Meet Earl... The Next Gen GPS?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by btao, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    With Earl's production hopefully happening this month, my hopes are high that it's everyone's everything, including my own... :deal

    www.meetearl.com

    Read up before posting: "What the heck is Earl?!?"

    With no real threads started, let's kick this one off for general discussion around how to utilize the GPS and location services of said device to be applied to Adventure Riding.

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    It, like everything is a compromise. Not much, really, but still. I wanted to replace a Garmin/GPS/Nav, Spot, MP3 player,and any other backcountry gadgets. It doesn't have a camera, but not a big deal as I hope to add a GoPro. It doesn't have a color screen, but has a highly efficient e-ink screen that can be read in direct sunlight on top of a motorcycle handlebar. It's a portable weather station, solar charger and emergency/2-way radio to boot. Oh yea, it's also a full fledged Android tablet with bluetooth, water/mud proof and lifetime warranty. :clap

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    My plan is to use any variety of GPX creator on a PC to create/edit/manage routes and use OSMAnd to import, route and navigate since they are the only ones I've found that forces the Nav to follow the GPX route without optimization. It also has a motorcycle routing feature I've yet to play with if you just want to go from say, Boise to Bangor.

    It's free, uses vector maps and should work real nice on a tablet, as long as the gray scale is easy to follow.

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    Has anyone looked at this as their next option? What are the communities feedback on how the Android options for GPS services compare? Any open source/android mapping tools to create GPX files that easily identify dirt roads? Any experience to share with e-ink tablets? Any general tablet experience with android GPS apps?

    Chime in! Ask a question, provide some feedback!.... :thumb
    #1
  2. ZEmann

    ZEmann want to be riding

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    I will forgo the 15% pre order discount and let others Be My Beta testers

    I hope it is a decent unit
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  3. Emoto

    Emoto Sure, why not?

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  4. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    The 15% also extends to any future purchases/accessories or upgrades.

    Sounds like they are going to work with the Beta testers/initial backers on upgrading any units as available. Details are fuzzy. But, they are going to be adding a low temp screen and possibly a color e-ink screen...
    #4
  5. steveWFL

    steveWFL Long timer

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    The market soon will be flooded with rugged tablets by the current makers with the $$$$ (apple, samsung, asus, sony, etc). Some makers will be making tablets to mil specs.

    I'd have to give much consideration to investing in a tablet start-up at this stage.
    #5
  6. CallMeBoog

    CallMeBoog hi functioning idiom

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    There are threads about this tablet, you just didn't look very hard.

    My 0.02 -

    At the end of the day this thing is huge. almost ipad huge - and that's not going to be attached to a handlebar while blasting through some single track, or even meandering down the highway - it's too big to be practical.

    It alludes to be able to do the same things that a SPOT does, but if you dig deeper the only way to call for help is to use the 2-way radio function...not gonna cut it where I am, and I wouldn't consider it unless it had some sort of cellular hardware, or satellite comm hardware like a SPOT.

    to me, it's not a GPS, but like they say, it's a 'backcountry tablet'. It's a ruggedized android tablet with a few extras like a windspeed sensor, and the radio function. I have an android tablet that will do most everything this will do with free apps.

    I'm actually in the market for a GPS right now, and looked at this thing quite seriously. I'm going with a Garmin handheld, as I think it's going to be more practical mounted on a handlebar.
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  7. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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    In equipment and LDT
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  8. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    I reviewed the information available in the "meet earl" site. It is quite interesting. I do see how this type of tablet may be the way to go eventually for routing and tracking. Garmin sees it that way as well, as shown by the Monterra, also an android based tablet.

    I do like the larger size of the Earl tablet, similar to the size of the info display on rally bikes. I can see it being setup high above the bike's dash and behind the windscreen (on bikes with windscreen).

    I see similarities between this and the Monterra. But Earl appears to be more comprehensive. Looking forward to the beta testers take on it. I'm a candidate for something like this in the future.

