Ultra rugged Kyocera phones,GPS smartphones ..my guide

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by PDX Alamo, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    Kyocera Duraforce XD and Brigadier ( also called Duraforce)

    The $50 -$100 smartphone GPS solution,from left to right the Kyocera family Duraforce XD 5.7 inch screen , Kyocera Brigadier 4.7 inch screen , and Kyocera Torque ( obsolete old school)


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    Thickness of the Duraforce XD

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    Thickness of the Brigadier / Duraforce

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    Update **** XD, Duraforce Pro, and Brigadier, more on page 2

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    I'm a bit of a nerd on this stuff in case you were wondering why someone would put this much energy into something like this. I don't work for any of these people and have never gotten any free shit from anyone. I just was frustrated with Garmin so I spent entirely to much time finding something better.

    First and foremost , YES a GPS in a smart phone will work with out a cell signal and these do without a doubt because it has never been activated and therefore it lives in airplane mode 24/7, end of story.

    They all have a GPS chipset in them just like any GPS device and it has faster Satellite acquisition time than any dedicated GPS I have used. Everyone seems surprised by this for some reason, case closed no cell service needed. You do need "off line" maps but I'll get to that in a minute.

    Android has plenty of offline mapping programs that you can get for just a few bucks with unlimited free maps and it is way easier and cheaper than any Garmin. The Garmin Monterra is a giant crappy Android phone minus the phone. The map rendering and processor is way better and faster than even the Monterra. O yea all the maps for the entire world are free, downloadable on wifi, and routable after the $5 mapping app OSM AND.

    If you like your Garmin and are some fanboy of them keep on using it and stop reading because if you don't have the money, hate your Garmin, or looking for something else better read on. Shit if you think your Garmin is awesome get one of these for $50 as a back up. These Rugged Android phones cost $50 -$100 all day long on Ebay and I have two of them.

    You will find cheaper ones that are labeled BAD ESN or IMEI . A bad ESN/ IMEI means the carrier wont activate it due to someone who never paid their phone bill on it or failed to fulfill the contract obligation. In rare cases it could be because it was stolen but you can call the carrier to know for sure. Buying stolen crap= bad karma.

    You don't care about activating it so BAD ESN is fine. These devices are rated for extreme temperatures up to 140 degrees, dust and waterproof, shock and vibration resistant. I tested it on the AZBDR and UTBDR in temperatures up to 115 F / 46 C in the shade, extremely dusty conditions, 3 months driving through South America on a DR650 with days of constant rain, and some very rough testing; it has performed flawless. They both have a massive battery that will last all day using GPS its rated at 18 hours of talk time. You can also power it on the bike with a mini USB connector but of course that could be its biggest weak point. Still have your doubts, check out this video where they put it in a washing machine for 30 minutes, froze it in a block of ice, and dropped it from two story parking garage. Granted it's the older torque but Kyocera makes truly rugged phones.

    <iframe width="640" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


    I found it easier to create routes and upload tracks all with just a wifi connection using Pocket Earth pro on my iPhone . The Brigadier and Duraforce XD screens are larger with better resolution than most dedicated GPS. Not to mention it allows you to download maps on wifi, upload tracks via email, has a Ok'ish camera, play music, bluetooth, carry Kindle books, send emails, make skype calls, or surf the web. All this for around $50!

    The problem with smart phones such as the iPhone and others is the operating temperature. The iPhone is a waaay better phone/GPS hands down but it will shut itself down at around 97 degrees so even if you have a bomb proof case there is still the overheating in the sun problem. Not to mention your iPhone may cost up to $800 so you may not want to strap it to your bike in the event of a wreck.

    I also carry my iPhone as my actual phone and backup in case these guys give up the ghost. I watched guys on my South America trip hooking up their laptops to their $600 Garmin Monterra brick then getting pissed off because it wouldn't load the tracks or would create some different route. I remember those days wishing Garmin was as easy as google maps.

    These phones come with a comically small amount of internal memory so you will have to buy a micro SD card up to 32GB on the Brigadier or 64GB on the Duraforce XD. It wont take any higher but you will never need anymore than maybe 10 GB unless you pile on the music. Make sure you go into settings and tell it to put things on the SD card. If it gets full you can go through the apps and say move to SD card.

    Points of Interest, finding hotels, gas stations etc.

