Category Archives: GPS

Update On TomTom GO 2535M Live 5” Widescreen GPS



On August 19th I posted about my experience with a TomTom GO 2535 Live 5” Widescreen GPS. After failure of a second unit, an update is in order.

To briefly recap, I had purchased it at a Best Buy store in Lincoln, Nebraska. After a little more than a week, the unit spontaneously rebooted and was then stuck in a rebooting loop. Nothing I could do would cause the unit to return to normal operation. I ended up exchanging it for an identical unit at a Best Buy store in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

I figured the problem was resolved. Unfortunately, the after I’d had the second unit for just under two weeks, it did the same thing as the first unit – it spontaneously rebooted and then was caught in the same rebooting loop. Since the unit only has a power button and no other controls, it is impossible to do anything to reset it. The GPS must be booted in order for a computer to recognize its USB presence, but the GPS reboots before it’s possible to do any manipulation to it with the TomTom computer software.

I ended up returning it to yet another Best Buy store for a full refund.

Therefore, the TomTom GO 2535M Live 5” Widescreen GPS is a fail. That’s unfortunate, because there is a lot to like about this GPS. However, with two units in a row suffering the same operating system failure going into a non-escapable rebooting loop, I cannot recommend it or any other TomTom product.


Magellan RoadMate 9055-LM Review



I have reviewed at least a dozen different GPS devices over the past 5 years, but have never reviewed a Magellan GPS. Immediately upon opening the box I could tell that the Magellan RoadMate 9055-LM was not your normal GPS. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the 7 inch touch screen that was at least 25% bigger than any GPS device I have used in the past.

Over the past several weeks I have used this GPS on trips to both Texas and New Mexico. It was very easy to setup (less than 5 minutes) and use straight our of the box. I was able to navigate the menu system with ease. The menu flow to input destination was very streamlined.

One of the features printed on the box, that did catch my attention was this GPS comes with lifetime map updates! Some of the other GPS units I have reviewed the map updates where often as much as a $100.00 per year.

One of the features I like to use while on travel is what I bill the attractions feature. I am always looking for places to stop and explore. The Magellan RoadMate 9055-LM did not let me down. This unit included a built-in AAA TourBook guide, that gives you ratings and descriptions on AAA-approved places to stay, play, dine, and more. This feature really set the unit apart from others I have tested.

I travel a great deal, and spend at least 1 week each month in a rental car, even though I travel the volume of phone calls I need to make do not diminish. Some rental cars have Bluetooth built in, and some don’t. It is always a pain to get them configured and usually delays my departure from the rental car location for 10-15 minutes, but now I do not have to be delayed as the 9055-LM has Hands free Bluetooth built in. It has an excellent microphone and of course the speaker works great.

Because this units screen size was so large, I was a little concerned in using it in a mid-sized car. My recommendation is that if you have a SUV or larger vehicle this GPS will be fine. For a mid sized car the screen was a little bit to big. But looking at other Magellan RoadMate series they have units with smaller screens with the same exact features.

One thing I hate about the GPS built into my Luxury Mazada CX9 is that it’s slow. My in car GPS seems it is always a street behind on it’s navigation. So I ran some head to head test with my cars built in GPS against the Magellan Roadmate. Not surprisingly the Magellan unit simply kicked my own in cars system butt!  Pretty sad but maybe the folks at Mazda should talk to the folks at Magellan.

This unit retails at $299.00 and is worth every penny and then some. I have only touched the surface on all of the available features but I can tell you that Magellan RoadMate GPS devices will be sitting on our car dashes.


TomTom GO 2535M Live 5” Widescreen GPS



I recently ended up purchasing a TomTom GO 2535M Live portable 5” widescreen GPS unit at a Best Buy store. With tax, the total price ended up being just under $300 dollars.

