Several points: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?
It is COMPLETELY irrelevant for the topic of this thread, but it is not quite true that GPS accuracy at the poles is the same as in Central Park.GPS is a global satellite constellation - the quality of the signal is NOT affected by how far from civilization you are. At any given moment, roughly the same # of satellites cover the arctic tundra as downtown New York.
Thank you! This is exactly the kind of detailed feedback I was hoping to get out of this thread.Several points:
GPS is a global satellite constellation - the quality of the signal is NOT affected by how far from civilization you are. At any given moment, roughly the same # of satellites cover the arctic tundra as downtown New York. As it happens, view of the sky will affect signal strength, so you'll see fewer satellites or take longer to lock in a city with many tall buildings, under a dense tree canopy, or if you mount the tablet far from the windows/dashboard, but GPS will function for navigation as long as you have some view of the sky.
If you're very worried about it, a bluetooth GPS "puck" will generally have a more sensitive antenna, and can be mounted conveniently for a good skyward view. That said, the built-in antenna in my $150 Samsung tablet has NEVER failed to lock.
Regarding A-GPS - this is ONLY a method for speeding up the initial lock. Access to a data network allows the device to get a head-start on decoding the multiple time signals it's receiving. It does NOT affect overall accuracy of position or signal strength, only the time to first lock (TTFL).
Regarding devices that can function without cell coverage or other data connections: ALL Android devices include a true GPS receiver chip. All cell-capable iPads (3G/4G) also include a true GPS receiver chip. Wifi-only iPads do NOT include the GPS chip. This is probably the source of confusion, because people think you have to have cell-data to do GPS location finding. This is a false equivalency created by the way Apple packages/markets the devices.
Any tablet with a GPS chip (ALL Androids, all non-wifi-only iPads) can be used directly for navigation. ALL tablets (with or without a GPS chip) can be used for navigation if an external bluetooth GPS puck is added to the system.
Hopefully that clears things up and allays your fears.
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