Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Transportation Technology

Google's Free Satnav Outperforms TomTom 242

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sounds-pretty-badbad dept.
Barence writes "A real-world road test of several different satnav systems has found that the free Google Maps Navigation outperformed TomTom's premium GPS unit. PC Pro put the satnavs through four different real-world tests, covering country roads, inner-city traffic and motorway driving. The Google satnav finished the four tests more than half an hour ahead of the top of the range TomTom Go 950 Live. 'For those in rural areas or people who spend hours in their car every day, we believe the investment in a dedicated satnav device or software will still pay off,' PC Pro concludes. 'But for the recreational user, it's amazing what you can get for free.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google's Free Satnav Outperforms TomTom

Comments Filter:
  • Not Free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwv (1636355) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:32AM (#32989028) Homepage Journal
    I love using Google Navigation on my Android Phone, but it's short-sighted to say that just because I'm not paying extra for "Navigation" that the cost of this service is completely free. It's all part of the relatively expensive "Google Smart Phone" bundle.
    • Re:Not Free (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:35AM (#32989086)

      It didn't exist when I bought my G1. Now I have it. I'd call that 'free'.

      Granted, I updated the firmware manually on my G1 and stock G1's may not have it.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Every G1 has it. It was part of the normal firmware upgrade some time ago. And it's awesome.

    • Totally agree (Score:5, Informative)

      by gr8_phk (621180) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:57AM (#32989388)
      Free software running on free maps (OSM) would be fair to call free. Then we could argue about the quality of the maps or the quality of the navigation, but I'm still waiting for this option which is likely to be the only free solution.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by xaxa (988988)

        A free (OSM-based) navigation software example is CycleStreets [cyclestreets.net], which uses OSM's data to provide cycle routes.

        Random example journey [cyclestreets.net], showing the three options (fast, balanced, quiet), route profile (hills), turn-by-turn navigation, etc.

        I think there's an Android app, but I haven't used it yet.

      • Navit! (Score:3, Informative)

        Get Navit. OSM and open source software all downloaded on the phone FTW

    • Free. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @11:45AM (#32990914) Homepage Journal

      I'd say that it is free. You would have bought the phone anyway, and there's (effectively) zero marginal cost to add the extra navigation features.

      Side note: I was looking at cheap geocaching GPSes and was stunned to see what Garmin charges for GPS updates [amazon.com]. Holy crap! It's like the razor-and-blade business model, except that the razor is also ludicrously priced. I can't think of a single reason why I would buy a dedicated GPS unit instead of putting those few hundred dollars towards a smartphone and having all the extra features they offer.

      • Re:Free. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by xaxa (988988) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:17PM (#32991372)

        I impulse-bought a Garmin eTrex Vista for £160 back in March. I regret buying it: I thought I'd put OSM on it, and go on some bike rides without having to refer to maps. OSM did mostly-work, but the routing wasn't that good, and there were various quirks with the device. It was very slow at calculating a route -- it didn't manage to plot a 7km bike-friendly route into central London until I was within 2km or so. The display was clear in most lighting conditions, but quite small. It seemed very rugged and was waterproof.

        I sold it on eBay for £125 a couple of weeks ago. I'm annoyed about the £35 I've lost, but I'm putting the £125 towards an HTC Desire.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          How long did eTrex last on its AA batteries?

          How long do you expect Desire to last on its battery with GPS enabled and screen always-on?

          It's different devices for different purposes. It may be that the purpose you needed it for is not the one it was designed it, in which case it makes sense for you to switch. But, well - I've tried to use my N1 as a GPS for hiking, and it sucks, even with third-party software that lets me precache maps of the region. Screen visibility is poor outdoors, it chews through the b

      • by Sporkinum (655143)

        "Side note: I was looking at cheap geocaching GPSes and was stunned to see what Garmin charges for GPS updates."

        Yes. Because latitude and longitude coordinates are constantly changing.
        I did a little looking around at statistics on how much mapping data and roads change year to year, before I bought a GPS. It turns out it was around 1/10 of 1 percent. I know I have never had a problem navigating with my old GPS. The main things updates do is change/add POIs. If you navigate using POIs, it might help.

  • Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RDW (41497) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:32AM (#32989040)

    With the enormous caveat that:

    'As yet, there's also no way of downloading [Google] maps to a memory card for offline navigation, so you could have major problems in areas without a 3G signal'

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

      by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:42AM (#32989180) Homepage

      Well, that depends where you're driving.

      Google Navigation does cache images of the entire route -- but this can become problematic if you deviated from the planned route.

      • by jwinster (1620555)

        Well, that depends where you're driving.

        Google Navigation does cache images of the entire route -- but this can become problematic if you deviated from the planned route.

        This is actually pretty handy. I live in Colorado and as soon as I hit the mountain roads I lose my 3G signal, but I still have all the data cached to get to where I'm going which may be out of cell range, or at least to the cell tower where my maps can re-download if my destination has changed.

    • by ryanvm (247662)
      You sure? I thought the satnav app downloaded the basic map data for the entire calculated route for just this scenario. If not, they should...
      • That would only help if you plan the route before you leave and I'm also not sure where it would store the route. I mean if you close the app does it empty the cache or if you reboot the phone? That said I use my Droid more than my TomTom just because it's easier to always keep with me but I do miss all the opetions of my TomTom. Chosing map colors, display information etc. I wish Google would start making it more customizable.

        Oh and I miss the English Woman voice telling me "In 2 kilometers get on the moto

        • Yeah I have a nice GPS app for my iPhone (not the one reviewed, but quite effective), but it doesn't have options for the sexy English or Irish voices. It is sad face.

      • by RDW (41497)

        Which is great if you have a 3G signal when planning your route, and at any point en route where you might have to make a significant change. Otherwise...

    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mr_Miagi (1648543) <piekarz@gmail.com> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:48AM (#32989270)
      Furthermore, even without 3G, GPRS can consume a lot of data as well, downloading the maps on-the-fly.

      So, if you're out and about in areas where you need Sat Nav and have only Google maps to go by, you end up spending a fortune thanks to extortionate data rates (per MB) charged by every telco in the EU. My experience in this is within the EU only (so far), but it has been costly - very costly.

      • by Idbar (1034346)
        Yes, I don't know why downloading the maps into the Nokia seemed to be such a big problem for the PCPro guys, when that would save them access to the network and bytes in their data plan.

        My GF has a Nokia E75, and while they don't provide free navigation they provide free maps. The navigation is an add-on that costs $40 a year (just for this particular phone), the installation of the maps was a easy, but of course takes time to move the whole US info into a microsd card through the USB.

        They should have
      • by juhaz (110830)

        I don't know which part of EU you're in, but at least here in Finland, unlimited data costs 10/month for 384kbps and 14 for max speed, not exactly free but I wouldn't call it "very" costly, much less a fortune.

    • With the enormous caveat that:

      'As yet, there's also no way of downloading [Google] maps to a memory card for offline navigation, so you could have major problems in areas without a 3G signal'

      That should be corrected to "without any signal". I successfully start a route plan and use google nav on my N1 in locations that only have GPRS. It actually seems faster than loading a full screen map view. Probably because the route data and "on route" maps are "vector" rather than bitmap.

    • I have used nokia navigation on my 5800 on several occasions, and it worked quite well. Of course I preloaded maps for the countries I was driving in- being hit by roaming charges for downloading maps on-demand abroad would have been atrocious. This is the main drawback of google maps- you cannot afford to use it in another country due to roaming charges. Nokia provides free maps for most of the world, and they are quite detailed and accurate.

      Oh, and they should have doublechecked that assisted GPS works
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by timbo234 (833667) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @10:39AM (#32989914) Journal

      With the enormous caveat that:

      'As yet, there's also no way of downloading [Google] maps to a memory card for offline navigation, so you could have major problems in areas without a 3G signal'

      It's not just areas without 3G signal, in Europe if I drive a few hundred kms (as little as 100km in one direction) I'm in another country. Despite the EU brining them a bit under control the data charges are still punishingly expensive - it's not worth it to pay 20 Euros in data charges just to navigate somewhere.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        It's not just areas without 3G signal, in Europe if I drive a few hundred kms (as little as 100km in one direction) I'm in another country. Despite the EU brining them a bit under control the data charges are still punishingly expensive - it's not worth it to pay 20 Euros in data charges just to navigate somewhere.