For the past 6 years or so, I’ve had a Garmin C550 with a 3.5” touch screen that is hard drive based. Since I drive a truck over-the-road, the Garmin has been running almost 24/7 for those six years, taking very high amounts of what can often be severe jolts and vibration along with occasional extreme heat and cold. I’ve paid to update the maps in the C550 about three times, but I’m reluctant to pay to update the maps again since I really don’t know how much useful life the hardware, particularly the unit’s hard drive, has left in it. For the time being, the aging Garmin is still working so I’m using it side-by-side with the new TomTom unit.

In my experience the perfect GPS unit has yet to be sold. Each brand has it’s strength and weaknesses. I’m including in this software-based solutions such as Google Navigation, Telenav, etc. that frequently comes bundled with Android or other smartphones. Maps used in GPS devices have improved dramatically, but they are accurate only about 90% of the time, and this includes Google itself. As a truck driver I’m looking for new addresses on average about two to three times a day, sometimes more and sometimes less. About 10% of the time I run into errors, sometimes with the potential to cause catastrophe – think narrow streets, weight-restricted bridges, etc.

Right after I bought the TomTom I had to go to a cold storage in Chicago, Illinois that the TomTom could not find, but the Garmin could. It turns out the street had been given two names with dual street signs, one below the other. The TomTom could find what was probably the original numbered street name, but not the other, which was a woman’s name the city was obviously trying to honor. At that point I was unhappy with the TomTom’s performance, but decided to continue to give it a longer chance before rushing into a knee-jerk judgment of the device or its software. The TomTom redeemed itself later that day by warning me around a 15-mile-long traffic backup in northern Indiana on I-65 which ended up saving me hours of sitting waiting for a major accident to be cleared and the road opened back up.

The TomTom is different than the Garmin. TomTom has a different way of doing things. The GO 2535M Live is a fairly sophisticated device. It even has a full-time GSM data connection to the TomTom server with the ability to do real-time Google searches, either locally or in other locations, get live traffic and weather updates, and do real-time rerouting to avoid traffic problems. Though the unit has free lifetime map updates from TomTom and a year’s worth of live “HD” traffic and weather updates, the live “HD” traffic and weather update service is just under $60 per year. Once you create an account at TomTom.Com you can sign in to your account with the unit itself. Incidentally, I’m willing to pay $60 dollars per year for accurate, up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information. That type of information can end up saving a lot of time and trouble as long as it’s presented as soon as it becomes available. The unit can even accurately display areas of traffic backups and slowdowns.

After I’d had the unit for about a week and a half, it was sitting on my dash and suddenly started going into a rebooting loop. Regardless of what I did, the unit would just keep rebooting. After a quick call to TomTom’s support number (I got right through to a live support person), they advised me to return the unit to Best Buy for an exchange since I was well within the 30-day exchange window. I’m pretty sure it must have been some sort of software/operating system error, since a few minutes before I had entered a new favorite location.

The replacement unit is working great. The TomTom rep gave me a reference number to call back with when I had the replacement unit so they could make the necessary changes to associate it with my existing account in their system, which I did.

There are much more expensive GPS units on the market (sold at truck stops) aimed specifically at truck drivers which look enticing, some of them priced up to 200% more than the units sold at a place like Best Buy or other big-box retailer. I talked to a driver that bought one of these very expensive trucker-specific GPS units. He said it was nice, but he didn’t feel the extra trucker-specific features were worth the substantially higher price he had to pay for the specialized unit.

It turns out feature I like the most so far is the ability to do Google searches in order to input destinations rather than go through the standard process. Other features I like are that that unit has enough room on its bright, high-resolution 5” widescreen to display my current speed, the current time with the time zone automatically updated, and speed limits with audible alerts if I’m going over the speed limit. It also has a lane assist feature which primarily warns if an upcoming exit is on the left or the right. Another useful, though not always consistent feature is that it can be set to announce upcoming points of interest such as rest areas and truck stops, along with virtually any other type of other business one can think of, including user-defined points of interest.

