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Handheld GPS Devices

therock003 0 Points
Hi i'm a Land Surveyor, just starting my profession. I have been informed that GPS devices can be usefull for locating certain Areas and i intend to purchase one.

My question is, should i get something professional or can i even use the garmin nuvi i have for my car route planning purposes?

I mean is there any specific reason i should go for e-trex and magellan?

Comments

  • Tim 1482 Points
    Can you be more specific about how you will use the GPS? From your description it is a little bit difficult to tell which functions you may or may not need.
  • Well my question is mostly, what do handheld GPS units have to offer in comparison to the in-CAR GPS?

    Sorry i can't make it any more precise.

    These are some units i'm looking into but i dont know why they are more expensive and if they're different with end-user consumer products

    http://www.civilshop.gr/?productn=gps

    Do they provide better accuracy or something?
  • Well my question is mostly, what do handheld GPS units have to offer in comparison to the in-CAR GPS?
    Durability/weather/water resistance and battery life for starters. Most handhelds use AA batteries, which are available everywhere. And many have 15-20+ hours of battery life. I just ordered a handheld that will give me photo realistic satellite and aerial imagery overlaid on topographic maps. For $30/year, you can constantly download anything you want and it's yours to keep forever. I ordered the Delorme PN-40 and can't wait to get it! I imagine it would be invaluable to you in your field of work. Personally, I'd get a separate dedicated GPS for car/road navigation and another for "in the field" navigation.
  • Thanx for your reply, now please allow me to make some aditional and more specific questions.

    A)What types of maps can you load? Are they the same with the in-Car GPS?

    B)What format of input coordinates are supported? Can you specify projections for of the coordinate values?

    C)Are they region defendant? For example i heard that Colorado and Oregon models of Garmin are top of the line. But will they provide map support and every feature all across Europe? Or is it exclusively North-America?

    D)IS it more or less convenient the fact that the carry smaller screens? Is it possible to distinguish the details on such small screens

    E)Other than Garmin is there any other manufacturer that produces good units for this purpose? Cause it seems most (if not all) of what i see in this field is Garmin and i would like to have my options open.
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    I ordered the Delorme PN-40 and can't wait to get it! I imagine it would be invaluable to you in your field of work. Personally, I'd get a separate dedicated GPS for car/road navigation and another for "in the field" navigation.
    The site the OP linked to above is in Greece. Unless I'm mistaken, the PN-40 only offers coverage for the US with their subscription.
  • Good point. I assumed he was in the US as his English was pretty good. Perhaps just the link is Greek.
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    @therock:

    A. Map formats vary by manufacturer and generally speaking are not cross-platform. Garmin maps are vector-based and must be in Garmin's proprietary format. But you can use the same maps in both auto and handheld units. The automotive units (Nuvi) are more simplistic and do not offer all the advanced features of their handhelds, so while maps will probably work fine, you will not be able to fine-tune their appearance as much as on a handheld.

    B. Handhelds from most manufacturers will give you plenty of projection and coordinate options. Automotive units will probably only let you choose between different coordinate options, like decimal degrees, degrees-minutes-seconds, etc.

    C. The Colorado and Oregon are just like any other Garmin handheld and can use any Garmin-compatible maps. Some models contain pre-loaded maps (like the 400t with US Topo maps). If using in another country you would probably be better off with an Oregon 200 which doesn't have any maps included, so you can get your own. Automotive units have large road maps pre-loaded on them so they will be region specific depending on what country you need.

    Garmin has an advantage of a growing number of free, user contributed maps for download. These are vector-based maps which often are not capable of routing, but some of them are quite good. See these sites:

    http://garmin.na1400.info/routable.php
    http://gpsmapsearch.com/
    http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/

    D. You need to decide what size is convenient. Personal tastes vary. But generally speaking, a 4" widescreen automotive unit will be very awkward for any serious handheld use. Look at screen resolution (number of pixels) instead of just screen size for a handheld, there is a big range. A higher resolution screen will show more details. The Colorado and Oregon are probably the highest resolution handhelds (240x400). Magellan Triton is a little less at 240x320, Garmin 60csx drops down to 160x240 and that starts to be a serious limit IMO. The DeLorme PN-40 is also low resolution at 176x220 which is too bad, considering the nice imagery available for it.

    Automotive units are typically 240x320 for smaller screens and 272x480 for widescreen models.

