List the top features you look for in a GPS

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by trail-tech, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. NorthernTraveler

    NorthernTraveler Long time Adventurer

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    A few things...

    1 - Good bright colors onscreen - nobody has actually mentioned it, but it helps alot!

    2 - Detail levels at different zoom levels - many of the units loose map detail as you zoom out way too fast. The unit/maps that I use allow me to see all the roads 8 miles ahead of me. Probably the best you can do is allow user definable detail level. Garmins are fixed.

    3 - Lots of long tracks, turned on by default when you load them, retaining their color when loaded. The idea that Locus has of tuning the color based upon speed/elevation/etc is nice for some users, but they missed it in that when you load tracks Locus sometimes changes the tracks color. Case in point - on some of my bike routes I use dark green to indicate alternate main routes - Locus changes them to blue. Oops. Garmin allows something like 16 track colors, that pretty well enough.

    4 - Easy to build and use map overlays... there is a couple of software packages that allow you to do this easily for Garmins, BUT, the one I use only allows the 8 primary track colors, and overlays with waypoints only have the waypoint name and phone number is the information about the waypoint. If you could build an overlay of waypoints that has ALL of the waypoint info - Name, address, city, state, zip, phone - it would be really usefull.

    5 - Buttons. Waterproof and enough of them to be really useful. Look at the older Garmins - 60/76, 78, or what I use - 498 (it's an old chartplotter but is intended for dual use - Marine and Automotive. Uses either maps.)

    6 - A 5" screen, and maybe a version with a 7" screen. If you make it with different screen sizes, make the software interface the same for all the models. Settable for either portrait or landscape mode.
    #41
  2. wrk2surf

    wrk2surf on the gas or brakes

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    yes the sensor ICO is a good idea for rally roll chart racers.
    #42
  3. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    I think you meant that you use a GPSMAP 478? The GPSMAP 498 is a Sounder and does not support Routable Maps for along-Road Routing - only Direct Marine Routing.
    #43
  4. NorthernTraveler

    NorthernTraveler Long time Adventurer

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    No, I use a 498. I actually have 3 or 4 of them. Over 50k dual sport miles on them.

    Yes it's a chartplotter/sounder, but it has a big bright screen in portrait orientation, waterproof, lots of buttons, works with the maps I use - mostly the old Road & Rec, and with those maps I can see all the roads at 1.2miles zoom level which works out to be 8 miles ahead of me. With lesser zoom the minor roads disappear, but the major roads are still out there. This way I get the big picture of an area that I'm wandering through.

    I actually haven't tried auto routing on it, don't really need it for what I do. I can zoom out and see whatever is out there.

    It does only 15 tracks, but they are of 700 points. 3000 waypoints. 50 direct routes of 300 points.
    I can reload tracks or routes or waypoints from the data card. I did a 10k trip in 2013 where I just programmed up about 8 cards ahead of time for the trip. Each card had all the maps for that area PLUS the tracks/routes/etc for that area.... when I finished that section (about a weeks worth) I just changed data cards and loaded the next set of tracks/routes/maps/etc. Handy that.

    So, further items for the wish list -

    7. Be able to load more tracks/routes/waypoints from the data card.

    8. Be able to load maps granularly - in the Garmin 60/76 you have to load all the maps at once in a big map build. In the Garmin 78 and later GPSs you load compiles of a individual maps. Say a file of City Navigator, a file of Road & Rec, a file of Topo, etc. As long as it's an .img file in the /maps directory it get loaded, you can turn them on/off within the GPS software.
    #44
  5. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    Interesting choice of devices. If memory serves, from when I evaluated the 498, it does not support along-road routing. You must have the corner on the Garmin Data Card market. :D
    #45
  6. NorthernTraveler

    NorthernTraveler Long time Adventurer

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    I would love to be able to use some of the current Garmin Chartplotters on my bikes - alas they no longer support 'on road' maps.

    Topo - yes, Marine - yes, On Road - nope.

    The 498 family was the last of the 'dual use' units.

    I even learned how to modify the maps so that a 421 I was playing with thought they were marine maps, unfortunately the 421 doesn't have enough buttons to make it useful.

