Sunday, March 18, 2012

IP Ratings Explained


It doesn’t take a genius to know that technology, water and dust are not good bedfellows. But a lot of times, handheld GPS devices are designed to be ‘rugged’ so that you can take it with you on a hike or trail and not worry about it. Many cycling GPS units are also waterproof or water resistant so that a surprise rainfall doesn’t turn your navigational device into an expensive paperweight.

Chances are, some of your handhelds are rated for rugged conditions which involve dust and rain. This rating is known as an IP or IPX rating and you’ve probably seen it listed in the specs on some devices, but unless you look into it, it probably didn’t mean much. As it turns out, IP ratings are basically a universal classification system that allows users and manufacturers know exactly how much water or dust the unit can take without worry. read more

4 Common GPS Misconceptions


GPS is a pretty immersive and prevalent technology and as more and more people begin to explore the incredible capabilities and capacities of this technology, more and more misinformation and misconceptions are being spread.

I think that of all of the technologies of our age, GPS is one of the most widespread. And, as widespread use of GPS is on the rise, so are the rumors, misconceptions and misinformation. While I’m not going to be able to dispel all of these rumors, I wanted to take today and talk about some of the ones that I tend to hear over and over again.

1. The government/Google/everyone is tracking you

This is, without a doubt, the most common misconception about GPS and I can’t even count how many discussions I’ve had on this topic with various friends and family members. Generally, I hear this more in relation to people using their phones for GPS units but I wanted to touch on it anyway. read more

What is WAAS, and Do You Need it?

GPS Block IIIA satellite

The Wide Area Augmentation System, also called WAAS, is one of those things that gets tacked on to the side of the GPS box or bullet-pointed under the specifications of some GPS units. Most people don’t really pay it much mind as it tends to just look like yet another marketing ploy. Kind of like boasting tons of megapixels on phones–does it actually mean what you think it means? read more

How Does GPS Work?

gps satellite IIF

GPS is arguably one of the most important technologies developed in the last 50 years and has been used for a shockingly wide variety of things including defense, contracting, sports, recreation, innovation and more. Several other countries are following in the footsteps of (and even improving upon) the GPS constellation, and the United States is working on upgrading the satellites.

However, I would be willing to wager that most people have probably never really stopped to think too much about how GPS actually works. It just does. Well, today I’m going to try and explain some of the basics of how and why GPS works. read more

Tips for Avoiding GPS Theft

stolen GPS broken window car

With summer finally here, I’m sure quite a few of you are in the midst of planning out the perfect summer vacation and getaway. Which, of course, is going to mean using your car’s GPS to find your way around. However, I am sure that I don’t need to tell any of you that GPS devices are STILL one of the most frequently stolen objects from vehicles.

So while you’re out and about this summer, here are some tips to ensure that you don’t end up having to replace your beloved unit and your window: read more

8 GPS Features Smartphones Can’t Match


Garmin nuvi 2757LM review

As smartphones become better at, well, everything, a lot of people are starting to shift away from dedicated GPS units in favor of smartphones for navigation. And, while both have maps and routing and both can lead you in circles at the drop of a hat (although personally I’d trust a GPS over a smartphone any day), there are some smaller things that a lot of GPS units offer which smartphones simply can’t match.

It is worth noting that not every GPS unit will have all of these things, but most of them are pretty standard on newer units. read more

FAQ for Buying Automotive GPS

Auto GPS buyers guide

If you aren’t a hobbyist in the GPS field, then the sheer number of options for purchasing an automotive GPS unit can be quite daunting. The alphabet and number soup at the end of the twenty billion models with the same (or similar) name can be incredibly confusing and unless you know exactly what you want, some of the charts and guides we have aren’t going to be much help.

So, for those of you looking to buy your first (or just a new) GPS unit, I am going to break things down a little bit. Here are a few common questions (and answers!) consumers have when considering which units to purchase:

How much should I expect to spend on a unit?

If you’ve never bought a GPS unit before, this is probably the first question you’re wondering. And, ironically, it’s one of the harder questions, especially if you’re new to the world of GPS. read more

Can You Use Your Phone for GPS while Driving?

Garmin universal smartphone mount

Driving with a phone for a GPS is a gray area, but having a mount is a must for safety.

Distracted driving has become quite the problem in our society. People just can’t seem to take their eyes and hands off of their phones to focus on anything else–especially driving. But what about using your phone for other tasks, like navigation?

According to a spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using your phone for GPS is one of the gray areas of the law and varies from state to state. Many states prohibit texting while driving and several states, like Illinois, can pull over drivers who are even holding phones while driving. Other states, like California, have made exceptions and drivers are allowed to use phones to navigate. It all depends on where you are for the legality of it. But common sense tells a whole other story. read more

Auto GPS vs. Smartphone: Do you need both?


With so many apps and options available to customize your smartphone into a handheld wonder, it may seem like the dedicated GPS devices are being replaced by their smaller multitasking cousins. But are smartphones really better than more traditional GPS devices? We’ll take a look and you can decide. read more

Handheld GPS FAQs

Here’s a list of posts covering a wide range of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about handheld GPS receivers: read more