Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Recycling an Android Phone As a Handheld GPS?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the waste-not-want-want dept.

Cellphones 328

imblum writes "So my dad's antique handheld GPS unit just went toes up and I was considering replacing it for him with an old Android Smartphone. All he really needs it for is hunting and camping (no navigation), so I don't want to pay for cell or data service. I found the program Mobile Atlas Creator to download map files onto the SD card, and an app called Maverick Lite to view them. Now all I need is to decide on an Android phone. I was considering a Samsung Behold II ($100-200 on Craigslist), but thought it would be nice to get some input from the Slashdot community. It seems like I can get a lot more functionality for the money out of an old Android than I could from a big name handheld GPS. Does this plan sound reasonable? Is there anything I'm overlooking?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Battery life might be a concern. (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247116)

Battery life will not be as good as on a real GPS, but should be ok.

Re:Battery availability might be a concern. (4, Insightful)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247180)

GS runs on AA, can get spares & carry them with you. Android will want to be charged at some point, and how will it behave if it can't find a cell site? GSM units will keep transmitting, increasing battery drain. Spend a hundred bucks on a new GPS for him.

Re:Battery availability might be a concern. (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247224)

Hundred bucks? You can get a nokia for like $30 dollars and have GPS on it. I gues you can get a dedicated GPS navigator for less than that.

Re:Battery availability might be a concern. (2, Informative)

xMilkmanDanx (866344) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247458)

Airplane mode disables all the wireless including gsm. Battery life will still likely be an issue for hunting, probably can get a few days with occasional checks.

Re:Battery availability might be a concern. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247558)

Airplane mode disables all the wireless including gsm. Battery life will still likely be an issue for hunting, probably can get a few days with occasional checks.

If he's going out into the wilderness any appreciable distance and doesn't know how to use a map and compass, or how to find the four directions without a compass then he might be a candidate for a Darwin Award except that he's apparently already reproduced.

Seriously. A sharp person can learn basic old-fashioned navigation in about ten or twenty minutes. Do that and a GPS device is just a convenience. Nice to have for sure, but out in the wilderness you need some skills too. A knowledge of common edible plants for the area and the know-how to make basic snares and traps for wild game and makeshift shelters is a good idea too.

Re:Battery availability might be a concern. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247670)

Yeah, I'll run right out and learn all that shit. Right. Sorry, but I have better things to do, and that's what cell phones and emergency services are for. Why would I bother wasting time learning that ancient, backwards bullshit when help is just a phone call away? It's 2010, man. Get with it.

Re:Battery availability might be a concern. (1)

GreenCow (201973) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247518)

solar charger is an option, so are spare lithium batteries.

most cell phones (all android phones) can be put into 'airplane mode' to disable the cell radio, the gps can remain on in this mode, because gps is receive only. wifi and gps can also be turned off to save battery.

buying a used device would make a spare battery even more attractive, as the original battery might not hold a good charge.

Re:Battery availability might be a concern. (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247596)

wifi and gps can also be turned off to save battery.>

Or you just turn the whole phone off when your not using it. Add in push maps and you just turn it on to get your bearings with your existing maps.

Re:Battery life might be a concern. (5, Interesting)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247296)

It might not be a good idea for multi-day hikes, but you can probably get reasonable single-day battery life out of many or most models. Particularly if you power off the other radios, and if you can power off the unit itself when it's not being actively used.

As to why this and not a dedicated GPS unit - sure, a dedicated unit will probably have better battery life, and it might be better for GPS usage in other ways as well. But it's almost certainly less flexible. I can really only use it for GPS - what if I also want to take pictures or make notes about each location I'm at? Sure, I could carry more dedicated devices to handle those functions. But at some point, isn't it worth carrying one device which can serve several functions while fitting in my pocket? Also, a dedicated device probably comes with the software package that it comes with. Adapting a smartphone means that you're running a mobile computing platform which just happens to have a GPS sensor - you can probably pick among several options for the software, or even program your own. Some smartphones also have additional sensors like accelerometers or compasses which could improve the functionality - not all, of course, but potentially valuable if you can get it. Maybe some dedicated GPS units have this as well, but I doubt that the really cheap ones do.

