Daily deal – Navigon 2200T car GPS unit with free lifetime traffic – $130

My daily deal for today is for the Navigon 2200T traffic enabled GPS unit.

This device has a 3.5″ display and features text to speech, with street name pronunciation, the Navigon “reality view” highway direction system and auto day/night mode for adjusting the screen brightness.

Inside the Navigon 2200T is an FM traffic receiver, and you’ll receive free traffic updates for the life of the unit.

The package includes a windshield mount and a car charger cord.

The Navigon 2200T is on sale for $130 at Amazon.com, but the deal is part of their “lightning deals”, which means it’ll be over in about 3 hours (or if inventory runs out sooner). If Amazon sells out, you’ll also find it on sale at jr.com, who are actually the ones providing Amazon with their deal.

Product review – Garmin Oregon 400t rugged handheld GPS

Welcome to my product review of the Garmin Oregon 400t navigation unit. If you are reading this article expecting to learn all about the latest and greatest car GPS unit, I’m going to disappoint you.

The Oregon 400t is a handheld GPS receiver with a very strong focus on outdoor activities. For starters, the unit is waterproof, and comes in a very sleek and sturdy enclosure.

The unit has just one button – power. The rest of the controls are operated using its color touch screen display. Operating that display is a breeze, and each feature can be accessed by pressing a large icon – making it easy to use even when you are wearing gloves. Moving from screen to screen on the device is done by “swiping” your finger to the next set of options, much like on the Apple iPhone. The screen is anti-glare, and can easily be read in direct sunlight though you may need to adjust the backlight settings to get make it more readable.
Inside the Oregon 400t is much more than just a GPS receiver – it also contains an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter.

When you first go out to use the device, you select a profile – each profile sets the device up for the specific activity you have planned for the day. The 5 different activities are recreational, geocaching, automotive, marine and fitness.

The feature is pretty smart – when you select “geocaching”, the geocaching menu option appears on the main menu page, and “automotive” moves the “route planned” and trip computer to the first screen. Another smart feature is that the background image of the device changes, depending on which profile is selected.

The Oregon 400t comes complete with a 3D topographic map of the U.S. (or Europe on the EU version). The map detail includes things like parks, forests, points of interest and trails, making it perfect for active use. Thanks to the built in MicroSD card slot, you can add additional maps to the unit. Additional maps are available for other countries, as well as regular Garmin City Navigator navigation maps for turn by turn directions. In addition to these regular maps, the Oregon 400t can also be expanded with specialty maps, like the Garmin Lakemaster and Bluechart marine map products.

Maps on the device can be viewed in 2D or 3D, and update very fast, even when you are using it on a plane. To start navigating, you can have the device direct you towards recent locations, waypoints, tracks, points of interest, tides and geographic points. You’ll notice that it can’t direct you towards an address – the topographic maps don’t include that data.

Now, on to the unit itself; on the rear of the device is a locking clip for keeping the rear battery cover on place, behind the cover are the 2 AA batteries, and behind the batteries is the MicroSD card slot. The rear cover also has 2 grooves for attaching accessories. Included with the unit is a carabiner clip, and Garmin will also gladly sell you a car mount, belt clip, marine mount or bike mount.

On the bottom of the device is the interface port, which uses a generic MiniUSB connector. This allows you to connect the Oregon to your computer, a MiniUSB cable is included.

The list of features on the Oregon 400t is impressive. You’ll find everything from wireless exchange of data with other Oregon units, to Wherigo location based adventures.

What impressed me most on the Oregon 400t is its well designed interface. Everything is where it should be, and most screens can be customized to your liking. The unit also features several handy additional applications like a calculator, calendar, alarm clock and even an image viewer.

These three screen captures show some of the screens you’ll find on the unit. The left map is a 3D elevation map showing a plotted course (in this case, a 757 heading towards O’Hare airport). The middle image shows a 2D map and the right image is of the trip computer, showing just a couple of the variables the device can display. You’ll notice that we were traveling at 631 mph and were descending.

