Goodbye Garmin...

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by Brahma, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Brahma

    Brahma Been here awhile

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    I have owned Garmin GPS's since their first aviation unit, and had many other of their subsequent aviation units, as well as automotive, hand-held, and motorcycle units. I have owned other units as well from other manufacturers. One thing is clear- upgrades are expensive, and like everything else, the excitement lasts only until the next model release. In Garmin's case for motorcycle use, the excitement has lasted much shorter a time than with their other products. They have proven buggy and problematic, but still remain expensive. This has led me to go another route entirely; trying to have the same functionality while saving hundreds of dollars on yet another stand-alone Garmin unit. I have been waiting to replace an aging iPhone 4 with another phone, but needed it to be water resistant to handle motorcycle use. Enter the Samsung S4 Active. This is my experience with that phone so far in the quest to kick the Garmin habit.

    I've had a Samsung G4 Active (water-resistant) phone on my 2011 GS for one month, and it works very well for my needs. It cost a mere $150, is water-resistant enough for any rain storm, has a large screen to compete with a Garmin display, Bluetooth connectivity for my helmet Bluetooth system for communication, and ample storage capability. Touch screen sensitivity seems useable, even with gloves, even though a "glove" mode exists that I have yet to try. Screen brightness is useable when set to "auto" even with a smoke shield. In the brightest Florida sun, it does wash out slightly, but setting it to full brightness is not worth the effort or power use.

    The S4 is mounted on the optional bar mount, where formerly, a NAV IV mount from the previous owner was located. I removed the NAV IV mount and replaced that with a RAM X-Mount/bar mount combination. The X-Mount IS solid, and easy to mount/dismount the phone, but by virtue of design, has the ABILITY to slightly rotate off-center. However, on-road bumps have not yet forced rotation.

    I am using the "Co-Pilot Live Premium- USA" app ($9.99) for navigation. This allows downloading of maps and "offline" navigation which doesn't eat data time. The US map requires 1.2 GB. I opted for downloading regions instead. My understanding is that updates are quarterly. The program is feature-rich enough for routing, re-routing, waypoint storage and trip planning for my needs. Occasionally, the app, if left running, and the phone is switched to another app, then back to Co-Pilot, is buggy enough to not respond and must be forced to close, then re-opened. In use on the bike, this is of some concern, but has not yet proven to be an actual problem. Also of note, "offline" mode is not the default- one must disable data network usage within the app.

    I am using the 2 amp BurnsMoto USB connector for power/charging. While using the GPS, the Samsung S4 will still lose about 1.5% of charge per hour. I was warned of this, but dismissed it as inaccurate information because I knew the AC charger supplied with the phone was 2 amps. I have yet to measure the current while in use, but even with 1.5% an hour, leaves plenty of time for statewide use. Closing Co-Pilot which turns off the GPS, the phone shows a positive charge. As I don't use the GPS 100% of the time, even on IronButts, this isn't a crisis.

    So now I have kicked the Garmin habit fo motorcycles. I found an entirely capable, cheaper replacement that works with minor caveats.

    Goodbye Garmin.
    #1
  2. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    There is a GPS section for posts like this.

    Jim :brow
    #2
  3. bobbybob

    bobbybob Long timer

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    Interesting; my old Garmin 478 will probably give up the ghost someday soon. Can you create routes for the G4 Active like you can for the Garmin units?
    #3
  4. JetSpeed

    JetSpeed Naviator

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    I bought a Nav IV when I got my new GSW, it appeared to be a logical choice since the prep package was already on the bike.

    After two months and over 5000 miles all I can say is that it was the biggest waste of money I've ever heard of.
    GPS is slow, the screen is too dim, it won't hold zoom if you change screens (always defaults to .2 miles), the media player drops Bluetooth connection often and sounds shitty and Garmin's support is a joke.
    I normally do at least a little research before buying something like a GPS but in this case the prep package and my prior positive experience with much less expensive Garmin's prompted me to pull the trigger on the spot.

