Suunto Ambit vs Suunto X10

Years ago we reviewed the Suunto X10. Earlier this year Suunto announced a new GPS watch called Suunto Ambit. We will be getting a Suunto Ambit to do a in-depth review but before that let’s do a side by side specs comparison. See this image below:

As you can see from this image there are some major differences between X10 and Ambit. Ambit does a much better job at keeping track of altitude changes. Ambit has automatic alti/baro switch and real-time vertical cumulative value and can report on your total ascent descent. As far as direction – Ambit wins again since it has the 3D digital compass.

In the heart rate tracking department Suunto Ambit boast ANT support where as Suunto X10 doesn’t. You can also use heart rate belts with Ambit. Both of these GPS watches are water resistant to 100 meters and weigh about the same weight.

In reporting weather Ambit and X10 do about the same. However Ambit has a barometer resolution of 1hPa/0.03 inHg.

IPS: next generation of GPS for smartphones

IPS is indoor (internal) positioning system. Since weak signals from GPS and GLONASS can not penetrate buildings here on Earth you end up with really crappy positioning if you’re indoors. IPS can change that and give you a much faster position fix and resolution. It mostly relies on WiFi signals to figure out where you are but there’s really no standard. It can also use Bluetooth or even near field communication signals provided there’s a database that knows where these signals are generated from.

Google for example just released an app that attempts to crowd source this effort. Users can download an app on their Android phone called Google Maps Floor Plan Marker. With this app users are asked (usually the venue owner) to move around the space after uploading a blueprint. The app uses map matching to calibrate the RF, and WiFi signals against the existing map uploaded by the venue owner to Google servers.

To help all this effort Broadcom has a brand new receiver called BCM4752 that supports surveying of all these signals on smartphones.

The Broadcom chip supports IPS through WiFi, Bluetooth, and even NFC. More importantly, though, the chip also ties in with other sensors, such as a phone’s gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, and altimeter. Acting like a glorified pedometer, this Broadcom chip could almost track your movements without wireless network triangulation. It simply has to take note of your entry point (via GPS), and then count your steps (accelerometer), direction (gyroscope), and altitude (altimeter).


drawing pictures with GPS and a bike

This guy (wallygpx) turns on GPS tracking, gets on his bike and starts drawing – on Google Maps. His tools are his leg muscles, water bottle, his bike, and a smartphone with GPS tracking app.

He has a lot of drawings but here’s a few:

His site has many more but as he admits his site is pretty weird. It’s all Flash.

Read the rest of this entry »

Transformer Prime GPS

Engadget got their hands on the ASUS GPS dongle for Transformer Prime. As you may already know Transformer Prime had GPS lock issues since it first came out and no software could fix the problem. ASUS recently decided that all users needed to get a GPS dongle to fix the problem for good.

Engadget was mostly happy with their hands on experience, citing satellite fix within 16 seconds of installation.

source: Engadget

Trimble buys Belgian company for unmanned aerial vehicles

Trimble of California just recently took over the Belgian company Gatewing which specializes in super light unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Trimble will be using these UAVs to create aerial imagery such as orthophotos and Digital Surface Models (DSMs). One of the vehicles Gatewing makes is X100 which a sub 5 lbs plane with GPS, gyro system, radio communications module, a 10MP camera, and of course a power source. What X100 will do after entering flight information is to map the terrain with parallel flight paths and overlapping photos.

Anders Rhodin, director of Trimble’s Survey Business said this on this recent acquisition:

“The combination of UAVs and low-altitude photogrammetry as an image collection platform opens up new opportunities for surveyors to use aerial imagery for the rapid acquisition of high-density geospatial data.”

Sailing GPS

This is a GPS device made just for sailing and you can pick one up online for $400.
How this is different than GPS chartplotters is that it is very difficult to correctly estimate time of arrival on those. What this GPS does is that it accounts for the tacking that sailboats and also give you the optimal tacking angles and your Tacking Time to Destination (TTD). It does this by displaying how long it will take to reach each tack, and the optimal tacks to arrive earliest.

Another handy feature of this Sailing GPS is the ability to talk to Google Maps via bluetooth which beats entering lat long manually. When you’re done you can hook up to a computer and see your vessel’s speed stats, and wind speeds.

The Sailing GPS is based on a new patent called “Navigational Planning and Display Method for the Sailor’s Dilemma When Heading Upwind” which was filed 6 years ago but just recently granted.

Asus Transformer Prime users to get a free GPS dongle

Asus Transformer Prime users haven’t had the best GPS experience yet. The company admitted it was their fault that the device could not get a solid GPS satellite fix. So their current fix for the time being is to offer each and every Transformer Prime user a free GPS dongle.

The reason they provided was that the external metal body of the tablet interfered with the GPS signals. So now the best they can do is to send an external GPS receiver:

It will look similar to the hinge from the dock. Where it will be a flush fit on the bottom of the unit if held in landscape matching the color of your Prime chassis.

The external GPS dongle will be ready by about mid-April but we’re not clear on the claim process yet.

GPS finds stolen Ferrari ready to be shipped

You’re looking at a $280K Ferrari that was just discovered by authorities on a ship in a container. The papers said the container had used fitness equipment but up on request by the rental agency it was discovered that this Ferrari was on its way to Vietnam. After the first hit U.S. Customs found 14 other luxury cars that were stolen in similar ways.

What saved these luxury cars was the installed GPS tracking system. The rental agency got suspicious when they saw the vehicle was in Port of Los Angeles on a ship. They got in touch with investigators who had the containers inspected. Some cars have been recovered but noone has been arrested yet.

Garmin Pilot for iPad

Garmin announced Garmin Pilot, a new aviation app for iPad but it also works on the iPhone as well as Android devices.

Garmin Pilot lets their users do pre-flight planning with comprehensive aviation weather information for the U.S. and Canada and also receive and log FAA-approved legally approved weather briefings, access to AOPA Airport Directory and even fuel pricing information.

You can also overlay weather information over your planned route and modify your trip using the graphics interface. Once you’re ready to you can amend and close the flight plan via DTC DUAT or CSC DUAT(S).

Some other features:

  • shows ETE, ETA, crosstrack error
  • displays a graphical HSI directional display
  • available in the Apple App Store and Google Play
  • free for the first 30 days, a monthly fee of $10 or an annual subscription of $100

Garmin to factory install their GPS navigation systems in Suzuki

Well the titles says it all. Garmin is working with Suzuki to offer their GPS navigation systems as a factory installed option. Here are some details:

  • for most American 2013 model year Suzukis
  • 6.1″ touchscreen display
  • includes AM/FM/CD radio, media player
  • backup camera support
  • Bluetooth hands-free connectivity
  • USB and AUX jack
  • SD card slot
  • Full voice control

How much extra this will cost you we’re not too sure.