    E. How much do you want to spend? Magellan Professional and Lowrance make some nice models with prices STARTING at $1000 and going way up from there. How much work are you willing to do yourself? Do you mind making your own maps and tinkering with the software? You could also look at OziExplorerCE which runs on almost any Windows CE device. Many companies (but not Garmin) base their units on Windows CE and there's a large grassroots movement posting solutions to "unlock" these devices allowing you to install your own software. I discussed running Ozi on the Magellan Triton in the following thread: http://forums.gpsreview.net/discussion/12646/x/p1/
  • Don't forget North reference options like true, magnetic and grid. No dedicated auto nav GPS that I know of lets you change this.
  • The DeLorme PN-40 is also low resolution at 176x220 which is too bad, considering the nice imagery available for it.
    Have you seen/used one in person? I've read a TON of reviews on this unit and people were somewhat apprehensive about the screen size and resolution. Until they actually got on in their hands. Seemed like all of the complainers were pleasantly surprised. The only bad/intimidating thing with the PN-40 is the complexity of the Topo 7 software, downloading maps and getting them into the unit. If it's as hard as it looks, I'll stick with the 60CSx as the photo realistic stuff, while VERY cool, isn't a must have for me.
  • therock003 0 Points
    Thanx for your repliew guys, i will definitely be getting a handheld device since it seems to be important and it distinguishes itslef from auto-gps. The question now is which one will be bestter suited for my needs.

    A) Well first of all I asked about map interoperability since i will probably be loading custom Non-Garmin Maps and i need to know if they can be used interchangeably. So for example if I find a MAP for a Garmin nuvi or for Garmin XT (Symbian Series 60 software) i need to know that it will work with my handheld unit. I have found that once you get this map installed on MAPsource then you can pretty much send it in any Garmin Device you own.

    So for example if i get an .img file of a map distributed for Nuvi, i hope that by installing it on Mapsource i could transfer it to my Handheld Garmin Device.

    By the way, you mention mapfiles/mapsets originate from vector based formats. Does that mean that with further processing I can extract necessary information into creating a shapefile (.shp) or .DXF file and use them on GIS applications for personal use?

    C)Well yes, after researching this myself i found that individual Units with the basic mapset are Oregon and Colorado 300 series, the 400x as you said are for specific maps concerning U.S. maps. So i guess i could purchase a 300 and load it with the appropriate maps for my country.
    Question though is which one? Colorado looks better and reviews rate it as a better choice as well, but Oregon has a touch screen and more internal memory. Dont know what other major difference there are.

    BTW do Handheld Devices run any OS, like Windos CE? On which platform do they operate? Is it a Garmin proprietary platform? Cause i could really use a CE environment for running field applications.

    D)A 4 inch screen may be inappropriate for field use, but will i be able to navigate to a destination from my current location with a handheld? Or do i need to combine the two? Use an auto GPS to get roughly to the destination, and then get to use the Handheld? Cause i could really appreciate if it could do both, but i doubt i could concentrate on such small screen whn i'm driving so i would probably have to use both, right?

    E)Well I was hoping to spend something between 500-600 Euros, which is what Oregon/Colorado 300 cost here. But if there's a better solution that offers something significant to me, then maybe i could spend something more.

    Running CE matters to me, and judging by your response Garmin doesnt offer it, that's sad cause i could really use it on a Colorado.

    I will be looking for the Magellan professional to see what it has to offer as well. It's the first i'm hearing of Lawrence though, but i will be sure to check them as well.

    -Finally, point precision havent beens discussed. Do these units offer better accuracy for fixed points than the Car GPS, cause One would hope so. Auto GPS offer 5meter at the very nest so i'm hoping Handehled can go from 1-5meters preferably. Is that an option here?
  • Too many questions without personal research you ask, my young padawan... Google, I would seek...
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    A. Garmin .img files generally work on any Garmin unit, although they now have a new format which only works on the Oregon, Colorado and Nuvi 500. You are wrong to assume you can install the same map on any device though, depending on the map. Most of Garmin's maps are copy protected and you must lock them to a specific GPS. Free maps which you download on the internet can be used anywhere. You need to research your specific products.

    B. Depends on the map. GPSMapEdit (shareware) can open .img files and then save them as .mp files. You could use GlobalMapper to convert them to .shp files. Probably other software can do this too. But "your mileage may vary".

    C. You have been reading different reviews than me I guess. I would say the reaction to the Oregon has been more positive than the Colorado. Garmin is issuing frequent updates and adding features to the Oregon but not the Colorado.

