Garmin announces GPSMAP 62 to replace 60CSx

Monday, June 7th, 2010

For the last few years, the Garmin 60CSx has been the GPS device of choice for many users; rugged, a decent viewable screen (without the touchscreen of the newer models it’s often easier to read in sunlight), and generally a good device, but things move on, and the new GPSMAP 62 brings a whole range of new technologies to this rugged range.

Although there are 3 models in the US, the top model includes  full US mapping, so may not be available in an equivalent in the UK, so let’s at least look at the two other models to see the spec:

“With a 2.6” sunlight-readable color display, up to 20 hours of battery life and a high-sensitivity GPS receiver and quad helix antenna for unparalleled reception (the GPS receiver features HotFix, which automatically calculates and stores critical satellite information and can use that information to quickly calculate a position), the GPSMAP 62 series features three distinct waterproof models to suit various activities and interests. The basic GPSMAP 62 includes a built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief. The GPSMAP 62s adds a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and wireless connectivity for sharing routes, tracks, waypoints and geocaches between other compatible Garmin handhelds. GPSMAP 62s also includes a barometric altimeter that tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude. Users can also plot barometric pressure over time, which can help keep an eye on changing weather conditions.”

It supports the full paperless geocaching options of other recent Garmin GPS, and the Garmin Custom Maps feature that’s also supported on the Garmin Colorado, Garmin Oregon and Garmin Dakota models.

Here’s a nice touch for existing users of other recent Garmin GPS devices; “The GPSMAP 62 series is made even more versatile through its universal mounting system that is compatible with the same accessories as Garmin’s Oregon, Dakota and Colorado products.”

The Garmin GPSMAP 62 should be available in July, although we don’t have any confirmed UK pricing yet (I’d expect it to fit in above the Garmin Dakota range, but less than the most expensive Garmin Oregon models).


Permalink

Garmin release another Forerunner device

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Garmin Forerunner 110

This isn’t a Top-of-the-range device, but equally nothing in the Forerunner range is poor (or many other of the Garmin ranges either for that matter), so this device shouldn’t be overlooked just because it’s not top spec. For a start, the Forerunner 110 will come in 3 colour combinations; Black/Red for men, Grey/Pink for women, and Black/Grey for unisex (although without heart rate support).

Quoting from the press release:

“Forerunner 110 is the ideal entry-level device for easily tracking progress and goals in exercise and training. In addition to displaying time and distance, Forerunner 110 shows pace in one of two ways, averaged out either over the current lap/mile (if auto-lap is enabled) or over the duration of the run. Runners wearing a Garmin heart rate monitor (included in some bundles or available separately) can monitor how hard they’re working while they exercise as Forerunner 110 displays current heart rate data and features heart rate-based calorie computation. Between workouts, the simplified menu system helps users review run data, change auto-lap, set an alarm or edit the user profile.

Water-resistant and slimmer than any other GPS-enabled fitness watch on the market, Forerunner 110 boasts a high-sensitivity SiRFstarIV GPS receiver with Garmin’s HotFix® technology to quickly acquire and sustain satellite reception, perfect for wooded trails under dense trees or in the urban canyons of skyscrapers.

Lasting up to 8 hours in GPS/training mode and up to three weeks in power-save mode, Forerunner 110 can be an everyday watch even on an off day of training.”

It’s being formally launched next month, and should be available soon after.


Permalink

Possible alternative to using Google Maps on Nokia

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Maps Booster

I’ve always liked Google Maps, not for the quality of the maps, nor the fact that everything is repeatedly downloaded (but at least the mapping is as up to date as possible), but because it does Cell ID and WiFi location as well as pure GPS location.  Towards the end of a long day, when the battery is starting to run out (or I am nervous it soon will), one nice option is to use Google Maps (instead of Ovi Maps), and my location will be pretty accurately found on the map without the need to enable the battery-draining GPS.

This single feature of having access to a rough location without needed to fire up (or wait for) the GPS has made Google Maps a shortcut on my Nokia homescreen, whereas Ovi Maps is simply left dormant in the main menu.  Well, could I have found a solution for this…?