    When I ride the bike it's the only thing about it that I dislike.......and I do mean dislike immensely.
    #4
  5. Brahma

    Brahma Been here awhile

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    Yes.
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  6. bobbybob

    bobbybob Long timer

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    What app do you create routes with?
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  7. Brahma

    Brahma Been here awhile

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    Exactly. I've waited and waited cot the NAV V to come out and I began thinking of what an expensive piece of Junk the zumo I owned was. I bought it expressly for an Ironbutt ride and the @#$% thing died on the trip. Garmin sent me a new one AFTERWARD but 1,000 miles plus with a black, lifeless screen staring you in the face that cost nearly a grand will make you think.
    #7
  8. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    I use about anything (usually Microsoft Streets and Trips) to create a route, or at least waypoints. Then I use ITN converter to create about anything, including CoPilot TRP files.
    #8
  9. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    Well, my iPhone seems to be shitting the bed so I've got my eye on the S4 Active as a replacement.
    #9
  10. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    What's really sad is my old ZUMO 550 works so much better then the new ZUMO's. Garmin has seriously got "head up the ass" syndrome.
    #10
  11. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    You will likely find that the phone is only pulling 300ma or so from the charger. That is the default in case it thinks it is plugged into a PC USB port. Thus it doesn't operate AND charge. For Android phones to pull max current, the USB D+ and D- lines need to be shorted. My Samsung S3 and S4 both operate the GPS at full brightness AND charge the phone from a 1 amp charger if D+ and D- are shorted. They pull closer to 1 amp from the charger that way. Most chargers do NOT have the data line shorted as needed to pull max charge current.
    After modifying my charger, I get off the bike after using the GPS, and the phone is at 100% charge.
    #11
  12. acejones

    acejones Long timer

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    I fear the day when my 550 dies and I can't get a refurb.
    #12
  13. Emoto

    Emoto Sure, why not?

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    It is really a Zumo 660. There may be 660 threads here with tips for better operation. I'm not defending the unit, but maybe the more experienced users have found some workarounds that help.
    #13
  14. JetSpeed

    JetSpeed Naviator

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    That is good advice, I had already looked up the 660 and the only thing I can find are pages and pages of other owners with the same (and more) issues and not one solution, the general consensus is that the Nav IV/Zumo 600 units are the largest piles of shit on the market to be nice about it.

    The sad thing is that many of the problems could probably be fixed by Garmin engineers with a firmware update.
    #14
  15. JustRon

    JustRon ex-broadwayron

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    I really dislike my Montana (compared to Google maps on my 4.5 year old iphone), so I'm always looking for alternatives.
    This Samsung looks pretty cool, but I wouldn't trust the mount (I ride mostly off-road). If someone designs a more rugged mount, I might consider it... thanks for the heads-up.
    #15
  16. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    As a GPS-only, I think it's worth exploring the phones. But I would be a bit hesitant to use my sole phone as my GPS exposed like that. I mean, if it breaks for some reason, I will not only be out of a GPS, but I won't have a phone either.
    #16
  17. Thanantos

    Thanantos Ride hard.

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    Meh, I ride offroad and use my x-mount. It's rock solid. I guess if you were really concerned you could add a rubber band around it for safety sake, but having used it I don't see the need.

    This is a concern I can see, but with my otterbox defender case I'm not too worried. There are even stronger cases/pelican boxes you can buy, but if I was that worried about it I would grab a cheap Android phone off of craigslist, load the maps via wifi and use that.
    #17
  18. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    Good point. It was just something that I thought would have to be considered :)
    #18
  19. Bleemus

    Bleemus Long timer

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    Can you post a pic of your S4 Active in daylight? I think you may have convinced me.

    Just checked my AT&T account and I can upgrade for $199. Same price as an iPhone 5c. Hmmmm.
    #19
  20. BillyD

    BillyD Been here awhile

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    Garmin has already discontinued repair services for the 450 (not sure about the 550).

    Because I was being lazy, I was going to send them my 450 to have the damaged screen replaced last month (August 2013), but was informed that they no longer provide repairs on the 450.

    Fortunately, I had previously ordered a replacement touchscreen and LCD from Hong Kong and successfully replaced both last night.
    #20