GPS reception on the Oregon 400t is absolutely fantastic. The unit grabs hold of the weakest GPS signal and has no problems getting a “fix” even indoors or inside a plane (which is a heck of a lot more fun than watching the Airshow).

All in all, the Oregon 400t is the best outdoor GPS unit I have ever tested. There is no denying that the $599 price tag will scare you a bit, but if you spend a good portion of your time outdoors, then this is one investment you may want to consider.

The unit can be expanded with a great variety of mounting options, as well as a Garmin heart rate monitor and bike cadence sensor. Several vendors have decent deals on the unit, including Amazon.com, who sell it for $509.

The Oregon line of GPS receivers comes in several different flavors, the 400t comes preloaded with US topographic maps, the 400c comes with the Garmin Bluechart maps and the 400i comes with a US Inland Lakes map. 2 slightly cheaper models come with Garmin base maps.

I’ve added a gallery with some more images of the product.


Daily deal – Garmin Nuvi 500 rugged outdoor GPS unit

My daily deal for today is for the Garmin Nuvi 500.

This rugged and waterproof GPS unit is pre-loaded with topographic and city maps of the continental United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

The 3.5″ display can be setup to assist with cycling, automotive, marine and pedestrian modes of getting around.

The device also features an SD card slot, a mini-USB connector for PC connectivity and can be expanded with a large variety of Garmin map products.

The Garmin Nuvi 500 usually retails for over $380, but you can currently pick one up from REI at just $289. If you select the REI “ship to store” option, you’ll get free shipping.

(Thanks N.H.)

When not to listen to your GPS unit

If I had to make up a fake statistic, I’d say that one in three cars currently has a GPS navigation system. In the past decade, these systems have gone from the ultimate in luxury to just another $100 gadget.

One thing that has not changed however, is the inability of some people to make up their own mind and drive around without using the GPS commands as something other than a mere suggestion.

Here are 5 incidents when a driver let the soothing voice of their GPS unit tell them exactly where to go; without thinking about their next move.

Turn right at the railroad crossing with the approaching train…

A grade crossing in Bedford Hills, NY was the scene of an accident where a driver took a GPS suggested turn, right onto the tracks of the Metro-North railroad.

When the car got stuck, the driver and passengers got out and called 911. Unfortunately, the dispatcher was not able to reach the oncoming train on time, and it struck the car. Nobody was injured but passengers in the train were delayed several hours. An exact same incident occurred earlier this year, also involving a GPS unit.

Via: LoHud.com news and Engadget.com

Road safety truck stuck…

This stuck truck would be just as hilarious as any other situation where a driver failed to check the height of his truck before driving under a bridge. But the truck in question was on its way to a seminar to teach school children some important lessons on road safety. It took a salvage company several hours to pull the truck from under the viaduct.

100ft cliffs on the road to Crackpot

I’m not sure what is funnier; that GPS units have been directing people on a route along the edge of a cliff, or that these people are on their way to a village called Crackpot. When drivers get stuck on the perilous route, they attempt to reverse their car along the edge of the cliff. Thankfully nobody has gone over the edge yet. Villagers are trying to get the route removed from GPS maps.

Source: BBC News

Turn left (if you are a bus)

The Dutch have a fantastic public transport system. Their roads are so bus friendly, that they actually make entire routes and shortcuts just for the bus drivers. So, let that be a lesson to anyone who is NOT driving a bus. This bus route has a hydraulic gate which opens and closes for the local bus, and is clearly strong enough to lift your poor Volvo in into the air.

Corner VS. truck – corner wins!

Residents of the Welsh village of Tycroes have tried everything to warn drivers about the dangers of Cwmferrws Road, but it took this stuck Polish truck driver to finally force the council to design a road sign telling truck drivers not to rely on their GPS units for navigating the village. The truck in question was stuck for hours, and kept hitting a garden wall in his attempts at getting his truck unstuck.

Product review – Lonely Planet guides for Nokia mobile phones

Earlier this week I posted the announcement of a new initiative by Lonely Planet and Nokia to bring the famous travel guides to GPS enabled Nokia phones. One of the big questions I had, is whether these new phone based guides could actually replace your trusty paper Lonely Planet.