        Not to mention if you have to deviate for whatever reason. Part of the whole appeal of GPS Is if you get lost, miss a turn, decide to go off the beaten path for a side trip, or are in an unfamilia

  • good investment? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by butterflysrage (1066514) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:33AM (#32989046)

    "For those in rural areas or people who spend hours in their car every day, we believe the investment in a dedicated satnav device or software will still pay off,"

    really? I grew up in a rural area, and I spent hours in a car commuting because things were so far away... and I question this. There were two possible routes south from my hometown, one was about 150km to the closest big down, the other route was about 250km to the same place.

    gee, hard choice there, better get out the GPS...

    The more rural the area, the fewer route choices, and thusly the less importance a GPS due to the lack of choice.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      What about rural areas that you aren't familiar with?

      • by jridley (9305)

        Maps. They're amazing technology, and they're free. Almost all of my driving is through rural areas, and 2 minutes looking at a map before I leave is generally all I need.

        • by plumby (179557)

          A Sat Nav is simply a map that can also tell you where you are.

          • well, from my example I'm either on route A or route B... whether I'm at tree #57802 or rock outcrop #378 is kinda unimportant, the road only goes north or south and keeps going north or south for a total of about 200km.

    • by Speare (84249) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:39AM (#32989152) Homepage Journal

      I grew up in a rural area, and I spent hours in a car commuting because things were so far away... and I question this. There were two possible routes south from my hometown, one was about 150km to the closest big down, the other route was about 250km to the same place.

      A lot of "cityfolk" like to take a drive from one major city they're familiar with, to another major attraction they plan to visit, and rural areas are a huge unknown adventure in between. Some like the superhighway, but many like to get off the beaten track, see some farm houses, smell the manure and wash the beetles off the windshield for a change of pace. They didn't grow up in the area, they didn't know that choice A was 150km, and choice B was 250km. That's exactly when they turn on the GPS and confirm which fork in the road to take.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        > They didn't grow up in the area, they didn't know that choice A was 150km,
        > and choice B was 250km. That's exactly when they turn on the GPS and confirm
        > which fork in the road to take.

        Because, you know, what else could they do? Use a paper map? That's so twentieth century!

        • I even once heard of someone using a new-fangled contraption, they called it "asking someone". I don't trust it mind you, none of that crazy technology for me thank you.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by geekoid (135745)

          You have a paper map that will talks? updates the route automatically? that's awesome.

          Wait, you don't? you have to fold and unfold it? buy one for new areas?

          Your paper map thing sucks when driving around. You can keep your 20th century, thkuvrymuch. kthxby

        • by delinear (991444)

          God forbid someone should use technology to make their lives easier. I guess you do all your 150km journeys on horseback? With a paper map I have to spend a lot more time planning my route, planning where I'll likely need to stop, where I can refuel, etc. - sometimes that can be part of the fun, if it's a commuter trip for work it's just more effort - with a satnav I can just grab the device and go. Need petrol? The satnav will tell me where the local stations are - it will even tell me which is the cheapes

        • > They didn't grow up in the area, they didn't know that choice A was 150km,
          > and choice B was 250km. That's exactly when they turn on the GPS and confirm
          > which fork in the road to take.

          Because, you know, what else could they do? Use a paper map? That's so twentieth century!

          I'm a big fan of paper maps. I've navigated from one end of the country to the other with paper maps. I still carry a couple different road atlases in the trunk of my car.

          But a decent GPS beats a paper map hands-down.

          I don't need to dig through the atlas ahead of time and find the right section for the area I'm driving to/through. If I change my mind, or spontaneously decide to head somewhere else, I don't have to dig out a different map. And if I'm alone, I don't have to try to read a map or follow dir

        • by xaxa (988988)

          I have a paper map of central London on my wall at home (I like maps). If I've switched the computer off I might try and find a place on it.

          You try: here's a view [google.co.uk] of Central London. Without using the search function, find "Shoe Lane". (It's somewhere within the area bounded by the green roads, but you'll need to zoom in so you can see all the street names.)

    • by slim (1652)

      It depends on the rural area in question. Rural Wales is a labyrinth of tiny single-track lanes. In Yukon territory, you've typically two choices; towards BC or towards Alaska.

