachers like. I could go on at length on this subject but I won't bore everyone by doing so, but it's the little details that make the difference in the long run and you find these things out only when you live with a device.

The recent generation of Garmins have caught up with the Satmap in a material aspect, that of now being able to accommodate OS mapping. I have recently acquired a Garmin Map62 with OS mapping and I find it pretty good. Certainly the build quality seems better than the Satmap. I had a Map 60, the previous model for many years and it gave me good service. I haven't used an Edge 800, which also can have OS mapping, but I suspect the screen is on the small side, as smurphboy said. The Satmap has the advantage in this regard, even against the Map 62 (although less so there) but I have a problem with the screen legibility on the Satmap in brightish light. To be fair, all the OS mapping handhelds suffer to some degree from this (although I have no experience of the Memory Map one, so have to reserve judgement there.) Both types have an adjustable backlight but the Garmin is superior in strong light.

The buttons on my Garmin are easier to use, especially with winter gloves; those on my Satmap are indistinct and unresponsive; I had one break on an earlier unit. I believe this varies from example to example though.

With regard to battery life, both the Satmap and (some of) the Garmins run on AA cells. The Edge has to be recharged however, after about 15 hours. Some people can get around this using portable power packs. It depends on how you use the thing. If you have time to stop and recharge from an external pack, great. Doing it on the move may present weatherproofing issues; you might be content to bodge around this; some people do.

The Satmap is good for making up routes on the fly. You just pan around the map plonking waypoints along the way and it draws straight lines between them. Rudimentary but adequate. On the Garmin you can do this only one step at a time. But the Garmin will allow you to pan to a distant point and mark it as a "Go to" and it  will then navigate you, satnav fashion, along the road to that point. The Satmap cannot do this. You may not however much like the route the Garmin plots however, as there is a limit to its intelligence.  With a bit of practice however, it will get you out of trouble. You can compose routes on your PC for both devices. The Satmap advertises a "Route Planner" I tried this when it was first released and didn't think much of it. As I've always had Memory Map on my desktop I stuck with that and haven't tried the Satmap thing again; it may have improved. There's a lot of informative chat about the Satmap at: Pocket GPS World - SatNavs | GPS | Speed Cameras There's also a Memory Map Adventurer forum there too.

For cycling, the bike mount can be important. The Satmap one is an Abus/Rixon & Kaul klickfix style bike lock mount; it's ugly and rather cumbersome but it never failed me or broke. I did however, make my own version using a USE Exposure lamp mount because the Abus one took up too much handlebar space. In comparison, the Garmin mounts I've had have been a bit flimsy and not wholly reliable, but forewarned is forearmed and so long as you use a safety tether, it's OK. (I speak only of the Map 60/62; the Edge 800 is a much lighter unit and shouldn't strain its mount so much. Be aware though that it requires a 90 degree turn to attach/detach, so fitting it close against something else might be an issue.) I've not used a Memory Mount but the one I saw at the Bike Show had a suspect looking mount. When mounted on a handlebar, these things take a hell of a hammering from road vibration and a well designed and robust mount is essential.

I haven't studied the matter of continental maps. None of these things are much good without decent maps and I can see how availability of same might swing it either way despite the relative merits of the respective units.

I could blather on at even greater length on this but as a broad summary, I'd say that I used to recommend the Satmap until the Garmins got OS mapping, but now I'm back to Garmin. If I was starting from scratch, I'd research the mapping availability first and then think very carefully about exactly how I intended to use the unit and research extensively.

I've had occasion to use the service and repair departments of both Satmap and Garmin. Both have given pretty good service in fact and the Satmap people are here in England and easy to speak to. On two occasions however, Garmin have generously supplied brand new units without charge when I had a problem. (One of those was when the thing flew out of the bike mount and bounced down the road. It still worked perfectly but was a bit scarred. I send it back to them complaining that the bike mount needed a safety lanyard and they sent me a brand new one gratis, which was pretty decent really, I thought.)

One final point. You can download the respective Satmap and Garmin user manuals to try and get a "feel" for them. The Satmap is much improved of late in this regard but the Garmins remain crap; they are legendary for useless manuals, which tell you very little about what the kit can do or how to do it!


Re: Which GPS
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2011, 11:45:04 pm »
Lots of food for thought, thank you, I did phone Garmin once and asked them why they didn't do voice directions, they didn't seem that bothered, I suggested they should try going across Hampshire back roads at night wearing bi focals,   :P
The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so sure of themselves, and wiser men so full of doubt.