    Garmin's devices are proprietary. You cannot run other software on them and no access to the underlying operating system. Magellan handhelds run Windows CE - see my other post.

    D. You will have to be the judge. The Oregon screen is similar to a small car GPS but no voice guidance and you will need a mount and car power cable plus of course the maps. Here it costs about the same to buy a Nuvi 205 with preloaded US maps as it would to add those things to a handheld, and it will be better suited for the car.

    E. CE does not run on any Garmin units. Actually I meant to say Trimble instead of Lowrance, sorry. Check out there GeoXH model if you can afford it ($5,000+):

    http://www.trimble.com/geoxh.shtml

    I believe all the consumer units use the same amount of precision. For example, IIRC decimal coordinates from Google Earth offer one more place of precision than you can enter on any GPS I've used.

    See the geoxh, it's specs exceed what you want. They make a couple other models which cost a bit less and may still give that precision, but they are all over $1000.
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    Have you seen/used one in person? I've read a TON of reviews on this unit and people were somewhat apprehensive about the screen size and resolution. Until they actually got on in their hands.
    I don't doubt that the PN-40 is impressive and that screen size is only one part of the equation. But no, I haven't seen/used one in person. And I don't need to in order to understand what a screen of that resolution looks like. Pixels are pixels, and there just aren't very many on that screen. I will say however that they use the available real estate well. Some nice screenshots here: http://delormepn40.wikispaces.com/Map+Screenshots

    For me, OziExplorer does all this and much more, with free imagery on a screen with twice the pixels and a screen designer program to build my own user interface, but that isn't going to be a mainstream solution.
  • therock003 0 Points
    A. Garmin .img files generally work on any Garmin unit, although they now have a new format which only works on the Oregon, Colorado and Nuvi 500. You are wrong to assume you can install the same map on any device though, depending on the map. Most of Garmin's maps are copy protected and you must lock them to a specific GPS. Free maps which you download on the internet can be used anywhere. You need to research your specific products.
    Well yes certainly, that's why i said i intend to use non-garmin custom maps.
    B. Depends on the map. GPSMapEdit (shareware) can open .img files and then save them as .mp files. You could use GlobalMapper to convert them to .shp files. Probably other software can do this too. But "your mileage may vary".
    .mp? Do you mean oziexplorer .map files? Cause i just tried that and it exports a .bmp on the scale zoomed at and results are highly undesirable. I couldn't find an .mp format though.
    C. You have been reading different reviews than me I guess. I would say the reaction to the Oregon has been more positive than the Colorado. Garmin is issuing frequent updates and adding features to the Oregon but not the Colorado.
    I have found like 3-4 articles posting some general information about handheld units, but this is the one i foucused on, which makes the Colorado out to be the flagship product. But it was last updated on April 2008 so maybe that a reason Oregon isnt mentioned(?)

    http://www.consumersearch.com/gps/best-handheld-gps
    E. CE does not run on any Garmin units. Actually I meant to say Trimble instead of Lowrance, sorry. Check out there GeoXH model if you can afford it ($5,000+):

    http://www.trimble.com/geoxh.shtml

    See the geoxh, it's specs exceed what you want. They make a couple other models which cost a bit less and may still give that precision, but they are all over $1000.
    Wow this unit has subfoot accuracy but the price makes you want to cry. It is undoubtedly one of the best solution for using a GPS for GIS applications but i already intend to get GPS Stations for my surveying needs, so a handheld with that accuracy doesnt really matter to me. I'm looking for something with an accuracy of 1-5m.

    BTW the GPS surveying receivers i plan to get are from Trimble, so what a coincidence for you to suggest top of the line handheld series from them as well.

    These are my base/rover choices.

    http://www.trimble.com/trimbler6.shtml
    http://www.trimble.com/trimbler6.shtml
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    .mp? Do you mean oziexplorer .map files? Cause i just tried that and it exports a .bmp on the scale zoomed at and results are highly undesirable. I couldn't find an .mp format though.
    OziExplorer files have the .map extension. These are actually just little text files which have georeference information for an accompanying image file like a .tif, .bmp or .jpg. These cannot be used with Garmin units.

    .mp files are known as "Polish Format" maps. It is an intermediate format which is used as the source file for the cgpsmapper garmin-compatible map compiler. The GPSMapEdit program works natively in the .mp file format and can save/load files in that format. But it can also open garmin .img files and save them as .mp files. Other software (such as GlobalMapper) can then read these files and export them out in many other formats.

