[maemo-users] Wayfinder Navigator vs Garmin

From: Andrew Daviel advax at triumf.ca
Date: Tue Jun 24 22:22:48 EEST 2008
On Tue, 24 Jun 2008, John Holmblad wrote:

> recently I obtained a Garmin nuvi 200w GPS^1,2   and I was surprised
> (actually floored) by how easy it is to use and how accurate are the
> maps and points of interest. This leads me to wonder how the quality of
> this Garmin product compares with that of the Wayfinder Navigator^3
> software when used on the N810 with its built in GPS receiver. Does
> anyone here have any experience with this software on the N810? And if
> so, what are your impressions?

I have used maemo-mapper, Nokia map-2.2.6 (the N810 bundled app), and a 
now somewhat dated Garmin GPSmap76. I haven't tried Wayfinder (the 
fee-based routing service).

The first time I tried "map", I was floored (as you put it) by how bad it 
was compared to the Garmin. I was in Prince George, and when I zoomed out 
to see the whole city, it did not show the airport (kind of a major 
feature and one I was trying to get to). I have since revised my opinion 
upwards slightly.

I haven't tried the newer Garmins, or anything with routing software 
except maemo-mapper, which uses the Google API online. I bought the 
GPSmap76 to use on a boat. It accepts Garmin's excellent range of 
BlueChart nautical charts - a bit pricey one might think at about 
$200/licence, but paper ones would cost 10x that. This (having nautical 
charts) is an overriding consideration if you actually have a boat rather 
than a car which stays on public roads. NMEA output to drive an autopilot 
is nice, too - not that I'd trust it to drive a car :-) except maybe a 
4x4 in the Australian outback...

The GPSmap has a small monochrome screen (which one can read in sunlight, 
though prolonged exposure darkens the display). My N810 has a larger 
colour screen (nice), though somewhat hard to read in sunlight. When 
driving a vehicle, when you can't fiddle with the display, the large 
display and rather sparse detail on the Nokia map is an advantage. When 
parked, or when you can give the thing more attention, the lack of detail 
is frustrating. With the GPSmap, the small screen size and slow redraw 
time makes it hard to get the "big picture" - I still have paper charts 
for that.

The GPSmap (OK, it's old) uses RS232 to upload maps from CD using Garmin 
software running under Windows. It takes forever (well, 20 minutes) and 
you can't add just one map, you have to build a new set on the PC and 
upload the whole thing.
My unit came with a "basemap" (coarse street map). Nautical charts, topo, 
city maps I had to buy (some can be had on P2P). 
Newer units use USB. Maemo-mapper downloads maps in realtime from the 
Internet (it also caches tiles for offline use).  Nokia 
map will download new map packages from the Internet, but the coverage 
outside North America and Europe is not so good I hear.

The Garmin uses object-oriented vector-based maps. Map objects (roads, 
rivers, lakes, cities, parks...) can be individually set to low/med/high 
detail or turned off. Text can be scaled or turned off. Kind of like 
drawings in AutoCAD or XFig. Maemo-mapper uses image-tile-based maps 
(exactly like Google maps). Markup such as labels are part of the image 
and if they happen to cover what you are looking at, too bad. You can't 
change the amount of detail except by zooming in and loading a 
higher-resolution image. Nokia map behaves the same way; I believe it is 
also an image-based system.

There is some software to create Garmin maps; it's somewhat complicated. 
I made one by tracing over a satellite photo. I haven't looked at making 
maps for maemo-mapper; it ought to be pretty simple in comparison.

Garmin supports multiple concurrent maps. Normally, one wins out at a 
particular scale so that e.g. the topo map has precedence over the street 
But the standard supports transparency, so that a transparent map may be 
overlaid on top of a regular one. So you can overlay ski runs over a topo 
map, or a race route over a street map. This is really nice; pity it's so 
Nokia map supports only one family of maps. I hear that it won't allow
US-West and US-East at the same time so if you live along the Mississipi
you have to keep switching.
Maemo-mapper supports multiple families, but not concurrently. You choose
between open-street, Google, Yahoo, Google satellite etc. There is no 
overlay capability (someone should add it!)

On my Garmin I never tried loading points-of-interest. The software knows 
about waypoints, routes (straight lines between waypoints), and tracks (a 
log of where you've been). Usually the idea in a boat is to set a course 
for a waypoint like a harbour entrance or some turning point off a 
headland, and go straight there. On Nokia map I've used the POI database 
successfully to find a motel, and on maemo-mapper I've downloaded Google 
(highway) routes.

I have heard of Navit to view Garmin maps on the tablet. I have not 
yet tried it. I believe it supports only the "open" maps, not the 
licenced BlueChart ones.

I just looked at the Garmin FAQ re. Bluechart on the Nuvi. It says it 
works, so I presume my comments about vector-based maps, transparency, 
etc. on Garmin are still valid.
The GPSmap is waterproof, the Nuvi is not. (or the tablet..)

There is a whole other thread about time-to-first-fix in the N810 - in 
brief, it can be very long compared to other devices.

Can't get the "compare" feature to do marine vs. automobile :-(

Andrew Daviel, TRIUMF, Canada

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