      Satnav is terribly useful in Wales. It's literally saved me half a day, when the only paved road home was closed due to a fatal accident and Tom Tom's ability to route around a blocked road came to the rescue.

      It's pretty pointless in the Yukon (but a handheld GPS is useful for hiking).

    • Re:good investment? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:57AM (#32989384) Homepage

      The more rural the area, the fewer route choices, and thusly the less importance a GPS due to the lack of choice.

      I think it depends on where you live, and what the roads are like.

      In my experience, a lot of rural places have a lot of smaller criss-cross roads and dirt roads that may or may not go anyplace. There's way more than two routes to almost anywhere. Then there's the "old highway" and the "new highway" in a lot of places, with the old highway being the scenic route.

      If there are no other roads, then maybe what you say is true. If there's lots of roads spread out over a large area, I'd say that's when a GPS is at it's best. For any sufficiently long drive, or any drive to places where I don't know very well ... I've found a GPS to be an incredibly useful thing.

      My mother still has to program the destination for my father's GPS, but he can tell it to get him home. For them it's a godsend, since he travels to place that are several hours drive away and that he's never been to before -- quite often actually for an old guy. They find the GPS gets them where they're going, and my father has decided he really likes to see exactly where he's going and know how far until the next turn.

      Hell, even in town I find I can read the street signs on my Tom Tom before I can even see the physical street signs. For me, I'll stick with having the GPS.

    • The more rural the area, the fewer route choices, and thusly the less importance a GPS due to the lack of choice.

      That's true for the great plains states, but in places like rural West Virginia, you can easily get lost in the Mountains, which are full of twisty, winding roads. (Cue "Dueling Banjos")

    • by n-baxley (103975)

      I have to agree with you. The people who need GPS in a rural area are the people visiting, not those who live there. That's the only thing I can think he meant. Or he assumes that people who live in rural areas get lost easily.

      • > Or he assumes that people who live in rural areas get lost easily.

        Or, like the average Slashdotter, he assumes that none of the hicks and rednecks that live in rural areas would know what SatNav is.

    • I take it that there was nothing that anyone would go to for any reason in between where you grew up and the closest big town, or even somewhere in the rural area not between you and the big town? I grew up on what was essentially the border between a metropolis and a very rural area. There were a lot of interesting destinations in the rural area that were a convenient drive from where I grew up.
    • by westlake (615356)

      The more rural the area, the fewer route choices, and thusly the less importance a GPS due to the lack of choice.

      The daily commute from A to B is easy.

      Finding your brother-in-law's cabin by the lake - which is maybe forty-five miles off the main drag - assuming you don't miss the turn-off just past the burned-out barn - is hard.

  • Well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MemoryDragon (544441) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:39AM (#32989140)

    I have been using a dedicated tomtom device and now also google nav on the Nexus 1. And I agree in most nav cases Google nav is better, if you have an online connection. Thats the biggest issue, roaming forget it, having a flakey 3g connection forget it, as soon as you have to go offroads you need the connection to recalculate the route.

    The pathfinding on googles solution is up to par to Tomtom or even slightly better, but the voice output is where it shines. At least for the german tomtom the voice output is sometimes kindof weird and while using a Tomtom I often give a last final look at a voice command which is not drive left or right to check whether the voice output is the same as the display. That never happened on googles nav to me, the voice output always has been preceise. Add to that that Tomtom never added text2speech to my OneXL or I never got a combined european map (while they sold new devices with exactly the same map), and I will retire it soon, one customer lost to Tomtom who will never return thanks to their arrogance regarding their products.

    For offline driving I am still undecided whether I will stick with Copilot but I will probably switch to Navigon, which still has way better voice output than anything Tomtom ever delivered.

    • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

      by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @10:29AM (#32989780) Homepage Journal

      I was going to say something exactly along these lines.

      I do a lot of driving for work, all over Ontario (Canada). I use a Tomtom 630 (previously had a 720) for most of my navigation. I update regularly and have a yearly map subscription to keep up-to-date with changing roads and speeds.

      What's the difference? My Tomtom would never send me down a major street in Toronto during rush hour. Why not? Because it has average speeds for each road stored in the map data based on day of week and time of day. It knows that this road is faster on average than this other road at this time of day. With the FM antenna, I also get the live traffic updates as I pass through relevant areas.

