Off Road GPS - Which one to buy

G'day,

Firstly, please go easy on me as this is my first post.
I am looking at buying a new GPS. I need both on road local navigation & a good off road GPS. I have been looking at different forums & reviews but am still none the wiser. Most of the forums I have been looking at are a few years old & I was looking for some up to date info.I have seen the Hema, VMS and some of the ones on bBay.
I am interested in both the fully integrated in dash units and the stand alone ones. I was after info as to the relative merits, ease of use and reliability of the units. The integrated units I have seen vary greatly in price form around $500 to over $1000. The bBay ones seem to be good value but the expense & inconvenience of fitting an in dash unit needs to be married to reliability, hence the questions regarding the cheaper as against the more expensive.

Hoping you can help me, and thanks in advance.


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Reply By: jacent - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 14:58

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 14:58
I had a vms touring 600 and worked pretty well, paid $995 at the time, you can now get the 700hd for $399 portable, no issues with it but occasionally lost its signal in the city but it came back and some remote roads weren't on it. Cig charger died but got a new one for free over all very happy apart from the big depreciation in the two years I had it, since getting new cars we don't need a portable anymore so sold it and got a in dash gps vms x523 paid $995 for it had it fitted with reverse camera for two slabs of beer. Only a recent fitment so haven't used it much yet. Everything seems pretty good stereo sound is good, DVD is good, uses original steering wheel controls has camps 7 hema maps etc plays I pod, blue tooth music streaming. So far happy with it bout to head on a trip for ten days so will learn a bit more about it then. I got it thru gps oz online as they did gps bundles with reverse camera's etc cheaper than direct to vms and very good service friendly and helpful to deal with
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 16:16

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 16:16
We have the VMS 7500 mounted in the dash. On road street can't comment as we rarely use it. But the box as far as entertainment and bluetooth is concerned is up there with the best. For Offroad navigation we use Oziexplorer CE version and about 30+Gb of maps, including Hema, Wetsprint, and all the geo tropo, forrestry and etc etc Can't think of all the names but we have enjoyed safe and sound performance and with Walkmen and other devices plugged into the various USB and dedicated cables we have days and days of music when really remoe. And the new rear view camera we installed is tops. (had a little prang and things got broken).

A vote for the indash VMS box.

Phil
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 16:21

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 16:21
Its like cars GunGun you need to know what featurers your after to make the best selection.

I guess your after a general product with good spread of pre-loaded maps and not to many real navigation features except your usually road routing.
GPSes are today dumbed down from what they were but this product will do a good job.

http://www.gpsoz.com.au/hema/index.htm


There is another level of use where you need to be able to log tracks, load your own pre-defined tracks and navigate them , follow the stars , tides and sunrise/sunset times, be waterproof, and a whole host of less well known uses - products for these things are like hens teeth now and harder to get espically new.

All our group uses the Garmin 276c series which can now only be brought 2nd hand.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 17:16

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 17:16
"products for these things are like hens teeth now and harder to get espically (sic) new."

? I think you will find that it is easy to find a unit that -

+ Logs tracks: Just about all do that - have since they were invented.

+ Load your own tracks: most do - any in car unit running TwoNav, Ozi, Memory Map, Hema (both apps) will have this capability, and just about every handheld.

+ Navigate your own track - my TwoNav Aventura does that - not sure about Garmin - they do have back track - possibly same feature under different name. Don't use it much - just as easy to look at the screen and see if you are "on track"...typically not that confusing that you need to be told turn left/right etc.

+ Stars: not sure about that one. Never seen the feature on a gps, which is not to say it doesn't exist - what use would it be? What unit has it. My smart phone does..a free app.

+ Tides: current Garmin units do this with blue charts loaded.

+ Waterproof: most Garmin handhelds (and many other brands/models) are IPX7 ..same as 276c. 78 series garmins even float.

+ Sunrise/Sunset a pretty standard feature these days. You will have no trouble finding a unit that does that.

What are the host of other less known features/uses you suggest exist on the 276 that are no longer easily found on modern gps/gps mapping programs?