    I think the Monterra and the Earl are the future of navigation tools. The "GPS" as we know it will eventually become obsolete.
    #8
  9. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    Yeah, if Garmin would released the Monterra with Inmarsat Satellite Two-way Text Messaging x-ceviers I'd be very happy. That combo would be a very powerful Adventure device.
    #9
  10. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    I was reading up on the SAR aspects of Earl. Without satellite comm, and using the long distance 2-way capability, there's really few places that I would ever be that didn't have any emergency/fire/rescue/etc within that 20+mi distance as the crow flies. As you get farther away from civilization, those communications are even more readily used and relied upon because cell service is non-existant. The two way text is limited, but useful on the Spot, and there's been some mixed feedback on the instantaneousness of the SOS feature of Spot.

    The recent addition of an external antenna port expands this immensely. I think that was directly in response to this very question. If they added HAM then that would seal the deal as there's tons of public repeaters out there. Some for GMRS, but not all public. Still, a gas station is much more difficult to find in most places. If you get a nice long roll up antenna for heading out to the backcountry, then you should be good for extended range communications.

    I have hotspot and tethering on my phone, so anywhere there is service as you travel, you can transmit non-emergency data and communications via that route as well. I can even keep my phone charged up with Earl! Cool.
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  11. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    That's precisely my feeling on this. Having an Android tablet vs. and Android based tablet lends itself better to the expanding tech and software upgrades in the future, as far as I can see...

    They say you might be able to side-load on the Monterra, but we'll see how locked down it gets.

    Still, $699 for only the 100k maps is crazy expensive. They could at least have thrown some gorilla glass on there.

    I can get an Earl, with a sweet GoPro camera .... for less than a Monterra.
    #11
  12. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    The advantage of moving towards a weather proof and shock resistant case with an interactive display based on an open platform (a communications machine and an operating system) is that from there, the sky is the limit. Literally.
    #12
  13. ohgood

    ohgood Long timer

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    there are ruggedized phones with (oruxmaps, osmand, google maps, dualsportmaps, backcountrynavigator, sygic, etc) more options and already in your pocket ...


    I don't see the point of this really, with lower specs fewer options, and a way too high price.
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  14. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    No, not really. None that are any good anyway, and still function as a quality smart phone. I would, and many here would probably have one. The S4 Active is the only one that I'd buy that's waterproof, but that's not out yet or for Verizon, yet. Plus, you'll deal with the upgrade/subsidized nonsense if you just got another phone recently.

    I don't want one with a case, and I don't like iPhones which incipio makes a nice waterproof case for (and costs $100) While Otterboxes work, they are are obscene and huge. It's the largest band-aid available for solving the environmental abuse problem

    Also, don't forget this is a small tablet, not a pocketable phone, and derived from and designed for a different purpose...

    Can you elaborate on "with lower specs fewer options, and a way too high price."? I would argue the complete opposite... This has virtually everything you could want in a "backcountry tablet" and for less than half the price of a Garmin Monterra....
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  15. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    A lot of us don't WANT back country tablets. We just want a normal sized GPS.
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  16. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    I see...

    Well, they are planning to offer a smaller one in the future! Guess you'll have to wait...
    #16
  17. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    I think the EARL is a good addition to the "adventure" device category. But, if they actually make a follow-on unit, I would suggest loosing the FRS/GMRS radio as they are worthless in the really world when you have high cover and other than flat terrain. They certainly are not anything I would rely upon in an emergency. Cell phone is a civilization convenience. Satellite radio's on the other hand are a life saver. If they [EARL] are really keen on making a statement they would include an Inmarsat Two-way Text Messaging x-ceiver and an online-service a la the inReach.

    NOAA Weather (SAME) radio is fine but when you are really out there, well, you are really out there and "there" usually has no NOAA radio stations. But, it's good for the fringes of "out there". If you're going to be "out there" a lot, you might want to study up a bit on "weather" and how to read that Barometer and what it's telling you.