    I would roll into a town in wherever and pull over still listening to music from Spotify via bluetooth on the Brigadier or XD and I would open up my Kindle app on the Phone , look at Lonely planet book for places to stay then go to accommodations on in the OSMAND app find one from the list and click directions to . Never got off my bike and its all right there in front of me. Offline routing there and follow directions which sometimes It didn't understand one way streets but as soon as you went off route it rerouted you. You need this navigating town down there.

    Ok here is my setup,

    Mounting:

    It doesn't need a case and I have never used one since its pretty much bomb proof on its own but they do make one. I use a RAM mount with a RAM X-grip holder that lets me take it in and out with ease. You have to get the larger X-grip for the XD since it's a monster. It wont fall out even in some wrecks so far, its an impressive mount and you can swap out another phone if you want also so its double duty. I just take the phone off ( one second) and put it in my pocket when I am off the bike. Here is a video of a guy using it on a motocross track

    <iframe width="640" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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    Charging:

    This is a weakest point I see is the micro usb port as I assume it would let rain in on a ride. It has a protective rubber boot but I charge it up using a right or left angle micro USB ( reduce stress on the connection) when conditions are nice out , (no rain, not off road) but it has never been an issue since the battery last all day and then some. Granted the screen is off most of the time but the GPS is still on. I just wake it by hitting the top button which works fine with gloves while following tracks. You can also use voice directions and play music via bluetooth into your bluetooth helmet and you could leave it in your tank bag. If you like to leave your GPS on like its a TV using the battery only may not work but I leave the screen on in cites and when coming up to splits in the road but 98% of the time there is no need to have the display on.


    The Brigadier doesn't always work with gloves; the Duraforce XD does, even big winter gloves. I even have the GoPro app on it so I can use the wifi in the camera to frame shots and start and stop recording.

    This was the biggest downfall so far but when using the Brigadier as it worked on thin gloves but not thicker ones; following tracks its a been a non issue. Not handy while driving but again I usually map my route and don't need to even mess with the screen. Also on my trips in massive rainstorms the screen didn't work so great when getting hit with rain drops on the Brigadier but no issue on the XD.

    Mapping:

    First of all turn off screen lock when using it and Buy OSMAND off Google play, it seems to be the best for using pre made tracks, finding gas stations and hotels, or whatever. It also lets you download maps for every country for free right on the phone. Its ok/so so for on the fly routing but only for longer distances since you cant change the route it picks.

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    If you want to plug the address into the phone and have it route from your current location as most people are used to on your smart phone I recommend Sygic for everywhere, great in Europe. Sygic is not super cheap and they charge you for world maps but a great mapping program; unfortunately I have not found any way to import GPX tracks into it otherwise it would be ideal. Its a pretty slick interface. You can even drag your route by dropping additional pins to change it.

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    I have imported offroad tracks like BDR's and routes I made through South America into OSMAND and all worked flawless.

    I use Pocket earth Pro (Greatest mapping program out there) on my iPad and iPhone to create routes and email the GPX track. Pocket earth pro does super fast routing online then you can simply drag the route to other roads to change it, all super fast. Sometimes the phone won't open the GPX tracks directory into OSMAnd so you use a file explorer app and open them in the downloads folder directory .

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    Is it world capable as a phone ? Yea for the most part

    Verizon was the exclusive carrier for the Brigadier so they use a tower system that is for the most part exclusive to the USA and parts of China called CDMA the rest of the world and South America uses towers called GSM. I used the Brigadier in Europe with no issue but certain LTE bands are not built into the phone but for the most part it works fine overseas or down south as it has GSM bands in it. AT&T also carries the Duraforce which is the Brigadier except it doesn't have a sapphire crystal screen which is damn near scratch proof. The XD is through T-Mobile and AT&T and although GSM phones they also don't have European LTE bands built in.

    The new upgrade to the Brigadier / Duraforce is the Kyocera Durafrce Pro which had an action camera, higher resolution screen , works with gloves, in the rain, faster processor, and a sapphire crystal screen (Verizon version only) which is almost right about diamond strength, and it has a speaker on it that is 100 DB loud. The pro version is so new the prices are still pretty high so may not make sense.

    The Brigadier or Duraforce can be found one for $50 on Ebay and the bigger screen XD runs from $100 -$150.

    The XD is massive and weighs a bit more than a 1/2 pound but the giant screen and glove friendly display is very much worth the weight.

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    The Brigadier is just under a 1/2 pound but the smaller screen is a downer although it fits in your pocket easily.

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    I started out with the Torque which is featured in the first pic but it's so old and slow it's about useless now.