So, in this review, I’m going to give you a closer look at how the Lonely Planet guides work, how they can help you find nearby recommended points of interest, and whether they really can help save some trees.

The Lonely Planet guides are part of a larger collection of guides available for Nokia Maps 2.0. Maps 2.0 is available on most recently released Nokia phones running the Symbian S60 operating system. To learn whether your phone runs Maps 2.0, check out the list on the Nokia site.

For the purpose of this review, I tested the Lonely Planet guides on a Nokia N78 smartphone. You’ll get a closer look at this phone in an upcoming review, but I can already reveal that it is absolutely perfect for travelers. It has outstanding battery life, 3G, GPS, Wi-Fi, an FM radio and FM transmitter as well as superb music/video support.

To download a guide to your phone, you simply open the Maps application, then point the phone to the “Extras” menu, then “Guides”. In this menu, you are presented with a list of all available countries to select. You can then see all the available guides for that country.

In my case, I have the Lonely Planet guides installed for Chicago and Honolulu. The guides vary in size, the Chicago guide is 172kB. Using the speedy 3G connection on the phone, I was able to download other guides in about 7 seconds.

%Gallery-30290%Each guide costs $13.95, but a trial is available. That trial is only valid for 10 minutes, after this (very limited) time, you will have to enter a license code. The license can be purchased directly on the phone using Visa, Master Card or American Express. The entire license activation process is handled on the phone, which is actually very convenient, especially if you suddenly need access to a guide away from home.

Now on to the guide itself. I’ll let you know right away; these guides are not the same as a “regular” Lonely Planet guidebook. The Chicago Lonely Planet guide for Nokia phones only covers a limited amount of information.

The “regular” Lonely Planet city guide for Chicago is 280 pages, it contains maps, event guides, history and culture, information on day trips and more. The Nokia Lonely Planet guide covers 75 attractions, 76 shopping destinations, 75 hotels, 74 restaurants and 11 “general” locations, mainly consulates and embassies.

So, does this make the guide useless? Certainly not! The information provided in the guide itself may be fairly limited, but the combination of this information, on a phone with GPS navigation really does prove to be quite powerful.

You can lookup Lonely Planet recommendations, read their description, and then add it to your “My Places” address book in the map application. The paper Lonely Planet guide is great if you are sitting on a bus, or in your hotel room, but if you are out and about, being able to lookup the things you want to do, and have your phone tell you exactly how to get there is fantastic.

When browsing the information, I did come across one very annoying issue; many of the phone numbers listed in the guides are not correctly displayed, making it impossible to call them from the maps application.

Each guide entry contains some basic information; the address, their phone number, website address and a brief description. Once you find an entry, you can:

  • show it on the map
  • navigate to it with the “walk to” or “drive to” option
  • add it to the “My Places” address book
  • add it to an existing route
  • show the details
  • call the listed phone number
  • browse to the listed web site address
  • send it another phone using Bluetooth or an MMS message

Final thoughts: It would have been a little more honest (in my opinion) if the press announcement by Lonely Planet had been more descriptive. The initial announcement made it sound like a complete city guide would be available for the phone, when in reality all you get is a list of locations. The price is fairly reasonable, but you do need to take into account the additional cost involved with using the navigation feature on a Nokia phone (starting at EUR70 per year for drive/walk turn by turn guidance in a local region). If you are traveling to multiple cities, you’ll also be spending $14 on each city, which can add up very quickly.

In the end, you need to ask yourself whether the convenience of easy access to Lonely Planet listings on your phone is worth $13.99. As a geek, I can certainly appreciate the ease of use, and the ability to plan a day in advance right on my handset, but if you are already carrying a Lonely Planet guide, you may want to spend that $14 on souvenirs and enter the address by hand, as I just don’t see the phone guides making the books obsolete. Another option you could consider, is the ability to purchase individual chapters from Lonely Planet guides, and download them in PDF format, ready for you to print.