    So it's a good "common denominator" to use, and also a path to get from a Garmin .img file to a .shp shapefile.
  • therock003 0 Points
    Yep just realized that later. So anyway i converted to .mp but GPSMapedit doesnt translate the MAP as well as mapsource does. Here are some pictures to show you what i mean.

    image

    image

    Also is there a way to extract a specific mapset from inside an .img like when you select them from mapsource to send them to the device? Cause saving the whole map as .mp takes a lot of system resources and computer becomes unsteady.
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    No idea. Extracting data from .img files has never interested me.

    What is the source of these maps? If open source, it may be available directly as either a .mp or .shp file. Try contacting the author. I would not consider a .img file to be source material, it is a compiled format intended for use on a gps device.

    But also note that your original question was about translating a .img file to a .shp file. As I replied above, use GPSMapEdit to convert it to a .mp file as an intermediate step. You can then import that file into GlobalMapper where you would have complete control over the appearance and could export it as a .shp file.
  • therock003 0 Points
    I would say the reaction to the Oregon has been more positive than the Colorado. Garmin is issuing frequent updates and adding features to the Oregon but not the Colorado.
    What do you mean by that?

    I'm ready to make the purchase and it's down to either the colorado or the oregon. I dont know if there are any actual differences besides of course touch screen vs this twirly control and internal vs external antenna.

    Do they even differ in the time it takes to seek satelite, or the satelite accuracy?
  • Tim 1482 Points
    The internal hardware is different. The Colorado has been plagued with hardware and software issues which have largely gone unaddressed. The Oregon uses different hardware (and a different GPS chipset) and is much more stable and accurate.
  • therock003 0 Points
    The internal hardware is different. The Colorado has been plagued with hardware and software issues which have largely gone unaddressed. The Oregon uses different hardware (and a different GPS chipset) and is much more stable and accurate.
    Is this the most significant reason to prefer Oregon over to the Colorado?

    What about the touch and feel of each unit? I've visited the two places on a reasonable proximity that supply these units, but the first didnt have any of them on display, and the other one only had the Oregon.

    Kind bulky and ruggedy. Didnt really have much time to examine it thoroughly, but on first glimpse i didnt really like the look of the interface,(Garmin was never able to impress me with the sex-appeal of its menus and map displays) but since this is more business related than wow factor i am not going to base my decision making on that of course.

    I am waiting till they bring the colorado on display as well. I really need to see how the rock slider operates. I cant shake the feeling that it could be more handy than a touch screen.

    Other than that, this is the best side-by-side comparison i can find but i cant distinguish which yes's and no's make the difference.

    http://garminoregon.wikispaces.com/Colorado+vs+Oregon

    The only thing that seems to be completely of no use for me is the geocaching-whereigo features. I do not care for it at all. Other than that i really dont know how to base my decision but it seems oregon is the modern and more updated one, so it has an advantage for the time being.

    Any other words of wisdom? I only need to make sure that i wont regret choosing the oregon and think i could have gone for the colorado.
  • Tim 1482 Points
    I only need to make sure that i wont regret choosing the oregon and think i could have gone for the colorado.
    Sounds like if you buy the Oregon and are happy with it, you would wonder that anyway... Seems the only way to prove to yourself the Colorado isn't what you need would be to buy it and have it fail.

    My advice is to purchase the Oregon over the Colorado because the Oregon is built on better hardware and has had more attention from Garmin towards fixing issues.
  • therock003 0 Points
    Sounds like if you buy the Oregon and are happy with it, you would wonder that anyway...
    That's exactly right my friend, cause my mind is built that way. And since i cant test them both to failure, i guess i'll have to listen to people with experience and get the Oregon.

    BTW have you tried them both? Any word on the touch and feel of the Colorado?

    Is it just me or is the Colorado screen a littel bit bigger? Based on the various articles both units have the same resolution 3" screen but it kinda seems from the pictures that the colorado screen may be a lttle bit bigger.
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    Seems like we are talking in circles about Oregon vs Colorado. I can't contribute much more to that. But getting back to this issue, I have learned a little more about extracting shapefiles from .img files.
    So anyway i converted to .mp but GPSMapedit doesnt translate the MAP as well as mapsource does.
    Turns out it's not as straightforward as I thought. This is due to the structure of Garmin maps. Each object on the map must contain a definition of which zoom levels it will be displayed at. Objects displayed at smaller scales may be defined with less precision in their coordinates and have a different appearance (like no street labels, or a simple line instead of a divided highway). So the .img file will have multiple copies of the same objects in it - one for each zoom level as defined by the author.

