GPS

TomTom announces capacitive-screened GO series

TomTom continues to update its line up of GPS navigation devices. This time, it has announced the two newest models of its top-tier GO line of GPS navigators, the TomTom GO 2405 TM and the GO 2505 TM. These models feature a new external aesthetic, an updated user interface, and the promise of faster routing.

The GO 2405 TM and GO 2505 TM differ from one another only in screen size (4.3 inches for the 2405 and 5 inches for the 2505). Both units feature glass capacitive touch screens that allow users to swipe and pinch their way around the TomTom interface. There's also a new metallic chassis with an asymmetric rear-panel design and a suction-cup mount car cradle that holds the GO unit in place with a strong magnet for easy attachment and release.

One area where TomTom has typically struggled (at least in our eyes) is its menu structure and graphic user interface (GUI). The TomTom GUI saw marked improvements with the entry-level TomTom Ease and further refinement with the XL 350 and XXL 550 software update. The new GO models feature a further evolution of TomTom's interface with dramatically improved graphics and reduced aliasing on the map screens, vibrantly colored icons in the menus, and easy-to-read text throughout. The new screen is a gem, and the updated interface really shows it off. … Read more

Escort announces GPS, radar detector mashup

Escort is a brand that's probably best known for its line of radar and laser detectors, but it got its toes wet in the world of GPS with its Entourage line of GPS vehicle locators last year. Today, Escort has stepped further into the world of GPS with its first portable navigation device, the Passport iQ (unless you count the SmartMirror, which is hardly portable). And because old habits die hard, they've crammed a radar and laser detector into its chassis for good measure.

Superficially, the Passport iQ looks like a standard portable navigation device. It's got a 5-inch touch screen, displays 3D Navteq-supplied maps, and mounts to the windshield with a suction-cup mount. The unit features spoken turn-by-turn directions, graphic lane guidance, and--like many GPS navigators we've tested--displays the current speed limit where available. However, where normal GPS devices may offer the ability to overlay POI icons for gas stations, hotels, and the like, the Passport iQ is able to overlay Escort's Defender Database icons marking red light cameras, speed cameras, and known speed traps. A 90-day trial of the Defender Database is included with the unit, after which a subscription will be required.

Things get interesting when Escort mentions that it has integrated a fully functional radar and laser detector based on its Passport 9500ix detector.… Read more

Navigon GPS app navigates to Android platform

Owners of Android phones can now enjoy the same turn-by-turn navigation experience iPhone users have had for a long time, as Navigon announced today the release of its MobileNavigator for the Android platform.

The iPhone version of the app is arguably the most comprehensive of the navigation apps for smartphones. The company says this is also the first on-board navigation app that brings premium navigation to the growing Android user base.

MobileNavigator for Android includes the Traffic Live feature without an additional cost. On the iPhone platform this feature costs an additional $20. The app also includes a industry-first feature, called Reality Scanner, that identifies points of interest (POIs) by showing them in a live camera view.

In a nutshell, Reality Scanner utilizes the phone's built-in camera, positioning, and compass components together with Navigon's POI database to project POI icons directly on the camera's image. Users can point the device and instantly identify POIs in or around a location.

Like the iPhone version, MobileNavigator for Android includes preloaded Navteq maps and therefore is able to provide navigation when a cell signal is not available. Other features include:… Read more

The 404 689: Where it's a work in progress (podcast)

Apologies to all the live listeners, this morning's broadcast had to start later than usual to give Wilson some time to tweak our new studio set-up we mentioned last week.

We have an all new tricaster, new mic stands, HD video, and more, so definitely be sure to check out the video feed to see all the improvements, because we're all really excited and have Wilson plus the rest of the CNET crew to thank for helping with the installation!

As hard as it already is to stay away from Starbucks' seasonal coffee flavors, here's another reason to avoid the overpriced chain of cafes: shoppers will soon see the arrival of "ping marketing," a tactic that bombards shoppers' smartphones with electronic discount coupons as they pass by participating stores.

The vouchers are delivered in the form of a text message, and the technology relies on GPS satellites to keep track of your location in relation to the partnered storefronts. Britain's O2 network is the first to test out the opt-in service, where customers can sign up for a six-month trial that releases information about their age, gender, and interests to relevant retailers. We're all in agreement that this crosses the privacy line, but is anyone else worried that tech companies are just poaching ideas straight from "Minority Report?"