    So in summary both of these phones are solid GPS candidates and it comes down to screen size and what you want to spend. The Duraforce pro looks to be the best of everything but it's still pretty pricey and I haven't tested it out yet so if you got the bucks maybe give it a whirl.

    ************* UPDATE , Duraforce pro review compared to XD******

    Kyocera Duraforce Pro

    Well I have taken the jump to the Duraforce Pro from the XD for several reasons and here they are, keep in mind that having used the Pro the XD is poor in comparison but prior to I didn’t know any better so it was perfectly fine; everything is relative. Additionally when it comes to price being the determining factor they are all good but the Pro is the king of the hill if you got the cash.

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    Pro

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    XD

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    Screen size and resolution

    The screen resolution on the Pro is 1080 x 1920 pixels (~441 ppi pixel density) and the XD 720 x 1280 pixels (~258 ppi pixel density). In plain english the Pro is 58 % sharper and once you take into account the screen size of the XD it makes the screen look even worse. Imagine your old flat screen tv to a new 4k one. They both look great but when put side by side the 4k blows it away. When looking at them side by side the XD icons look almost blurry and fuzzy in comparison.

    Speaking of the screen the XD devotes a 1/4 inch of screen to the buttons on the bottom eliminating actual viewable area devoting it to physical buttons which in practice is a big negative to me. Not only does it reduce screen size when you want to go back in an app or go back to the home button with thick gloves the XD worked pretty good but not all the time. In practice the actual physical buttons on the Pro made my life much easier on the road as I don't need to waste time trying to get the touch screen to work at 80 mph.

    The XD screen looks fine but not when compared to the Pro, I will take a slightly smaller screen to higher resolution and physical buttons. The smaller size was also easier to put in my pocket when off the bike with the XD being a monster. Also the ability to use gloves on the Pro is much improved over the XD.

    [​IMG]

    Smart Lock / Security

    I discovered this on my last trip but turns out is on both phones or anyone running Android Lollipop 5.0. can set up the phone so when a trusted bluetooth device is connected to it the screen lock turns off. So if your running a Sena headset you can still have the lock screen on and not worry about your privacy if you lose your phone. When connected to your Sena the lock screen never interferes with using the phone on your ride. Look under Smart lock in the Lock Screen settings to set it up.

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    The Pro has a fingerprint sensor on the power button on the side, it works extremely well and no fiddling with finger position. The XD requires a PIN only which is not a big deal but the fingerprint it nice.


    Cameras

    No bones about it the 8mp XD camera is a joke when compared to todays technology. The Pro has a 13mp still camera and a separate wide angle action camera with image stabilization , modes such as underwater and underwater detection, time lapse, and a few more. In short it is a top notch video and still camera in comparison. It could replace a GoPro under some situations but not all due to its size and the mounting box shakes like crazy when attached to a motorcycle. Guess which one isn't the GoPro in this split screen test I made.

    <iframe src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

    The flimsy box that is the GoPro style mount is $50 and a total rip off.

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    In the end if your getting it for a GPS this is all gravy but why not have the option to take some good video and pictures. Sample videos using the pro below in regular and wide screen.

    <iframe src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe src="" width="640" height="480" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Pro photo

    [​IMG]

    XD

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    Programable key

    Both have the key but not sure if people are utilizing it. On the left side of both phones is a large button that can be programmed to open your mapping program, music app, or whatever you want. I have mine to open to OSMAND or Sygic so i can always return easily to the mapping program if need be without fiddling through a menu.

    [​IMG]

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    Memory and processor

    The Pro can take up to a 256 gb memory card and has 32gb built in with 3GB or RAM. The processor is also way snappier and draws and renders maps much quicker. That means when you swipe and move the map around you don't have to wait for it to catch up and draw the maps .

    The XD can take up to a 64 gb memory card and has 16gb built in with 2GB of RAM

    What does that really mean. Well more RAM is always better and the memory is not really a big deal since in most cases unless your shooting hours and hours of video you wont fill up it up but maybe on a long trip you could film for hours, carry a massive music collection, store all the offline maps of the world, or keep entire movies on it. You can buy a 64gb micro sd card for $20-$25 on Amazon.

    [​IMG]


    Sapphire shield screen on Verizon

    That about wraps it up, I recommend the Verizon version of the phone as it turns out you can put it in airplane mode and it wont turn off GPS. Some folks found that on AT&T it kills the GPS in airplane mode but there is a fix found by inmate ohgood, cut and past from his post.

    "OK, you want the maximum battery life and to disable the cellular antenna completely but still use the gps antenna?

