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GPS Navigation Systems - Wayward With Waypoints! - Tech

Posted in Product Reviews on August 1, 2003
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Finding your way accurately through unfamiliar wilderness can be as simple as following a precise map on the display on your personal Global Positioning System (GPS). These devices use a satellite navigation system that was launched by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1978 and was declassified for civilian use in 1983. The navigation and handheld systems use state-of-the-art technology that can locate your position anywhere in the world. GPS receivers that use the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) can pinpoint your position within 3 meters, about 9 feet.

GPS Navigation Systems
These high-tech units show accurate and up-to-date street, trail, and topographical information. They also inform you of your heading, longitude and latitude, and mph. They also have the ability to mark waypoints for backtracking and future reference, to monitor and track other vehicles and people, or to simply guide you from one location to another. Additional GPS software is available for specific travel and sporting needs.

Listed below are some of the manufacturers of GPS devices and software that can help set you on the right course, keep you on course, and get you back again.

Delorme
Earthmate GPS Receiver: A high-performance, compact GPS receiver that's smaller than a business card and works with USB laptops, Pocket PCs, OS handheld computers, and Bluetooth enabled devices. Earthmate features include: 2 to 5 meter accuracy with included Street Atlas USA for the entire U.S.; flexible design enables use with DeLorme accessories including Bluetooth wireless docking station and PDAs; rapid real-time GPS signal updates, voice recognition technology; back-on-track routing; 4.2 million places of interest; SiRF FoliageLock for weak signal tracking; WAAS enabled; and excellent urban canyon performance.

Contact: DeLorme, Dept. 4WDSU, 2 DeLorme Dr., P.O. Box 298, Yarmouth, ME 04096, (800) 561-5105, www.delorme.com.

Garmin
Rino 110 and 120: Garmin has taken handheld GPS devices one step further and offers the ultimate in navigation and communication. These units are GPS-enabled devices for the Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) markets. These robust and waterproof two-way radios have the ability to beam your exact location to another Rino user within a 2 mile range with peer-to-peer position reporting. You can transmit your exact location to a friend, a family member, or a distant four-wheeler. This is a great feature to have in an emergency because it helps rescuers pinpoint your exact location. Model 110 offers standard FRS/GMRS features such as 220 channels, 38 squelch codes and external voice activation, and a 12-channel GPS receiver with WAAS. It also features extensive waypoint storage, TracBack technology, multiple positions formats, and a built-in trip computer. The Rino 120 has all the features of the 110 and adds a base map of North and South America, which includes major cities, highways, thoroughfares, rivers, lakes, rivers, lakes coastlines, state and national borders, and railways. The 120 has 8 megabytes of internal memory for downloadable cartography, providing topographic, bathymetric, and street-level information.

GPS V: This unit is a versatile handheld navigator that delivers automatic routing and detailed mapping with WAAS capability. The unit comes with the MapSource City Select CD, which gives you access to detailed street-level maps with locations of restaurants, hotels, and other services. Use the GPS V to look up a location and it will automatically calculate a route and guide you to your destination with turn-by-turn directions and audible beeps that alert you of upcoming turns. The display has the ability to be switched from horizontal for mounting on a vehicle dash to vertical for handheld use. Features include additional software for adventure, a portable antenna, a PC interface cable, an automotive mount, a 12-volt vehicle power adapter, a wrist strap owner's manual, and a quick start guide. Deluxe versions and additional software are available for your adventures.

Contact: Garmin International Inc., Dept. 4WDSU, 1200 E. 151st St., Olathe, KS 66062, (913) 397-8200, www.garmin.com.

Magellan
Meridian Color: This handheld GPS receiver will present all your positioning and navigation information in full color. The Meridian color offers WAAS tracking accuracy with an extensive 16 MB, built-in mapping database that provides an easy way to view your location, heading, and route on a large, high-contrast, high-color 120x160 pixel display. The Meridian Color is rugged enough to handle any adventure and is designed to get you where you are going. The devise will pinpoint your location by tracking as many as 12 GPS satellites simultaneously, and it's accurate to within 3 meters. The unit is easy-to-use, with nine customized graphic navigation displays showing a map, a compass, a speedometer, and text readouts of heading, bearing, speed, direction, ETA, and more. The Meridian can store as many as 20 routes, 500 waypoints, and 2,000 track points to help you find your way back again. This GPS unit also features Save-to-Route, NorthFinder, Sun/Moon positions, and satellite status.

750M: The Magellan 750M can help guide you to your destination quickly, reliably, and safely. The unit features turn-by-turn directions, friendly voice prompting, a large, easy-to-use display and function panel, and detailed color mapping; it also recalculates your route when you decide to take a detour. Mapping for this navigation system includes the entire U.S. and Canada, route exclusion, off-road navigation, QuickSpell, auto reroute, points of interest, an address book, and more features for your 'wheeling travels.

Contact: Magellan, Dept. 4WDSU, 960 Overland Ct., San Dimas, CA 91773, (800) 707-9971, www.magellan.com.

