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August 2004.
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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Trip Experience 

I put my new NAVMAN PiN PDA with GPS navigation tool to the test on my trip up to Brisbane/Gold Coast a couple of days ago. It performed much better than I expected, although, I didn't really have any expectations except for it to work. My biggest concern was the maps in rural areas etc, and whether i'd get lost in small towns. I'm happy to say, it worked flawlessly.

Test number one was to program it to take me from my place in Chatswood to Maitland Gaol and then back to the Pacific Hwy afterwards to continue my journey. It worked beautifully. It totally bypassed Newcastle to get me to the Gaol which was brilliant because it would have been peak hour traffic otherwise. The device soon said 'Destination', and sure enough, to my left was the front gates of the Gaol. I then told it to take me back to the highway where it not only didn't backtrack, but took me a new way which was already heading north. In the last street before getting on the Pacific highway, it had a bit of trouble because a service road was so close to the highway, it thought I was on it, but I was on the service road. Technically, it was probably my mistake but it corrected me and I got going.

The next test was in Taree.. I got off the highway and headed slightly inland to Taree driving blind looking for somewhere to have lunch. When I finished lunch, it guided me to the other end of Taree to the entrance of the highway.

Test number 3, I decided as I was going through Coffs Harbour to take a detour and look for the beach. I decided to again drive blind and head for the beach. It took me about 10 mins to find the beach, but then I stopped absorbed the scenery, and after a few photo's, told it to continue my journey, and within 30 seconds, it had me heading towards the pacific highway again, and I was continuing my trip within 5 minutes. Very impressive.

I did notice a couple of issues along the way with the maps though. On occasion it was trying to tell me to turn on to the old pacific highway which either no longer exists or is now blocked off.. but after ignoring it, within about 30 seconds, it re-routed itself and was back to being accurate. One other issue, was when I hit Tweed Heads, the new Tweed Heads Freeway doesn't exist on the maps yet, so it thought I was driving in the bush. Looked funny, but I knew I was going the right direction and as soon as the new freeway merged with the normal Pacific Highway again, all was plain sailing again.

The last test came yesterday which wasn't even a planned test.. I was going from a cemetery where my grandmother is buried to my brothers place, and it routed me flawlessly via the backway to his place. I'm extremely impressed with this thing.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Navman PiN Pocket PC 

While looking at purchasing a GPS navigation system for my car (in preperation for my trip to Brisbane), I came across the Navman PiN Pocket PC. I already own an IPAQ 3630 which i've contemplated upgrading before, but my decision to upgrade was set in concrete, once I saw the unit had GPS. My IPAQ was bought when they first came out almost 5 years ago, so it had it's limitations. An upgrade was never going to go astray, but it was hard to justify the cost without a new use. Well, the added GPS on the Navman PiN Pocket PC is all that was needed to convince me. It's the coolest!!

The unit is just as good as my IPAQ, in fact much better. More memory which is easily expanded, latest operating system, lighter, smaller and more sleek. The GPS is the best part though. It uses the SMARTST gps navigation software for Australia, and i'm rather impressed. I had a problem initially with it getting a signal, but found that there were two good reasons behind it. First, in built up areas where there are lots of buildings, GPS has trouble getting through, and secondly, the first initial use, takes about 15 minutes to get a fix, so I wasn't waiting long enough.

Needless to say, once I sorted that issue out, I had great time trying it out. It's been pretty accurate in my tests. It does have it's problems, which seem to be mainly map related. Eg. on the odd occasion, it tells me to turn left or right into a street that is either one way, or non-existent, but the majority of the time, seems to work great. It knows what roundabouts are, and speaks in proper english to tell you the directions. The real test of course will be when I go up to Brisbane/Gold Coast. I'm going to set it to take me to Maitland Gaol when I leave next Monday morning, and see if I get there. If I end up in Melbourne, you know it had some problems.

Stay tuned for how it went.