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What's in store for GPS and Pocket PC in 2003 and beyond ?

January 1st 2003

 Article by Dave Burrows

  

 

Well 2002 has been a great year both for the Pocket PC market, and for GPS.  In 2000 and 2001 we only had a handful of Pocket PC manufacturers, last year (is it really last year ?) 2002 shows double, nearly treble the amount of Pocket PC manufacturers come onto the scene, including very large PC manufacturers like Dell and Toshiba, which only means one thing.   The Pocket PC and future incarnations are here to stay, and in a very big way!

 

I've always been interested in GPS, but for those who really know me I have only recently dived into Pocket PC GPS (exactly a year ago), in December 2001. 

 

 

When I was looking for my new Pocket PC in September of 2001 I was interested in one thing, in-car navigation.  Could I find anything out there to fit my needs ?  Of course not!  There were two choices in the UK at that time that I could find on the internet, the Pretec CF Card and the Navman 3000 sleeve.  I chose the latter and this forced me into dropping my trusty Casio's and plumping for the Compaq iPAQ which I truly had loathed until that time.  There really wasn't any good GPS software around for street navigation which is what I was really interested in.  I had completed a lot of business travelling in 2000 and 2001 and decided I needed something that could get me in and out of a city and know exactly where I was rather than having to rely on AutoRoute printouts or A-Z map books.

 

Things have sure changed in this past year.  I created my first review for Daron Brewood (aka TekGuru) and Kevin Tea (aka PDA Pro) back in December 2001 which was the original Navman 3000 with SmartPath Trips and City.  Six months on from this, and joining many GPS Pocket PC groups I realised others were experiencing the exact same problems I was, I decided to do something about this, and after talking to several other users who were experiencing the same problems, we decided we would start Pocket GPS.  We really didn't think in 6 months we would get the following we have, or the support from the GPS community.  We've been literally inundated with hardware and software to test, which really has turned Pocket GPS into a full time job for many of us, especially Mike and myself who have been churning review out after review.  Many a time I find myself receiving an instant message from Mike saying he's testing the latest GPS product on the way to the pub via whilst using his GPRS phone!  Then receive a message when he's at the pub saying he arrived safely, and the GPS got him there in one piece! ;-).  Low and behold, what you now see is the net result of all our hard work here at Pocket GPS, which has now become the most popular Pocket PC and GPS related website in 2002 and our website stats have simply soared through the roof!

 

What has 2002 brought us ?
2002 has been very good to us, we've seen major software GPS product releases like Navman releasing SmartST Pro both in Europe and in the United States of America. 

We've also seen TomTom upgrade it's current offering of RoutePlanner and CityMaps to TomTom Navigator for Europe.  TomTom recently upgraded CityMaps to the 2003 edition, which surprised most of us making it look more like Navigator! 

TravRoute also released Pocket CoPilot 3.5 UK and very recently in time for Christmas the 3.5 European edition, the new EMTAC GPS Sleeve which is already starting to see current Navman users upgrade to the new sleeve, oh and not forgetting Pocket CoPilot 3 US!

We've also seen very recently PowerLOC Destinator 2 being released with it's nice new 3D drive view, and Mapopolis coming to Europe.  EVO have managed to get it's new release of Memory Map and 2003 maps out of the door in time for Christmas (just).  There are also several other GPS products that will be hitting the stores in early 2003, and 2003 proves already to be an even greater year with tons of more excitement on tap for us.

Lets not forget in 2002 we also saw some great new hardware available for the Pocket PC including Leadtek 9531 SiRF I, SiRFII and the 9532 which will be due out in 2003, Garmin GPSMap 76 and 76S, EMTAC Compact Flash Card, EMTAC New Sleeve, EMTAC Bluetooth Receiver, Pretec Low Power CF Card, and many more!

The past year really has seen many more products than we can count and remember being released, so we're sorry if we've left your product out here.  All of this shows that GPS and Pocket PC's have become intertwined and their destiny together is a bright one.