For the subby, the situation they describe really does make it sound like a dedicated unit is at least worth a serious look. A dedicated unit is more likely to "just work" and that's likely all the guy wants.

Where are the maps? (1)

yelvington (8169) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247118)

I don't know what Android does with the maps. But if the maps are fetched dynamically from the network, your old Android phone is going to need a subscription, and you're SOL when you take a wrong turn and wander off the grid. Been there / been burned by Blackberry.

Re:Where are the maps? (1)

yelvington (8169) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247154)

Oh, I guess I could actually read the summary. :-)

Does this third-party software do routing and announcements?

Re:Where are the maps? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247166)

The summary mentions offline maps, and there are lots of android apps that use them.

is there anything I am missing? (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247126)

big name handheld GPS

Why? (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247138)

You're talking about spending $100-200 on an Android phone, and you can get a real dedicated GPS receiver for $90 that requires no effort to set up, no purchase of an additional flash card, has a warranty, etc.

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247174)

And does nothing else. No videos, No mp3s, No games, No using for web browsing on wifi.

Re:Why? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247216)

and for 'you' that would be fine.

this is for his dad.

you didn't think of that, did you?

give him a regular gps. forget the trendy mobile phone crap and get him a proper reliable device.

dollars to donuts, he does not need or want to 'browse web' while he's out there.

Re:Why? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247270)

I did, my dad would think it was lame. GPS while out hunting and web toy in the house would be pefect for him, I am now considering getting him one for Christmas.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247306)

Right, but not everyone needs that. I bought a GPS for about $50 and it works great.

I have a cell phone that will play music, games, video, and act as a gps...yet I have an mp3 player because it's a better solution for the task, a Nintendo DS because the games are more than brief distractions, and a GPS because I don't want to pay the carrier for the right to use the GPS chip on the phone. Video, don't really care about video, but I suppose I could do that with the mp3 player or DS if I had to. There's something to be said for single purpose (or focused purposed) items that know what they're supposed to do and do it flawlessly.

Re:Why? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247362)

So you have a purse or what?
How the hell do you carry all that crap all the time?

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247600)

It's not a purse! It's a satchel, damnit!

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247434)

The nice thing about all-in-one devices is it doesn't take up extra pocket space. Try stuffing a camera, MP3 player, DS and GPS all in your pocket, you can't fit them all in. Of course a camera is going to take better pictures, an MP3 player (might) be better at playing MP3s, a DS better for playing games and a standalone GPS best for navigation. But its a lot nicer to put one device in your pocket that can play lots of games, can find the nearest coffee shop, that has all of your music and can take basic pictures than to keep all the stuff in your pocket. And its generally a lot cheaper if you don't need insanely high quality products to buy a phone which is, what? $100, 200? on contract and with most carriers not offering discounts for SIM-only plans, the subsidized cost is a non-issue. Yes, you are going to get higher quality games on the DS, but for having 10 mins to kill, playing a game of Super Mario Bros on an NES emulator is going to be just as fun as playing Super Ultra Mario Bros DS for 10 mins, same thing with cameras, chances are unless your a pro photographer, you don't need a DLSR, you just want to take a few pictures for your facebook, and spending $600 on a camera is usually useless, etc.

Re:Why? (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247384)

And noting else will drain the battery of a navigational aid with possible life-safety implications.

Might be a good application for a specialty appliance.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247548)

Yeah, a map and compass. Relying on a GPS for live safety is moronic.

Re:Why? (1)

krelvin (771644) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247260)

I would concur.... If he wants just a GPS this is easily the better way to go. Great battery life, built in maps. etc...

Re:Why? (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247536)

built in maps

Probably not. The maps included on most hiking GPSs are totally worthless -- they might show a few huge highways, but nothing else. You generally have to buy topographic maps, or download free ones from a site like GPSFileDepot [gpsfiledepot.com] .

Re:Why? (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247656)

Just do clarify, my response assumes that you mean "comes with the unit" when you say "built in maps." If you really meant "no need for a signal to fetch maps on the fly from the Internet," the author of the summary seems to have already found a work-around for doing that with a phone.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247350)

I definitely agree with dgatwood. I don't understand the advantage of spending up $200 on a used phone that is now useless as a GPS as it has no access to cellular service and can't get GPS satellite signal. So, this is really a fancy version of a paper map but goes dead after a day or two. Why not just get a folded map?