    B/W e-ink is going to limit you to a few map products as most maps these days are created for color displays. Color e-ink is not well tested in the real world - that would be outdoors in Cold, Heat, Bright Sun Light. The current level of Color e-Ink displays that I've seen are rather washed out when you get outdoors - about on par with most of the current crop of "rugged-smartphone" displays.

    I've spent some time with the Galaxy S4 Active and you don't want to be TO active with this device. It is not RUGGEDIZED! It does have an IP67 rating which means if the device is "placed" in 1 meter of water for up to 30min, it will not allow water past the seals. The back cover on the Active is so flimsy though that I wouldn't trust the Active to hold that seal even in my pock - much less from even a low level drop. Maybe if you put a thick Silicone-bumper-poly-case on it it would hold up a bit better but Samsung isn't going to warrant any issues with this phone that have anything to do with water or dropping (I read the warrantee). So, for now let's let the smartphone industry chew on "ruggedized" a bit.

    As for the Monterra, we'll have to wait just a bit longer to see what that device has to offer. It will be rugged and it will have a very good GPS platform knowing Garmin.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how EARL does in the world.
    #17
  18. ohgood

    ohgood Long timer

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    waterproof - att, verizon, smarttalk, tmo, orange, and sprint all have em

    upgrade / subsidized nonsense - completely agree, if someone is sucker enough to sign a contract for a phone, they're prolly sucker enough to think they have to buy the latest nav-tablet as soon as it comes out too.

    cases - well, if you don't mind tossing a $600 device down a rocky creek without any protection, that's fine, for you. I want some kind of enclosure, that snaps onto the bike.

    cases/huge- you're complaining about an iphone + case, as far as size, but a tablet sized device is ok ?

    lower specs - its black and white (so far, I think), doesn't have a camera, of bluetooth, or wifi hotspot, or bluetooth net sharin, or vpn, or hdmi, or dlna, or usb host mode, or agps (is that a feature, mm, sometimes), or can it call for hell, txt a gps cord, or in any way tell a buddy where you are, right now ?


    can I make a system image of the entire device, save it to a 32gb micro sd card, and pop into a store, or find a similar device on craigslist, dump the sdcard image to it, and be back exactly as before in 10 minutes like a phone ?

    intended purposes - yes, they have design stages, but the android phones intentiions leapfrogged the sleeping gps industries, cartwheeled over microsoft, and sucker punched the apple-as-best mindset like yesterdays tuna salad.

    you're right about price, I slipped. I've gotten used to replacing used phones with more used phones when they get dropped and smashed. $100 is typical replacement, good for 6months to 2 years (the pos I'm typing on now).
    #18
  19. btao

    btao RIP Lilolita

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    Here's the posted specs:

    Specifications: Android 4.1 • Flexible 6" E-ink screen (1024x768) • Sunlight viewable with lunar lantern mode • Glove friendly IR touchscreen • Waterproof shell • Kickstand • Solar charging • i.MX 6 DualLite 1GHz Cortex A9 • 1GB ram • 16GB memory + microSD • Wifi b/g/n • BT 4.0 • ANT+ • NFC • FRS/GMRS/MURS • GPS + GLONASS • Accelerometer • Gyroscope • Magnetometer • Temperature • Barometer • Humidity • Anemometer • AM/FM/SW/LW • IR blaster • 20+ hour battery • 3.5mm TRRS headphone/microphone jack • 20" usb lanyard • 303 grams (10.8 oz) • 183mm x 121mm x 15mm (7.2" x 4.75" x 0.6")

    The TRRS jack is the best waterproof connector out there and was chosen over the HDMI for robustness and IP. I think it was a wise choice. I've thrown out many chargers because the connectors wear out. I've owned many TRRS headphones and have yet to have one fail...
    #19
  20. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    Help me out here...what does the TRRS jack have to do with HDMI and Charging. Isn't it being used just for a Mic/Headphone combo?
    #20