The first topic he zeroes in on is GPS devices.
How did we ever find our way around before they came into play?
With so many navigating devices flooding the market, Sieberg spotlights several of the latest Friday.
WHAT IS GPS?
GPS stands for global positioning system. The satellite-based navigation system consists of 24 orbiting satellites that transmit continuous signals to GPS receivers to determine the precise location of a vehicle, person or other asset it's attached to, and to record the position of the vehicle, person or asset at regular intervals.
The latitude and longitude of a GPS receiver can be determined by the position of at least three of the satellites.
Although GPS was originally developed for United States military purposes, it became available for consumer use, primarily as a navigational tool, in the mid-1980s.
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN GPS DEVICES
TYPES OF GPS DEVICES
Editor's note: The manufacturers of the items below contributed to these descriptions.
The Garmin nüvi 680, with a 4.3" diagonal (about the length of a checkbook) screen display, provides turn-by-turn, voice prompted directions to your destination. The portable GPS device has Bluetooth, which enables you to pair a Bluetooth cell phone to the nuvi to make and receive calls directly from the nuvi — transforming it into a speaker phone.
It's FM transmitter allows you to easily transmit the nuvi's audio (voice prompted directions) sent through your car's speakers. It also has preloaded maps of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and over 6 million preloaded points of interest such as hotels, restaurants, attractions, banks, ATMs, etc.
Other features include real-time traffic, fuel prices, weather and movie time listing information provided by MSN Direct (the first year is free, after that one year is $49.95), as well as an MP3 player, audio book player, travel guide books, language translator, currency converter, etc. Routing modes available for automotive, pedestrian, taxi, bus and bicycle. Up to seven hours battery life. MSRP:$899.99; www.garmin.com
The affordable Magellan GPS Maestro 3100 is the most basic unit in the Maestro line featuring voice prompted directions (it will say "Turn left on 5th Avenue in .2 miles, etc.). Other features include a 3D bird's eye and standard map views, 3.5" full-color anti-glare screen, and 750,000 points of interest. Additional feature includes SmartDetour to help drivers route around freeway traffic. MSRP: $299.99
The TomTom ONE XL is an easy to use, lightweight and portable personal navigation device with a 4.3-inch touch-screen. The extra large screen allows for an expanded view of the driving area, showing even more street names and side roads.
The TomTom ONE XL is traffic-ready, giving drivers easy access to real-time updates and road conditions through a subscription to TomTom traffic. Additionally, the device comes with the most up-to-date maps for worry-free navigation, QuickGPSfix software for an even faster connection with GPS satellites and quick route calculation for efficient travel.
With the TomTom ONE XL, customers will have access to all the TomTom PLUS services including real-time traffic and weather reports, updates on road conditions and TomTom Buddies feature. The TomTom ONE range offers optional smart accessories such as carry cases, alternate mounting solutions and a fast home charger. MSRP: $399; www.tomtom.com
LG Electronics, a newcomer to the GPS market, recently launched a line that includes of GPS devices. Topping the new lineup is the LG Portable Navigator LN740 with a bright 4-inch screen that provides an easy-to-read map display while maintaining a high level of portability for simple transport among multiple family vehicles.
Its display also automatically changes from "day mode" to "night mode" for clear visual recognition in any lighting condition. With its turn-by-turn text-to-speech voice guidance, its highly accurate pre-loaded U.S. and Canada map with millions of POIs, access to traffic data service via a supplied RDS-TMC antenna as well as photo and music file playback, navigation, information and entertainment are more accessible than ever.
Available at Circuit City stores and other leading electronics retailers. MSRP: $449.95; www.lgusa.com/navigation
The Magellan CrossoverGPS is the first rugged, IPX-4-waterproof device designed to provide both turn-by-turn driving guidance and navigation for outdoor adventures in the wilderness or on water.
The CrossoverGPS has preloaded street maps and topography maps so users can use it in the car or in the woods. It also has a marine navigation mode and an SD card slot so you can load marine charts and use the CrossoverGPS on a boat as well. MSRP: $499.99; www.magellangps.com.
The Mio DigiWalker H610 is a palm-sized personal navigation and digital entertainment device (smaller than an 5G iPod) weighing less than 4 ounces. It fits easily in a hand, pocket, purse or can be worn with an included lanyard or wrist strap.
The handheld unit comes preloaded with maps of the U.S. (Alaska and Hawaii included) as well as Canada, and features turn-by-turn voice and text navigation (in 16 languages including English, French and Spanish), which allows users to keep their eyes on the road and still get directions.
The H610 also features multiple navigation modes, including one for walking and one for bicycle or car transportation. The point-of-interest search navigates to more than 3 million locations, including gas stations, restaurants, hotels, businesses and more — with addresses and phone numbers for extra convenience. For an extra personal touch, users can add their own new "POIs" as they travel. The device also includes a full-featured MP3 player with high quality earphones, a digital still photo viewer, and a digital video player.
Users can also import their contact list from Microsoft Outlook to easily navigate to business and personal contacts. With a battery life up to five hours. MSRP: $499.95; www.miogps.com.
TeleNav GPS Navigator provides GPS applications to most of the leading cell phone carriers and manufacturers. They have partnered with Sprint Nextel, AT&T/Cingular, T-Mobile, AllTel, Qwest, Boost Mobile and Southern Linc.
Their application is the only one that runs on all types of mobile platforms — such as Java, Brew, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc. They are also available on many types of devices such as Motorola, RIM Blackberry Samsung, Sanyo, LG, HTC (pocket PCs), Palm Treos, Symbol, Nokia, etc.