    Some of the newer chartplotters have GLOSNOSS, bright portrait screens, enough buttons, microSD card slot, waterproof, rugged power connector - just no on road maps. So the hardware is there, just not the software. Give it the software from a 78 and I'd be really happy!

    The 498's have worked well for me - I use the 498 for navigation and a 76 or 78 for track logging. I've used them to build several long distance routes.
    #46
  7. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    What Dual Sport events have you ridden? The Garmin 60/76 was the gold standard for many years, now riders are slowly migrating to Garmin 78 or Montana. Commenting that the screens of 90% of Dual Sport riders looks useless indicates a real lack of knowledge of this market. At my last ride 90% of riders had these units, 10% came in with chip, probably for Trail Tech.

    People do prefer Montana because it has no buttons and antenna is behind screen so it is 100% screen they no interest in a unit that is any larger. If you add buttons, screen must get smaller. Not sure why Montana has antenna behind screen and all the hand helds have it above screen. I know the northwest considers 650s with saddle bags as a dual sport set up but they would be unrideable is DS events in CA where 80 % of participants are on KTM EXC with set up about like mine sans ICO. I need ICO as I am a promoter and must record the roll chart. Customers do fine with OEM odo.

    The product you have described should sell well on Adv bikes and all he side by sides, etc but will be a big ZERO for Dual Sport riders.
    #47
  8. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    "Adv-bikes" covers a rather broad category of riders. I applaud Trail-Tech's interest in the GPS market - there's always a need for competition. Look forward to seeing how they interpret requirements.
    #48
  9. trail-tech

    trail-tech Been here awhile

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    Several AMA DS series out of Hood River Oregon. Fun 2 day events all GPS guided. Several local ran ones. Many many miles exploring on my TE511 husky for hard core off road type DS, TE610 husky for do it all bike, TR650, and Buell Uly for more street / gravel type events. Had a Garmin 60cs, now have an Oregon and Montana. Run the Trail Tech Voyager off road all the time. I never said I was the end all for DS riders but do have some experience as well as many others here. I'm 51 and have been riding non stop since I was in sixth grade and worked in the motorcycle industry for decades. We are all at different levels. Its all good.

    Endless off road miles with GPS's...

    Testing multiple units yesterday...

    [​IMG]

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    navigating trails

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    collecting piles of post data...

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    exploring the endless NW

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    racing ISDE's

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    finding out of the way places...

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    Went exploring with some dirtbags from this site...

    [​IMG]

    AMA DS events...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #49
  10. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    Is it your intent to only produce black & white display devices?
    #50
  11. trail-tech

    trail-tech Been here awhile

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    No, voyager pro which is what we are working on is full color, touch screen.
    #51
  12. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    Look forward to seeing it in real life. Good luck.
    #52
  13. ptgarcia

    ptgarcia Huh?

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    I'm pretty much in agreement with Jerry on narrowing the focus, or at least not compromising too much to broaden the market. Me, I want buttons. Its dusty out here, and I want to be able to clean the screen with a brush of my hand/fingers without the screen reacting. Nor do I want to remove my gloves to operate the thing. A color screen is a must so tracks can be in different colors. I want one that operates on 12v so it can be hardwired to the bike with a simple fused connection to the battery. Make the power cable waterproof and robust; no micro USB stuff for power. I'd say a 3.5"-4" screen is plenty big. I don't care about street routing or playing music or wireless sharing of files (a removable memory card is sufficient). I want a tough, reliable off-road GPS. My cell phone and one of many available apps is all I need for the road.

