IPAQ GPS in outback WA

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 18:35
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Does anyone have experience with using IPAQ GPS unit in "outback" WA ? For tracks and trails a few hours drive outside Perth metro area - I am NOT talking about the middle of the Simpsson desert here (though feel free to reply on that too ! :).

I've been researching GPS units for hubby as a present (he loves gadgets) and had narrowed the search to a Magellon Meridian Platinum or Colour, Garmin 76 or 60. I originally discounted PDA GPS because slightly higher cost and concern about how robust they might be (its relatively new tecnology compared to proper handhelds).

However I have just found that he may be getting a HP IPAQ from work. From this forum I see reference to compact flash GPS to go with them. I am a bit confused. Are these bluetooth only or do they also work like handheld GPS ?

HOW WELL DO THEY WORK IN WA ? Can anyone compare an IPAQ fitted with CF GPS (no extra items such as labtops) with any/all of the handhelds above for use in WA (or similar remote areas) ?

Eg:
1. Pick up of satellites ?
1a. Need to hold in certain position? (ie is PT 3-axis compass really necessary)?
2. External aerial needed ?
3. Screen in sunlight ?
4. Use of buttons/menus for simple functions while driving (I know you shouldn't but don't tell me you never do it) ?
5. Run from cigarette lighter in car ?
6. Relative time and difficulty for map assembly/loading ?
7. Can software be used on IPAQ so it can give voice instructions ?
8. Anything else that might skew my decision whether to get the handheld or try to make the IPAQ work.
9. What happens when battery runs out - do you lose info (I notice some units need recalibration with new batteries) ?

FYI: Much as I'd like to pretent otherwise - initial use will probably be as a big boys toy. We can navigate exceptionally well with paper maps and a compass. But would be fun to have a gadget for when we go off the bitumen, then go hiking for a few hours. If hubby can also us it around city as well that would be a bonus.

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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 19:04

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 19:04
Well, for a start, GPS's work just as well in the middle of nowhere as they do in your back yard. So wherever they can "see" the sky they are goers. I just bought a Garmin GPSMap60CS and I already have a Garmin GPS76. I went for the GArmins cause the interface is a little easier, also went for the 60 over the 76 as its about $100 cheaper. Both have the same performance.

I also have a PDA, which I connect to the GPS and use Oziexplorer CE to use any map I want to, it works great. The reason I stuck with a handheld GPS is the PDA's are relatively flimsy compared to a GPS unit and if I want to use away from the car I just have to carry a few extra batteries, with a PDA you need mains or an inverter or a lead to make them work in and out of the car. I can also use the PDA and GPS seperately, which I think is a bonus.

My units both look happily thru the windscreen at the sky and only in thickish treed areas do I need the external antenna, but I would always want to be able to use one.

now to the qns
1 theyll all do it the same i reckon
1a if you really need a compass then go for it but the gps will use its own direction finding sensors over say 25-30kmh anyways (its settable in a Garmin)
2 see above
3 I dont reckon the PDA screens are as good in direct sunlight as the colour GPS's however they are bigger
4 the more complicated the GPS the harder this is, and I wouldnt EVER use a PDA to do this on the move, with the old 76 its easy, dont even have to take eyes off the road
5 GPS's yes with a lead, PDA also with same (Brian Sommerville at www.GPSOZ.com.au is a wizard at these, great guy also)
6 takes a bit of a fiddle with the PDA as you have to load ozf2 files and transfer them, but the transfers the same for both GPS and PDA
7 yes it can (but oziexplorer doesnt do it...i might stand corrected here)
8 see above
9 when the PDA dies it dies and has to be reinstalled with additional software such as mapping etc, but the maps on any additonal CF cards etc stays there, when the GPS dies it just keeps the info it has

So there you have it.
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AnswerID: 107708

Reply By: Peter 2 - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 19:05

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 19:05
I use an ipaq with an external GPS, previously used the GPS with a laptop.
I'd suggest that you go for a seperate standalone GPS (Garmin or Magellan preferred) for the following reasons.
1/ you don't have all your eggs in one basket if one unit dies you've still got the gps and vice versa.
2/ Upgradeablity, either gps or ipaq can be upgraded seperately
3/ If work owns the ipaq then definitely buy a seperate gps otherwise if the ipaq is returned you are stuck with a single use gps
4/ The gps can be used on its own without the ipaq when walking etc

