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theksmith

What to use for Phone/Tablet based GPS (maps)

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I finally got the chance to use BCN last Saturday at the Dry Creek Wash. I was able to prepare by downloading some of the map data while at the motel but I think my S4's 5" screen is a little too small. I'm looking for a cheap 7" tablet with GPS to see if it works out better.

 

My track recorded just fine but silly me forgot to turn it off when I got to the air up spot, so it went on all the way home. Lastly, unfamiliarity with the app while playing with it, I managed to delete the tracks I just recorded!

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i was just looking into this actually for Android devices... most of the sub $100 tablets sold on daily deal type sites are not worth the trouble. if you are going iOS then pretty much any iPad is decent but the ones with plenty of storage are so expensive.

 

several things to consider on Android devices:

 

- you want either a built in GPS or at least BlueTooth to connect to an external GPS. however a good BlueTooth GPS costs well over $50, so better to to have less hassle of another cord or battery to charge and just get a device with GPS. most cheap devices, and even many nicer wifi-only devices lack a GPS. also beware some devices only have an A-GPS, which requires network access via wifi or cellular data every few weeks in order to work (probably not a big deal in the US, but for world wide expeditioneers).

 

- you want a MicroSD card slot if at all possible to expand the memory for maps, otherwise get a device with large built-in memory (32GB or more). most topo software is based on raster maps which take a huge amount of storage. if you intend to put any music or movies on the device as well then you'll want a 64GB device. I prefer devices with MicroSD slots so that you can even swap the card to change maps or to change from a card with movies for your kid to maps for your trip.

 

- decent screen. it's nearly impossible to find screen specs listed on devices, mainly just be aware the no-name $80 android tablets often have screens you can't see very well in bright daylight. some don't even have an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the screen's backlight.

 

- version of Android, newer is better. really really cheap no-name tablets don't have access to the Google Play store and use third party app stores with questionable security. you may also want a tablet with a known way to get "root" access, which certain apps require (nothing mainstream, but if you get into really configuring and messing around with the tablet then this is important).

 

the best deal i could find currently for a wifi only tablet that meets all these criteria is the Dell Venue 7 16GB for $150 from Dell or Amazon: http://www.dell.com/us/p/dell-venue-7/pd

 

add to that a 32GB Class 10 MicroSD card from Amazon is about $25: http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-MicroSDHC-Memory-Adapter-SDSDQU-032G-AFFP-A/dp/B009QZH7BU/

 

Dell_Venue_7-7036_620x433.jpg

 

 

i'm currently using AlpineQuest as my go-to topo software. i also like Locus, BCN and OruxMaps. i'm still evaluating several other topo/gps apps as well.

 

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good find - big brother to the one i was talking about! i think you'll like the 8" screen, it's a good size overall.

 

looks like most of the Venue 7 & 8's come with Android 4.2.2, but they should auto-update to 4.3 which has a few minor fixes in it (http://www.cultofandroid.com/49541/dell-venue-7-now-receiving-android-4-3-update/). i also read that if you wanted to root you should do it while still on 4.2.2 - if you're into that kinda stuff.

 

keep us updated on how you like it... is it going to be your primary off-road gps, or do you have a Garmin/Magellan/etc too?

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This will be my primary as I was just using my phone the last few times we went exploring around. There are some mentions of some apps not installing on the tablet due to the processor, hoping that's not the case for the apps I'd like to use. Those will be the first ones I will install.

 

Oh and yes, rooting will be first order of business if there's a method available already.

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hey reybie - how did the tablet work out? i was just discussing with bradywgn which one he should get...

 

also FYI, my current favorite topo app, AlpineQuest, has recently updated to include a bunch of great new map sources. there's some early support for the partially completed MVUM stuff and more options from CalTopo including forest service maps.

 

i wonder how much interest there is for having another one of our map/GPS clinics but focus on phones & tablets instead of traditional GPS devices...

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I just got a Samsung Tab 3 and so far I like it. I got my Ram mount for it yesterday, I just need to find the best app for my needs.

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I just got a Samsung Tab 3 and so far I like it. I got my Ram mount for it yesterday, I just need to find the best app for my needs.

 

cool, post up some details & pics once you get it mounted and such.

 

we got Aimee a Verizon LG G Pad recently when they first offered them for $99 with no activation fee. so far she really likes it. it's similar to the Nexus tablet but has a microSD. she asked me to integrate it into her jeep similar to how mine is so i'm working on that... have most all the parts ready and just need time to do it.

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Yes for a GPS clinic. My Nat Geo app has gone toes up I need to find a new app or apps for iOS .

Upatree

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cool, post up some details & pics once you get it mounted and such.

 

I certainly will. Hopefully I can mount it up tonight if time permits.

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