Smartphone on handlebars - Combatting glare?

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by darryldale, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. darryldale

    darryldale Adventurer

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    So I've got some fancy new gps software loaded on the smartphone (samsung galaxy - android) and a ram mount to get it on the handlebars. Am going to use it for all my mp3 / gps needs.

    My only concern is glare. Anybody know of any anti-glare products out there that are half decent?
    #1
  2. JoeyBones

    JoeyBones Encouraging Entropy

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    Well at least there shouldn't be much glare when it's pouring down rain.

    :D
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  3. mrphotoman

    mrphotoman Long timer

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    i bought a waterproof mount on amazon for $30.

    you can also use a 2 cent ziploc bag if you are worried about the rain.


    there are many good armor screen protectors that are "semi" gloss that should reduce glare. I have never had a problem with glare though with my waterproof mount.
    #3
  4. Ricky Chuck

    Ricky Chuck Red Green Rulz!

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    Anything to report about how the phone is holding up in that ram mount? I'm a little leery of having my Amaze on the handlebars, being pummeled by the suspension action, etc, but have been thinking of attaching to the tank bag in some fashion.
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  5. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    The only real answer is to buy a phone with good reviews for outside visibility.

    There are a million ways to make a phone screen and the best outdoor screens don't look very good inside. These days most phones are a compromise leaning more towards indoor quality. My old iPod was actually easier to read in full sunlight than indoors... Wish they'd make a phone with that screen.

    Just try it out, and play with the mounting angle. My phone works great in most conditions, but never tried a Samsung.

    Some screen protectors will make it worse - especially matte antiglare ones. Matte anti glare works great indoors, but glossy anti glare is better for really bright light such as the sun.
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  6. FixerDave

    FixerDave KLR650 - XR200R

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    I bought a cheap Chinese Android/GPS tablet for this... made a handlebar mount for it (even rubber isolated for vibration) and wrapped it in food-wrap to protect from the rain.

    Food wrap worked for the rain - first ride of the year... ALWAYS rains on the first ride. :huh Always... must be some kind of curse.

    Glare from the food wrap made it impossible to see the screen, yes even in the rain. So, I peeled off the wrap... can sort of see the screen if I shield it, but basically useless.

    So, I prototyped a cardboard sun shield... yeah, I ride a KLR so I can get away with a cardboard box mounted on my handlebars. Helped, but still can't really see the screen while riding.

    Basically, I've given up. I used to have an old BW etrex legend mounted on my bars and that was great. Small screen, but a quick glance was all it took to see when that trail was coming up. My CyberNav has 4x the screen, strong backlight, and colour... forget it. It's the colour that makes it useless. I want my sunlight readable BW screen back. Lesson learned. I'll carry the CyberNav as a backup in my pocket. Maybe take it out when I want to browse around on the maps.

    Anyone know of a source of cheap old BW Garmin etrexs? Something with a map, preferably high-sensitivity receiver, and NO colour screen? I'd even consider a sunlight-readable BW Android tablet with a decent GPS chip, if that exists. I mean, there's probably some cheap piece of garbage BW LCD pocket navigator out there that everyone wrote off because the screen wasn't all fancy colours... and that I could build custom maps for. I'd love something like that...

    David...
    #6
  7. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    ^ ^ ^ that's where you went wrong. ^ ^ ^

    Good quality screens are not cheap.
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  8. FixerDave

    FixerDave KLR650 - XR200R

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    I've got a Nokia N810 (not cheap) with a colour screen that is actually visible in direct sunlight, but it's nowhere near as visible as any piece of junk BW reflective LCD display. I have a Garmin Dakota 20 with a colour display (had, it died) and while it was visible, it was not that good in direct sunlight either. And, yes, I was hoping for a little better with the CyberNav; you do get what you pay for. On the other hand, fully sunlight-readable black and white LCD screens are cheap. It's colour that causes all the problems/expense. I can read a dollar-store LCD watch in direct sunlight no problem, same with my BW Etrex Legend. I'm coming to the conclusion that the rush to colour in GPS devices was a mistake, at least for outdoor hike/bike applications. Yeah, colour can be useful in distinguishing objects, but only if that colour is clearly visible, and it's not when I need it. It was just too soon.