276 was good in its time, but now many better options, which is not to say it should be ditched if you have one but wouldn't go out of my way to track one down and use it.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 21:08

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 21:08
Hi Greg, my 276c is dying And I am blowed if I can find anything that is anywhere near as good. I would be interested in your thoughts on what the "many better options" are.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 23:55

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 23:55
Hi

Depends on intended use and budget ...more information required. Are you an in car user like RM or do you get out of your vehicle and walk around and do some real exploring i.e. do you need an in car unit and a handheld or just one or the other? What sort of maps do you require? Are you happy with limited map options for Garmin 276 or would you like more choice (air, sat, topo, geology, veg etc ?).

Out of curiosity why/how is your unit "dying"?

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:00

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:00
Unfortunately there isn't Chris - when recently I tried hard from some experts to match it they ended up offering money for my 276c.

I note Greg hasn't provided a model number of a unit that can match it but if anyone can then please do !

Chris apparently units can be re-conditioned with new screen etc overseas but haven't followed that up yet , I often look on ebay but recently there seems to be few leads.

P.S. The 276c can now run the autorouting OzToppo 4wd map set , reputably the best . (thats OzToppo not EoToppo)
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 10:32

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 10:32
Hi

What gps is "best" depends on your needs (real and in some peoples case, perceived). I have an TwoNav Aventura - I reckon its the best gps I have ever had..but I wouldn't suggest it is the best for everyone but it is certainly better than a 276c for what I use it for. The 276c can't be used to view raster maps (e.g. topo, geology) and air/sat photos (e.g Google Earth) which is probably one of its greatest limitations from my perspective (not to mention poor battery life and limited data storage capabilities). Oztopo (not Oztoppo) is indeed good if its your only option but as you cant load your own raster images onto the 276 it falls into the useless basket for me.

It is true there is nothing like the 276 now available ...because Garmin have moved on. Off the top of my head a current gps with most of the same features as the 276 mentioned by RM but with better specs overall, including a good screen size would be a Montana. I cannot of course say it suits you or anyone needs - though would be interested to know what it doesn't do that would be seen as essential (and something the 276 can do).

There is also the Monterra (I have one of these as well as the Aventura) which is probably even better than the Montana (uses same body - but different internals).

It runs an android operating system - apart from the standard Garmin map viewing program (which also runs OzTopo etc) you can also run OziExplorer, TwoNav, Memory Map, Hema Explorer etc etc etc etc (i.e. any android app).

Again - what exactly doesn't this unit do that the 276 does? Please answer with specific examples not some anecdote about some "experts" wanting to buy your gps because its so great.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 21:09

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 21:09
Hi Greg, great replies, very helpful. I like many other 276 uses are very happy with our units and are just looking for a replacement that at least does the same things. I one of your early posts you indicated that there are now some better units which has pricked the ears of us 276 users because we have been looking and found nothing. Your latter post confirms that there is no direct replacement. The two greatest features of the 276 were IMHO the great screen and that on the map screen you had 4 see through data field which were user selectable. The Montana 650t is, I believe, the closest unit to the 276 but the screen is smaller and to see any data fields you have to leave the map screen by pushing two buttons and another two buttons to get back to the map screen, very frustrating. Posts under this topic indicate that the 276 was/is very popular with 4WD drivers in touring Oz. What has happened to my 276 is the screen is starting to loose some of its brightness and the GPS takes a long time to lock on and drops out at the sight of a few trees. A reburbished 276 on ebay is about $600 which for old unit is very expensive. I can understand this as these units, while old, do the things that people want. All Garmin had to do with the 276 was ditch their data cards and use micro SD cards, and update the GPS engine and I think nearly all 276 users would upgrade to it when their 276's finally died. Again Greg great posts, thanks.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 23:15

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 23:15
Hi

Not sure where you are getting your information from..

Montana and Monterra appear to have a bigger screen than 276 - Montana/Monterra is quoted as 10.2 cm diagonal, 276 is 9.5 cm diagonal..though 276 has more pixels, but less colours..not sure if any of these are significant/of any consequence in real world.

You can also customised the map screen on Montana and Monterra (and most if not all the Garmin handhelds) to show data fields much the same as 276 - example below...