      On several occasions I've plugged the same destination into my Tomtom and my Android phone. The navigation directions on my Tomtom are almost always smarter. On rare occasion, Google takes a slightly shorter-by-optimal-speed route, but the actual time to destination is usually what the Tomtom predicted instead. In general I find the Tomtom's algorithms much more intelligent (although the 720 was much dumber, not having average road-speeds).

    • by delinear (991444)
      But... but Tom Tom have Yoda [tomtom.com]!
  • The problem is.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:39AM (#32989150)

    Is that Google's solution is not free because it requires a data connection on your phone. When traveling in foreign countries this is usually prohibitively expensive.

    With TomTom you can purchase foreign maps and use them without "per use" data charges.

    Actually, Nokia likely has the best solution in this regard - they give you free maps/navigation on your own phone (so nothing to purchase) but you can pick the countries and pre-load their maps on your phone. You then do not need an active data connection to navigate.

    For what it's worth - TomTom and other standalone makers are probably the losers in this. These devices are consolidating and phone manufacturers are emerging as winners.

    • Re:The problem is.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slash d o t . f i renzee.com> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:47AM (#32989256) Homepage

      The country maps cost extra, often quite a lot extra, and become outdated fairly quickly.. If you aren't planning on spending a lot of time in a specific country then the cost of roaming data might actually be less than buying the maps..
      And if you are planning to stay somewhere a long time, you could always buy a local prepaid sim for much cheaper data access, and these will usually be available in the airport or wherever else you enter the country.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shogun (657)

        The country maps cost extra, often quite a lot extra, and become outdated fairly quickly.. If you aren't planning on spending a lot of time in a specific country then the cost of roaming data might actually be less than buying the maps..

        Open Street Maps [openstreetmaps.org]

        'nuff said.

  • Generic hardware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:42AM (#32989184) Homepage Journal

    This reminds me of something I've contemplated numerous times before, which is the realm of generic, multipurpose hardware. Everything is converging - GPS receivers, phones, PDAs, cameras - because it simply makes sense. There are two problems with this.

    One is that there are certain physical controls and form factors that are more conducive to certain uses. For example, many phones aren't the best cameras because it's too easy to cover the lens, the "shutter" button is not in an ergonomic location, etc.

    The other is that often the devices need to be used simultaneously. And I don't mean multitasking, I mean two devices visible and usable at the exact same time.

    I just can't help but wonder if, as the price of components drop (like all-in-one chipsets, LCD panels, etc), if there will be a market for iPad / iPod Touch like devices that are essentially generic computing devices with integrated connectivity, GPS, camera, etc. There would be various physical form factors available - like touchscreen only, buttons on the sides, fold out keyboard, an SLR sort of design. Thus I would buy a $150 generic device and designate it as the GPS in my car. Obviously most people can't afford cellular service for every piece of hardware, so these devices would have to operate in an offline / standalone mode, like as a GPS. Or better yet they would all "tether" via bluetooth or wifi off of my actual cellular device.

    Anyway I'm just wondering when or if this will happen. Obviously with companies like Apple charging a premium for a generic device (iPad / iPod Touch) that's not going to happen soon. But I'm sure there are manufactures that could produce the equivalent hardware, today, for $199.

    • Problem with the generic device approach is mostly the licensing costs, the biggest cost factor of every phone is simply the gps umts whatever patent licensing.
      Besides that most phone manufacturers do not like the open approach they still think that users will fall for bringing out the same hardware 4 times per year and retire the support early. I am not sure given that most phones are powerful enough to last for the next 3-4 years regarding software updates, how long that will hold up, lots of users alread

    • by ledow (319597) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @10:06AM (#32989522) Homepage

      I'm going the other way.

      As a techy, everyone expects me to have some all-singing device that does everything. People who use their iPhones to navigate ask me why I don't do the same (apart from not having an iPhone myself).

      My justification is this: My TomTom does one job and does it extraordinarily well. Google Maps *can't* compete, I'm afraid, but is an adequate substitute if my TomTom is out of commission (hasn't happened yet except once when I left it in a car in Italy). My phone does one job and does it extraordinarily well. My watch does one job and does it extraordinarily well. My digital camera does one job and does it extraordinarily well. I see no need to have to accept inevitable compromises by throwing those functions into a single device which, if it breaks, means I lose all the functionalities.