    The Voyager was a very good first effort. Having all the features of a typical dash incorporated is a nice touch. I probably would have bought one if it was a color screen.
    #53
    gwhis and Dlupini like this.
  14. trail-tech

    trail-tech Been here awhile

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    It does have some buttons, you can lock the touch, it does run 12v, waterproof, robust. Thanks.
    #54
  15. scrminbanshee

    scrminbanshee Ready to travel

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    I Understand that it was supposed be released last summer. Any Clue as to when it will be released? Price? dimensions? Maybe this has already been addressed but I missed it?
    #55
  16. trail-tech

    trail-tech Been here awhile

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    We had some huge OEM contracts happen and get in the way of progress for this product and push the date out. We are back on track and working hard on it now. I'm not at liberality to give details, and some simply are not finalized, but can tell you it is between the Montana and Zumo in size, should be a very good price point and hope to have it released this summer. Will have a fantastic color touch screen, some buttons, SD card slot, nice format, nice mounting solutions. Should be able to release more info in a few months.
    #56
  17. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    OK, using Garmin new generation units (78/Montana) as the basis of a starting point, these are the Track features that really need improving:

    1 When viewing the Track Manager, each Track should show its On/Off status. It would really be cool to show the Name in the Color it is displayed.

    2 When setting/changing Track color, show the actual name of the color, don't just show a colored line in that color. Name in that color would be cool.

    3 The listing in the Track Manager should have choice of Proximity or Alpha/# .

    4 From Track Manager, have a control to turn all Tracks (in "Favorites")On/Off but still need ability to do each one individually by opening that track.

    4a It would be nice if you could set the On/Off status of each Track in he gpx file on the PC GPS program and be able to download this to the GPS Unit. I believe Dan explained how to do this in some extension of the Track data in an old post.

    5 Nomenclature of each Track status should be "ON" or "Off". "Hide on Map" is more than stupid. Even Blue Room outhouses get it right "Vacant"/"Occupied", you look you know. Very straight forward, no thinking required.

    6 Now you can download gpx file(s) with bunch of Tracks each to the "Archive" folder and then when needed move a single file (with many Tracks) to "Favorites" folder, then use them as needed, but at end of day to get rid of them you must Delete or Archive each one, one at a time. It should be able to move the original file with all its included Tracks back to the "Archive" folder and then move another file from "Archive" folder to "Favorite" folder.

    7 "Favorite" is stupid name! I could hate that Track but must use it. They are the "Active" or "Usable" or some other opposite of "Archive"

    8 The Garmin algorithm for recording Tracks on 78/Montana has big flaw over the old 60/76. The new ones (78/Montata) think you are moving and keep recording a cluster of new Track Points when you are actually stopped.

    9 The active Log should start an new Track each time the unit is turned Off/On or when Track Log is turned On/Off just like in 60/76. No stupid straight lines when unit is moved when off.

    10 Active log Back up copy should be on the Data Card not in main memory to protect "Back Up" data from main unit failure, not just cockpit error.

    11 Montana has almost unreadable Track width. Make sure it is wide enough or make it settable. Many people have to use where to and select 1 Track to make it wide bold Pink.

    I will edit this list if I think of more or others (Bill) have good ideas.

    Dan, feel free to pass this list along to idiots at Garmin who can't help but screw up each new firmware version (it must be in their Mission Statement"). About half of them could be implemented in a very simple firmware update. Perhaps one of their problems is that they have smart guys like you to beta test new stuff. I always did idiot testing on new stuff, much better for general public acceptance.
    #57
  18. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    If you really want a good test of your GPS unit and support software, you need to enlist some newbees. They are the ones who have the hardest time learning how to use one of these effectively.

    Us expert veterans just pick up on it immediately and then complain and nitpick about very minor flaws forever.
    #58
  19. trail-tech

    trail-tech Been here awhile

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    :D

    User friendliness is very important to us on this product.
    #59
  20. trail-tech

    trail-tech Been here awhile

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    Our current Voyager product does this. You can select a log method of time or distance and then set the amount of time or distance. If you select distance and like 2 feet or whatever it eliminates this issue as you would need to move 2 feet to drop another point.

    This is also addressed on our current Voyager product. Its called Auto-split. A new track is recorded when you turn it on and off and also if you are 1 mile, 5 miles, or 10 miles from the last point (selectable). We too were tired of one long track from the staging area to your house as a straight line. If you set it up to use wheel sensor and load your bike in your truck or trailer and drive home forgetting to turn it off it will not record your drive home as it is not seeing wheel movement and will also shut down after a selected time of inaction.
    #60