    Yes, there are new high-quality transflective colour screens that are clear and not washed out in direct sunlight. I've just not seen one yet and I'd probably be way too cheap to mount one on my handlebars anyway. That's not exactly a gadget-friendly environment. Mounting my Etrex Legend on the handlebar of my bike was a game-changer. It was great, though I did vibrate 2 of them to death over the years. I bought the Dakota as a replacement, but it never even made it to the bike (long story - died in Japan - still haven't got around to fixing it - not entirely happy with Garmin right now).

    Getting older, I'd really like a nice big (and cheap) 5" display instead of the tiny Etrex/Dakota but, as I've said, that experiment failed. I've still not decided where I'm heading but I'm actually considering paying the $100 to get one of the Etrexs fixed. Seems silly as they don't have the high-sensitivity receivers, but I really miss having a GPS I can easily see while riding. I just need something for a few years until the new stuff gets cheap enough to abuse.
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  9. worwig

    worwig Long timer

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    I've use a smartphone as a GPS for years on the handlebar. Even in light rain (behind a windshield) it is fine.
    For heavy rains of course I take it off or slip a bag over it.

    As for the glare, I tried once Samsung. It was crap. The GPS hardware by Samsung is weak. I have tried a number of them. And the AMOLED screen looks good indoor, but is poor in direct sunlight. The Super AMOLED is better. They also have issues with overheating trying to power the AMOLED display and charging at the same time.

    I use HTC LCD devices and they are a touch brighter outdoors, plus the GPS receivers are often better. I have a screen protector on that reduces glare and have no trouble in sunlight if angled right. My Garmin 276C is obviously a touch better, but I haven't used it in a year now.
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  10. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    Transflective displays are everywhere... old iPhones were transflectie, new iPhones are not. Your conclusions are wrong as well... the old transflective iPhone displays are cheaper and have slightly worse visibility in direct sunlight.

    I think you're oversimplifying the problem. Modern displays are extremely complicated.

    The reality is, nobody has ever been able to make a perfect display even when cost is ignored, they all have problems. Yes, we can make a watch that's perfectly visible outdoors. But even if you're happy with black and white, some of them need half a second to change from black to white - not going to cut it in a world where we expect to measure that in tens of thousands of a second.
    #10
  11. FixerDave

    FixerDave KLR650 - XR200R

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    After going for a ride today, I figured I owed the future searchers a follow-up on this.

    Yes, my original replies were rather, um, frustrated. I was not happy with how my 'solution' was working out and was unfairly venting and overly generalising. However, I've made a few modifications and things are working much better now.

    When running my first sun-shield, I was not happy with the results. The map was basically still unreadable. However, I did notice that a white box in the interface was more visible. So, I made myself some high-contrast maps and that turned out much, much better than I expected. I can see clearly now.

    I made custom maps with a white background and heavy thick black lines for roads. I stripped out most of the land cover shading, other than parks and whatnot that I'm not suppose to ride in anyway. The maps still have a bit of colour here and there, but they are mostly BW. With these maps, even in relatively high-glare situations, I can still see the roads and where I am on them. With the sun-shield, it's even better. I didn't expect these maps to be so much better than the standard green-forest, orange-road topo maps I was running at first. But, they are and I'm pleasantly surprised. Certainly in a better mood for posting.

    Thus, to answer the original post: the maps you choose will make a big difference in daylight visibility, likely more than any anti-glare screen protector or sun-shield. Yes, even a cheap Android tablet can make for a decent handlebar mounted GPS.

    For those curious, I built my custom maps from OSM data, through Osmosis to get my area, through Maperitive (where I set the colours and line thickness in a set of custom render-rules) to generate a tile set, to MOBAC to convert the generated tiles to Orux maps. Orux is an Android mapping app that I find very impressive. There are many, many options and it takes a bit of work to figure out how to make it useful. Default is not particularly useful for handlebar mounted dirtbiker GPS stuff, but the options can make it great. When I have time, I intend to do a write-up on the custom map process I worked out. When I do, I'll come back and post a link to it. But, right now, I'm having too much fun riding - and I even know where I'm going now :D

    David...
    #11