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Tag: Garmin

Garmin VIRB Action Camera

Posted by Andrew at 9:56 PM on March 1, 2014

Garmin VIRBGarmin are well known for their satnavs and GPS-based devices but a new range of wearable action cameras were announced at this year’s CES. Todd chats to Maddy about the new cams.

Garmin’s VIRB range of action cameras are 1080p HD video cameras in a ruggedised and waterproof (IPX7) case, with a built-in 1.4″ display and around 3 hours of recording time. There’s full range of accessories and the VIRB camera comes with an industry mounts compatible adaptor so existing gear can be potentially re-used.

The basic VIRB is $299 and the VIRB Elite is $399. Available now.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Suzuki & Garmin Team Up For In-Dash Infotainment in 2013

Posted by AndrewH at 1:22 PM on April 3, 2012
Image Courtesy Garmin. A look at the new Garmin 6.1 inch     hi-res touchscreen to be featured in most American Suzuki 2013 vehicle models

Swiss satellite navigation device maker Garmin has teamed up with Japanese auto maker Suzuki to outfit most 2013 American model vehicles with a fairly robust infotainment system featuring a 6.1 inch hi-res touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, Pandora radio and, of course, GPS navigation (among other things).

“By leveraging our long-standing experience in developing navigation software, user interfaces and hardware design,” said Matt Munn, Garmin’s managing director automotive OEM, “we created an integrated system that is easy to use and makes driving more enjoyable.”

Garmin’s Suzuki system includes the following functionalities:

  • Media and music integration: Integrated AM/FM radio and CD player with interfaces allowing users to play from external devices such as a mobile phone or iPod, including a USB and AUX jack, Bluetooth and a SD card slot. Pandora supported, as well (via iOS smartphone).
  • Navigation: Premium road guidance with spoken turn-by-turn directions and street names; PhotoReal Junction View with lane guidance; speed limit and current speed displays, millions of points of interest, and more.
  • Full voice control: Users can control the system with voice commands, which helps reduce driver distraction.
  • Connected services: Real-time information, such astraffic, dynamic parking, weather and fuel prices, will be available through Garmin Smartphone Link (added to the system with an update after the initial launch).
  • Backup camera support: Backup camera displayed on the screen, giving drivers better view of what’s behind vehicle.
  • Hands-free Bluetooth: Integrated Bluetooth calling function

This partnership is being seen as a move that could boost both Suzuki and Garmin in different ways. Suzuki, like many auto makers, has seen a rough few years with sales figures tumbling with the auto market. For Garmin, this ain’t their first dance with auto makers, but it is the most versatile device they’ve put out so far – packing several features into one unit.

Either way, the in-car/in-dash infotainment industry is widely viewed as running full-steam ahead as the technology is gathering popularity with more consumers expecting it in higher-end vehicles.

Garmin DEZL 560LT Trucker’s GPS

Posted by tomwiles at 11:04 PM on September 7, 2011

GPS units have been around for several years and have made quite a heavy penetration into the automotive marketplace. It would be logical to assume a degree of maturity when it comes to GPS maps and operating system software on the units themselves. However, there is still quite a bit of room left for improvement.

GPS market saturation, combined with the sales of millions of Android and other smartphones that contain sophisticated GPS functionality have conspired to bite into the growth of stand-alone GPS unit sales, forcing a reduction in price along with a search for ways of adding value in order to justify and/or maintain higher price points. Thus, GPS manufacturers have created a market segment of specialty GPS units aimed specifically at truck drivers and the recreational vehicle market segments.

After trying and returning two faulty TomTom GO 2535M Live units, as well as trying and returning a Cobra 7750 Platinum trucker GPS unit, I’ve settled on a Garmin DEZL 560LT trucker GPS. The Garmin 560LT has a 5” pressure sensitive widescreen LCD display along with a number of features that attempt to tailor it toward commercial drivers.

From an operating system/software standpoint, the Garmin is solid. Also, the Garmin hardware build quality is quite good. The unit seems very solid and the pressure sensitive touchscreen works extremely well. The 5” widescreen LCD display is bright and colorful, remaining quite visible in bright daylight. It includes Bluetooth speaker/microphone functionality, along with the ability to display photos as well as function as a video display for a composite backup video camera.