    Open the phone (dialer app) and type this:
    *#*#info#*#*
    OR
    *#*#4636#*#*

    [​IMG]

    When you press the last * it will open this info section. If you scroll down a little you will see "turn off radio". Once you touch that , the cellular radio (and ONLY the cellular radio) is disabled. This will not effect any other antenna. You can turn off other antennas in the regular android settings."


    Most importantly the Verizon version has the sapphire screen, Ill try to scratch the shit out of it pushing down hard with a key, screwdriver, and Gerber Shard and nothing. Try that with another screen, video of the scratch test below.

    <iframe src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #1
  2. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    I'm just going to bow low, and point people to this thread from now on.

    go-back-gallery-for-take-a-bow-clipart-31cH8A-clipart.png
    #2
  3. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    Thank you fine sir , if the Kyocera folks would lose the port covers and just make the USB connections waterproof like Samsung all would be right with the world.
    #3
  4. ramjet

    ramjet Long timer

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    Left Ohgood speechless. Now that IS something. :lol3 I'm still wading through Locus and Furkot learning curves.
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  5. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    I scanned post #1 twice but didn't see the part about screen visibility in bright sunlight. Since you have an iPhone, I'd love to see your iPhone with the screen cranked all the way up with maybe Pocket Earth loaded in a side-by-side pic with the XD in full sun showing just a plain OsmAnd screen. Of course, since you're from Portland, I realize I might need to wait a few months for the sun to come out to take the pics.
    #5
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  6. gonefirefighting

    gonefirefighting Surrounded by Police

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    Just ordered the Pro, will be back to chime in soon.
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  7. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    I can tell you with the old school tourque it was sometimes an issue as you might be able to tell in the photo but never been an issue with either the Brigadier or the new XD. I can not think of a time it's been a problem And I've used it for lots of miles in varying conditions. The glove issue seems to be solved with the XD over the Brigadier.
    #7
  8. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    You get a used one on eBay ? I like the idea of the "action" camera and a real processor. The Verizon has a sapphire screen but the other ones are just regular gorilla glass or whatever.
    #8
  9. PineLaneRider

    PineLaneRider Been here awhile

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    I just got the new Kyocera DuraForce Pro with my Sprint service. This thing is a tank!

    I am a one device man and this one works well for everything. GPS, phone, camera, music. I have OsmAnd and Here WeGo (both free) installed as well as a couple free state maps, topo maps and USGS maps. OsmAnd works best for the pre-planned tracks (GPX). For general on-road navigation Here WeGo works very well. Turn by turn voice nav and all the bells. Both work offline. You can have Here go online if you like. I'm still a noob as far as tracks go, but have been using my phone for GPS forever.

    I can also verify the need for a good mount. Just yesterday my phone popped out of the mount and ended up hanging from the charging cord down by my front wheel. As I slowed down and in my fervor the retrieve the phone I drifted to the right and clipped the bank along the dirt road and had a nice slow motion, low speed, tip over. As I laid on the ground I noticed the phone was still connected to the cord and showing my track. Not a scratch. RIP Cee Bailey high touring windscreen...
    #9
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  10. gonefirefighting

    gonefirefighting Surrounded by Police

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    Ordered from verizon. sapphire screen, added it on to my account to give it a whirl, will be tough to beat my cat phone
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  11. RustyStuff

    RustyStuff Long timer

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    Sweet, This spring is new phone time. I'm going to seriously check out the pro.
    #11
  12. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Well, PDX Alamo, I'm gonna trust your judgement. Just bought the big XD off eBay. :thumb

    I've got a perfectly good Motorola Pure Android phone I'm using now but, of course, it's not ruggedized. And I've used my iPad Mini [LINK] but I just can't see it well enough with sunglasses on a sunny day (it's brilliant on cloudy days!) I think what really pushed me over the edge is that you can use the Duraforce with your gloves on. Kind of a big deal here in the Northwest where it can be 40 degrees when you break camp at 7am IN THE MIDDLE OF JUNE!

    Planning a 2-week trip in April where I'll put it through the torture test. If you see it listed in the FM in May, you'll know my opinion and yours did not agree. :shog

    On the other hand, if I really like it, you might see my Moto Pure in the FM!:happay
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  13. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    Well I hope you like it, I can't see using it as a phone but as a GPS it's fantastic. These are just my opinions so results may vary. Pretty cool setup on the iPad you have there , that's a pretty sweet setup.
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  14. chinook1

    chinook1 Adventurer

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    I just had to chime in, here, since I have been struggling with the same existential crisis; make a smartphone work, or drop $600 (!) on a dedicated moto gps?