Something I missed when it launched last year was that Skyhook Wireless (the company behind the Cell ID and WiFi location information on the iPhone) have released a little application called Maps Booster for Symbian.  What this does is add an additional positioning server option deep within the positioning subsystem of the Symbian OS, which, when turned on, will provide, through the standard positioning interface, a rough location to all GPS-aware apps (so Ovi Maps, but also things like Garmin’s SatNav software, or even third party apps).  Now, for most scenarios, I set Google Maps to work without enabling the GPS, and by configuring your Nokia device in the same way, you could, once Maps Booster is installed, do the same thing.  The only downside would be you would need to go deep into the Symbian menu structure to turn on the GPS (it’s easier to get to within Google Maps).

In terms of phones supported, it looks like most S60 3rd Edition FP1 and FP2 devices are supported, along with S60 5th Edition devices, including devices such as the Nokia E63, which doesn’t have a built in GPS, thereby providing a nice rough location service to this device in the same way Google Maps does.

Oh, and if you were wondering where it appears on the menu, on newer devices it’s Applications->Location->Positioning->Positioning Methods, whereas for elder devices it’s Tools->Settings->General->Positioning->Positioning Methods.

I’m looking to install this app, and see whether it allows me to convert from Google Maps to Ovi Maps.  However, as with all things, it’s not that easy…

  • Maps Booster can only be installed from the Ovi Store, and costs £3 (although that seems perfectly acceptable for the functionality)
  • Of course, that’s £3 per Symbian device due to the way the Ovi Store works (purchases are by device, not by user account)
  • Moving away from Google Maps will lose access to Google Latitude, and with Nokia’s FriendView service now shut down, Latitude is a well used feature on my phone.
  • There are rumours that there is a small incompatibility between the latest firmware on some Symbian devices and Maps Booster, which prevent it from appearing in the Positioning Method list, preventing it from working.  Ironically, that’s the same firmware that is needed to get the new free Ovi Maps working…
  • Also, don’t forget to keep a copy of the install file once downloaded from the Ovi Store, else you might end up paying again if you need to hard reset your device, although we understand the Ovi Store should offer you a re-download option for this software now.
  • Ironically, by enabling the feature, it can cause some minor problems with Google Maps, which doesn’t seem to like the “inaccurate” GPS positions; of course, leaving GPS turned on should produce a good solid fix in time (or leave the GPS option within Google Maps turned off, and then it will use it’s own database for the rough location).
  • Is Google Search actually better than the Ovi Maps search function, and hence apart from when I plan in advance, will I end up back with Google Maps anyway?
  • It’s been suggested it’s not best used when driving, where GPS support is really needed, as it has a delay on updating the position; however, it should excel whilst walking in cities (where the GPS may struggle due to tall buildings and where they are loads of WiFi networks to locate you).
  • Finally, it’s not clear how much data the app uses, and whether it has any local caching, or whether it always needs a data connection; if so, don’t forget to turn it off (along with so many other applications) when roaming, where, ironically, again, it could be the most useful…

If you head to Skyhook’s Coverage page here, and scroll across to the UK, you can see there are whole areas of the country which are pretty accurately mapped with Cell Towers and WiFi, which should ensure this software offers a nice alternative to GPS, especially when the dreaded battery is running out…

I’ll hopefully report back in a month or so and let you know how I get on (now, if only Nokia would give me free Ovi Maps navigation for my main everyday device)…


Permalink

More information on Garmin ecoRouteHD

Monday, January 11th, 2010

ecoRouteHD

Back in November, I covered some early information on the new Garmin Engine Diagnostic system (see here).  Well, Garmin have formally released more information about it, and I can now provide confirmation of my earlier article.

So, once you have performed a one time sync between your Garmin Nuvi and the unit above, the two devices will work wirelessly.  You simply plug the device into your OBD-II diagnostics socket, and mount it away from pedals and other switches, and it will then work without further intervention.