 

So what does 2003 hold for us, and GPS users alike ?  Or 2004 or 2005 for that matter ?  Well my personal belief is that Tablet PC's will take off.  Since running a Palm III and then switching to colour Palm Size PC's running CE2, I've always longed for a tablet PC.  Not in the sense that Microsoft has now created (which really is a laptop and a swivel touch screen), I've longed for a Pocket PC screen twice the size in height and width, running Pocket PC operating system.  Ultra thin, in a way, something like we used to see sitting on Jean-Luc Picard's desk on Star Trek The Next Generation.  This is what I've longed for, and I think if the Tablet PC's take off, we're going to see the Pocket PC go in one of two ways, either back to a handheld style (smaller laptop) landscape style display, or to a mini tablet, and I'd bet my money on the latter.

 

So how's this going to benefit us with GPS ?  I think the manufacturer fitted in-car navigation systems are eventually going to die of death within a couple of years.  The only people who are realistically purchasing these are people who can afford 1000-2000 in-car systems, and most of this probably falls under Company Execs or Road Warrior Sales Directors.  Nobody in their right mind is going to pay upwards to 2000 for an in-car system that just gives you arrows on which way to turn, has no voice navigation and no or very little maps.  I think when company execs see the Pocket PC and GPS, they'll be realistically rolling it out to their sales staff and higher up execs who travel a lot.  Sure some of the more expensive in-car systems may equal the systems we're running on the Pocket PC, but nothing much better than this.  The Pocket PC screen really is too small.  We've managed to do a lot with it, but we need a bigger screen.  Firstly in 2003 I think we're going to see GPS programs for the Pocket PC that will have built in landscape support allowing you to turn the Pocket PC on it's side and fit more on screen.  Secondly and this will probably be more into 2004 or 2005, we're going to see the Tablet Pocket PC.  This will allow manufacturers to have a Tablet PC or Pocket PC in-car.  Vauxhall and many other companies have on board computers and a heads up dash display unit, the new Vauxhall Vectra has over 30 check points, and it will even tell you your tire pressures on the HUD.  I think a Tablet Pocket PC sitting on the dash would be good, and if Microsoft positions itself alongside the current Pocket PC manufacturers and the motor industry like it's started doing with the mobile phone manufacturers, we'll see these entering in-car and sitting on our dashboards in the near future, or perhaps even on swivel mounts.  If we can get these in-car from the purchase of a new car out of the showroom, running Microsoft CE based operating system, then we've got a large chance of being able to load GPS software onto these.  Wouldn't that be so cool ?

 

Little Black Boxes

Jumping back to reality slightly and back to 2003, I think voice navigation systems will become more of a standard system.  A black box sitting under the dash with no screen will be able to direct you to the destination of your choice by giving you voice commands. 

 

Now you may be able to program these manually, or load your destination in from a PC/laptop and program your favourite destinations.  Now there's already one device that will be available in 2003 for this, and more will come, mark my words!

 

Radar Detector's

What about Radar Detector's ?  We've already seen in 2002 the Road Angel and Geodesy that gives support for both radar and GPS in the same unit.  This is truly the way to go.  I think in the annual 2003/2004 product releases from GPS software houses, we're going to see more radar databases built in.  TrafCam has already created a great Pocket PC Blackspot database in 2002 both on the Palm and on the Pocket PC, and I think it would be foolish for this to be ignored.  It's something the market is crying out for, an integrated solution. 

 

Now I could quite easily see in 2004/2005 a new EMTAC model that would be a partnership between EMTAC and Target/Beltronics who make the Euro 550 Radar detector in Europe to produce the worlds first Bluetooth GPS receiver and Radar Detector all in-one.  It's certainly possible today, the technology is already here, it just needs to be integrated into a single box!  The EMTAC would have to be made a little larger, perhaps the size of a Pocket PC, but there's no reason why it couldn't be achieved, and if EMTAC's R&D department have their heads switched on, I'm sure they've already considered this for the drawing board!

