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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am debating on getting a Garmin GPS or Android phone.

I don't really want anything super special. I currently have a Sigma 1609 and am happy with it. Not to interested in a HRM, or altitude and stuff like that. The altitude information would be cool but not a deal breaker.

I will be making a trip to South India in the summer. What I want is the ability to "mark" on my GPS when I arrive somewhere, IE lake, Mountain, restaurant, etc from a taxi, bus, train etc. Then when I get home I can pop the GPS on my bike and ride back to the place of interest.

I know most GPS units do this.

I also want to connect my GPS to my PC, Find a place of interest and mark it on my GPS, get on and my bike and get there.

I also know most GPS units do this.

What I would also like is the ability to listen to music and have GPS instructions while I have the head phones on. Is this only achievable by a smart phone? IE Android or Apple? Or can I get some kind of blue tooth headset and have it connected to both my GPS unit and my mp3?

Lastly I would prefer something a bit more durable. I would hate to crash or get some light water on my unit and have it ruined. So I am worried about going with the smart phone option. The Garmins seem to be a bit more durable then a smart phone.

Also with Garmin I would have to buy an extra map package for India, I think each extra map is about $100. Would I have to buy extra maps with a smart phone?

The main thing I am looking for is an easy way to listen to music and my GPS at the same time. I don't really look at my Sigma bike computer while I am riding I only check out stuff like top speed, average speed, time after the ride.

Thanks a ton in advance for your help.
 

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ok, my recommendation is my current setup (obviously)... I have an HTC EVO (Android) with the Otterbox Defender Series Case with a SlipGrip bar mount running the MapMyRide App. This setup will do everything you mentioned including the altitude and you never have to connect any wires to mark, sync, and edit any of your locations. You simply login to google maps, mark where u want to go with a star or add it to one of your "My Maps" and when you get out to your bike and open google maps, they will be there. Let me know if you have any questions.
 

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Those otter boxes would be perfect for what you are needing. I have the HTC Incredible and love it all together. You can download a free android AP called My Tracks and it makes a map of your trip whether it is riding driving or walking. It will do elevation fain/loss, speed, etc. You should check the smart phone option for sure.

-Brett
 

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Phone GPS's don't work very well. Battery life is too short. Android uses Google Maps, which need a phone connection to download the map segment. There are no off-road maps. Get a Garmin.
 

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Good points, using a phone for GPS will drain the battery faster, so it depends on your ride length. My Tracks says a battery will last about 5 hours on a full charge with their program. As far as I know, the GPS in my android works well. I get consistent results on the same trail as far as statistics go.

As far as off road maps, does GPS's like Garmin have them? With an application (ie: My Tracks), you can upload maps that people have sent to My Maps on Google right on to your phone. (as well as gps units I am sure)

You do need a cell connection to see the map, but it will still track your route via the GPS unit. You just visually cant see it if you have no cell connection.

-Brett
 

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Set on android?

Carraig042 said:
You do need a cell connection to see the map, but it will still track your route via the GPS unit. You just visually cant see it if you have no cell connection.
Most iPhone GPS apps allow you to saves maps to the phone for offline viewing. You can also get a mophie juicepack to double/triple battery life. Best apps I've tried (all can cache maps):
  1. GPS kit (allows KML import)
  2. Accuterra (allows KMZ import)
  3. MotionX GPS (allows GPX import)

Not saying any of these are as good, or better than a dedicated GPS. But they do have some perks, being a phone as well. I've been very impressed with GPS Kit ;)
 

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Map availability for Garmin GPS receivers is very good. Look at the free maps database at www.gpsfiledepot.com because they have a lot of international map content available at no cost.

I'll address some of your other concerns next.

What I would also like is the ability to listen to music and have GPS instructions while I have the head phones on. Is this only achievable by a smart phone? IE Android or Apple? Or can I get some kind of blue tooth headset and have it connected to both my GPS unit and my mp3?
A handheld GPS will not do this. Of course, the music part is not available at all. But the "GPS instructions" on a handheld or fitness GPS consist of a beep. No spoken words. That's for car GPS receivers and you don't want one of those on your bike anyway. Not like you really need spoken commands, anyway. When the GPS beeps, that's just to get your attention so you look at the screen and see where it wants you to turn. Instructions are displayed visually.

As mentioned before, battery life stinks on phones compared to standalone GPS receivers. Battery on phones varies, of course, but take the 5hr example above and compare it to a fitness GPS - the Edge 705, for example, at 15 hours. That's on the low end of the range. Compare that to an eTrex Vista HCx at 25 hours at the upper end. Now you see how badly the phone does. Combine GPS usage with simultaneous music playback. Ha! You're not going to get 5 hours. I recommend if you really insist on music playback that you get a separate device for that.

If you already have the phone and were wondering if it'd work...it'll work. It won't work great, but it'll do in the absence of a more purpose-built GPS, especially if budget concerns would make it difficult to swing the standalone GPS. However, if you're looking to purchase something and you're debating between the smartphone and the standalone GPS, buy the standalone GPS.
 