Cords to connect the two units and connect to power are freely available at places like GPSOZ.
I connect my Garmin 12xl up to the ipaq and an external antenna, zip the garmin into its bag and stick it under the seat or in the glovebox, out of sight etc, the ipaq is the only thing in sight snd works well with the touch screen
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AnswerID: 107709

Reply By: Woobla (WA) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 20:09

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 20:09
I Love my gadgets too and have both the Magellan gold and an ipaq with a gps cradle.
I would certainly suggest you go for the separate gps unit. The ipaq is as said before, flimsy, subject to moisture, battery hungry, tempremental and occasionally just locks up. I have forund that the cig lighter connection is flimsy too and my ipaq connection has been damaged when the cord was pulled inadvertantly.
Of course he would just have to have the ipaq as well, but for mine, I cant go past the ruggedness and ease of use of my magellan.
Jeff
AnswerID: 107713

Reply By: Lyds - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 20:43

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 20:43
I have been playing with an ipaq gps unit connecting to an ipaq via bluetooth.

The great thing about bluetooth is that you don't need cables to connect the two for data. My kids can do the mapping from the backseat and/or I can place the GPS in an optimal position. You just have to provide power to both units at some stage; I got hold of a split power lead to do this.

The main issues are that the sometimes the ipaq can't find the gps, and sometimes oziexplorer will have me on a different place on the map; in either case I need to hard reset.

I also have a Magellan, but my cable is playing up. As the ipaq gps is black and a good deal smaller, I don't mind leaving it in the car; whereas I always put the Magellan out of sight.

AnswerID: 107721

Reply By: Member - Wesley S (WA) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 22:49

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 22:49
Call Paul at Rycom Technology 08 9204 5811 to get the full story on GPS and iPAQ.

1. Picks up as many satellites as the GPS units do.
1a. No but usually facing the sky is pretty standard prerequisite.
2. No but sometimes in bad reception areas it will help. Also helps to get faster fix times.
3. Screen is designed to be seen in sunlight as a PDA anyway.
4. Yes your right we all do it and yes you can use the external button s with Oziexplorer.
5. Yes
6. Connect to PC with active sync and copy the files over like you would to a floppy or CD.
7. Yes Oziexplorer has voice instructions, proximity alarms to waypoints, Destinator has turn by turn directions with voice rpompts.
8. IPAQ can do much more than just GPS, if you are getting one from work then why pay for the hardware again.
9. Info is retained the track file is saved to memory and there is usually a backup battery to the main unit, you just charge it up again and away you go. You can also get larger extened battery options.

If you want to see one in full operation call me and I would be more than happy to show it to you. Then go a see a Magellin or wahtever and make your own mind up.
AnswerID: 107738

Reply By: Utemad - Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 08:57

Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 08:57
I have a Garmin Etrex Legend and a Toshiba _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx with CF GPS.
They really are not in competition with each other. When in the car and wanting directions and mapping etc then the _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx wins hand down. However when I go hiking or bike riding I will always take the Etrex. Reasons below.

1. Both should be the same
1a. So long as they can see satellites
2. No but can be handy in low reception areas while in the car (like driving through a forest).
3. Not a concern on either of mine.
4. Probably neither are too good for changing settings while driving.
5. Both of them have seperate ciggy chargers.
6. Never bought the Mapsource for the Etrex unit but it is very easy to load software to the _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx
7. Yes, I use Destinator for turn by turn navigation. Country areas and towns etc covered by this software too. Very good I reckon.
8. _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx battery life not anywhere near as good as handheld unit but can be overcome with more batteries.
_Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx not water proof/resistant.
_Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx does not like getting dropped. Handheld far more rugged.
Some handhelds will float. Bet a _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx won't.
Mapping far superior on a _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx.
Screen bigger on a _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx.
9. Handheld nothing will happen. _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx if the battery dies and the backup dies (about 30hrs after main battery dies) then you will lose anything not stored on the storage card. Never happened to me yet.