Most of the trucker-specific features revolve around map and point-of-interest databases. As always, these databases continue to have holes in them. Although you can program in large/heavy vehicle types and sizes, the Garmin mapping software does not necessarily follow only truck routes when calculating routes. Garmin’s “out” on this point seems to be the fact that it makes a chime sound and pops up a specific on-screen icon when on a route that “truck accessibility information” is not known. When on secondary roads, this icon pops up a surprising amount of the time. It even pops up when driving on a fair number of freeway access ramps. This lack of “truck accessibility information” is quite perplexing, since the vast majority of these roads have been around for many, many years and therefore HAVE to be clearly well-known. The surprising thing is that these same roads that “truck accessibility information” isn’t available for have extensive speed limit information available. The Garmin unit is highly accurate in displaying the vast majority of speed limits on federal, state, and even on many county roads.

The other problem has to do with truck-specific point-of-interest databases that are included in the unit. These include truck stops, truck washes, truck repair shops, etc. Some of these facilities show up in the database, and some don’t. It can be quite maddening. Also another problem that has long plagued point-of-interest databases is inconsistent naming conventions. “T/A Truck Stop” may sometimes be entered into the database that way, or it might be “TA Truck Stop” or “TA Truckstop” or “TA Travel Plaza” or “Travel Centers of America”, etc., etc., etc. – you get the picture. When one tries to do a text search for the name of any business this inconsistency will almost immediately rear its ugly head.

Although the GPS certainly makes many things easier to find, it is not anywhere near a 100% foolproof solution. I frequently find myself having to search Google on my Android phone, which carries with it its own set of problems. Search Google for “truck wash” along with the name of a city and state and you are almost certainly going to come up with a bunch of listings for local car washes that have nothing whatsoever to do with offering washing services (specifically, refrigerated trailer wash-out services) for large commercial vehicles.

I like the Garmin DEZL 560LT and plan on keeping it. It’s a good hardware/software platform, and hopefully Garmin will continue to develop the updatable databases so that future updates contain more complete information.

My idea of the ideal trucker GPS would include the full-time data connection and “HD Traffic” of the TomTom GO Live, the solid, easy-to-use design of the Garmin, much more accurate truck-specific information concerning secondary roads, along with much better, more consistent point-of-interest information.

TomTom GO 2535M Live 5” Widescreen GPS

Posted by tomwiles at 1:23 PM on August 19, 2011

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.

Garmin Maze Adverts

Posted by Andrew at 7:13 AM on December 8, 2010

Garmin LogoGarmin have been running a series of poster and print adverts in Europe suggesting that we’re all too busy going from A to B that we miss the interesting things along the way.  The campaign was created by the advertising group Advico Young and Rubicam. It’s very cleverly done – if you can’t see what’s going on, move back from the screen.

Garmin Eiffel Tower

Garmin Colosseum

Garmin Tower Bridge

All pictures copyright Garmin and Advico Young & Rubicam.

Is it safe to go Home?

Posted by fogview at 2:36 PM on May 29, 2009

Garmin_gpsI love my GPS and use it whenever I’m going to a new place. Last night I had to go photograph a band at a small club in San Francisco so I programmed the address into my GPS. I also used it to get home since the one-way streets in San Francisco can be confusing at night. Like most users I have a place called Home in my GPS address book. Handy, but is that really safe?

There was story in the news a few months back about thieves breaking into cars at long-term airport parking lots and stealing GPS devices from the cars. The thieves know the owner is away and may even have observed the family leaving for a family vacation. What better time to break into a house when the family is on vacation. Even better, if there is a GPS in the car, there is a good chance it has a Home favorite that leads directly to the goodies.

The take-away here is to not have a Home favorite or entry in your GPS address book. All you need to do is change the name to something else: Bob’s home; Doctor; Church. (If you travel a lot the thief may wonder why you’re going to Church every other day if he/she looks through your GPS Recent/History entries.) If you really want to be really careful, don’t use your GPS to lead directly to your house, but some place close. I changed mine to a shopping center two miles from my house.

It’s also not a good idea to have anything left in your car that has your home address. I think it’s safe to block out your address on your car registration and proof of insurance forms. If you are ever questioned, you can say you did it for security reasons.

Technology is a great time-saver but you need to be careful. Be safe out there!

73’s, Tom