      I don't see the need for convergence at all. Yes, I carry several gadgets but they are all better at their jobs than any genericised device that claims to perform their functions. And when I'm not taking photos, I don't need a camera. When I'm not driving, I don't need a sat-nav. You get the idea.

      It's easier this way, cheaper (overall, it is, because of the lifetime of each component of the products - if my TomTom breaks, I only have to buy a new sat-nav, if my phone breaks, I only have to buy a new, very basic phone), more reliable (my phone can break but I can still get to my destination, or my sat-nav can break and I can still phone someone to ask for directions) and I don't have to upgrade, install, manage a generic computer like I do for 99% of my working life. If my TomTom breaks, I moan at TomTom, not worry about whether it's because I've recently upgraded my phone. My phone is quite basic but does everything I need, so I don't need to stay on the bleeding edge. It makes phone calls and sends text messages. It *does* have a built-in camera (because it was all but impossible to find one without at the time I bought it) but I've never used it. It can go on the Internet, but I don't have it setup to do that.

      In an absolute emergency, yes, I can use the additional features on these devices to perform some of their secondary functions (i.e. I have a car accident, use my phone to take a photo of the scene... it's better than nothing. I'm pretty sure my TomTom can talk to my phone but I haven't bothered to set it up). But overall, I have devices that conform to the UNIX-philosophy - do one job, and do it really well. I don't have hulking bags full of gadgets, either. My devices fit into my pockets comfortably and I'm not carrying any more than I absolutely need to. And because I buy single-purpose devices they don't need to be the advanced models, or to be high-spec, or fragile, they can be bog-standard basic units. I can upgrade a bit at a time without worrying about the other components (if I upgrade my iPhone, does my satnav app stop working?).

      And when I want someone else to do the navigating, I give them the device. I can even lend it to them. And I could (theoretically) use it at the same time as being on the phone to the person I'm navigating to. And other things like that.

      Convergence is for people that tolerate the mediocre and are happy to sit and "manage" another device in their life. Me? I just want to press a small amount of button on a dedicated device to make things do their job. Similarly, if someone at work suggested I put all the desktops into a single machine which did everything from routing to serving to faxing to processing to replacing the network switches and modems to running the clocks on the wall to running the phone system to producing client displays etc. I would be equally as horrified. Some functions are just better off in their own self-contained devices that attract simple support (modems, switches, routers, etc). If my TomTom hardware breaks, I send it back to TomTom. If my TomTom app breaks? Good luck getting support from either TomTom or Apple.

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:44AM (#32989204) Homepage

    Driving around Edinburgh, it kept trying to tell me to turn off the North Bridge onto Market Street. Great, except they're separated by about 20 metres vertically. Going along Market Street, it told me to turn left onto North Bridge - what, in a helicopter, or something?

    Who knows what other hideous failings it might have? Telling people to drive off cliffs, or into the sea? "Oh but it *looks like* you can..."

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      That's not unique to Google. I swear that my TomTom was trying to get me killed the last time I took it on a long distance trip.

      A friend of mine thinks that GPS'es need an "avoid ghetto" option. I told her that's a great idea in theory but it would preclude anyone who lives in our town from returning home ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mandelbr0t (1015855)

        A friend of mine thinks that GPS'es need an "avoid ghetto" option. I told her that's a great idea in theory but it would preclude anyone who lives in our town from returning home ;)

        More specifically, a "find detour" option. It'd be great to override Google's route-calculation by telling it that a particular part of the route is not possible.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I had this issue once. It was cause by the removal of an off ramp.
      I sent Google the issue and they fixed it. Pretty quickly to.

      I found other poor maps less then enthusiastic when informing them of a map mistake. well, that's not fair, they may have been very enthusiastic, but I wouldn't know because they never responded, and a year latter the mistake persisted in their new maps.

      So ALL of the GPS Navigation methods need you to be thinking.