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i got rid of my droid, too much monthly fees for internet w/sprint. off road i use delorne pn-40, road and run i use garmin 405
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
First off, awesome forums got some great advice. Thanks a bunch to all the posters esp the regulars I am sure you get a lot of these types of questions.

After reading I am leaning to get a stand alone GPS unit. It seems that if I am running music and the gps my battery life will be drastically reduced.

I live in China and we don't have contracts with our cell phone providers, they are all pay as you go. If I were to get a smart phone I would not pay for the internet cause I know I would use it too much and spend way to much money on checking my e-mail every few min. How ever could I still access GPS stuff on an Android phone if I did pay for the Cell phone providers internet service?

Also I would get a beep with a Garmin unit. Would it only be a beep? Could I get the screen to come on when I need to make a turn? Also I am guessing if I miss said turn then the Garmin would make a new route for me?

last question is advice on a Garmin unit.

Now I am leaning 80% Garmin 20% smart phone.

Something easy, color screen would be nice, off road maps would be nice, can you read the new color screen models in the sunlight? Also do the color screen models have noticeable shorter battery life?

Thanks again for you help.
 

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kumarpr227 said:
I live in China and we don't have contracts with our cell phone providers, they are all pay as you go. If I were to get a smart phone I would not pay for the internet cause I know I would use it too much and spend way to much money on checking my e-mail every few min. How ever could I still access GPS stuff on an Android phone if I did pay for the Cell phone providers internet service?
Here in the states, most phone companies require a data plan if you buy a smartphone. So if you already have it, might as well use it. If you don't have an internet connection, you won't get maps. If your phone allows you to access wifi connections when they're available, you could cache maps with some phone apps, but that can get to be a pain if you have to repeatedly cache maps for different areas you want to visit.

Also I would get a beep with a Garmin unit. Would it only be a beep? Could I get the screen to come on when I need to make a turn? Also I am guessing if I miss said turn then the Garmin would make a new route for me?
It will beep and then the screen will actually show you what you need to do.

[/quote]
Something easy, color screen would be nice, off road maps would be nice, can you read the new color screen models in the sunlight? Also do the color screen models have noticeable shorter battery life?

Thanks again for you help.[/QUOTE]
Most of the color screens are pretty easy to see, especially the ones on the eTrex series, Edge 605/705, and GPSMap 60/76 series. On the Oregon 450 (550 uses the same screen), I find the screen easily visible in direct sun...but a little tough to see in the shade. I hear the older Oregon 300/400 models had a screen less visible in the sunlight. The Dakota and the GPSMap 62/78 series models use a different screen that I do not have direct experience with. It has a lower resolution than the Oregons and is supposed to be more easily visible.

Battery life depends on the model. Screen size and resolution impact battery life moreso than color vs b&w. The Oregon's battery life is relatively low (~12hrs) because the screen is big and it has a high resolution. Higher resolution may allow you to see more detail, but it does have its drawbacks.

Any handheld except the basic yellow eTrex will be able to handle maps. The Edge 605/705 and every other mapping-capable model have basic map ability (street maps, topo maps) and the Edge 800 and the Dakota, Oregon, Colorado, and GPSMap 62 and 78 models can also handle satellite imagery (Google Earth type stuff) and custom scanned maps in addition to the same basic maps all the other ones can handle.
 

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I use both and there's a few things that keep me from dropping my dedicated gps receiver over my Android phone:

- battery life, runs forever on 2 AA bats.
- gps case is waterproof, dustproof, and pretty tough
- barometric altimeter for quality altitude readings
- damn good maps for free
- display is actually readable in sunlight

I find the gps receiver on my phone actually performs better than my Garmin. It's so sensitive that it fires up indoors where the Garmin start beeping over a lost signal. It also always beats the Garmin at acquiring a signal.

There are also many things you can do with an Android phone that aren't possible on a gps receiver. Like storing map images, perform live data updates to and from the internet, and other goodies missing from typical gps receivers.

The one thing I really wish I could do right now is upload maps from gpsfiledepot.com onto the Android phone, that would be super. Haven't seen a app for that yet.
 

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How ever could I still access GPS stuff on an Android phone if I did pay for the Cell phone providers internet service?
Not sure how it works in China as far as data plans and service with the pay as you go. I know the markets here and there are much different. You do not need any data to run a gps program other than to download it form the Market Place. (there may be a way to download to a pc/mac and then transfer it to your phone.... not sure though) The phone has a built in GPS unit that used to be mainly for emergency purposes only. I think the gps works in two ways on the phones, I think it uses the cell towers to triangalate as well as the GPS unit within the phone.

-Brett
 

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Importing and exporting tracks are what I really want to do with mine....I just got the BT HRM and I always carry my phone anyway so if I can cut out a GPS and cycle computer etc all the better. But on some of the more obscure trails in AZ I would like to be able to download others tracks so I know I am staying on course.
 

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Mtn-Rider said:
I use both and there's a few things that keep me from dropping my dedicated gps receiver over my Android phone:

- battery life, runs forever on 2 AA bats.
- gps case is waterproof, dustproof, and pretty tough
- barometric altimeter for quality altitude readings
- damn good maps for free
- display is actually readable in sunlight

I find the gps receiver on my phone actually performs better than my Garmin. It's so sensitive that it fires up indoors where the Garmin start beeping over a lost signal. It also always beats the Garmin at acquiring a signal.