    While I did not go the Kyocera of the OP (found an unlocked Galaxy S6 Active instead), his underlying premise is exactly where I ended up. Very well done PDX Alamo, thank you! I am pleased to hear that the built in gps function in the smart phone is not inferior to the dedicated units (maybe better, GASP!).

    One frustration for me is that my preferred off line mapping app is CoPilot GPS, because it has some good on the fly routing features (like drag and drop reroutes). Sadly, it relies on .trp files rather than .gpx. Every free route-creation site I've found (and liked) outputs to .gpx, which required a fussy step of conversion. My favorite was Rever (premium), and I have had a few conversations with those fellas about adding real time navigation to the app (they said someday). Anyway, I stumbled on Furkot, and discovered it will spit you out a .trp natively! Once you get used to the slightly cartoonish interface and (IMO) counterintuitive way of setting preferences, it's REALLY powerful for multi-day trip planning for any kind of non-singletrack ADV ride. It did take a few hours to figure out how to do off-road routing which you can use to route to closed roads, but the FIND drawer is really interesting and made finding and adding new-to-me roads and locations super quick. I did not end up using the hotel booking feature, but did find lunch and gas for each day of our 10-day July loop (I like to "adventure" with a full tank/ stomach).

    My $.02
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  15. lkraus

    lkraus Been here awhile

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    Avoid updating your CoPilot app if you like the drag-n-drop feature . The new version 10 replaces it with "route thru this point" which is much less user-friendly. Search engine is changed from Google to Yelp (many incorrect and missing results). Also has some bugs - custom POIs crash the app, pre-built routes are not found in the correct folder, detour avoidance is gone, etc. The web site instructions do not reflect the changes in operation. Support has been very poor - two weeks to even acknowledge a bug report, response was literally "don't worry" without any indication the problem would be fixed. Many unhappy users on the CoPilot forums.
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  16. woesten

    woesten Adventurer

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    I think finding an 810G spec tablet (mil spec for ruggedness a number of phones like these have) and running something that lets you see multiple apps (ex map and speedo) would be pretty cool:

    https://www.howtogeek.com/189345/ho...-multitasking-on-any-android-phone-or-tablet/

    I have a Trail Tech Vapor but don't really like it. I think it would be cool to hook up all its sensors (RPM, engine temp, speed) to an android, can't imagine its very hard. I bet an arduino could do it over bluetooth.
    #16
  17. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    you guys know this while

    I'm not poopooing the idea to have sensors... but i haven't had a speedometer in about seven years now. the only idiot light my drz has is for over temp, and it's only glowed red once when the fan was jammed with rocks from a glorious creek not crossing.
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  18. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    OsmAnd, Sygic, and the new Tomtom android app all show speed on the map. Additionally the tomtom app has a "windey road" option to route you thorough more interesting roads although it's hit and miss.
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  19. PTJCAL

    PTJCAL Adventurer

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    I would like to point out that locus maps pro allows you to literally build your own preferred dashboard (with speed, distance, compass, altitude,...) I'm very happy using this app. Not easy to learn in the beginning buy very rewarding in the end. Gets vector offline OSM and lots of other map types (including their own,) and imports / exports lots of formats including gps (standard and RTE markup files,) kml/kmz (Google,) from a file in your Android phone or a file in Google Drive or drop box.

    Unfortunately they don't interoperate (yet) with furkot directly... I still have to create my route export it into a file and import it into locus.

    There's a free version (which is very capable already,) and a pro version which seems very good price to me (about 10 euros? And less in sales time.)

    You can also create your routes on the fly with the app (with tts voice turn by turn directions) using the simplest, quickest and best interface I have seen.

    Hope it helps. Regards

    Ps. Of course I paid for the locus pro version (about 4 €) and it's the one I use more often. I also use OsmAnd + and Here with offline maps and tracks/routes created with Furkot and Google mymaps; and Waze and Google maps with online maps and point to point routes.
    #19
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  20. chinook1

    chinook1 Adventurer

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    Yeah, that did happen already, and there are some aspects of v10 I don't like, but I was able to figure out some of the layout changes. I didn't realize the v10 made more changes under the hood than just looks. I hadn't even tried to drag and drop the route, never thinking they would remove my favorite feature! Maybe I'll give OsmAnd+ a try...
    #20
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