  • Maybe, maybe not (Score:4, Informative)

    by Enry (630) <.enry. .at. .wayga.net.> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:45AM (#32989218) Journal

    My Droid does have a windshield mount, but its navigation UI needs a lot of help:

    - small buttons
    - not as responsive as tomtom
    - no way to route around traffic delays
    - requires a data connection (yes, there are a few places in the US that doesn't have good data service)
    - useless if you get an incoming call or want to make an outbound call
    - no way of storing favorites (with three taps I can find my way home or get a list of favorites on my tomtom)

    That's not to say that Google Navigation is really poor. I like having constantly updated maps and more timely traffic information, and I'd prefer to have only one device on my windshield, but until those above problems get fixed, I'll keep my TomTom.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I like having constantly updated maps and more timely traffic information, and I'd prefer to have only one device on my windshield, but until those above problems get fixed, I'll keep my TomTom.

      *laugh* One? I've got my Tom Tom and my iPod. My cell speaks to my car stereo via Bluetooth.

      It's like central command when I'm on a road trip. :-P

    • Re:Maybe, maybe not (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Paralizer (792155) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @10:27AM (#32989758) Homepage
      I created a contacts folder in gmail with my favorite addresses. Then I configured android not to display that folder in the phone contacts list, but it does show up when I go to the contacts in the maps app. Kind of a pain but it works.
    • Last item is not really correct - you can "star" locations in the google maps and then quickly choose them. And once you found a location, it takes only two clicks to star it.
    • by JonXP (850946)
      To route around traffic delays: Press either "menu > route info" or the traffic light/estimated time button, and then press the button with the arrows on it. That will calculate additional routes to get your around traffic and tell you the possible times. There are several ways to store favorites. The best way is to add a shortcut to your home screen...long press on the home screen, select shortcuts, and then select Directions & Navigation. You can also use the Navigation app icon in your app dr
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      I can't see how it would be of any use to have a screen as small as a smart phone screen for use in navigation, at least not for the driver. I would prefer the passenger do the navigation with a screen that small, otherwise, the driver would probably run into someone while trying to look ahead on the map. The voice only tells you next turn, but it is often helpful to be able to look ahead.
      I guess the tom-tom is not really that much better, since the screen on the tom-tom is rather small as well.
      I have a 7
    • - no way to route around traffic delays

      take a look here,
      http://cellphoneforums.net/motorola-droid/t304903-google-maps-navigation-droid-gps-traffic-reroute.html [cellphoneforums.net]

      - useless if you get an incoming call or want to make an outbound call

      that's a shortcoming of your carrier not google maps.

      - no way of storing favorites

      when the nav app starts, you have several options for inputing an address,

      1. speak it
      2. type it
      3. from contacts
      4. starred items
      5. recent (list the last 10+ destinations)

      if you want favorites, add the address into contacts. if you don't like that, you can use starred items. click the star next to any address in maps.google.com or google.

  • I have a really old TomTom (It has depth like a very small TV). It works well enough.

    But I got the Mr. T voice. I don't need to turn the radio down, when Mr. T speaks you listen! (fool!)

    The results are not entirely surprising as it appears Google is using its needed data connection to feed data back into its traffic routing/monitoring which one hopes they use for routing calculations. The lack of this connection on a stand alone unit make it a problem.

    The Nav companies see whats coming, thus the software

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      I pity the fool that deviates from the route I calculated!

    • by delinear (991444)

      The results are not entirely surprising as it appears Google is using its needed data connection to feed data back into its traffic routing/monitoring which one hopes they use for routing calculations. The lack of this connection on a stand alone unit make it a problem.

      My Tom Tom has this ability, but it's a paid service and quite pricey for someone who doesn't do an awful lot of driving, but I did get it free for the first three months (when I was commuting a few hundred miles some days) and it was great. If they could offer this service for free (I believe they charge because it requires a data connection in the unit, but I have a data package on my phone they could hook into if they wanted to remove the cost element) it would remove the only thing Google probably does

    • by geekoid (135745)

      You can get a Nav system for the iPhone, it's a measly 100 bucks. I mean, you DO want to support your shinny toy, right? you DO want it to be magical, right? Clearly you can't get that for free, OR with a competitor. so, Pay Up.

  • by six11 (579) <<ude.umc> <ta> <ggosnhoj>> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @10:02AM (#32989464) Homepage

    The article is astoundingly hard to read. Apparently they took a bunch of GPS devices, gave each one to a driver, who was in a different car. They all started at the same place and time, and were told to go to the same destination. They had to follow the instructions of their device and follow the speed limit. OK. Sounds good.