I am enjoying the TomTom GO 2535M Live. It’s not yet perfect, but with continued updates from the folks at TomTom I’m certain it can continue to improve.


Ford Introduces Live Operator for SYNC Users



Ford yesterday announced a new SYNC Services feature, “Operator Assist”, which lets drivers speak to a real person in order to help with enquiries such as business searches or address entry. It’s currently in beta and is being offered free to registered users of SYNC Services.

Operator Assist is voice activated and the new feature provides customers with the ability to safely connect with a live person who can quickly access information databases to help drivers get where they want to go. No additional hardware or software is needed and the driver (or passenger) simply says, “Operator” if he or she needs assistance with the automated system. After confirming the request, the individual is connected to a live operator for help in finding a business or entering an address. Directions can be sent directly to the vehicle’s navigation system or the business address and phone number can be texted to a mobile phone.

Taking the concept a step further, in the instance when a driver says an address or business that the automated system can’t identify, the driver will be offered the option to connect to a live operator for further assistance. If the user confirms he or she would like to speak with an operator, the system automatically connects the user to the live operator. This avoids the frustration that I think we’ve all encountered when we know where we want to go but the GPS doesn’t recognise the address.

Seventy percent of all SYNC Services calls are for business search and directions“, said David Gersabeck, product manager, SYNC Services. “Our customers asked for additional assistance in situations where their voice request was not understood…Being able to connect with a live person at any time contributes to that [assistance].


MotionX GPS Drive



MotionX-Drive I had purchased the MotionX GPS Drive awhile back but hadn’t had a chance to use it until this past weekend. I was traveling to Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati, OH and area that I am not familiar with. I was looking at GPS products and I remembered I had MotionX- Drive and decided to give it a try. Before I left home I set it up to take me from my home to the Holiday Inn I was staying at. It worked great and brought me straight to the hotel. In fact, the one case when I thought it was taking me in the wrong direction, I double checked it using Google Map and sure enough it was right. The one time when I was not paying attention and went pass the entrance I was supposed to use MotionX GPS quickly recalculated my route and got me on to the highway.

It is really good at finding local restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations and grocery stores. You can also enter addresses from your contacts or Facebook with without ever leaving the application. iTunes is integrated into it so when the directions are no longer needed MotionX gets out-of-the-way and iTunes starts playing. You can also share your location and eta through email with your friends. The voice guidance is free for 30 days and can be renewed for a monthly or yearly basis with an in-app purchase. The monthly rate is $3.00. The yearly rate is $19.99. The monthly purchase doesn’t renew automatically, so you can pay for it as you need it. The newest update added free traffic update, more custom voices and the ability to share on Facebook.  The only negatives thing I can say about MotionX GPS Drive is it does use a lot of battery life, so make sure you have a car charger if you plan to be traveling a long way. I am really glad I purchased this app, it was well worth the 99 cents I paid for it. if you are looking for a GPS application I would highly recommend giving MotionX GPS Drive a try.


MarineTraffic.com – Live Ships Map



MarineTraffic.com is a live map showing the location of shipping of 299 GT (gross tonnage) or over. Sounds boring but in fact it’s a totally awesome mashup of data. You can zoom into your local coast and see what’s pottering about or you can follow a ship in the news and see what’s happening to it.

Here’s what’s going on in the English Channel:

Here are the ships waiting to go through the Panama Canal.

You can also follow ships that are in the news. Here’s the MSC Opera which lost power in the Baltic and the tug Svitzer Trym in attendance. If you click on a ship you can get further details, including the speed and pictures of the vessel.

Finally, here’s one of the UK’s latest warships undergoing trials. HMS Dragon is a Type 45 destroyer.

There are additional clients for iPhone and Android users. And if you want to get notifications of what your favourite boats are doing, you can sign up for alerts and notifications.

Great resource if you want to see what’s going on, especially if you have a sea view and you want to know what’s floating past.


