APLawrence.com -  Resources for Unix and Linux Systems, Bloggers and the self-employed

What I want in my next GPS

© November 2008 Anthony Lawrence

At You want a GPS I confessed that I bought a GPS unit (a Garmin Nuvi 250) only because we were planning a cross country trip.

Well, we never did take that trip and as the stock market has pretty well destroyed our retirement funds, we likely never will. By the time the market recovers our losses, we'll surely be far too old to even think about it.

If Bill Gates happens to be reading, you could send me a few hundred thou to put me back where I was. The PayPal "Donate" link is down at the bottom of this post, or you could just send me a check.. Yeah, I know I've said some pretty harsh things about you, and sending me the cash won't change my opinion, but hey: you know you owe me. Don't forget to include enough to cover the taxes I'll have to pay, OK? Then we could take the trip next summer, and yeah, we'll call you for lunch while we're in Seattle.. yeah, right.

Anyway, back to the GPS. That little gadget was absolutely hands down the best piece of electronics we ever bought. My wife and I are in complete agreement: we love it, we use it constantly, if it breaks we'll rush right out and buy another the very same day. No kidding, it's become that important to us.

Even so, there are improvements I would like to have. First off, I wish that it could learn. There's a roadway out of our community that my GPS is unaware of. When I go that way, the Nuvi nags at me to "Make a U-Turn!". It would make sense that if I have gone through what it thinks is unpassable terrain once, I can do so again, so learn that.

Next, give me a customizable display. The speedometer on my Subaru Outback isn't easy for me to read - there's a nice digital speed display available on the Garmin, but to get to it I have to give up the map display and go to a screen that shows a lot of information I don't care about. I'd take the compass display off the front screen and put speed in its place. This customization doesn't have to be built into the unit - I'd be fine with bringing it to my computer to run a customization app.

But really, why should I? The unit is already talking to a satellite, why can't I talk to it from my computer? Aside from display customization, I'd like to be able to send it destinations from my computer. My wife just found some vase she wanted at a store 30 miles from here in a town she's never been to in her life. I had to go out to the car to program the GPS (she knows how to program it; I was just saving her the trouble). We do things like that frequently, being able to send an address would be very convenient.

Back to speed for a second. Obviously the GPS units have some idea of road speed limits - how else could they guess arrival time? So why not show me that, too? I realize it might not be 100% accurate - there are always small sections with lowered limits that might not be worth programming in - but it would give me an idea and could even optionally warn me if I was traveling too fast.

I wish it were easier to make route comparisons. That's particularly true when there is a stop we need to make on the way. Let's say I'm coming down Rte 24 heading home but need to stop at BJ's. There are two BJ's, both of which are slightly out of my way. Given that Home is my ultimate destination, which one should I go to?

I would also like the GPS to be aware of time. Again, let's say we're headed for the Galleria Mall. Normally we'd head West on 44 and take 24 South, but if it's rush hour, it's far smarter to take 105 to 79 to 140.. because of traffic. I don't mean because of traffic reports (I know that feature is available) but because of normally expected traffic.

I don't know if all these features are available yet or if they are, if you can get them all on one unit at a reasonable price. That's OK: what we have is good enough for now. These are just features we'll look for when it is time to buy.

What else should we be looking for?

Got something to add? Send me email.

(OLDER)    <- More Stuff -> (NEWER)    (NEWEST)   

Printer Friendly Version

-> Features I want in my next GPS


Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

Photos: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of iCloud

Are Your Bits Flipped?

Take Control of OS X Server

Take Control of Apple Mail, Third Edition

More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Mon Nov 24 03:19:14 2008: 4804   lfllmg

Great comments! I have the same pet peeve with my TomTom. Woudn't you also want it to know that you don't need turn by turn when you're going thorugh a familiar route, like from home to the office?

Mon Nov 24 15:18:13 2008: 4806   TonyLawrence

That's a thought, yes.

Sun Aug 16 09:55:54 2009: 6759   JukkaPaulin

TomTom seems to go a bit further with the idea of "time". They have IQ routes, which means the navigators act as statistical gathering units, so the TomTom system can map out what the speeds are on average in certain location in certain time of day.

In the long run, I think calendar and email and navigators will merge somehow. People can start to see bigger entities, ie. how the day should be worked out to make it optimal. Especially for consultans, sales people and other who spend a lot of time on road will benefit from this. I already love the TomTom's bluetooth connection; lets me call a gas station just by pushing an icon. I can ask for more information about their supply.


Printer Friendly Version

Have you tried Searching this site?

This is a Unix/Linux resource website. It contains technical articles about Unix, Linux and general computing related subjects, opinion, news, help files, how-to's, tutorials and more.

Contact us

Printer Friendly Version

The idea of "work, then get paid" has been deeply ingrained in our culture by employers who want to limit their risk. Well, I like to limit my risks also. I like to get paid before I do work. (Tony Lawrence)

Linux posts

Troubleshooting posts

This post tagged:




Unix/Linux Consultants

Skills Tests

Unix/Linux Book Reviews

My Unix/Linux Troubleshooting Book

This site runs on Linode