 

In-Car Accessory Sockets

One thing we solely miss even in today's society is multiple cigarette (sorry Accessory) sockets in-car.  Why is it the car manufacturers won't support this ?  And oh god why do they support these horrible little plugs which keep springing out when you go over a bump ?  Let's see a reform and at least see a 4-way block in-car that has a rigid 3-pin socket/plug like we have in-house in the UK, which will lock firmly into position and not budge.  They could even have 1 or 2 of the current accessory sockets built into this extension block.  Why don't we have these ?  I suppose where do they go ?  Personally, my current 8-way blocks go under the seats, so why couldn't it be concealed this way out of view ?  Okay, why do we need more than one socket in-car ? 

 

On a good day I will run my Radar Detector, 3x Pocket PC's, 2xGPS Mice, FM Transmitter in-car oh and my MP3 player.  That's 8 devices!  I have two four-way accessory socket's stashed under the seat, that is split with a 2-way block.  This is the only way I can run all the devices I want in-car.  I travel 2 hours a day, most of which are motorway driving, and this totally recharges my battery so I have no need to worry about power drain on my car battery.

 

Integrated Mobile Phones

I think 2003 will show more integrated Mobile Technology in the form of the Pocket PC's coming with integrated mobile telephones as standard.  It's still an apples and oranges category.  You either like it or you loath it.

 

Pocket PC's supporting Bluetooth, GPRS, 3G should become the standard over the next year for the Pocket PC, and I think we'll start to see more of these being sold, with more products and manufacturers coming out of the woodwork.

 

A Pocket PC with GPS and GPRS/Bluetooth has a great potential for new online services as we originally wrote in our Wap Tech article earlier this year.  Being able to purchase tickets for car parks, electronically knowing exactly where you are, and being diverted into the space you've booked would be a great use of this technology.  This can still happen in multi-storey and underground car-parks with specific GPS re-rad repeaters setup at designated points.

 

Live Traffic News and GPS Re-Routing

One thing we have already seen announced in November of 2002 was TeamWarrior's and TravRoute's alliance with Pocket LiveWire.  This in the UK brings a rich internet like service together with News, Weather and Sport, and also AA Roadwatch services.  When you plot your journey from A to B, LiveWire will watch over your journey, using the latest GPRS technology connected to a mobile telephone, it will automatically check on a preset regular basis, and see if there are any accidents, or hold-ups on or near roads you are travelling on, and if there is, it will prompt you on screen and allow you to make the decision to ignore the incident or allow for re-routing to take place around this incident.  We're going to see more features and services like LiveWire throughout 2003 and hopefully the latter part of 2003 and into 2004 should see many more services in other countries.

 

I for one am excited about services like these, they can only enhance the GPS experiencing we're currently seeing in street mapping and routing, and I'm sure providing service costs are kept low enough, they will take off and become as popular as GPS is starting to become on the Pocket PC.

 

 

Head Up Displays

Something that has been talked about a lot over at PocketPC Thoughts is HUD or Heads Up Display.  There are now wearable devices, albeit rather expensive that can be used with PC's and Laptops, and the market looks quite promising for the Pocket PC and PDA scene.  Think how this could enhance GPS experienced, by having a see-through screen that flips over one eye that still allows you to watch the road, but have a map appear in front of you ?

 

I already have several pairs of Olympus Eye-Trek glasses which are for film, TV and DVD which gives you two 2.5 inch screens (one for each eye) which equates to watching a 52" television screen at 1.5 meters away.  In the top of the range FMD-700 you get high resolution output from a PC, although quality at 800x600 is still quite poor for reading text.  Sony and other companies have followed Olympus' lead and have created their own sets of glasses.  Although they tend to be pretty big and bulky, you get the idea that the technology is there and certainly possible with chip technology getting smaller by the day.

 

Although I don't think we'll see anything at consumer prices within the next year, perhaps we might in 2005 and with the standardisation of SDIO ?

 

What should we be looking for in GPS products in 2003 ?

Voice Navigation is one of my pet peeves.  Most of the Voice Navigation loudness in most of the products that are available today are just plainly not loud enough, at least not for motorway driving.  I don't drive a sports car, but I drive an Astra Coupe which has sports tuned suspension, rides very low to the ground and picks up lots of road noise through the tires, and I find most Voice Navigation systems get drowned out, especially if I have the car stereo on too.  TomTom Navigator really is the only one that I can honestly say is loud enough.  Voice Navigation also needs to be refined, TravRoute in a partnership with Fonix have produced true spoken words and road names.  This needs to be included into many more street navigation products.  Although I'd like to see this happening in 2003, I still think this probably won't be seen wild scale until 2004.

