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The SatNav Is Dead Long Live GPSBased Fitness Devices

Article by: MaFt
Date: 23 Feb 2017

We've seen for some time now that as more and more people rely on their smartphones for navigation, the humble 'Sat Nav', or PND (Personal Navigation Device) has slowly been pushed to one side. So what is the future for GPS-based devices?

Pebble's smartwatches moved more towards a fitness theme, so much so that they were bought out by Fitbit at the end of 2016. Garmin have, for some time, made GPS-based fitness watches/trackers and TomTom joined in a few years ago with their Sport watches too.

Garmin's recently published reports show that, for the first time, their fitness sales ($274m) have overtaken their automotive sales ($226m) for the last quarter of 2016. Fitness devices are clearly the future of GPS-based consumer technology. However, the humble Sat Nav still has a role to play with navigation as they generally allow more customisation (like our speed camera database) than the smartphone apps can offer. Just don't expect much in the way of new features - unless it's fitness-based!

Source: Garmin Newsroom

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Posted by dchbrown on Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:56 am Reply with quote

I think that for the average person they will use their phone first and only a PND if they have one already - I can't see that many people going out and buying one today.

Then for the more advanced user the age of the hardware in PNDs becomes an issue. I have been a TomTom user since their first model and through the highs of a 940 to the lows of a 1005 I am now using the android app. Why? Because compared with the 600 that I still own the app is more responsive and the screen on my Nexus 6p is both large enough and higher resolution.

I have used a Garmin and neither they nor TomTom seem to want to make a device that matches or even comes close to a modern smartphone. I understand that if they made £500 satnavs they would sell even less but for the prices they do charge they could do better I think.

Posted by fruit on Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:07 am Reply with quote

Guess I must be far from average...

I have come to hate my mobile, it is nearly always switched off except for emergencies (too may interuptions when I have been busy in the past). Probably been off for the last three weeks at a guess.

I have an Garmin Etrex 30 for walking/cycling and a Nuvi 2460 for driving.
If Garmin are intending to phase out manufacture of such devices in the futuer then they will lose my custom Smile

Posted by BigginAndy on Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:23 am Reply with quote

Dedicated satnavs have more competition today with phones and in car systems but I hope they are not dying.

I have used Garmin satnavs all over Eastern and Western Europe for years with cars and motorcycles. In fact its over 10 years since we bothered to take maps. Just a laptop running Basecamp and a Garmin so we can plan routes while in overnight hotels.Today I also have great mapping on my iPhone and my nice new car has a built in satnav. Neither come close to competing with my Garmins.

The iPhone has a really good navigation app complete with Europe mapping but is a disaster on the bike as the first time I get any sort of screen notification it obscures the satnav and can't be dismissed with gloved hands. The bike's Garmin operates happily with gloved hands and can be partly controlled via the bike's own systems as well. On both bike and in car the screen size cannot come close to competing with my satnavs (I use a 7 Plus) which means reading glasses to see it properly.

The satnav on my Mazda MX5 is pretty good and has a few features I would like to see on my Garmin but I can't install my own POIs of campsites and other useful travel databases and more important I cannot spend winter evenings on my computer using Basecamp and Google Earth to refine our next run across Europe and then copy all the waypoints, destinations and routes to the satnav in the car or my iPhone. When I get back from a trip I cannot analyse any of the trip data either. The result is that the Mazda unit and my iPhone may get used to find a shop or something in Kent when the actual route is of no importance and for many users that is enough but when real navigation is needed it's back to Garmin.

Final comment. My first Garmin was a model 2720 for my motorcycle. It cost over £800 (equal toabout £1200 today) and each map update was about £70.00. My last has a large screen, free lifetime map upgrades and Eurowide traffic. It gains extra facilities via an iPhone app and has a built in dashcam. It cost £200 and a smaller version bought for my son was £100. That last figure is about the price for ONE map upgrade for my car's very basic built in system.

Posted by DKGame on Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:55 am Reply with quote

I've still got my aging TomTom 700-something in the car for the very rare occasion that the smartphone dies or I run out of Data and Waze refuses to do anything, however the fact TomTom locked their hardware down somewhat, tried to prevent a lot of customization and tried to build a business model where you paid for map updates is ultimately what started their demise.

Nowadays for less than what my TomTom cost, I can get a 7"-10" tablet - even it it's 2nd hand - that has enough processing power to run a GPS app either off the SD card or OTA via internet tethering. Traffic and maps are updated live in most instances, and speed cameras, police traps and other hazards are updated in real-time. Something that a fair few dedicated PNDs still can't do, and the ones that can are locked in to certain services. And when I've got to my destination? Slip the tablet out of the dock, and take it with me to do email/facebook etc.

Times have changed, as has the technology. Eventually the PND will go the way of the personal organizer, PalmPilot etc. where it'll be something that belongs in the past as one device can now fulfill all those functions AND be a phone, diary, web browser, mail device, messenger, navigator, video player etc.