Garmin have said “Drivers also get more accurate ecoRoute data, making fuel conservation easier than ever, and they can monitor their engine data (including temperature, RPM, emissions) and diagnostics through the Trip Computer screen and customizable Gauges screen. Drivers can then view Diagnostic Trouble Codes – with on-screen descriptions of some error codes – and reset the “check engine” light. ecoRoute hd will be compatible with many current and future nüvi models, including 1260, 1370, 1390, 1490 and 1690.”

The list of diagnostic features includes:

  • Intake air temperature information
  • Coolant temperature data
  • Throttle position and engine load
  • Intake manifold pressure
  • Battery and charging system information
  • Mass airflow rate
  • Timing advance
  • Emissions

The device will be available in March 2010 in the US, and hopefully not long after in the UK.  A number of existing Nuvi units will be compatible with the ecoroute HD cable; to find out if your Nuvi will be compatible (although all existing units will need a software update to support the device), head off to www.garmin.com/ecoroute (although looking at the time of writing, it wasn’t clear whether all devices that have ever supported the ecoroute function will work, or whether the website simply hasn’t been fully updated yet!).

In a time of SatNavs becoming cheaper, something like this helps to differentiate Garmin from the competition…


Permalink

Garmin extend Oregon range further

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Garmin Oregon 450

Having already added the Garmin Oregon 500 and Garmin Oregon 550 to the original Garmin Oregon range (which added a camera into the GPS device), Garmin have now added the Garmin Oregon 450 into the range too.  In basic terms, the Garmin Oregon 450 offers the rest of the high spec features of the Oregon 5xx range, but doesn’t include the camera.

From the other point of view, compared to the Garmin Oregon 400, the 450 adds the following additional features:

  • High speed USB (for faster data transfers)
  • 2000 Waypoints (compared to 1000 on the 400)
  • 200 Routes (compared to 50 on the 400)
  • The tilt-compensated 3-axis compass (as featured on the 5xx, but not on the 4xx)

It also appears, in the US at least, that the 400 has now been replaced by the 450, so this is more of an upgrade than an additional model in the range, although both are likely to be on sale for a while as shops clear out their stocks of the elder unit.


Permalink

Garmin to offer Car Diagnostics…

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Garmin ecoRoute ESP Cable & Screenshot

Although possibly only for the US, Garmin are planning to release an ecoRoute ESP Cable, which allows you to connect a Bluetooth enabled Garmin Nuvi 1xxx device to your car’s OBD on board diagnostic connector to be able to display certain information, including:

  • Fuel and Intake Air Anformation (Fuel Flow, Intake Air Temperature, etc)
  • Coolant Temperature & Oil Pressure
  • Throttle Position
  • Combustion Mixture (Emissions)
  • Engine Component Operation & Status
  • Battery and Charging System Information
  • Climate Control Information (Heat & AC)
  • Drive Train Status and Condition

Interestingly, this is referred to as a cable, yet something that needs to be paired via Bluetooth, so it’s not clear exactly what it is, and how it works, (unless the cable is used between the device and the Nuvi as part of setting it up).   However, offering this information is an interesting new take on providing SatNav functionality, and something that we hope comes to the UK and other Nuvi models next year.  It looks like it will cost $150 in the US when it formally launches in the New Year, and there’s no word of UK availability (although there should be no reason why not).

Information courtesy of GPSCity [via Engadget]


Permalink

Garmin bring social networking to their SatNav range

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Garmin Nuvi 1690

This is the new Garmin nuvi 1690, which launched a few weeks back in the US, but has now been launched in the UK as well.  The important part of this device is the use of a built in mobile phone connection, allowing it to have a whole range of “connected” services, like those of the TomTom LIVE range.

Garmin are providing the following services over that connection:

  • Instant Traffic information
  • Speed Camera alerts (continually updated apparently)
  • Fuel prices
  • Ciao! Friend Finder (Garmin’s Social Networking application which also features on the nuviphone range)
  • Google Local Search and Telephone Directory
  • Flight Status
  • Weather Forecast
  • Currency Exchange
  • White Pages

There are also two other useful services in the range; Send To GPS allows you to “send” your route direct to your GPS, although we believe this will involve a direct connection between your PC and the SatNav unit.  The other is Panoramio, which will allow you to plan ahead and “conveniently go online to set your sat nav’s destination”.  Little detail exists about this function right now, and even on a UK specific page it mentions this service may not be available everywhere.