As opposed to even a used terrain GPS that is rugged, water resistant, can receive GPS signal, perhaps even function as a rescue beacon, has a long battery life on regular AA batteries, for less than $80 and requires zero extra preparation but still offers better use.

Re:Why? (0)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247486)

it has no access to cellular service and can't get GPS satellite signal.

Ummmn.. what?

do people really completely fail to understand how the Global Positioning System Works? you don't pay for access to "the GPS network". it's free. it's screaming at you RIGHT NOW as well.

if you have a GPS receiver, it does NOTHING but receive packets from as many GPS satellite's as it can, decode the data, and give you a set of coordinates based on the time between packets from the known points. the only part of the GPS that costs anything is new/up to date maps for random devices offline storage.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247546)

I think you misunderstood.

A cellphone does not obtain your position using the free signal received from GPS satellites that dedicated GPS units use. It makes an educated guess of your location by triangulating signals from nearby cell towers or wi-fi hotspots using aGPS services like Skyhook. Since the submitter intended to use n old cellphone without paying for service, that phone now has no means to determine its location.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247614)

That depends on the phone. Some phones have no actual GPS functions, and rely purely on the tower; but an increasing number, especially of the nicer models, do have actual GPS chips in there. They may also, when used with a cell plan, use a variety of cell-assisted AGPS tricks to increase fix speed, or work better in urban areas, or compensate for the fact that they are working with a dinky trace antenna because no phone is going to sell with some big chunky GPS antenna sticking out of it; but those phones will work without any cell connection at all(the one exception, is phones where the GPS has been software locked by the carrier, and is enabled only for the carrier's shittastic $X/month navigation application. Mean and wasteful; but not unheard of).

Re:Why? (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247642)

Actually, many cell phones use assisted GPS. They can receive a normal GPS signal for rough positioning, but also use cell-based GPS services to increase accuracy and for situations where a clear view of the sky is not available (not enough birds available). The GPS works just fine without a network.

Re:Why? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247682)

No, my phone has a for real GPS receiver. Many smart phones do.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247440)

I've used my motorola Droid as a gps. It works good but there is one serious drawback.
Charging.

When the phone is being beat on by the sun the battery overheats and stops charging. Otherwise it works amazingly at night.

Re:Why? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247552)

Spare batteries are cheap.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247628)

smart phones are not open PCs. No contract, no service, no active phone.

Battery life (1)

dwbassett42 (752317) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247144)

Handheld GPS units probably have much better battery life than an Android. The GPS device is only made to do only one thing, while an Android is a portable computer and uses a lot more juice accordingly.

Re:Battery life (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247226)

I've only ever used gps in a car, though (unless i'm just fiddling with my phone) and i've got an in car charger for that...

Re:Battery life (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247314)

Last weekend I used an iPhone as a GPS while doing some backcountry stuff. It was an area I was already very familiar with so I figured, why not try using the phone instead of my normal GPS unit and see how it goes? The GPS app I used was MotionX (paid version) and I found that it performed quite well, with quick lock-on and solid signal maintenance. Battery life was about as good as my Garmin unit, but you have to put the thing in airplane mode. When it's not in airplane mode it sucks juice like its water trying to find a tower.

I've seen my iPhone run from 100% to dead in about three hours because I was in an area with zero signal and I forgot to put it in airplane mode.

Still, I would not rely on a smart phone for serious GPS use simply because you can't just swap out the batteries. I can carry five pounds of batteries with me and use my Garmin for over a month. With the phone I'd need some kind of charger and carry that with me. I've seen chargers that run off of AA batteries, but it takes time to charge. With the real GPS, I just swap the batteries and I'm back to full power in a few seconds...

Re:Battery life (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247374)

On any phone other than an iPhone you could. Not all of us buy sealed magic boxes.

Re:Battery life (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247480)

You can swap the batteries, but what are they? Can I buy them at 7-11? Anyway, I'm not some iPhone fanatic, it's just what I happen to have.