Montana



Monterra



(ignore elevation - haven't calibrated barometre:)

With the Monterra (not sure about Montana) a single press of the small arrow next to the data fields makes them disappear so you get full map view (and visa versa) - much better system than the old fashion 276c :)

OziExplorer (CE (e.g. Hema Navigator) and Android) also has the capability to show customised data fields next to the map (don't think they are "see through" but not sure that is essential), using Ozi Screen Designer..so no way it is unique to 276c.

May people are running android tablets/Ipads (+ozi etc) in cars so could be an option. You could have Ozi running on the Monterra/any android tablet/phone with almost the exact same screen as 276 (i.e. 4 data fields plus map)

My TwoNav has data fields on a separate page (but you can add them to main screen) which works fine - prefer to have whole map screen myself with no space taken by anything. A couple of button presses doesn't frustrate me (<1 second), though suppose if for some reason you have to flick back and forward frequently it could become a problem..maybe.

Anyway, I suppose my main point is that you can dwell on the 276c's good features if you want but it is approaching museum piece status (even if they put in a normal sd card). There are viable (and for some, much better) alternatives...impossible for me to pick them for you or anyone...but they do exist and the end result will be the same.

It can be hard to find the best, current option for required needs so I can understand the confusion being exhibited (by RM, me and others:). Some of the good features of many gps units and gps mapping applications can be well hidden, it would however appear that some (including "experts") are not looking hard enough.

Cheers
Greg

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 13:52

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 13:52
There may yet be another option Chris , the 276c had bigger brothers of same format in I think 6 8 & 10 inch but these were made for the marine market and did not have some of the 276c unique features but the same hardware exists underneath.

I am hoping that software may be enough to return those features.
I have had to pre-load a couple and have fingers crossed that one may come my way, cause they ain't cheap.

They are much sort after as well though by the 4wd off road mob who use them for competitions were main game is to go cross country between known waypoints, often in the dark.
(Reminds me of our recent run down the Colson)

The somewhat finicky touch screens of many of newer GPS'es don't cut it here and believe me the waterproofness of the units get tested.

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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 14:42

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 14:42
...wishful thinking using firmware from a different gps to "return" the mysterious "unique features" (what were they again, you didn't say?).

If you wish to stick with a 276 better off getting one on ebay - safer than trying to "convert" some other model - though suppose worth a crack if you get one for free - but you could brick it.

The current Garmin 8 and 10inch marine GPS units are a bit expensive...Garmin marine GPS. Even these latest models are no more waterproof than Montana/Monterra (IPX7) so not sure what you are on about there.

Touch screen - some people like them some don't - its not a universal issue. If you don't like them then bad luck, you have just reduced your choices considerably. TwoNav Aventura has buttons and touch screen. Best of both worlds.

Cheers
Greg

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 18:37

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 18:37
Hema Navigator.
Please note though that you can only use one application at a time.

I prefer to run a separate device for voice guided city navigation so I don't interrupt recording of track detail on OziExplorer, the off road application within the Hema Navigator.

A portable device like the Hema Navigator enables you to swap between different vehicles and take it inside to connect to your PC to download track data and any Waypoints entered.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 18:42

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 18:42
"Hema Navigator"

Which model 5, 6 or 7? Are they all the same with respect to only running one app at a time?

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 19:10

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 19:10
Hi Greg,

I would have thought you would know the 5" model has been superceded by the 6" or 7". The original 5 had a terrible on-road application and I never used it after trialling it.
The HN6 and HN7 both use iGo for voice guided city navigation and work really well if you just want to run the one app.

I am not aware of any device being able to run multiple apps at the same time. You need to shut the active one down before selecting another one.
I used to run Oziexplorer and CoPilot on a Dell Axiom, using an application called GPSGate to enable concurrent sharing of the GPS by multiple applications. This created virtual serial ports to share the GPS input with each application to be run concurrently. Worked really well with the ability to hot swap between off-road and on-road applications while both were running.



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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 19:32

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 19:32
Hi

Thanks for reply..yeah aware of what is current model but you didn't specify - hence question...was wondering if you were referring to new recently released 7" model (based on personal experience or a guess?) or the old ones.

