Looking for vehicle GPS Solution

Dalko43

Explorer
Hello all.

I haven't done any extensive overlanding or vehicular exploration as of yet (NY doesn't have much to offer so far). But I am looking to explore some nearby regions that do offer some good roads to explore (Vermont, Canada, Maine). I have been looking to get a good GPS receiver that I can pair with my touchscreen laptop (with Windows 8).

I've focused in on 2 options, and I wanted to hear some feedback from people:

1) Buy a DeLorme GPS receiver unit for my laptop.

http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=10091&minisite=10020

This should allow me to download whatever maps I prefer and essentially use the GPS to provide positioning on them. And for the price, it seems like a good deal.

2) Buy a DeLorme Inreach SE.

http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/inreachse.php

Though this is a handheld GPS unit, it doesn't actually provide map navigation on its screen. Rather it provides GPS coordinates, in addition to some SOS and emergency contact functions. According to DeLorme's website, it can also be paired with a laptop or tablet (the same way that the GPS receiver can) and provide GPS positioning for any programs or maps you may have downloaded. At $299, it's a fair bit more expensive than the other option, but it does allow me to grab and start navigating on foot (which I am prone to do at times), though you do need a map to plot the GPS coordinates on.


Does anyone have experience with one or both of these products? I am inclined to get the Inreach SE, since it kills a few birds with one stone, but I want to make sure it provides the same GPS capabilities as the dedicated laptop GPS.
 
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rayra

Expedition Leader
Define what you mean by 'same GPS capabilities'. If you have the laptop, most of the 'capability' is in it, and the receiver is just providing the GPS position fix. And if you get the handheld with the ability to also provide position to the laptop, you can take the handheld on hikes with you. Two uses, one product.
 

Airmapper

Explorer
The Delorme software has caught my eye many times, as long as it will work with the Windows tablet, I'd say you would have a very powerful solution there.

But realize that GPS "puck" may be unnecessary if you are lucky enough to have a GPS unit built into the tablet, however it seems less common with Windows devices. Either way, a Bluetooth GPS might be more convenient. With that first link, the Delorme package, you are buying a software program, the GPS input option is flexible and separate.

Whatever option you go with, having played with this kind of setup before, another cord off your device is a big drawback I've found. If you want a handheld as well, that is a preference you must choose if you need or not, but if you use the handheld to feed GPS data to the laptop, it could mean a cord to the laptop, and depending on the unit, another power cord to keep the handheld alive, unless you want to put in/recharge batteries daily. The tablet probably needs a power cord, and heck my tablet setup I even hook up an audio cable to my sound system, so that can add up to a lot of cables.

Personally, I'd advise you consider the cord requirements of the setup and determine if it will be a rats nest on the dash or not. It can possibly be avoided, but if not, expect it to be a pain to live with especially if it's not permanently set up for the duration of a trip.
 

ReChaps158

Adventurer
I have the Delorme InReach and really like the options it offers. Currently it's paired with an iPad running Earthmate maps that shows my location on the downloaded maps. I chose InReach so family and friends can track my progress via mapshare and I can send text messages as necessary to let family know I've arrived, am Ok...or what ever. Ram Mounts sells an excellent mount for the InReach that keeps it running on you 12volt plug instead of batteries. It requires an annual subscription and a monthly activation, depending on the plan you choose. Also, you need wifi to download the maps to the iPad. So memory may be an issue if you need lots of maps. I haven't done the math to see if I have memory capacity for all of North America.
 

kfmeyers

New member
I have the Delorme InReach and really like the options it offers. Currently it's paired with an iPad running Earthmate maps that shows my location on the downloaded maps. I chose InReach so family and friends can track my progress via mapshare and I can send text messages as necessary to let family know I've arrived, am Ok...or what ever. Ram Mounts sells an excellent mount for the InReach that keeps it running on you 12volt plug instead of batteries. It requires an annual subscription and a monthly activation, depending on the plan you choose. Also, you need wifi to download the maps to the iPad. So memory may be an issue if you need lots of maps. I haven't done the math to see if I have memory capacity for all of North America.
+1 on this.

I've used this setup with a ProClips USA mount on two trips and it works really well. I haven't figured out how, but I've read that the iPad can piggyback on Delorme's GPS receiver and use less battery that way. I have to keep my iPad plugged in, but am still very happy with this combo.

Earthmate makes communicating and location pinging for family and friends to follow your adventure very nice. But Motion X GPS HD allows custom maps downloads including Forest Service maps, so I prefer routing and tracking via Motion X.
 

Dalko43

Explorer
Define what you mean by 'same GPS capabilities'. If you have the laptop, most of the 'capability' is in it, and the receiver is just providing the GPS position fix. And if you get the handheld with the ability to also provide position to the laptop, you can take the handheld on hikes with you. Two uses, one product.
I want a GPS solution that allows me to track my position on any number of maps I might choose to download (either to a Windows tablet or handheld GPS unit). I interested in getting something that is a bit more reliable and robust than what a standalone computer or iphone can provide (for deep back country exploration).

But realize that GPS "puck" may be unnecessary if you are lucky enough to have a GPS unit built into the tablet, however it seems less common with Windows devices. Either way, a Bluetooth GPS might be more convenient. With that first link, the Delorme package, you are buying a software program, the GPS input option is flexible and separate.
The 1st link had some bundle options that included some software options, but the base product it was describing was the GPS receiver, what you called the "puck." Like I said, I want a GPS receiver that is more robust than what a tablet or phone can provide.