Magellan Partners with AAA, Upgrading GPS to Travel Guide



Looking back, the conversion of GPS from a military weapon to a ubiquitous consumer gadget is one of the defining technologies of the last twenty years and Magellan has been at the forefront of GPS technology since 1986, so it knows a thing or two about getting from A to B. Andy McCaskey gets some pointers on the direction of the GPS market from William Strand, Senior Product Manager for Magellan.

William demos the new Magellan RoadMate 9055, which is a tablet-style GPS with a 7″ screen, real-time traffic info and Bluetooth, a new generation of larger GPS units which go beyond just navigation and become travel guides. Magellan have exclusively partnered with AAA to include their TourBook guides in the RoadMate, giving ratings for places to visit, eat and stay. Available now for a penny shy of $300.

To finish, Andy and William discuss the relative merits of dedicated GPS devices versus GPS-enabled smartphones. Watch the video to find out what they think.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

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OnStar Available For Other Vehicles, Not Just GM



OnStar has been fitted to GM vehicles for 15 years now and has been a success from the start – there are now over 6 million subscribers worldwide. During this time, GM have often been asked to retrofit OnStar to other vehicles but that hasn’t been possible…until now. From this spring, the OnStar hardware will be available from Best Buy (and other retailers) for $299.  Installation by qualified professionals is recommended.

If you are not familiar with OnStar, it’s a safety, security and communication service all rolled together. One of the useful features is automatic crash response which will summon assistance if you are unfortunate enough to be in a crash. Let’s hope you never have to use it.

If you want to check if your car is suitable, whether it’s an Audi or Toyota, there will be list of approved vehicles at OnStar.com when it goes on sale.

Interview by Jeffery Powers from Geekazine.com.

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Where Are You & What’s Around You?



One of the most useful features/services of today’s smartphones is the ability to take advantage of the integrated GPS chip in combination with an always-on data connection, facilitating location-aware apps.

Priced at $1.99, “Allstays Truck & Travel” is an app that is available for Apple iOS and Google Android. It’s part of a larger suite of different types of location-aware mapping apps available at http://www.allstays.com/apps/.

The “Allstays Truck & Travel” app concentrates on showing locations for truck stops, truck scales, truck dealerships, truck washes, low clearance overpasses, Walmart locations, public rest areas and other places with truck parking.

The list of data points of interest seems reasonably complete, and the producer of the app seems to encourage as much user feedback as possible.

One potentially useful feature of the app is the ability to set up automatic alarms to give notification when one is within so many miles of an upcoming exit with specific types of favorited business.


Lost in Las Vegas?



If you are overwhelmed by CES and feeling a bit lost in Las Vegas then break out your trusty iPhone and download the free Audi Las Vegas Navigator from Navigon

Courtesy of Navigon and Audi, the Las Vegas Navigator provides precise turn-by-turn directions, lane guidance and helps find hotels, restaurants, airports and famous Vegas landmarks. It also connects with real-time information services such as Google Local Search, Weather Live and has in-app connections to Facebook and Twitter. Whether you are flying in, driving or on foot, the Navigator will give you the directions you need.

“CES visitors have tight schedules and need to get around the event quickly. Audi and Navigon have come together to guide them around Las Vegas stress-free and in style with a premium navigation app,” said Gerhard Mayr, vice-president worldwide mobile phones & new markets.

Using Navteq maps for Las Vegas and Nevada, the Audi Las Vegas Navigator converts your iPhone into a superb personal navigation device for simple route planning and then easy-to-follow guidance when you are on the road.  Other features include Reality View Pro which shows photo-realistic 3D views of the actual road, signs and exits; and Navigon MyRoutes which analyses driving habits, patterns and the current environment to provide up to three possible routes with ETA, distance and driving times for each of them.

So if you are at CES and need a bit of help getting around, the Audi Las Vegas Navigator by Navigon is available free from the App Store for a limited time.