Garmin nuLink Traffic

As a device it features a whole raft of standard features; Bluetooth (for Hands Free phonecalls), Lane assistance, photo navigation, Where Am I?, ecoRoute fuel saving routes, and Park Position Recall.  Also, Garmin will preload the device with Pan European maps, and have stated that the online nuLink services will be available in 15 countries (not all services are available in all countries though), which is better than TomTom managed when they launched their LIVE services, which were limited to the country the device was obtained from.

For example, England (sic), France, Spain and Netherlands all offer all the services mentioned, whereas Italy and Belgium offer all but Fuel Prices, and Germany offers all except Fuel Prices, Safety Cameras and Ciao! location sharing.  Some services (although Garmin do not state which) are also available in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

In terms of Ciao!, Garmin have stated “Ciao!, is a patentpending social network application that links multiple location-centric social networks onto one application, Ciao! currently aggregates information from GyPSii and uLocate’s Buddy beacon social network services. Ciao! is expandable and additional social network partners are expected in the future.”

The device ships with 12 months nuLink services, and will cost €79 per year to renew (no UK pricing released yet); unfortunately Garmin also failed to provide any indicative pricing for the unit either, but this unit is likely to be the first of many well connected devices from Garmin, and appears to be a good move for Garmin, especially in the run up to Christmas.


Permalink

Garmin announce Dakota units

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Garmin Dakota 10

Last week Garmin announced two new touchscreen devices; the Garmin Dakota 10 and Garmin Dakota 20.  Mapomatic has the full details here, but to summarise some of their information:

They are smaller than the iconic Garmin eTrex units, and feature a 2.6″ touchscreen (compared to the 3″ screen on the Oregon models).  They will not come with built in mapping in the UK, but maps can be added (including the free Mapomatic UK OSM Map for Garmin).  The Dakota has 850 MB of internal memory, which can store up to 1,000 waypoints, 50 routes, 2,000 geocaches and an active tracklog of up to 10,000 points and 200 saved tracks.

The Garmin Dakota 20 adds even more features, including a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, a microSD card slot for increased mapping and memory storage, and wireless unit-to-unit connectivity for sharing your waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches wirelessly with compatible Dakota, Oregon, Colorado and Foretrex devices. Dakota 20’s 3-axis, tilt-compensated electronic compass shows your heading even when you’re standing still, without needing to hold it level.

Head over to Mapomatic to read the whole article, and also their recent article on new firmwares for Garmin Colorado and Garmin Oregon models here.


Permalink

Garmin release mandatory firmware update

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Garmin Nuvi 700

If you have a Garmin Nuvi 7×5, 800, 8×5, Zumo 660, GPSMAP 620 or GPSMAP 640 then before you do anything (including powering on your device), head to Garmin’s WebUpdater and apply the mandatory GPS firmware update (it’s already available for the 7×5 range, and the others should follow with some speed).  These devices may try to repeatedly update the GPS firmware, causing the unit to shut down, fail to start up, or fail to acquire GPS signals (the most common occurence).

If your device is failing to startup, things are a bit more complicated, and you’ll need to talk to Garmin about the possibility of needing to return your unit to them for fixing.


Permalink

VW and Garmin working together too

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

VW Nuvi Mount

We’ve covered a number of car manufacturers working with Garmin and TomTom to provide custom mounts, and now Volkswagen have announced plans to provide a VW-specific Garmin Nuvi 7×5 mount.  The Volkswagen “Click&Ride” solution is custom made and “tailored for all models” and will provide power to the Nuvi.  It will also integrate into the car’s audio system so that all information is broadcast through the stereo.

The “Click&Ride” solution includes the Nuvi itself, and features all the normal functions you would expect of a Garmin Nuvi model; lane assist, traffic information warning of roadworks and accidents, and will sit in the bottom left hand corner (LHD) or bottom right hand corner (RHD).

This looks a nice solution for those looking for a more integrated feel, but still want the power and flexibility of a portable SatNav unit.


Permalink