    This makes it hard to "rip" the shapes from an .img file using GPSMapEdit. I gather that the following program can be useful for getting around these problems. I have never used it and don't know anything about it though, so you're on your own here....

    http://www.msh-tools.com/Ptxt2shp.html
  • therock003 0 Points
    Seems like we are talking in circles about Oregon vs Colorado. I can't contribute much more to that. But getting back to this issue, I have learned a little more about extracting shapefiles from .img files.
    So anyway i converted to .mp but GPSMapedit doesnt translate the MAP as well as mapsource does.
    Turns out it's not as straightforward as I thought. This is due to the structure of Garmin maps. Each object on the map must contain a definition of which zoom levels it will be displayed at. Objects displayed at smaller scales may be defined with less precision in their coordinates and have a different appearance (like no street labels, or a simple line instead of a divided highway). So the .img file will have multiple copies of the same objects in it - one for each zoom level as defined by the author.

    This makes it hard to "rip" the shapes from an .img file using GPSMapEdit. I gather that the following program can be useful for getting around these problems. I have never used it and don't know anything about it though, so you're on your own here....

    http://www.msh-tools.com/Ptxt2shp.html
    Thanx a lot for the additional help, i really appreciate it. And i was really wondering why the roads and the counters where being created two-three times. Maybe this tool will help make things better, so i will definitely be taking a look at it.

    One final question concerning the comparison (I promise!). Since Oregon is better and more improved, why is it that it costs 100IUSD less? I was using the compare feature on the buy.garmin page and it striked me as odd, that's all.

    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/compare.do?cID=147&compareProduct=14903&compareProduct=11019
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    One final question concerning the comparison (I promise!). Since Oregon is better and more improved, why is it that it costs 100IUSD less? I was using the compare feature on the buy.garmin page and it striked me as odd, that's all.
    Haha - you should ask Garmin that question! :lol:

    I think it's just a failure of them to update their site. Those are list prices and you really need to look at the large, reputable retail sites to get an idea of "street price". Just did a real quick look at Amazon and found the Oregon 300 for $350 and the Colorado 300 for $315. But you need to do your own comparison shopping.
  • therock003 0 Points
    Wow 350USD (250EUR)? I just got it for 350 Euros, did i get robbed? And i did that after hard negotiation for the price to drop from 395!

    Anyway i just thought that the price difference might be some indication of a colorado perseverance didnt think that it might be a list price.

    By the way is there a matter of hardware revision? Mine must be kinda old. I just realized after i bought it that it had already a waypoint stored dating to DEC-08. Maybe the resseller has demonstrated in December toa potential client, but i wonder if any hardware improvements might have been made from December up to this day.
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    Typically the hardware stays the same and firmware is updated. There have been a couple exceptions, like different types of LCD screens on the Nuvi 700 series, but that is pretty rare.

    Prices on GPS'es can really vary quite a lot between different vendors and with one-day sales, etc. Personally, after I make a purchase I try not to "look back". :D
  • therock003 0 Points


    Prices on GPS'es can really vary quite a lot between different vendors and with one-day sales, etc. Personally, after I make a purchase I try not to "look back". :D
    Heh, that's probably the best way to look at it!

    Couple of quick questions.

    -I tried sending a mapset from a custom map i had installed on mapsource, and although it said that the transfer was successful, i cant seem to locate any new map upon booting the oregon.

    The map selection menu on the setup tab, only displays the basemap as an option.

    - Can you perform coordinate conversions on the fly? Like save a waypoint on the grid you have set, but view information on the screen on another projection system. Is that possible, or do you have to define a projection system each time?
  • Boyd 1998 Points
    When you sent the map in Mapsource, where did it say the destination was? It should identify your GPS with a unit number. If the map doesn't appear under map info, I'm not sure what happened. Maybe you only sent waypoints, etc and not a map?

    On your computer look at the GPS. There should be a Garmin folder. The mapset should be inside that folder and it will be named gmapsupp.img. If you can't find that file, then nothing was sent. If you do have that file but can't see it on the Oregon itself, then I'm not sure what the problem is.

    I have not worked much with different coordinate systems, but I think the setting only affects the display of your position and can be changed anytime. Give it a try.
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