There are also many things you can do with an Android phone that aren't possible on a gps receiver. Like storing map images, perform live data updates to and from the internet, and other goodies missing from typical gps receivers.

The one thing I really wish I could do right now is upload maps from gpsfiledepot.com onto the Android phone, that would be super. Haven't seen a app for that yet.
You don't specify which Garmin GPS you're using. The last two handhelds I've owned have worked well indoors. But that's not the point. Cell phone GPS chips are not as good as standalone GPS receivers. They make up the difference by using AGPS triangulating between cell towers. Take away the AGPS (get outside cell range) and you see exactly what the GPS chips can do. Also, most new handhelds store map images, too.

Not sure how it works in China as far as data plans and service with the pay as you go. I know the markets here and there are much different. You do not need any data to run a gps program other than to download it form the Market Place. (there may be a way to download to a pc/mac and then transfer it to your phone.... not sure though) The phone has a built in GPS unit that used to be mainly for emergency purposes only. I think the gps works in two ways on the phones, I think it uses the cell towers to triangalate as well as the GPS unit within the phone.
The whole point of the app on the cell phone is that it can download maps live over your data connection and you can often cache them for later when you're out of cell range and cannot download them. If you have no way to get the maps, what's the point?

Please don't "think" about how AGPS works when you don't. Modern phones with AGPS use the cell tower triangulation to speed location acquisition and augment the GPS chips in the phones. AGPS on its own is pretty bad. It can essentially narrow your position down to within a block of your actual position. Kinda like the wifi location on my ipod touch. Use the gps without the cell tower augmentation and you essentially have the accuracy of a pre-H Garmin eTrex. The newest smartphone GPS chips are a little better than that now, but they're still not as good as standalone GPS receivers when you take away AGPS.
 

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NateHawk said:
You don't specify which Garmin GPS you're using. The last two handhelds I've owned have worked well indoors. But that's not the point. Cell phone GPS chips are not as good as standalone GPS receivers. They make up the difference by using AGPS triangulating between cell towers. Take away the AGPS (get outside cell range) and you see exactly what the GPS chips can do. Also, most new handhelds store map images, too.
My comparison is between a Garmin eTrex Vista Cx and an HTC G1, not the point, yes, but not quite hijacking this thread yet. I wouldn't be surprised if the Garmin has an outdated gps receiver and/or antenna design.
 

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Mtn-Rider said:
My comparison is between a Garmin eTrex Vista Cx and an HTC G1, not the point, yes, but not quite hijacking this thread yet. I wouldn't be surprised if the Garmin has an outdated gps receiver and/or antenna design.
Yes, the Vista Cx does have an older, less accurate GPS chip. I figured that was the source of the trouble you mentioned in your earlier post, because in that post, it sounded like that could apply to all Garmins, not necessarily older ones like yours is.

You'll find the Vista Cx to be similar to many of the early smartphones in GPS performance...like the early iphones, for example. Much earlier than that, and the GPS capability of phones was even worse.

With so many smartphones using GPS chips now, the cost of that hardware has been driven down, so they're able to include higher quality receivers than even just 2yrs ago.

I read about a VERY interesting android tablet recently. Don't think it's slated for release in this country, but it might be available to the OP at some point. It's got a semi-ruggedized construction, so it's water resistant and more burly than equipment nowadays. If that type of build catches on more, it would be nice to see it showing up in smaller devices. No need for a separate waterproof case. And from what I recall, it has a good GPS chip in it...it needs to since it does not have 3G for AGPS. It uses wifi for a data connection.

Could be a hint of some possible developments for the future. I, for one, think mobile GPS applications took a step backwards when the earlier mobile platforms were abandoned when apple introduced the iOS.
 

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I used to use Garmin (actually I still use it as a speedometer) but I didn't have any way to download the data after the ride was over. For the last year I've been using SportsTrackLive on my Motorola Droid (that's my page, take a look at the rides, you can play them back to see how slow I am ;) ). I like how I can review my rides and get summary information, I also use it with a Bluetooth HRM so all that gets tracked as well. There's a free version as well as paid.

I really considered a better GPS unit but when I ride I use my phone for multiple things (music, GPS tracking with voice feedback, calling my buddies if we get separated, etc). It's the only thing I really want to have with me, no GPS can do that. Sure, I can't really depend on it for mapping if I'm out of cell range somewhere (although there are apps that allow you to download some map data in advance, i.e. Mapdroyd) but I don't really ever get that far out there.

Good luck!

CC
 

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cac313 said:
I used to use Garmin (actually I still use it as a speedometer) but I didn't have any way to download the data after the ride was over.
Which one did you use? Most of them use a basic USB cord for data transfers unless you had a REALLY old serial connection model with no cord.
 

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NateHawk said:
Which one did you use? Most of them use a basic USB cord for data transfers unless you had a REALLY old serial connection model with no cord.
That was, in fact, the case. I have the etrex Summit, it required a proprietary serial cord that I didn't want to spend the money for
 
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