I agree that the the handheld unit eliminates some of the hassle, but when I am in a vehicle, I would prefer to have my position displayed on a larger screen, rather than a small GPS unit. I also would like to know the difference, if any, in tracking and position accuracy/capability between the Delorme Explorer handheld GPS unit and the GPS receiver that connects to the laptop. The GPS laptop receiver has SiRF STAR IV GSD4e GPS chipset and 48 channels while the inReach explorer makes no mention of any of that stuff....does that mean anything?

I will have to look into Garmin's offerings, as I am not familiar with them.

My end goal is to have GPS receiver which can:
-Connect to a laptop or tablet for a larger screen size.
- Display positioning on most digital maps that are available for download.
- Provide robust/reliable tracking in remote wilderness areas.
 

doug720

Expedition Leader
This does all the things you listed:

Ipad - Gen1
Several apps - Motion X, IHike, Scenic Maps - my favorite
Free US Gov maps from 3 agencies

Great signal
 

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fishEH

Explorer
I run a Samsung Tab3 8" using a RAM X-mount. I use AlpineQuest with satellite maps cached and also PDF Maps app (great with geo-referenced maps).
I used it recently on a trip to a remote fishing camp on Vancouver Island. I converted a Google Maps directions to a GPX file and loaded it on the tablet. Cached the maps for offline use. Was able to navigate perfectly in the pitch black darkness and pouring rain. There was no cell coverage and Sat phones at camp weren't working very well either.
Also used the tablet/AlpineQuest combo for 500 miles on the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail.
I can't imagine dealing with the bulk of a laptop and puck.
 

JHa6av8r

Adventurer
I know there's a lot of fancy dedicated GPS's out there. I been using an iPad 2 with a Garmin GLO and Trimble My Topo Maps Pro. Simple and it works. Recently I've just been using my iPhone 4S with Trimble Outdoor Navigator and the Garmin GLO. All the topo maps, public land maps, & forest road maps I need. You can go fancier add more gadget but I like using what I have until they break.
 

Yuccahead

Adventurer
I think the tablet is the best vehicle solution. Buy an inexpensive (sub $100) Android tablet with 16GB and a GPS, $15 worth of apps and maps and you have a great GPS. I checked out this thread after using a Nexus 7 for years -- but the tablet died last night. I wanted to see what tablets people were using these days.

Using your computer is your car will probably just shorten the life of your computer unless you have SSD hard drives. Since you can mount a tablet much closer to your eyeballs than you can mount a computer, I can see more on a tablet screen than I could on a distant computer screen.

None of these solutions are great for hiking. To me, tablets are too big and fragile and you can't easily recharge them (compared to a handheld unit into which you could just pop in some fresh AA batteries). If you really wanted to have a handheld GPS but were trying to conserve funds, use your phone (assuming it has a GPS, most do) or I'd get something really basic and just use it to mark the position of the car or use an plotted route. I don't think you really need mapping on a handheld GPS for your described use. If you want the mapping, get the Inreach or any of the comparable Garmin units.
 

1Louder

Explorer
No matter what you get tablet wise use a RAM mount! Just about as fool proof as you can get. Yes you might have to drill some holes in your dash to mount the thing but it won't go anywhere after that.

InReach is cool albeit expensive for the service. If you need the ability to communicate freely anywhere it's a great device. I think if you are looking for something to navigate with there are better options. However, I have never used one.

Whatever you get you would want an application that can import GPX files. This way you can use tracks that other people have produced. After trying many applications (free and paid) on both Android and iOS my preferred application is GAIA GPS. It has a small learning curve (there are plenty of help files online), some versions I have had bugs but were quickly resolved, and probably the most expensive out there if you use the Pro subscription. But you get a very powerful application that can be run on iPhone and iPad or Android devices. Downloading offline maps is a piece of cake and the web based tools to manage tracks and waypoints are pretty good. What I don't like about the current version is how it import tracks. It now puts them into folders. Something I think many people don't understand and they complain that the import did not work and that they cannot find the track. GAIA is very responsive to feedback via a Google Group and it is always being updated. If you buy an inReach get the Explorer which has the most features.

If you need a dedicated in vehicle device then I would consider any of the Samsung tablets or Nexus tablets. Very affordable and there are several good map/tracking apps like Orux, GAIA, and Backcountry Navigator along with a few others that I have forgotten their names.
 

Dalko43

Explorer
Thanks for the feedback everyone.

A lot of people here have suggested getting an ipad or tablet with a built-in GPS. My question on that is how well do they receive signals when far out in the wilderness? I'm not talking about a 10 min hike from a nearby highway...rather I'm talking about a week-long trip across remote forestry roads in northern Quebec and Ontario and in areas where you have no cell phone coverage.

Reading some recent articles about the newer phones and tablets, it seems that most devices do in fact have what is called 'A-GPS' (Assisted GPS) but what I have yet to find any details on is whether these devices can truly function in remote areas that lack cell phone coverage (and if so what kind positioning they can provide in those areas).

For @1Louder, I've checked out Gaia. It seems like it is a map/nav service for your iphone/tablet/device. It doesn't sound like to provides actual GPS hardware though, right?
 
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