 

One thing Pocket GPS and readers have lobbied for in 2002 is seamless routing, providing a complete country wide map, and we have seen country wide maps available now in Navman SmartST Pro, TomTom Navigator and Pocket CoPilot.  These need to be available in all products, and there really isn't any reason why it cannot be achieved, the only physical limitation is storage space, and most people now have at least 128mb storage cards, so let's make this happen!  The thing that really does need to be addressed in 2003 is seamless routing.  This is where you can route between two sectional maps, and not have to manually change maps (like you do for instance in PowerLOC Destinator 2).  If we can have seamless sectional maps and be able to do address lookups in multiple maps, then this could cut down on storage requirements.

 

One thing we should always be looking for is better and more accurate mapping data and I've probably just heard a cheer from every person reading this into GPS!  This although pretty good, still has a long way to go.  There are far too many problems with mapping data from many of the top geodata companies, and this needs to be addressed.  This is something we've tried to do via the forums at Pocket GPS and feed this back to the relevant software manufacturers, and pressure does need to be applied to have this data sent back to companies like NavTech and TeleAtlas to rectify.  In-Car systems do not appear to have the problems we experience with maps if they are kept up to date, so why should we put up with an inferior product ?

 

Tablet Pocket PC

By 2005 we really should be looking for a Tablet style Pocket PC in-car, running Microsoft embedded operating systems, allowing us to have our full workload list, diary, contacts, GPS navigation, on a much larger screen, without having to install some of these large or cumbersome mounts onto our dashboard. 

 

We should be looking for at least a new style power socket for the car, preferably on an extension block, personally I would like to see the same style block you get in the home, but with a built in AC/DC switcher.  This way you could easily take your laptop into the car and plug it in without having to worry if it's AC or DC current.  We should also be looking a larger touch screens for in-car, and integrated wireless radar/gps receivers in one unit.  Wifi and Bluetooth is fine for in the home, but this sort of wireless technology we are going to find more useful in-car and this is where it will truly excel!

Okay now, back to reality once more, we're now at the start of 2003.  I do hope a lot of manufacturers that we know that read our website will be reading this in the New Year, and will take this document back to their R&D teams to look at.  The future is here! and there's so much we can do with the technology we have today, let's put our minds together, share information and accelerate the use of GPS on the Pocket PC in the coming months to enable this to happen!

 

In 2002 many of you have come to rely heavily on Pocket GPS being the main Pocket PC and GPS related resource out their for the latest breaking news and reviews.  What does 2003 bring ?  Exactly the same as 2002! 

 

We hope to still be able to bring you the latest news when it hits the Pocket PC and GPS scene, the latest Press Releases from the leading manufacturers and award winning companies you've seen products from this year, more reviews of both Pocket PC GPS devices and handheld GPS devices, all that you've come to expect from us in 2002 and much much more.  In late 2002 we started delving into the handheld GPS market, and this will be carried through to 2003 reviewing most of the Garmin and Magellan range of GPS Receivers with help from both of these companies and our sponsors.

 

All of us at Pocket GPS will endeavour to bring you the leading World Class Website and Technical Support that you've come to expect from us in 2002.  We do still need your help though!

 

As always, if you have any suggestions that you would like to see at Pocket GPS in the coming months or years, or have an article or review you've written, or would like to commence writing of, please drop us a note in the comments section of this article as we're always looking to add new features, reviews, information to the website you like the best!

 

Pocket GPS will also be looking to expand into other countries, if you have a passion for GPS like we do, and are prepared to contact GPS products in you're own country, review the latest products in short timescales, and produce great reviews and articles for Pocket GPS, get in touch with us, as we will be looking to expand soon!


Thanks for all your support in 2002, and we hope 2003 will be a cracker of a year!

Thanks from all the Pocket GPS Team

Dave, Darren, Duncan, Kevin, Mike

 

Here's just a handful of kind words some of you have sent us

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