On many phones the application can be downloaded directly from the phone. For those that do not offer this option, the carrier activates the application. Also, unlike other personal navigation devices that store mapping information on the device itself, mobile devices update data automatically and continuously.
Customers never have to worry about manually updating by downloading maps, business information, etc. All carriers with TeleNav GPS Navigator offer the application for $9.99 per month.
The BlackBerry 8800 from AT&T is one of the carrier's latest BlackBerry devices and provides mobile access to e-mail, messaging and organizer applications. It is the thinnest full QWERTY BlackBerry available.
It features internal GPS, a rich media player for music and videos plus a microSD expansion card slot to add up to 2 GB of additional memory. Features include easy-to-use trackball navigation, a large high-resolution screen plus even longer talk and standby times.
It is full of convenient features such as voice dialing, speakerphone, and Bluetooth 2.0. With access to TeleNav GPS Navigator you get real-time traffic with alerts and rerouting, as well as more than 10 million points of interest, including locations for cheapest gas prices. MSRP:$299.99 with a two year contract plus $9.99 per month.
The Motorola RAZR from Sprint is packed with great features and is powered by the Sprint Power Vision network. Besides access to TeleNav GPS Navigator, it offers features such as Sprint TV, NFL Mobile, Sprint Music Store along with the convenience of Bluetooth wireless technology and a 1.3 megapixal camera. MSRP:$24.99 two year contract and with mail-in rebate plus $9.99 per month.
TeleNav uses both the location information from the GPS signals, as well as the wireless carriers network to transfer mapping and business data, so cell reception and therefore GPS signal depends on the carrier network. GPS signals can also sometimes be blocked by tall buildings.
The Federal Communication Commission's 2000 Enhanced 911 Location Capability Rule required that all wireless carriers utilized location-capable technology as part of 911 services — either network based (using cell tower triangulation to determine approximate location) or with GPS chips in cell phones. For emergency purposes, a network-based service is required to be able locate wireless devices within 328 feet 50 percent of the time, and GPS service within 492 feet 50 percent of the time.
The Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx is a rugged, outdoor, handheld GPS. The waterproof unit is ideal for hiking, hunting, camping, etc. It has a large color display, barometric altimeter (for extremely accurate elevation data) and electronic compass (can determine your heading and direction when you're standing still).
You can load maps on it for automotive, marine, and topographic. It is often used for the sport of geocaching — a high tech treasure hunt where geocachers find geocaches (treasures) by searching for a specific latitude or longitude line. MSRP: $449.99; www.garmin.com
The Garmin Forerunner 305 is a GPS-fitness device that tracks your time, speed, distance, heart rate, pace, elevation, location, etc — all via satellite. A feature allows you to download popular courses to the location you're visiting, and a so-called "Bread Crumb Trail" option can direct you back to your starting point if you get lost.
You can use the waterproof wrist unit for running, walking, swimming, cycling, kayaking, etc. It comes with a Training Center CD so you can plan and log all your workout. The CD lets you analyze your workouts when you're done — you can chart and graph what you did and compare various elements of your workout. For example, compare your heart rate to the elevation climb, or compare your speed to the distance.
The Forerunner also has a virtual partner feature that allows you to race against a digital partner for a time and/or speed that you have specified to. MSRP: $349.99; www.garmin.com
The high-tech Compass Sneaker, with a built-in GPS tracking device, enables wearers to be located anywhere in the world. It utilizes Quantum Satellite Technology via an embedded 2"x3" GPS module in the bottom of the shoe that communicates with international satellites.
The sneaker features a Covert Alarm Locator or Panic Button that is pushed by the wearer in the event they are lost or there is a crisis. The emergency signal is received at the company's monitoring station, ID Conex, which then notifies the authorities that there is an emergency and gives the location of the sneaker.
Consumers are also able to locate loved ones who are missing by calling the ID Conex monitoring station with the unique ID number assigned to each sneaker. Note: Safeguards are in place to ensure individual privacy is not breached by family, friends, acquaintances, employers, businesses, the government or those with ill intent.
A limited number of sneakers are available for sale at www.isaacdaniel.com. They will be carried in retail stores later this year, and a line of children's sneakers in spring '08. MSRP: $325 per pair plus a $20 month monitoring fee for access to ID Conex.
The GlobalPetFinder is a GPS tracking device for pets that incorporates cellular technology by sending a text message to your cell phone, PDA or e-mail address in order to let you know where your pet is.
So, GPS is what tracks your pet and cellular technology is what transmits the pet's location to you. You can set up virtual boundaries — alerting you automatically via cell phone or email address when the pet crosses the boundary that has been previously determined.
Or you may choose to use the device with no virtual boundaries. In this mode, you will only receive alerts when you request them. For example, say you're walking your dog and he gets away. You take out your cell phone and send a text message to 3-6-8-6-3 (F-O-U-N-D). In the body of the text message you type "Track Fido" (where Fido is your pet's name). You will then start receiving updated alerts about every three minutes that will provide you with your pet's location.
The device comes with everything you need to get started: a snapguard (this securely attaches the device to the collar), a set of batteries and a battery charger. Similar to a cell phone, GlobalPetFinder contains a SIM card (this is what enables the device to communicate with your wireless device), which requires activation with a one-time fee of $34.99. MSRP: $289.99 plus $17.99 per month monitoring fee.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: www.gpsmagazine.com