    But they all did this only one time. You would need to do this many times before you could start to draw conclusions from it. Sure, it is fun to play scientist and get out in the world and do some sciency fieldwork, but seriously. Anybody who has taken basic statistics ought to understand that meaningful conclusions can't be drawn from this because of the huge variance of travel times as a function of local traffic. Sure, the cars all start and end at the same spots, but they take different paths. If one path that would otherwise be the fastest is slowed down because of a car accident or an adorable family of ducks is walking on the roadside, that will skew the results for this single trial only.

    It makes me sad that this sort of thing passes for research, and it makes me even sadder that people don't think critically enough to realize it is not reliable.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      The problems you state can be dealt with via monitoring. Meaning if all traffic was similar.

      OTOH, it a FREAKING MAGAZINE ARTICLE. Not a published study. In fact, I don't think the word 'study' appears anywhere in the article. IT's a test. 1 test and it doesn't claim to be otherwise.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @10:43AM (#32989966) Homepage

    As someone that is somewhat knowledgeable about in-car navigation systems, sure, go ahead and compare some free web service to TomTom. While you are at it, compare Magellen as well. They are going to be about the same.

    You can also compare most of the in-car systems (built-in and aftermarket) and see they are all about the same - mostly crap but often much better than a paper map. The displays aren't terrific and can be hard to see sometimes in direct sun. Also, the routing is debatable and the POI (Point Of Interest) listings are usually out of date, when available at all.

    Yes, there may be updates, but it takes the company long enough to build the map database from source materials that it is assured to be out of date by the time the user gets it. This is very, very annoying when trying to use such systems in areas experiencing significant growth.

    So now you have a uniformly negative opinion of navigation systems, right? Then compare what you have seen with a Garmin unit. Their processing path for the data gets current data out to the user much, much faster than other companies doing this. The POI database is much more usable and the UI is much better. Yeah, I carry a Garmin around with me.

    So please, if you are going to compare systems, compare something real that works for the user. TomTom is cheap and pretty popular, but it doesn't have the UI or the data to really do a good job.

    No, I didn't use to work for Garmin - I worked for a US-based map data vendor. And we helped a lot of people build in-car systems and were usually disappointed at some of the choices they made. But we had to remain pretty neutral.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      My friend had a Garmin. In our unscientific side by side comparison, unit's shit compared to google navigation on my G1.
      While our tests have been a point for friendly competition, it's always been done in a city or suburb, never in the woods or while camping. So I can'tr comment on that.

    • by rrossman2 (844318)
      I work with in car navigation units quite often, and have for the past 10 years.

      There's many issues with your arguments. Some TomTom's offer a feature when the end user can correct errors that may pop up right on the GPS unit its self (insert POI's, correct a road if it's a one way, etc). This gets uploaded to a community database at TomTom when the unit is plugged into the PC.

      As for Google Maps, they only compared it on ONE system. What about Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, or iPhones? I know google maps

  • I'm a Google groopie but I fear Google Navigation just doesn't cut it in Europe. It costs you a fortune once you need to cross a border. Both EU and Euro don't prevent service providers charging ridiculous prices for roaming.

    On a side note, I take pride in memorising routes -through several countries if necessary- and for me a navigator simply is a luxury I will do without.
  • I'd go crazy if I had to drive around LA without Tom Tom with traffic. The traffic out here changes very rapidly, and there are plenty of alternative side roads that can be used.

  • Like the Android Market purchasing, Google Maps navigation doesn't work globally yet.

    So, until Google Maps works also in all the countries on Earth I wouldn't say anything about outperforming a dedicated navigator that will navigate you anywhere for which location you have the maps in the device.

  • I own a Droid, prior to buying the Droid I had purchased a TomTom for about $99 as it was "last year's model" at Best Buy. I took it home and updated the maps for free.

    I like the TomTom, when I first got it it was slow to find Satellites, after an update it finds the sats much faster now. I really like the TomTom, the estimated time of arrival in + or - minutes from your scheduled arrival time.

    However I left the TomTom in my Wife's car once and had to resort to the Google Maps on my Droid while driving some

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley

Working...