Re:Battery life (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247612)

Cheap lithium ion batteries.

http://www.amazon.com/Motorola-Droid-1300mah-Standard-Battery/dp/B00317ZW48 [amazon.com]

$6.28 including shipping, cheap enough for you?

If you want a spare battery charger it runs ~$10.

Of you could use a device that charges the phone from AAs, you can even use that on your iPhone.

Re:Battery life (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247412)

I use my G1 hiking on multidays hikes with maverick. In airplane mode I can get a day of hiking with occasional GPS use, though using the screen to plot out courses and things does definitely sap battery power. G1 batteries are about $7 each and super light, i don't really see the problem carrying a stack of them

The quality of maps is way better than my etrex ever did and while i'm sure the new Garmins also come with better maps, I don't see myself going back. Though I do carry my Forerunner 405cx GPS with me too

Re:Battery life (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247652)

While I suspect that many of them do, in fact, have better battery lives(if only because customers are willing to put up with slightly larger cases), a pretty substantial percentage of modern GPS units(ie. anything that isn't just a greyscale compass arrow and maybe a 20-waypoint save function), are in fact little embedded computers running WinCE or Linux, with some navigation app/multifunction skin set to load on startup and paper over that fact.

Updating? (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247146)

Installing the maps on a SD card is a good idea, but you should routinely make sure the maps you have are the most recent.

Used GPS are cheap (4, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247148)

I just bought a used Magellan explorist 500 ion Amazon for $7. Why bother with hacking an android phone?

Re:Used GPS are cheap (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247498)

Because buying a GPS doesn't overcomplicate the solution to this person's dad's issue.

Re:Used GPS are cheap (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247512)

Used GPS are cheap

and often nearly useless. sorry, but when I'm backpacking, a screen with an arrow pointing up and a set of geo coords are worth almost nothing to me. there may be hundreds of kilometers between me and a road.
BR though, I guess that's part of the joy of being canadian.

Re:Used GPS are cheap (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247540)

there may be hundreds of kilometers between me and a road.

Not in the US. In the mainland, no matter where you are, you are never more than 25 miles from a road. Might not be a heavily trafficed road, but a road none the less.

-Rick

Cell phone GPS not the same... (5, Informative)

Gazoogleheimer (1466831) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247160)

There's a reason why 'real' GPS units cost more, despite not necessarily having as many fancy 'features' that often end up being unnecessary.

Cell phones rarely have WAAS. Cell phones usually also use the cellular system to receive the phase of the GPS satellite transmission to aid in reception--but--if you don't have any service, the accuracy can get pretty deplorable (well, compared to say my GPSmap 60CSx that usually locks within fourteen to sixteen feet)...the battery life isn't as good, cell phones are horribly made, and the chipsets and antennae are simply much, much, much better in a dedicated unit. Pick up a used GPS--that's a real GPS--and it will be much better suited to hunting and camping rather than looking for the closest Starbucks. Real GPS units have rubber gaskets for a reason.

Re:Cell phone GPS not the same... (1)

spandex_panda (1168381) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247262)

I think that this is right. GPS is not just the ability to get a location. There is a whole bunch of other stuff which you can throw at the signals to get a better, more accurate location. On top of the software, the hardware is also quite important. A really good antenna is worth big money, and there are probably is dedicated hardware these days optimised to solve for coordinates which uses less power than the software of a phone. Now, your Dad may not know that he should turn off bluetooth and wifi in order to conserve battery life, and he is not going to want to do fancy stuff with the data in the field, which is another advantage of a smartphone. I reckon that the software in a Garmin is going to be easy to use, the hardware is top notch and that is what I would get.

Re:Cell phone GPS not the same... (4, Funny)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247266)

...chipsets and antennae are simply much, much, much better in a dedicated unit.

He said "Android", not "Apple"...

Re:Cell phone GPS not the same... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247444)

You know Android is the operating system. And has no say on the quality of the hardware it is setup on.

Re:Cell phone GPS not the same... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247562)

Check out this previous Slashdot article...

Google's Free Satnav Outperforms TomTom [slashdot.org]

Assisted GPS (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247176)

A lot of phones download satellite positions from time to time to enable them to pick up a signal quicker. You could do this over wifi, but it isn't quite as convenient as having it doing it over the cell phone data connection automatically. Or you could not download it at all and wait a few more minutes every time to get a position.