I get the impression a lot of people are going Android tablet or ipad these days...these can run multiple applications at once..but haven't tested multiple gps mapping applications myself ?? At a guess most people would not bother running more than one at any one time anyway.

All good fun

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 13:21

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 13:21
"I am not aware of any device being able to run multiple apps at the same time. You need to shut the active one down before selecting another one."

I've got a HP iPaq with in-built GPS that runs both CE (with Ozi) and Tom-Tom at the same time. Swapping is a one button push. Getting a bit long in the tooth ( 9 years old) but runs fine. The only down side is the screens a bit small by today's a standards and it will only take a 2gb SD card.

Keep in in my car as I still think the Tom-Tom is the easiest to use for city, but run a HN6 in my 4wd. Love both units.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 19:15

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 19:15
I recall that the original 5" HEMA GPSs were rebadged VMS units.
At one point, many failed and HEMA developed their own replacement product. They also replaced many of the badged VMS units, even though many were well out of warranty.

HEMA is a great Australian company and their product is as good as any on the market.

Buy a HEMA, it comes with the best maps too (IMHO) and operates on OziExplorer, another world class product developed and owned in Oz.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Al-one - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 21:02

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 21:02
Hello,
I am also in the market for a new GPS. For me it does not matter how good the mapping is if you can't easily read the screen in full daylight. This is where the tablets are lacking in my experience. I acknowledge all the advantages of the Hema but how does it stack up regarding screen brightness. I have had a Garmin GPS 276c and its screen brightness was excellent, even in full daylight, without any supplementary shielding. Can anyone honestly comment on the Hema's screen brightness in full daylight without using any sunlight shield.
Cheers,
Al-one
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Reply By: evaredy - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 21:58

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 21:58
I currently have a Mudmap M7, which is a very good GPS system with excellent on and off road capabilities.

As far as differences in price goes, I believe, you get what you pay for. Evil bay systems may be a lot cheaper, but may not have the same support as something like Hema or other well known brands.
things like warranty, how easy or hard is it to have repaired or replaced should something go wrong, do you need to send the unit overseas or can it be sent to an Australian repairer.
Spare parts or accessories is another thing to look at. Can the cheaper units stand up to the extreme heat when sitting on the dash in the middle of summer?

If I were to buy another, it would be Hema 7. for the following reasons,

For street navigation it uses IGO Promo along with Navteq mapping, which is the same as my Mudmap, It is much much better than my old top of the line TomTom, I have been very impressed with it's capabilities when it comes to outback travel, the maps are very good and have quite a lot of detail considering it is only supposed to be standard street navigation.

Plus the off road navigation is excellent, Hema, IMHO are the best when it comes to mapping this country and producing maps.

There are many many different types of GPS systems out there now, ranging from apps that run on phones, tablets or pc's, to stand alone units.

Apps that you install on tablets etc are ok, if you know what you are doing and know how to load maps etc. depending on how knowledgeable you are, there may be a slight learning curve.

Stand alone units are better if you are not all that familiar with loading maps etc on a tablet, they come pre-installed with on and off road maps ready to go. They are easy to understand and operate, as well as update.

As far as which is better, in dash or portable/windscreen mount? I prefer the freedom of the latter. If you need to change vehicles you can easily take it with you. If it has battery backup, you are also able to take it with you when exploring.

Anything that has a matte screen as apposed to a glossy screen will be easier to read in direct sunlight, and something like the Hema 7 allow you to clip on a sun visor if needed.

Hope this helps.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:48

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:48
unsure what you think is the trick to loading maps onto a tablet

its a simple matter of plugging your tablet into the computer and dragging and dropping the maps to the tablet
if you want to use your SD cards for the map then you just set your pathways in configuration to the SD card

Ive used mapping on computers - Ozi CE and mobile devices

by far and away the biggest learning cure is using it on a PC mostly to do with configuring external GPS
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Follow Up By: evaredy - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 09:10

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 09:10
There are some that may find it difficult, if it is something they are not familiar with.
It took me some time to get my head around it all.