If work is supplying him with a _Permanent_Painted_Coatings.aspx later then I would definately buy a handheld GPS and then you can connect the two and have the best of both worlds.
AnswerID: 107778

Reply By: Rokkitt - Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 21:53

Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 21:53
Hi,

I have been using my IPAQ as a gps unit for over a year now; successfully I might add although not in WA yet unfortunately but I don't "think" this makes any difference. I'll make this simple and just answer the list of questions:
1. Pick up of satellites ? Good I purchased mine with an external aerial which definently improves things in the car, doesn't make any difference when wandering.
1a. Need to hold in certain position? (ie is PT 3-axis compass really necessary)? With the external antennae there is no problem but without this we have to lean forward too get the unit under the windscreen so it "can see the sky".
2. External aerial needed ? In the car I think it helps.
3. Screen in sunlight ? Shocking but I think this is the case with all TFT/LCD screens except the old non colour GPS's.
4. Use of buttons/menus for simple functions while driving (I know you shouldn't but don't tell me you never do it) ? Very difficult and not reccomended while driving, pull over or set it up in advance.
5. Run from cigarette lighter in car ? Yes although some kind of charge cutout would be nice, I recently had to change the battery inmine and it doesn't get any more charges than my phone, now I use the PDA charger only and disconnect until charged.
6. Relative time and difficulty for map assembly/loading ? Pretty good once you get the hang of it, but a PC is essential.
7. Can software be used on IPAQ so it can give voice instructions ? Yes it can, somewhat questionable until you get used to it though, I use Oziexplorer and set the waypoints on my route the night before then when I leave I set the forward rooue funnction on and off it goes, bit time consuming but I like to glance at the map in the morning - not good at preparing.
8. Anything else that might skew my decision whether to get the handheld or try to make the IPAQ work? I like my IPAQ, has been robust so far except the battery but it was still under warranty. Moving maps and excellent availability of maps, can scan maps in - calibrate them using another map of the area (usually in lesser detail) convert to OZF2 then put them on the IPAQ, can you do this with a GPS? Then I can play the 4wd radio show on it through my stereo that I downloaded on the weekend.
9. What happens when battery runs out - do you lose info (I notice some units need recalibration with new batteries) ? Yes this is a pain in prevebial! get a unit with a second battery but this doesn't save you but then it takes serious neglect to kill it. If you do kill it though it doesn't take long to set back up, recopy the maps across, reinstall oziexplorer and your away again in 10 minutes, I have a memory card which saves on the reloading of maps.

A couple of extra things; you mentioned you like to walk away from the car, you might want to test out how long the battery will last as the GPS unit draws on the IPAQ's battery. Also being farly PC savvy will help as they are similar to a little computer and the software both on the PC and on the PDA can be difficult to work out - follow the demo's and tutorial's though and you should be fine. One last thing - they are similar to a PC and can be as tempremental requiring regular reets sometimes although this isn't a big problem - just a little button on the back and there is no loss of data.

After all this I might go and see if I can get a job selling the things. I have never used a GPS like Magnellan/Garmin but I have seen a few and for the price (I already owned the IPAQ) I would go the PDA GPS anyday but probably not a bluetooth unit as they have batteries that require regular replacement/charging.

Hope this helps.
Rokkitt
AnswerID: 107894

Reply By: sleybell - Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005 at 22:46

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005 at 22:46
Thank you all for your in-depth replies. You've been a great help - although I have not completely made up my mind I am leaning towards a handheld, but not worry too much about the getting bells and whistles - use the iPaq for that (ie use them together, upgrading the iPAQ to match our future requirement).

However, Paul from Rycom - thanks for your offer I might give you a call - seeing something in operation could make a difference.

The Garmin/Magellon comparison seems a bit of a Ford/Holden one - in general it sounds like most owners are happy with what they have got and thinks its better than the other one!.

My impression from this forum (I haven't seen either in action) is that the Garmin sounds like a bit better quality unit, with better support in WA, and possibly a better cradle, whereas the Magellon currently has slightly better maps and more memory (with SD card).

I was told by a local person that Magellon no longer sells Mapsend - which I though was being used to load up non-Magellon maps (eg oxiexplorer, scanned maps). Is MapSend required to do this ? Or have I misunderstood - ie what is used instead.
AnswerID: 108344

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