Re:Assisted GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247312)

I'm sure the wifi connection is powered by the current berries out where his dad will go hunting.

Re:Assisted GPS (1)

spandex_panda (1168381) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247334)

All GPS receivers (AFAIK) have a map of ephemerides, they all know approximately where the GPS satellites are. What a phone does is work out an approximate location using other sources (cell towers, wifi hotspots) which speeds up the GPS solution.

Re:Assisted GPS (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247368)

My phone has something called "Quick GPS" which is scheduled to download something every week.

Re:Assisted GPS (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247386)

All GPS receivers (AFAIK) have a map of ephemerides

Sort of. It depends on whether you're cold or warm starting the GPS device.

http://gpsinformation.net/main/warmcold.htm [gpsinformation.net]

First, here is how Garmin defines their FOUR startup modes.

        Search the sky - Time, position, almanac, and ephemeris data all unknown.
        AutoLocate - Time, position, and ephemeris unknown, almanac known or partially known.
        Cold Start - Time and position known to within some limits, almanac known, ephemeris unknown
        Warm start - Time and position known to within some limits, almanac known, at least 3 SVs Ephemeris are known from previous operation.

The satellites (SVs) broadcast two types of data, Almanac and Ephemeris. Almanac data is course orbital parameters for all SVs. Each SV broadcasts Almanac data for ALL SVs. This Almanac data is not very precise and is considered valid for up to several months. Ephemeris data by comparison is very precise orbital and clock correction for each SV and is necessary for precise positioning. EACH SV broadcasts ONLY its own Ephemeris data. The validity of this data is dictated by the particular satellite and may be valid up to 4 to 6 hours. Each set of ephemeris data gives a "fit" indication which tells how long the particular Ephemeris data is valid. The Ephemeris data is broadcast by each SV every 30 seconds so GPS receivers have frequent opportunities to receive and log this essential information.

For you dad... (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247178)

Get a good Garmin or other hand held GPS. One that can be operated with winter gloves on or such. If he's like my dad, he's not going to want to mess with any other applications or functionality. He wants a device to tell him how to get to the next camp site or hunting spot. Not listen to MP3s. He's also going to want something that is probably water proof, drop proof and has a battery life much longer than that of an old phone.

Garmins are by far the easiest to hack and even allow you to use your own maps. TomTom from what I've heard locks their stuff down hard. Plus Garmin has been around longer in the 'off road' GPS device market.

For yourself, sure, sounds like a fun project. I'm considering an iPod Touch + Bluetooth GPS + Jailbreaking as an in car GPS device. I was looking for an application to make the maps from OSM, but it looks like Mobile Atlas will do that.

I'd go two ways. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247182)

As a pretty dedicated hiker and Android user (started with a G1, then a Droid, and now a Droid X), so this is from my experience of both. I'd go one of two ways:

1.) Buy him an actual GPS. Good ones are around $90, have much better battery lives, built in maps instead of querying Google Maps, are a lot more durable, and don't have that neon-bright glow that I'm guessing would be detrimental to hunters (I'm not a hunter, so I have no idea myself).

2.) Buy him a new Android Device. The problem with getting him an old Android device is that they need to query a network to be able to display a map through Google Maps. You could buy a map that doesn't require a network to display off the marketplace, but that just adds on to the cost of ownership. However, a new device would not only get him something that can query a network and display the map, but it would also function as a phone in case of emergencies. The downside is, he'd get stuck with a monthly bill.

Either way, I wouldn't buy him an old Android device.

garmin ique 3600 (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247188)

maybe these (or similar) are available, cheap, used?

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=177&ra=true [garmin.com]

I have one that I use on bike and motor scooter. they even make handlebar mounts (ball mounts) for them.

it is a REAL gps unit with antenna and NO need for a-gps or any of that stuff.

touch screen is great, color is great, speed is great. but it IS a very old model, by today's standards.

still, I do think a dedicated satellite antenna-based gps is the way to do.

if I had to COUNT on a gps, it would not be a 'cell phone' version..

Re:garmin ique 3600 (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247330)

If you "COUNT" on a gps, you get what you have coming to you. Always have at least a topo and a compass if you really want something to count on.