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Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 15:02

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 15:02
well yes that may be but if someone is having difficulty dragging and dropping between storages its pretty safe to assume they are totally computer illiterate (no judgements there) but if there knowledge of computers is that lacking there going to struggle with any form navigation device
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Reply By: Penchy - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:11

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:11
For off road - get yourself an ipad, badelf gps and an ipad ram mount, load the ipad with hema 4wd maps and go.
For around town - use the maps app on your android smart phone.

You will come in close to the $500 mark
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Follow Up By: Member - nrb1748 (VIC) - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:22

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:22
Does the iPad need to be the version with a sim card?
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Follow Up By: Penchy - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:27

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:27
Nope, the badelf is the gps
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 09:41

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 09:41
However, if you get the iPad with wifi and 3G, you get a built in gps, plus fit a sim card, and for $15/month, you can also have email access and internet.

As Penchy says, get Hema maps. Downloaded the latest update yesterday, and it appears to be a vast improvement.

Bob.



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Follow Up By: gungun1 - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 at 19:44

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 at 19:44
Hi Penchy, I am really leaning towards getting this setup but I have read that you have to install windows on the iPad for the Hema app to work. Do you know if this is still the case or are the newer Ipads compatable with the Hema app? The Badelf is currently aprox $180:00 & the Hema maps is currently $99:00. Seems too good to pass up if it works straight out of the box without loading windows emulation software.

Regards
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 at 19:56

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 at 19:56
Hi

Both Hema apps (Hema Explorer and 4wd Maps) work directly on Ipad.

I would seriously suggest not bothering with the Badelf if it costs that much - invest the $ in an ipad with inbuilt GPS (Wi-Fi + Cellular). It is cheaper. Just one less gadget to worry about..and option for internet via Sim..but your call.

By the way, "emulation" software is typically used on Mac computers (not ipads/iphones) to run Windows PC programs not available in Mac format. Ipads/iphones (and ipods) are a different beast to Mac computers..they just happen to be made by Apple.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: gungun1 - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 at 20:17

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 at 20:17
Hi again Penchy,
All sounds good then. I think I'll give it a go then. Still not sure which GPS unit to go with; don't suppose you know anything about the "Dual" bluetooth model by any chance?

Regards

John Eather
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 at 20:27

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 at 20:27
Sorry John..it was me, not Penchy who replied to your previous question ..I butted in. Cant help with most recent question.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: gungun1 - Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 07:47

Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 07:47
G'day Greg,
Don't suppose you would know anything about the "Dual" bluetooth model then.

Regards

John
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 13:17

Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 13:17
Hi

No sorry have no knowledge on this bluetooth unit (or any others for that matter :)

As I previously indicated I personally would just get the flasher model Ipad with inbuilt GPS. Buying the cheaper model Ipad and then the bluetooth GPS device you mention (~$180) is more a more expensive option..unless you already have the Ipad.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: gungun1 - Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 18:29

Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 18:29
Hi again Greg,

Right again, yes I do already have the iPad without the GPS so looks like I'll have to get an external GPS unit, just need to work out which one now, I'll do a bit more research & see what I come up with.

Regards

John
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 19:44

Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 19:44
No worries good luck - hopefully Penchy et al will get back to you with some advice.

Cheers
Greg
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Reply By: cookie1 - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 11:39

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 11:39
I had the Blue Hema (original and I think this was the rebadged VMS) and it had issues, to Hema's credit they replaced it a couple of times, I then bought the HN5i which is brilliant and have uploaded my tracks so that I can retrace where we have been.

I won a HN6 at the 4x4 Earth meet and I've gotta say I am impressed with this unit too, in the box is the complete set of CD maps from Hema so you can upload and look at your tracks on a map.

I have mine sat in the corner of the drivers pillar and it is quite viewable during daylight

Both On & Off road mapping is good and as accurate as any other GPS I've used

cheers
AnswerID: 530522

Reply By: gungun1 - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 13:40

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 at 13:40
G'day,

Many thanks for all the replys, I still haven't quite decided on which way to go but I now have more "food for thought". I'll keep an eye on this thread.

Again,

Many thanks
AnswerID: 530608

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