[maemo-users] Wayfinder Navigator vs Garmin

From: Mark wolfmane at gmail.com
Date: Tue Jun 24 23:29:22 EEST 2008
On Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 1:22 PM, Andrew Daviel <advax at triumf.ca> wrote:
> On Tue, 24 Jun 2008, John Holmblad wrote:
> 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).

In addition to those, I've tried NavIt and RoadMap. NavIT and RoadMap
are both promising, because they use offline vector maps that work
more like standalone GPS navigation units, but both are basically
pre-alpha at this point. I've had better success with RoadMap than
Navit, but the OpenStreetMap data they're using must be ancient,
because it has hardly any streets in my vicinity, and none at all in
my neighborhood, which has been covered for at least 18 months. If
maemo-mapper supported offline vector maps and had built-in routing,
it would be *the* killer app for the tablets, but as it is, if you
don't know ahead of time that you're going to be in a particular area
and download the maps for it ahead of time, it's useless without a
GPRS or EDGE connection. Also, bitmap images don't scale well, so if
you need to cover a large area with different levels of detail, you're
going to need a boatload of storage space. Vector maps are much more

The built-in "Map" app *is* the Wayfinder app, you just have to pay
and get a code to activate the routing feature. The cost is
prohibitive (you can get a standalone GPS navigation unit for much
less than the license), so I haven't tried the routing.

> 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
> map.
> 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
> hard...
> 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.

My *really* old Garmin GPS III doesn't do routing, and has only a very
sketchy "basemap" with no possibility of loading street-level maps,
but even that easily loads points-of-interest as waypoints as well as
routes (based on waypoints, not streets). Many different apps support
uploading and downloading waypoints and routes to Garmin units.

> 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.

Correct. It supports "Garmin format" maps, but not actual Garmin maps
because they are encrypted. It also supports OpenStreetMaps.

> 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.

My bluetooth receiver that I use with my N800 usually locks on very
quickly and works great. It also can be placed nearly anywhere in the
vehicle, and frees the device to be located anywhere without
compromising reception. I recently used this setup to trace a hiking
trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. The GPSr sat in its little
neoprene case on top of my backpack, while the tablet rode safely
inside. I have to add that the Bluetooth receiver seems incredibly
sensitive - it gets strong readings on the bus and in many places that
my old Garmin GPS III can't get a lock at all. Presumably the N810s
can work with bluetooth GPSRs just as well. It would be cool if
somebody could work out a way to use a bluetooth and the internal
receivers simultaneously to increase accuracy.


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