Re:garmin ique 3600 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247390)

If you "COUNT" on a gps, you get what you have coming to you. Always have at least a topo and a compass if you really want something to count on.

That is, unless your compass breaks.

Re:garmin ique 3600 (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247632)

Look up, that ball of fire in the sky it rises in the east and sets in the west. This with the topo can be used.

Re:garmin ique 3600 (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247400)

"if I had to COUNT on a gps, it would not be a 'cell phone' version.."

If I had to COUNT on a GPS, I'd have maps and compass too.

Never neglect your land nav skills or Very Bad Things could happen to you.

offline maps against google ToS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247202)

I believe storing map tiles from Google Maps for offline use is against their terms of service. Might be worth looking into, in case the app gets banned from using the API later on.

Re:offline maps against google ToS (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247646)

You don't get the maps from google maps at all. Why would you even think that is how it worked?

No, get him a real GPS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247220)

It seems like I can get a lot more functionality for the money out of an old Android than I could from a big name handheld GPS.

Yeah, no. Certainly not without a data plan.

If he needs it for hunting and camping, then the most important feature he needs is durability. You're not going to get that out of an Android phone. You can usually get a good quality handheld GPS from Garmin or Tomtom for like $125 on sale. This is probably cheapier than the cheapest used Android phone you will find, and it will be shock proof, water resistant, and take AA batteries, so you can carry a spare set in your pocket for safety.

It's a nice idea but you really are ignoring all the most important benefits of a dedicated GPS unit. I highly recommend just shopping around; you'll find a good one on sale.

durability (4, Informative)

KnightBlade (1074408) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247232)

A GPS device in my experience is much more durable than a smartphone. Smartphones are delicate devices. My GPS has been dropped tons of times, been left in the car in hot weather and cold winter, even sprayed with water on a couple of occasions. It still works. I doubt a smartphone would do that. On the other hand you could use the android for more than just navigation. You could have apps installed that don't need an internet connection, music, videos and what not. Although most new GPS devices do play mp3s.

Re:durability (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247308)

Delicate?
My Droid has gorilla glass, even keys won't scratch it. I have dropped it onto tile floors and it just scratched the bezel. I have used it in temps from 100+ to -20. Water is an issue that smartphones need to deal with.

Re:durability (1)

KnightBlade (1074408) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247392)

Will he get a Droid for under $200 without a contract?

Re:durability (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247406)

Looks like not yet, but if he waits I might sell him mine.

Re:durability (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247484)

A handheld GPS unit might survive a drop on a trail where the unit falls/slides 10 feet down a rock-face (my experience in the Blue Ridge / Appalachian Mts). A decent GPS will be water resistant and not be bothered by rain or being splashed with water (might even survive falling into a stream at the bottom of the previously mentioned fall -- again, has happened in my experience in the Blue Ridge). A Droid won't survive that.

Re:durability (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247534)

Sure and I think they should fix that. No reason why it could not.

Re:durability (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247658)

Sure, they could. But the guy can buy a ruggedized Garmin or Magellan GPS, designed for hiking, for less than the $100 he was planning to spend, today.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247236)

Think of the screen size too.

Which is it, $100 or 200? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247240)

If $100 doesn't matter, then get a fucking new one and have GPS AND a decent phone/data jobber. Don't be a check motherfucker! If you buy crap, you get crap. Unless that's what you want, crap. Do you want crap? Then buy a decent phone, motherfucker!

A real GPS is better suited for wilderness use (5, Insightful)

arifyn (711614) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247252)

A real outdoor GPS (not a car-nav unit) will have substantially better battery life and be reasonably waterproof and shockproof. It also probably won't be dependent on a touchscreen that is impossible to operate with gloves or as soon as your hands get wet/cold. It may have a screen that is actually readable outdoors. Many GPS units take standardized (AA) batteries so extended trips without recharging are relatively easy.

An android phone will have a bigger, more colorful screen and a more open/versatile OS, and it will undoubtedly be easier to load whatever maps you want on it, rather than vendor-approved, possibly expensive ones. Without some sort of additional protection, though, the device will break the first time it gets dropped on a rock or rained on. It'd be more suited to city and car navigation than camping and hunting.

