Tracey's Technology Blog

Technology news and gadget reviews relating to all of the latest consumer electronics products

24 March 2006

Two New In-Car GPS Units From Magellan: Roadmate 300T & 860T

GPS Gazette have the dirt on the new release of Magellan's Roadmate 300T. Compared to previous GPS units, Magellan have steered away from their usual all-buttons-on-the-right design, and have opted for a new rounded creation, which to be honest I think looks a lot better. Amongst many of its features, the 300T comes equipped with a 3.5 inch hi-res touch-screen, 2D and 3D birds eye views, and 4GB hard disk with SD card capabilities for additional user storage. Auto-reroute and smart-detour, integrated MP3 Player and picture viewer, as well as over 6 million POI's are also amongst its cutting-edge features.

Additional integrated features include:
  • Preloaded maps (Navteq) of 50 USA states, Canada and Puerto Rico.
  • Turn-by-turn visual and voice guidance.
  • Automatic night view (The displayed map background color switches to night view at sundown)SmartVolume™, the volume automatically increases at speeds over 45 MPHQuickSpell (sorts, searches, and checks spelling for rapid address entry with minimal keystrokes, accelerating your data entry by matching letters to the available destinations.)
  • Optional traffic module

The Roadmate 860T...
From a design point of view, Magellan are sticking by their guns with this model. It is basically the same to the Magellan Roadmate 800, and compared to this existing model, nifty new features include an integrated mp3 player Magellan SayWhere text-to-speech feature and travel alerts. And like the 300T, the 860T will also have a 3.5” high res colour touch-screen, a 20GB hard disk, SD slot, and over 6 million POIs (the user will have the ability of adding extra custom POIs.). The rest of the features are identical to the Roadmate 300T.

23 March 2006

Apple To Launch iPod Phone

We've been talking about iPod phones for years now and by the looks of it, if the rumours are true, Apple are in the process of manufacturing us one as we speak.

Apple have been pretty crafty at avoiding leaks from manufacturing partners, however their competitors BenQ have let their plans for the iphone slip, saying "...several of our suppliers have been approached to manufacture parts. Among manufacturers in Taiwan it is common knowledge. The issue for many is the availability of parts if the phone takes off"

If Apple does end up releasing a music-playing phone, it is likely to have the biggest impact on the leading phone manufacturer in the US; Motorola. "Even a modest showing for an Apple multimedia mobile phone could put a dent in Motorola's profits" Comments an analyst.

So, with tongues wagging in Taiwan, it might be worth holding on (and saving your money) if you were thinking of buying a swanky new phone (or an iPod) in the near future.

(And yep, the picture is one of the many iPhone fakes out there...sorry!)

22 March 2006

The Garmin Venture Cx

Garmin Announced today the launch of a new personal GPS system: The Garmin eTrex Venture Cx.

Showing Garmin haven't forgot about their original market, in favour of in-car GPS units, the Venture Cx is built on the eTrex Venture hand-held unit. It's been described as the “Go-anywhere little navigator", and with its good old waterproof, rugged design packed with loads of new features, it seems a great little GPS for either an adventure on land, or at sea.

What I am most impressed with though is the amount of high-end features you get for your money- it is claiming to be, once released, the least expensive model of Garmin’s eTrex series.

Its new features worth noting include an expandable memory, advanced GPS auto-routing capabilities, and a pre-installed auto-route basemap with map data including highways, major roads, rivers, lakes and borders. As the GPS unit also has a micro SD card slot, users can purchase new microSD cards for greater mapping detail. The integrated USB connection can also allow users to quickly transfer routes and waypoints from their computer.

Other key features of the eTrex Venture Cx include:
  • Display: 1.3”W x 1.7”H, 256-color, high resolution, transflective TFT (176 x 220 pixels).
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces with batteries (not included).
  • Battery Life: Up to 32 hours with typical use using two AA alkaline batteries.
  • Waterproof: IEC 60529 IPX7 standards (submersible in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes).
  • Waypoints/Routes/Tracks: 500 user waypoints with name and graphic symbol; 20 reversible routes, 50 points per route. 10,000 point automatic track log; 20 saved tracks (500 points each) let you retrace your path in both directions.

So, the eTrex Venture Cx is expected to be available in March 2006, and has an estimated retail price of $249.99. Keep your eye out!

21 March 2006

A New Robot Dog To Replace Sony's 'Aibo' ?

If you were disappointed when Sony put down 'Aibo'- the Robot Dogthen you'll be over the moon to hear Korean inventor Eungsang Park has invented Jindo- a much more sophisticated touch sensitive robot dog.

Jindo- Hindi for "alive" has features that are very impressive, and some characteristics which are just a bit strange.

It has a navigator LCD screen that will let you access the web, your e-mails, and watch TV. You can also play games on the LCD screen by using the dogs tail (possibly making for some awkward positions when playing the games?!) The slot below the tail also plays all your DVD's, so you can animate the screen with all your favorite movies. Likewise, the dog doubles as a mobile phone, but I can't help but be puzzled about how the dog is held when in use as a phone?

Clearly, his diagram is still a little rough, and that's probably because the Korean inventor is still looking for someone to churn out his design.

20 March 2006

Should GPS Technology Be Used As Standard In Police Vehicles

GPS technology has rapidly become mainstream in recent months; and one of the significant factors contributing to this growing trend is the hugely increased traffic on today's roads. So, with GPS technology now being utilised by a growing number of fire and emergency medical service vehicles worldwide, it made me question 'why are the police force not using GPS systems as standard in their emergency vehicles?'

Whilst talking to a police constable from West Yorkshire, it made me realise the potential difference a GPS system fitted inside an emergency vehicle could make to the performance of our police service.

PC Blezard explained to me how challenging it used to be, before he bought his GPS unit, to arrive at an emergency scene within the maximum time limit of 15 minutes. "It used to be hard driving at high speeds with blue lights flashing and sirens sounding while also having to read a map, and listen to radio updates; not to mention having to negotiate the amount of congestion on today's roads.” Explained PC Blezard.

With the potential to provide on-board Live traffic updates and re-routing expertise, GPS technology has the ability to avoid traffic build-ups with ease. “My GPS can calculate the fastest route instantly, using shortest distance and taking in to account speed limit factors. My work colleagues are amazed at how quickly I can get to calls.” Says PC Blezard.

GPS technology is becoming increasingly advanced. Some GPS systems can now integrate mapping and database information, which could allow the police to easily locate and deploy the crew closest to a crime scene. The sensitivity of the latest GPS receivers, especially those integrated with WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) provide positional accuracy and precision of approximately 2 metres, which again would be perfect for the police service, for whom accuracy is pivitol.

PC Blezard suggested the police force are worried about the security factor of having GPS units inside every police vehicle. However, with the very latest GPS systems also integrating security features in order to combat theft, the police force are likely to view this as a prominent improvement to existing solutions. With response times also having improved significantly since the emergency medical services adopted this technology, I don't think it will be long before the police force have GPS systems fitted as standard.