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Are GPSs dumbing down?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by abruzzi, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    You're absolutely right, and for that matter, the ratio is probably much, much higher of those uninterested in "technical" features than those who are.

    Again, I agree. Garmin is in the business of making a product to suit as many as possible. Adding some obscure and arguably useless feature costs them money and profit. I think some lose sight of that fact.

    Maybe some earlier product releases had a feature, before Garmin was able to figure out their target market/audience.
    #21
  2. mnd

    mnd Long timer

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    Nuvi 205:

    [​IMG]
    (not my pic)
    #22
  3. abruzzi

    abruzzi Long timer

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    As the full of myself person that started this this thread, I not asking for all Nüvis to be fire breathing geek machines, just one. Let's have one product that caters to the geeks in the market. Ever wonder why the Nüvis sell for nothing on clearance, and used 276/376/476s command close to retail on eBay?

    Geof
    #23
  4. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    Features are just firmware, that do have development cost but no recurring cost. Virtually all the features people want have already been developed in other priducts (hand helds). These features are not obvious in the as shipped unit suitable for the dumbdown market.

    As stated in other threads, the dumbdown market will be satisfied by their smart phone. If that is the case then the stand along GPS should go back to a high tech unit with lots of user selected featurres like user setting of all data items, full track features in all units.
    #24
  5. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    There's documentation to consider as well, and technical support is certainly a recurring cost.

    Not being intimately familiar with the CPUs and chipsets in use at Garmin, I am not even sure if code is shared between the Nuvi and the Oregon, for example. A lot of this discussion of what Garmin firmware engineers are capable of is conjecture at best. Code sharing would make the most sense, but there's no guarantee of it.

    There was so much worry that the smartphone with built-in navigation was going to eat Garmin's lunch, but that hasn't happened. Garmin has kept pace and added features (larger screens, for example) that what the average smartphone + navigation app has not been able to provide.
    #25
  6. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    As a software developer who works in this industry 40+ hours per week, I can assure you: development is a recurring cost. Every feature you add, makes it more difficult to work on every other feature.

    Having features that are not used by many of your customers is prohibitively expensive. I think there's a fairly good argument that a GPS for a geek and a GPS for their mum and dad should not be created by the same company. It's really hard to do both, even if they're separate product lines.
    #26
  7. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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    Features are not just firmware. Features take up system memory and can use up processor throughput, too. And of course there is development, testing, and then compatibility testing when new updates are released, etc.

    So not adding or retaining what the producer views as little used functions/features saves them money, which allows them to come in at a lower price point.

    I don't necessarily like it, but i do understand it. Thankfully, there are old functioning units out there that will do what I want, and some of the new ones are getting to the point of making that happen, too.

    But in the intereim? I'm sticking with what I have.
    #27
  8. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    You are joking I presume?

    Obviously "development" is a fixed cost not a recurring cost. If you end up manufacturing zero units it does not reduce your development cost, IT IS FIXED.
    #28
  9. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    I'm not joking. It is not a fixed cost, because any development you do now will make all future development more difficult. The more complicated the product becomes, the more difficult it is to implement otherwise simple features.

    So, for a company like garmin who has a full time development team (we hope!), any feature they choose to develop will is an ongoing cost that will slow down everything their team of developers ever does going forwards.

    Sure, if you hire a company like the one I work for to build one thing, we will charge you an upfront fee and never charge again, unless you want more features. But the price of those features is dependent on what is already in place. If your product started off really simple, and we're adding one more thing, then it'll be a quick (and cheap) job. If your product is complicated with lots of features, then adding another small feature will be slow (and expensive).

    Look at Nokia for example, with it's complicated phone software. They're about to abandon their entire software stack, because they're getting their ass handed to them by Apple, who a much better designed system with only the features it actually needs, and nothing more. Nokia's income from 130,000 employees: 2 billion euros. Apple's income, 58,000 employees: 18 billion US dollars. The biggest difference if you ask me, is Apple's management team knows to cut out features that nobody uses, because that kills development productivity, which destroys profit margins like there's no tomorrow. Apple has a reputation for ruthlessly killing backwards compatibility and taking out features that are rarely used, or refusing to implement them in the first place (no copy/paste on iOS for years, no multi-button mice on macs for decades, etc).

    Compared to Nokia, Apple has a massive product line, with everything from MP3 players to phones to TV set top boxes's to computers to wifi hotspots to photo management software to online hosted email services to an online music/movie/tv/software store. But, apple does all of that with less than half as many employees. Because they keep their products simple.

    Does that get my point across? I think you may have misunderstood me before. I'm not saying software has a per-shipping-product cost. I'm saying it has an ongoing overhead cost that will last as long as you continue to ship/maintain that product, and extend on to any derivative product(s). When you're paying your developer's 50 to 150 thousand dollars per year each, that ads up to be very expensive.
    #29
  10. Louisiana Rider

    Louisiana Rider Adventurer

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    Most if not all Nuvi models have this screen,press and hold the signal strength meter in the top left till it switches modes.
    #30
  11. fugu

    fugu n00b

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    One feature I like on my Garmin GPS V is the one that draws a straight line connecting your location to your destination. (direct path, no road following).
    It was fun to use it in an unfamiliar area to find your own route home, with just the line keeping you pointing in the right general direction.

    If I could find one with all the features the V had, but with a full map and larger screen, I'd buy it.
    #31
  12. mnd

    mnd Long timer

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    On my Nuvi, this is called "Off Road" (Tools -> Settings -> Navigation -> Route Preference)
    #32
  13. TAPnTX

    TAPnTX Been here awhile

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    Here ya go it is Called the 76cx or 60CX the 76 cx can be had from West Marine for $179.

    Not only does it have a better screen, it is color, only uses 2 AA batts and gets way better life (8, 8hr days 2800 nimh). Has an internal memory card up to 4gb. and you can program any data on just about any screen. The thing I like about the 76/60 series is the visibility of the screen without using back lighting. And that by hitting the PAGE or QUIT buttons I can cycle through the screens I want to see. On the Data page I can program in fields just about anything I want related to time and distance.

    Go try one out in the store I think it will seem very familiar to the V as far as menus and functionality.

    Todd
    #33
  14. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    I bought a Zumo 660 to replace my aging StreetPilot 2720. Was really surprised by the number of features they deleted. The real deal breaker for me is low map detail.
    This is what I see in 2720

    [​IMG]

    And this is what I see in 660

    [​IMG]

    Higher screen resolution in 660 should improve user experience, maps looks worse because of bad rendering.
    After using North Up for years a never giving 3D mode more than a glance, I recently discovered that it is actually has its merits. The scale on it is non-linear, it gives good detail on the bottom of the screen, but allows to view far enough into horizon to see where the roads go. On the 2720 screenshot above, the distance to I-83 is about 6 miles. It is not possible to see this level of detail in the North Up mode.
    #34
  15. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

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    Agree about the cartoon look of the newer units.

    What is the "Detail" set to on the 660?

    Bruce
    #35
  16. genka

    genka SUV hater

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    Detail is set to "High". I took Zumo to work today, and map detail is reasonable for dense downtown streets. But this is not where we usually ride.
    #36
  17. fast*st

    fast*st Dirt rookie.

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    Well, if you like the bells and whistles, then glance over to an older aviation unit, they are generally a lot more configurable as to the data displayed on the main screen.
    #37