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2011, 11:55:48 pm »
Lots of food for thought, thank you, I did phone Garmin once and asked them why they didn't do voice directions, they didn't seem that bothered, I suggested they should try going across Hampshire back roads at night wearing bi focals,   :P

The turn-by-turn on the Edge 800 is pretty easy to read for such a small screen - big bold arrows and the backlight is excellent (and lights up turns), I wear glasses and find I can glance down (under the specs) and still work out which way to go without having to put my head down and look through my lenses - your milage may vary depending on your eyesight!

I'd say the bike mount is pretty sturdy for what is a piece of plastic and two (pricey) elastic bands but in use its been excellent and the 90 degree turn isn't that much of an issue in reality as the unit is quite squat - if you know what I mean. Having said that, I did have to move my lights around to accomodate the Edge on my bars - you can also mount it on your stem rather than on your bars.

I'd agree with PloddinPedro on the waterproofness of charging the Edge on the move - I wouldn't like to try it in British rain - again if you need more than 15 hours between recharges then the Edge isn't going to work in bad weather.

He also very right about Garmin 'support' - I'm pretty much an unpaid beta tester for the Edge 800 - although the community around Garmin is pretty helpful.

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Which GPS
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2011, 01:26:20 am »
If you really wanted voice directions you could use something like a Garmin Zumo 220. Its designed for use on a motorbike, so should be properly waterproof. Though I'm not sure what sort of mounts are available, and it may be a bit bulky. Plus fairly short battery life.

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2011, 08:40:05 am »
I obviously haven't tried voice instructions on a bike GPS but I wonder if it would work at all well. Unless it was Bluetoothed into an earpiece I suspect the volume would have to be quite tiresome to be reliable against passing traffic. For me, using such an earpiece would further complicate things because I quite often use an .mp3 player on my longer rides but that may not be an issue for you.

I have to use reading lenses for close work, to a point 2 prescription, and have bi-focal Optilabs cycling glasses. I do find that reading the maps on any GPS unit requires a bit of care in positioning the unit optimally, which is another reason why I made up my own bike mount - I have the unit a bit further forward from the bars where it's easier to see. I found it slightly awkward when it was fastened to the stem and you can't fine tune the horizontal angle when it's on the stem, which is necessary to reduce the screen reflection and help legibility.

smurphboy makes a good point about the Garmin's turn-by-turn graphics - these are very readable in comparison with simply viewing a line on the map screen and the Garmins have a distinct advantage in this regard. But you should be aware that the Garmin auto route plotting often leaves a lot to be desired. Many people get a Garmin and think it's going to take them easily along favourable cycling roads just because it's got a "Bike" mode option in the Preferences. In the real world it doesn't always work too well because if that Preference is selected, the unit will plot routes which avoid "Highways" (sensibly) but it can be surprising sometimes how often a cyclist has to ride a few hundred yards on a main road just to cross it and the Garmin won't allow for this; consequently it will send you in a large loop in order to find a direct transverse of a "Highway"! Also, the Garmin's auto navigation runs on the underlying vector mapping, not the OS raster overlay and this mapping is not always reliable, often confusing bridleways with surfaced roads and vice versa. It rather depends on how complex the road network is in the territory you are in and is bit pot luck, and as I said earlier, the manner in which you use the GPS. For me, most of my riding is with pre-plotted journeys like Audax rides or Club runs to known destinations, for all of which I have tracks loaded into the unit and just follow the line on the map. For free navigation on the fly, without a pre-planned detailed route, I would say the Satmap probably still has the edge.

 

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: Which GPS
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2011, 09:57:47 am »
For continental mapping I think it has to be Garmin.  Their European coverage is excellent.  And for remoter places its easy to use OSM maps as well.

Voice prompts - AIUI the Garmin 60 series do this - however you have to connect a speaker or earpiece to be able to hear them. Just a curiosity really.  Not sure if 62 series is the same.  If the OP doesn't particularly want all the cyclecomputer stuff, my recommendation is still the Etrex Vista HCx.
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2011, 01:30:51 pm »
The Garmin 60 doesn't have voice prompts. I know of no cycling or hiking GPS that does - you'd probably have to use a motorcycle satnav powered off an E-Werk if you want them.

