GPS devices on flights? Maybe

Is it even possible to use a GPS device on a commercial aircraft? That’s the question being asked by many who would just like to see where they are from time to time, on a device they are familiar with.

“Of the 10 airlines who responded to my query, only two (Delta and Southwest Airlines) gave an outright yes about GPS devices being allowed during flights. Three (Continental, JetBlue and United) said it’s at the discretion of the pilot. The other five said no, but then added that the pilot may permit use. Those five include Alaska and American” says Ann Tatko-Peterson of the
Contra Costa Times.

So it might be worth a try, but will it even work? Most sources say yes which is good news for travelers who may have tried iPhone apps that vary by quality from good as in FlightTrackPro to bad for WindowSeat.

“It might be okay, depending on several factors. Remember, at all times you must obey crew member instructions. On some airlines it is in their policies to not allow GPS receivers to be used while onboard the aircraft. On other airlines there might not be a policy against it, in which case it is up to the crew. If they tell you not to use it, you don’t use it, end of story” says adding “Additionally, some GPS devices carry transmitters of some sort such as the Rino series from Garmin as well as Bluetooth GPS receivers. Since transmitter devices are not allowed on commercial flight this will also ground those types of GPS receivers from being used. In the end it is rare for all of the stars to align properly to allow the use of GPS onboard a commercial aircraft and I imagine it will only become more difficult with today’s security threats.”

Gadling has covered GPS gear for quite some time and noted the limitations of the technology before.

Our Kraig Becker found out “Despite some of these drawbacks to the use of a hand held GPS, they can be quite a powerful addition to anyone’s mandatory gear list. They are an excellent navigational tool, as long as the person using it is familiar with both the strengths and limitations of such a device. Finding our way in the backcountry has never been so easy, and we’re definitely safer than ever while on the trail.

Flickr photo by alvxyz

Croatia set to offer “world’s biggest welcome”

Croatia is about to extend the “world’s biggest welcome,” thanks to an industrious outdoor enthusiast and a bit of ingenious use of technology.

Earlier this week, adventurer Daniel Lacko set out on a pre-designed course that will see him traveling by foot, kayak, and bike along the Croatian coastline. The 1550+ mile long route will take him through remote backcountry, across open water, and up towering mountains. All the while he’ll be using a GPS device to track his progress, and record his path, which will spell out the word “Welcome” across the map of Croatia when he finished.

Daniel’s planned route will pass through some of the most stunning landscapes in his home country, including eight national parks, three nature preserves, and several other protected areas. He’ll also climb ten mountains and kayak or swim through 370 miles of water along the sea and six different rivers. In order for this project to succeed, he’ll need to strictly adhere to the prescribed path, no matter where it might take him

If all goes as planned, Lacko hopes to complete the journey and arrive in Dubrovnik by June 5th, which is World Environment Day. If he is successful, he’ll also be issuing one giant “welcome” to the rest of the world. Follow his progress on the World’s Biggest Welcome website and on the project’s Facebook page.

Croatia is quite the destination for adventure travelers. The fantastic landscapes offer plenty of great hiking and climbing opportunities and its numerous rivers, not to mention great coastline, make it popular for paddlers as well. it was because of all those things that we put it on our recent list of five great European adventure destinations.

GPS tracker recovers lost iPhone from home of Delta Airlines employee

When Kris Brown lost her iPhone at Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport, she probably assumed it was gone for good. Thankfully, her son remembered its GPS tracking feature and started locating the phone.

The location returned by the tracking service pointed to the home of Haiphong Le – an employee of Delta Airlines at the airport.

Local police got involved, and found his employee badge and determined that he had been working during the same time Ms. Brown lost her iPhone. He has now been cited for misdemeanor theft.

This is the second time Mr. Le has been involved with the police – in 2008, he was a suspect in a luggage theft, but no charges were filed.

To learn more about protecting your mobile phone and its data, check out these ten tips on mobile phone security.

Garminfone by T-Mobile: First look and mini-review

Announced just yesterday, and already in our hands – the new T-Mobile Garminfone. This is the second navigation/phone from Garmin, and their first device powered by Android. In this first look, we’ll show off the basics, but you’ll need to wait till next week for a full review.

The Garminfone features a 3.5″ capacitive multi-touch display (320×480 pixels), support for quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and dual band 3G (on WCDMA 2100 and 1700). Inside the Garminfone is 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 and a 3 megapixel auto-focus camera.
The Garminfone really is two devices in one – a full Android smartphone with browser, mail, market and more, as well as a premium navigation device with the “real” Garmin experience. By combining the two, you get interesting features like dynamic real-time traffic, weather, gas prices, local Google searches and more.

In addition to this, the phone also comes with the Garmin Voice Studio, which allows you to record your GPS voice prompts on the device – a first for any GPS unit.

I’ve only been playing with the Garminfone for an hour – but I’m actually quite impressed. I’ll fully admit (and apologize to Garmin about this) that I did not have very high hopes – their previous gps/phone was a bit of a dud, but I really do think they have a winner this time.

The phone feels snappy, the screen is crisp and the hardware feels really good (albeit a little slippery). Obviously, I’m a little biased due to my love of the Android platform, but Android feels quite at home on a navigation system. To help make the unit more vehicle friendly, Garmin completely redesigned the interface, with a variety of larger buttons.

On my first drive with the unit, it was able to navigate perfectly, as the unit clearly uses some of the same excellent routing logic found on the regular Garmin navigation systems. Maps move very smoothly and manage to keep up with the vehicle quite nicely.

The Garminfone package comes nice and complete – inside the box is an active dash/windshield mount, car charger, headset, USB cable and a 2GB MicroSD card.

There are one or two downsides – for some unknown reason, Garmin-Asus failed to put a regular headphone jack on the phone, opting for the same kind of MiniUSB plug used on HTC devices.

Then there is the price – at $199 (with a 2 year activation) this may appear to be a reasonable deal, but it puts it in the same price range as the Google Nexus One. And while the Nexus One may not be as good at navigating, it does provide more phone for the same price.

I’ll refrain from any real conclusions today, and reserve those for the full review. You’ll be able to order your own Garminfone in June. You can register to be notified of its availability at the T-Mobile Garminfone mini-site. In the meantime, enjoy these photos showing the unit and some of the applications.


New device will let you text, twitter from remote places

The Consumer Electronics Show has been going on in Las Vegas the past few days, with a host of new gadgets and gizmos being announced, including everything from new digital camera, ebook readers, and even 3D LCD TV’s. One product that was announced, and may be of interest to travelers heading to remote places on the planet, is the Earthmate PN-60w, a hand held GPS device from DeLorme and SPOT, that will allow adventurers to more effectively communicate from locations that are not covered by cell service.

The new device pairs one of DeLorme’s GPS units with SPOT’s next generation Satellite Communicator, to send custom message from the backcountry. The Earthmate wil have all the regular features you’d expect from a GPS, including base maps, in this case covering the entire world, navigation, electronic compass, and so on. But it will also wirelessly pair with the Communicator, allowing the user to type text messages and send them to friends and family back home via satellite.

For its part, the Satellite Communicator allows for adventure travelers to call for help, should the need arise, from nearly anywhere on the planet. It also lets the user to share tracking information and custom messages that can easily be interfaced with Twiter, Facebook,, and SPOT’s own

The Earthmate PN-60w will be available later this spring, but pricing, for the device and the communications service, have not yet been announced. If DeLorme and SPOT stay true to form however, you can expect global communications to become available and affordable for the average consumer.