Navman ICN 630: This powerful and easy-to-use in-vehicle navigation system provides everything needed while driving across the country, around town, or out on the trail. The system features a complete navigation system with a mobile 12-channel GPS receiver, navigation software, vehicle mounting brackets, a vehicle power adapter, a power pack, a USB cable for map and application downloading from a PC, a carry case, a guide, a CD-ROM user manual, and Adobe Acrobat Reader. The navigation solution is ideal for in-vehicle operation and includes route planning with Back-on-Track rerouting, on-the-fly routing, and voice and visual instructions with fully automatic operation when driving. The easy-to-use interface has large, accessible icons, easy-to-read maps, voice and visual navigation commands, access to maps in memory, ETA, distance to go, time to go, and mph is automatically calculated. The display is an advanced automotive-rated color screen with 320x240 resolution and as many as 260,000 colors displayed.

GPS 3420: A convenient and easy-to-use personal navigation solution for use with iPAC pocket PCs. It features a mobile 12-channel GPS sleeve with a built-in type II CompactFlash slot, NAVTECH U.S. map data, a mounting bracket with a windshield suction cup, a Quadrfiler helix antenna (multi-directional), a vehicle power adapter, route planning with Back-on-Track rerouting, voice and visual route instructions, fully automatic operation when driving, easy-to-read maps, ETA, distance to go, time to go, and mph. This system is ideal for in-car driving or handheld operation.

Contact: Navman USA Inc., Dept. 4WDSU, 18 Pine St., Nashua, NH 03060, (866) 628-6261, www.navmanusa.com

Pharos Pharos Bluetooth GPS Navigator Kit: A navigation solution for Bluetooth enabled pocket PCs. The system includes a GPS receiver and a Bluetooth dock with a built-in Bluetooth transceiver for wireless communication with a mobile device, without cables. Simply place the iGPS-BT receiver on the dashboard and receive accurate GPS data on your Bluetooth-enabled Pocket PC to navigate you to your destination. Pharos Ostia navigation and routing software will navigate you to your destination turn-by-turn. The kit includes an iGPS receiver, an iGPS-BT dock with Li-Polymer battery, an AC battery charger, Ostia software and U.S. maps, a car charger, and a vent-mounted PDA holder. The system will allow you to calculate a new route when off-course and locate any address or intersection within the map area.

Contact: Pharos Science & Applications Inc., Dept. 4WDSU, 411 Amapola Ave.,Torrance, CA 90501, (310) 212-7088, www.pharosgps.com.

Powerloc Destinator: For use with a pocket notebook PC, it's a powerful, full-featured personal GPS navigation system. The Destinator is capable of identifying the precise geographic location and accurately positioning the user's location on a high-resolution interactive rotating map. It will show you the quickest and shortest route to any location. The unit features the latest version of NAVTECH's map data for North America and Europe, with full coverage map data available for most regions. The unique 3D navigation system offers a built-in NMEA protocol support, which allows use of a wide variety of GPS devices.

Contact: PowerLOC Technologies Inc., Dept. 4WDSU, 30 Leek Crescent, Ste. 103, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada L4B 4N4,(905) 764-3701, www.powerloc.com.

Pretec CampactGPS-LP: For use with Pocket PCs, this ultra-low power consumption GPS card uses eight parallel satellite-tracking channels for fast position acquisition and reacquisition. The unit also features enhanced algorithms that provide excellent tracking performance in urban, canyon, and foliage environments. It offers maximum navigation accuracy achievable with Standard Positioning Service (SPS), and it meets rigid shock and vibration standards. It also features an automatic altitude hold mode from three-dimensional and two-dimensional navigation and a built-in antenna.

Contact: Pretec Electronics Corp., Dept. 4WDSU, 40979 Encyclopedia Cr., Fremont, CA 94538, (510) 440-0535, www.pretec.com.

Delorme Topo USA 4.0: This new software provides topographic and street-level maps for the entire U.S. in one product. With its detailed topographic maps of the U.S. combined with extensive road data, Topo USA 4.0 is ideal for off-road and highway navigation, as well as for hiking, biking, camping, and outdoor exploring. This version features split-screen design, 3-D GPS tracking, create-your-own routable trails, and access to DeLorme's color satellite imagery. Topo 4.0 shows incredible detail including elevation contours, mountains, hills, waterways, and much more. The digital topographical mapping also shows more than 6 million miles of roads and 300,000 miles of trails in 2-D and 3-D views.

National Geographic TOPO!: This topographical software provides seamless statewide coverage and user-friendly functionality to make it easy to design and print custom topographical maps. Each TOPO! product features high-resolution scans of USGS topographical information with 3-D digital shading to enhance land features such as ridges, mountains, and valleys. Over 50,000 USGS quad maps were scanned to print quality resolution to complete the 50 state mapping. These products allow the user to scroll seamlessly from map to map, create elevation profiles, connect to GPS receiver, and add layers of custom information to the USGS base map. TOPO! Runs on Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, ME, and XP. It is available for all 50 states, creates routes and waypoints that can be upload to a GPS, allows for zooming and panning across the entire state or region, and includes multiple scales. In addition, high-resolution 1:24,000 maps are available, enhanced shading can be toggled on or off, and you can add up-to-date overlays from the National Geographic Map Exchange Web site.

Adventure Paper: National Geographic Adventure Paper enables you to print waterproof, tear-resistant maps at home. Adventure Paper is designed for inkjet printers and lets you print custom maps from your TOPO! software that can withstand harsh outdoor environments. Available sizes: 8.5x11, 8.5x14, 11x17, and sheets.

Contact: National Geographic Maps, Dept. 4WDSU, 375 Alabama St., Ste. 400, San Francisco, CA 94110, (415) 558-8700, www.nationalgeographic.com/topo.

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