Get him a dedicated GPS device (3, Insightful)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247304)

Get him a dedicated GPS device. What are they, under $100 now? They work off satellites and don't require any spotty cellular phone triangulation. Do it. You seriously don't want to be the guy who sent his father out into the woods with sub-par gear. That's how people fucking die.

I live within eyesight of Mt. Hood so I don't take a "quick jaunt in the woods" at face value. Prepare for the worst, pack your gear like it'll be the last trip you ever take.

Re:Get him a dedicated GPS device (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247348)

Then bring a real map and a compass and know how to use them. That is my backup to my smartphone when I go out into the woods.

I tend to try to live ready for anything though, knife, firestarting stuff and various other tools on me at all times.

Re:Get him a dedicated GPS device (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247358)

Get him a dedicated GPS device. What are they, under $100 now? They work off satellites and don't require any spotty cellular phone triangulation. Do it. You seriously don't want to be the guy who sent his father out into the woods with sub-par gear. That's how people fucking die.

I generally agree, but having one's GPS go out is not a good reason to die in the woods. The GPS should be treated as a convenience, not a necessity. At some point we always have to rely on the tools we are carrying with us, but some of those tools are a hell of a lot more durable than a GPS. Carry a map, carry a compass, and know how to use them. If you find yourself in an un-navigable area, you better have shelter, water, and food with you, and a means of acquiring more of all three should the need arise.

You could have the best GPS in the world, then some crazy solar flare happens and you're screwed. It's a good thing to carry with you, but don't bet your life on it.

Re:Get him a dedicated GPS device (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247578)

Um. Sorry guy but the vast majority of smartphone GPS hasn't been cellular triangulation based in a few years. While some still are, this is quickly becoming misinformation. Before you know it people are going to start telling you that 2007 called and they want their joke back.

old android phone is an oxymoron (5, Insightful)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247366)

Android is what, 22 months old?

Re:old android phone is an oxymoron (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247424)

In tech terms, 22 months is "mature". Windows 7 is half as old and is already well accepted in the community. Then again, after Vista, I would have accepted Windows 98 with newer drivers as a replacement.

Re:old android phone is an oxymoron (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247592)

Windows 7 is half as old and its existence is already well accepted as not going away any time soon in the community.

Fixed that for ya. I know a lot a lot a lot a lot of workstations, servers, kiosk that are still running just about everything pre-7. Accepted in the community and being considered old do not necessarily have a 1 to 1 relationship.

Re:old android phone is an oxymoron (0, Redundant)

boreddotter (1836042) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247448)

exactly what i thought

Outdoor GPS more ruggedised (3, Informative)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247380)

Depends on how your dad uses his GPS and what he needs to do with it, but Android smart phones aren't generally designed for rough conditions.

I've got a Garmin eTrex and an Android phone. The Garmin is way more ruggedised than the touch screen smart phone (Motorola Milestone). I don't think the Milestone would cope with pouring rain, snow, getting knocked about in rucsacs, dropped in puddles, sat on, etc, and still function in bad weather at night when I really need to know where I am: it might be life or death. "Smart phones" with a few exceptions are much too flimsy for outdoor use in severe conditions.

Hard to beat dedicated GPS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247382)

A phone is:

1) not going to be as durable or rain resistant
2) not going to have as good battery life (while acting as a GPS)
3) probably not going to allow you to swap out ordinary AA or AAA batteries if you do run out (most phones have dedicated chargers and batteries)
4) probably not going to be as precise
5) probably going to involve more hassle loading maps (most GPS units have basic maps already loaded).

With dedicated GPS units in same price range as the Android phones you are talking about (e.g., mapping GPS units start at $150 [garmin.com] , and there are other brands, such as Magellan), the question is WHY would you get a phone if a GPS is what your dad needs? Some models even float, such as this $200 model [garmin.com] , which would be great for hunting/camping. Check this place out to see the variety available [gpscity.ca] . I'm sure there's an equivalent store in the USA.

If you already have an old phone laying around, it might be worth a try. Otherwise you're probably going to regret paying almost as much for a suboptimal solution.

Because it's there (1)

godzilla8az (1878210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247428)

i concur with the majority who say buying a used GPS on CL is a better solution. That said, I have a G1 sitting in a box and would be curious to know if you succeed in cobbling together a solution using offline maps. If you do please post your solution so I may follow suit.