For on the fly routes on a Garmin, I use what Frankie calls "assisted auto-routing".
I pan around the map putting waypoints on selected bits of road, create a route and add the waypoints to it in turn, then just follow the route using turn by turn prompts. Generally the waypoints are about 5 miles apart, in places selected so that the shortest route between waypoints avoids the roads I don't want to go on.
If you made a bad choice of waypoint and it tries to turn you onto a dual carriagway, you can just ignore the promted turn and it will recalculate the route. For this it's best if you have "no U-turns" set to stop it just telling you to go back to the turn you missed.
Selecting suitable waypoint locations is a matter of practice. Note that selecting the middle of a road ties down both ends into the route.
On tour, it takes about 15-20 minutes over morning coffee to set up a day's ride. It's also not difficult to change a route whilst you are out on the road. Just delete waypoints, create and add new ones into the route, and recalculate. I don't use routes on home ground.

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: Which GPS
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2011, 03:10:57 pm »
+1 to all that.  It's not a method I use often, but I have done a week of touring through France in this way, and it was just fine.  Usually I just stopped every 20km of so, zoomed the map out and scrolled it on a bit, and did a 'Go To' - repeat until teatime.  In open country I just use 'car' mode for this - 'bicycle' is not suitable - in large towns 'delivery' (if you have this option) works well, but not in open country where it is certain to lead you astray.

But expecting any GPS to give you a decent cycling route on the fly, for longer distances than this, is a mug's game.

The Garmin 60 doesn't have voice prompts. I know of no cycling or hiking GPS that does

Have you tried it with a speaker?  If not, it's something I'd really like to put to the test. Purely out of idle interest.

The Garmin Rino definitely does voice prompts (according to several review sites), and that is packaged the same as the 60, but has a built-in speaker (among other things) where the 60 just has audio output contacts.
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2011, 04:08:23 pm »
...........For on the fly routes on a Garmin, I use what Frankie calls "assisted auto-routing".
I pan around the map putting waypoints on selected bits of road, create a route and add the waypoints to it in turn, then just follow the route using turn by turn prompts. ....
Yes I can see how that would work fairly well. I tried it a couple of times on my Map60 but the problem I had, being crap at holding a mental "map overview" in my head, was that to compose my journey I found I was zooming in and out and when zooming out, all the minor roads disappeared from the screen quite early. I found it tricky and rather time consuming to compose a route that stuck to the lanes. Also, as I was faffing around doing this with companions who were waiting to be led on a ride I would get flustered and cock it up! So I always tried to have pre-plotted rides, where of course I could just use Tracks. When the Satmap came along with its OS maps that zoom smoothly from large to small scale, the whole "overview/detailed view" thing became much easier and I got into the habit of using the Satmap if there was any plotting on the fly to be done. Now the Garmin has OS mapping, it offers a very similar zooming/scaling experience to the Satmap albeit on a slightly smaller screen.


Panoramix

  • 50 61 6E 6F 72 61 6D 69 78
  • Suus cuique crepitus bene olet
    • Some routes
Re: Which GPS
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2011, 04:19:33 pm »
To confuse things further, I am going to suggest the Dakota 20. It does what you want except the voice prompts and I find it more user friendly than the Vista HCX. You can also backup profiles which is very useful to adapt your GPS to your needs (I have audax - commuting - geocaching)

Assisted routing as noted above is the way forward when you can't spend too much time planning a route.

Give it 1 or 2 years and OSM maps will be good enough everywhere in Europe.

YMMV

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2011, 07:01:11 pm »
The Garmin Rino definitely does voice prompts (according to several review sites), and that is packaged the same as the 60, but has a built-in speaker (among other things) where the 60 just has audio output contacts.
a different 60?
I was referring to the GPSMap 60CSx and range. There aren't any audio contacts I can see - just USB, serial/power and external aerial.

The Rino is a 2-way radio as well as GPS, so voice prompts would seem an obvious thing to put in.

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2011, 07:08:18 pm »
I tried it a couple of times on my Map60 but the problem I had, being crap at holding a mental "map overview" in my head, was that to compose my journey I found I was zooming in and out and when zooming out, all the minor roads disappeared from the screen quite early. I found it tricky and rather time consuming to compose a route that stuck to the lanes.

I would generally use a large scale paper map (1:250,000 - 1:400,000) to select where to put my waypoints. It is pretty difficult to do with just the road lines & zoom/pan

Re: Which GPS
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2011, 07:18:36 pm »
I had voice directions on a Nokia 6210 Navigator, the only times it malfunctioned was in the dead of a pitch black night in the middle of Hampshire, got to a Y junction and it sulked, did the same later at a staggered crossroads, needless to say I binned it.
     I shall have a look at these models web sites and try not to get to confused.     ;D
The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so sure of themselves, and wiser men so full of doubt.