Posted by dogdays on Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:47 am Reply with quote

To be totally honest I do not like my mobile phone. Though I can see the advantages of a smart phone in many ways, I would prefer that a phone was just a phone and did texts. I used to get three days battery life out of my old company Nokia, unfortunately my smart phone ( Moto G 4) is always in need of charging. I shall stay with my Garmin Nuvi ( £85) with its free map updates and traffic data, having it sitting on its bean bag base in the corner of my dashboard telling where the camera locations are. I will admit though that I preferred the original menu layout and mapping view of the original mark one TomTom's display, finding the new system an abomination.

Posted by zetor12 on Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:57 am Reply with quote

But isn't it illegal to touch a phone even for navigation whilst driving?

Garmin Montana 650
TT Go6200

Posted by tiddler on Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:01 pm Reply with quote

I tried to use a mobile with GPS for navigation and in the end gave up. I use my Garmin Navi 3598LM and find it gets to were I want to go. All my Garminís and TomTom before that have been fine. I also have a Sat Nav in the Kia, problem is, itís too basic, you canít add any poiís or camera databases, which with todayís infested roads with cameraís everywhere you need. I do believe keep using a mobile phone for navigation will eventually ruin itís battery, as I don't think they are built for that.

Posted by chas921 on Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:51 pm Reply with quote

TomTom recently advised me that my Go 520 was at the end of its life for system support, and would I like to upgrade? Why Not I thought, due to a recent issue with my new car and its satellite system setup? but the event was short lived? The Go5200 was refunded and now I`m back with my reliable Go520. I`m sure it will last for a little longer,without the updates/support.

There was an issue with the new magnetic adapter, the Go5200 was receiving power according to the onscreen display, but not charging the units battery? so the unit would quickly die.

Another reason to change from Tomtom to iPhone was because the new car needed a smart phone connected system to operate?

Turns out I had an issue with the Bringo satellite navigation system that my car requires. For a Year there has been issues with the link (cable) and I have only just found the solution, the cable is/was too long? I kept the iP6 next to the 'A' pillar for better GPS signal reception, so now back using a short standard cable (that's why it worked the first time, and not since!). This was the main reason to go it alone with a new Tomtom Go5200

Using phone, alone Bringo / Google maps, but not cabled or bluetoothed works fine, but the new rules! touch your phone whilst driving, and £200/6 points is an option!!

The In-car sat-nav solution is tidy, no hanging wires? but is not the best solution due to the central position of the screen, you need to take your eyes away from the road and look down. phones are untouchable, due to the regulations, the Go520 sits just out of my view ahead, but comfortably in the right position for my needs.

And as for those fitness trackers with their soaring sales, I'm not sure their all the same, but cant folk see the light?

I had the Jawbone UP2. Expensive, but what a farce. I'm not sure it tracked my location, but it told me I had walked miles everyday, which is strange when I'm sat all day driving? Its just that every arm gesture is converted to a step, so every-time I indicate, or turn the wheel, that's another pace/step! likewise, If I leave the gadget on the bedside table, it says I had a deep sleep, or I was dead, because the gadget can't move unless its on my wrist, plus very Americanized with its ability to tell me how bad my diet was, and the resting heartbeat function is a waste of space.
I think folk are being conned into what these gadgets seem to imply, with regards to 'fitness'. The GPS tracking may be functional, as for the rest of the services they perceive to provide, I just think their overrated.

But the switch from GPS unit to smart phone is not top of my list. I would rather adopt a dedicated unit for the task in hand, rather than an expensive smart phone that thinks it can do everything.


Take care, keep your eyes on the road, not the navigator?


Posted by DKGame on Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:09 pm Reply with quote

zetor12 Wrote:
But isn't it illegal to touch a phone even for navigation whilst driving?

Nope. It's illegal to "Use a hand held phone whilst driving" - however the purpose for which it's being used isn't explicitly stated. It's also *technically* illegal to use a GPS screen or fiddle with the radio in a car - it can be classified as "distracted driving" under Regulation 104 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. However for a lone copper to pull you for that and take you to court a simple "Weren't you using your MDT/radio whilst driving - therefore you were distracted too..?" could be used as a defence, although a court would probably just consider you a smart arse and penalize you more!

There's no specific legislation, however, stating you can't use one as a GPS, fixed to the dashboard in a cradle. Just don't have it phyiscally in your hand. You can use it to make calls hands-free too provided you aren't holding it whilst doing so (walkie-talkie style- although surprisingly, using a Walkie-Talkie in a car *is* legal provided it doesn't TX on mobile phone frequencies!)

Posted by Kar98 on Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:16 pm Reply with quote

Yup, PNDs are as as dead as a door nail. As evident for instance by my lack of participation at this forum. Between the six inch Pioneer car stereo running NNG navigation and Google Maps, either of which excels in certain areas and blows at others, but both doing things several orders of magnitude better than TomTom ever did even at their best, and TomTom's products becoming more useless every year, there's no reason at all to even have a PND anymore.
Their time has come and gone.

Posted by zetor12 on Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:25 pm Reply with quote

Is a data connection needed on a mobile phone to used to navigate?

Garmin Montana 650
TT Go6200

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