Driving Directions? (1)

dbrossard (911407) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247430)

Did you want driving directions or 3D views like a GPS offers? This may be able to show a blip on a flat map but thats not what I use my GPS for. I use it to find addresses and businesses plus directions and phone numbers.

Dear SlashRock- make new wheel with rocks? (4, Insightful)

toygeek (473120) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247464)

Dear slashrock,

My gene donor's old wheel finally broke. Sure, I could tell him to buy a new one that would work perfectly but I have some old rocks laying around and was thinking of learning masonry so that I could build him a new one. I have pretty much everything I need, and it'll only cost twice as much as a new wheel. I plan on using rocks. I know its older technology, and not as reliable, nor are they made for wheels (not since bronze finally got out of beta, anyway) but I figure that re-using old technology would be good.

So, what kind of rock should I get? Granite? Sandstone? And which quarry should I get it from? I was thinking that granite would last longer but sandstone would ride nicer and would be easier to lob at a dinosaur in case of attack.

Thanks SlashRock!

Re:Dear SlashRock- make new wheel with rocks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247566)

Let's get the rock out of here.

Not Samsung (1)

unix1 (1667411) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247510)

I was considering a Samsung Behold II

Samsung phones are known to have GPS problems. I can also confirm this first-hand. I don't know whether it's the GPS chip they use in Android phones, or it's a more widespread problem, but you'll have a lot better quality GPS hardware if you go with HTC or Motorola.

GPS (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247564)

If your Dad's taking this thing hunting, camping, and hiking... Buy him something that'll be durable enough to survive the aforementioned hunting, camping, and hiking, in the rain, because Murphy's law says it will rain and the device will get wet. Get him one that uses replaceable batteries like AA alkaline or CR123 lithium so he can carry spares that he can get anywhere (like a convenience store along the interstate). Don't get him a toy. Don't kludge something together. It's not worth the hassle.

hack a dedicated unit (1)

cpinetree (1137549) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247568)

Install Miopocket on a dedicated unit. http://www.google.com/search?q=miopocket [google.com]

You then get mp3, ereader, games, multiple possible gps programs (garmin, miomap,tomtom, etc)

Needs a GPS chipset (1)

sr8outtalotech (1167835) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247586)

My old IPAQ 6925 has a SIRFIII chipset which is a dedicated GPS chipset. I had to buy TomTom maps but it works without having to use the cellular network. Most of the Android phones are A-GPS. They use the cellular network. That way the carrier can make more money.

Blackstar? (1)

peterofoz (1038508) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247662)

Ok, so I have a Blackberry.

http://www.blackstarnavigation.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page [blackstarnavigation.com]

I use Blackstar + Mobi Pocket Reader for paperless one-device geocaching. Its ok for city work but I wouldn't rely on it in the countryside. For one, the phone boosts the power to try and get a cell signal and drains the battery in just a few hours.

Maybe there is a link in there to an Android app for you.

Cell Service (1)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247668)

Make sure the whatever app/phone you use does not require cell service to work.

Had this problem with one of my old phones years ago, if it didn't have signal to a tower it was a paper weight.

I don't have a smartphone so I don't know if this is still an issue.

I would second (third, fourth, N+1) getting a dedicated GPS unit if you need one for hiking. Its always better to get something built for the job than a hacked solution, just not as much fun.

I might think that a dedicated GPS is better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247676)

The Android phone is a lot more versatile, that is true - it would offer a lot of stuff on WiFi that the GPS unit can't. But, the GPS unit will have better battery life and from the sounds of it your dad is fine without the extra capabilities... I went onto Amazon and typed in "GPS" and found several units between $80 and $120.

I have an HTC Hero (1)

gagol (583737) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247680)

I removed my SIM card since I disliked the service provided by the locked network I bought it from. The GPS function was working great when connected to the cell network. I tested the GPS function in the country and was unable to get a GPS signal at all... even from outside my car. I would not advise using that kind of setup and will buy a seperate dedicated GPS unit for my "offroad" backcountry hicking. It makes a great SIP phone and I use it to listen Coast to Coast AM.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?