While other fathers teach their sons how to throw a baseball or catch a fish, Luke Geissbuhler went the NASA route and helped his son send an iPhone into space. They fitted a small weather balloon with an HD camera, an Apple iPhone (to track GPS location), and several handwarmers before launching the contraption into space.

Sixty minutes and 90,000 feet later, the balloon actually broke the thermal wind barrier and burst after 10 more minutes, but not before it recorded 100 minutes of footage from take-off to landing. In their self-shot video, the father/son team reported that the contraption had to survive "100 mph winds, temperatures of 60 degrees below zero, speeds of over a 150 mph, and the high risk of a water landing." Somebody needs to give Papa Geissbuhler the official "Best Father of All Time" award, right now.

Check out the rest of the full show below for more stories, including Sprint adding 4G access in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and don't forget to add @BlakeStevenson and RT this message for a chance to win Blake's awesome 404 Halloween poster!

Episode 689 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Aisin says swipe this GPS

Automotive industry equipment supplier Aisin showed off a new navigation system to debut in Toyota models with a swipe interface.

The navigation and infotainment head unit, intended as an inexpensive option for entry level Toyota models, uses an SD card to store its maps. During a demonstration, we watched an Aisin representative put the head unit into interactive map mode, then move the map by swiping his finger across the screen. Faster swipes caused the map to move faster. Likewise, he swiped across a zoom bar to magnify the map, as opposed to the current method of tapping an onscreen … Read more

GPS update available for Samsung Captivate

As promised, a software update is now available to fix the GPS issues in the Samsung Captivate for AT&T.

The update is being rolled out over the next few weeks and users will receive a notification when it's ready for download. In addition to addressing the GPS performance, the update also offers other enhancements, including a full version of Quickoffice, and addresses Microsoft Exchange 2003 policy support.

When asked about the Samsung Vibrant, Samsung said it didn't have any news on that front today but would keep us posted. Of course, we'll pass along that … Read more

Geocaching.com gets official app for Android

Geocaching, my favorite non-sport, now has an official app for Android with the release of Groundspeak's Geocaching app for Android phones. With this app, users can tap directly into Geocaching.com's database of GPS-tagged hiding spots and containers, called geocaches, and use their GPS-equipped Android phone participate in the world's largest on-going treasure hunt. The geocaches usually contain a log of some sort and, occassionally, small trinkets. Once found, users log their find, take a trinket, leave a trinket, and the game goes on.

Groundspeak's app isn't the first geocaching app for Android users (we'… Read more

TomTom updates its GPS software

TomTom announced a software update to a handful of its portable navigation devices. The updates aim to make these devices more customizable and easier to use. Models include the TomTom x50-series (including the XL 350 and the XXL 550) and the XL 335 LE, SE, and LM models. Users can access the updates for free by connecting their devices to an Internet-connected PC and downloading the software using the TomTom Home application.

New features include route detail options that appear after choosing a destination; user customizations to the map screen's status bar; more granular route planning and display brightness … Read more

Helmet-cams get location-aware with ContourGPS

We're fans of the ContourHD wearable camcorder. It's easy to use, captures great looking high-def video, and is rugged enough to survive the occasional knock and bump--in fact, we use the 1080p model every week to capture on-the-road footage for Car Tech Live. Today, Contour announces that the latest feature to come to its line of HD helmet-cams: location awareness in the new ContourGPS.

The ContourGPS sports a similar industrial design as the previous ContourHD cameras but the devil's in the details. The most obvious change is the new hump on the record slider. This hump houses … Read more

Garmin considers exiting smartphone business

Garmin's start to the smartphone business was a rocky one, with numerous delays and a poor introductory device, and though the company's second handset, the Garminfone, was a vast improvement, the outlook for Garmin's smartphone unit isn't a rosy one.

In an interview with Reuters, Garmin Chief Financial Officer Kevin Rauckman said sales of its Nuvifone handsets have not met company expectations and that it will examine the business over the next couple of quarters and decide whether to continue to invest or exit the smartphone market altogether.

"We're pragmatic. If we end up … Read more