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REVIEW: Mobile Crossing GPS PDA's

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REVIEW: Mobile Crossing GPS PDA's

Postby ERIC » Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:17 am

I just got one of these, and I'm very impressed. Lightweight, durable, and the battery is long lasting. Also, the software is all hard burned onto the hard drive so you don't lose anything if the battery dies on you (something that I don't think any other PDAs offer). There's an optional Bluetooth GPS so you can carry the receiver in your pocket, or Velcro it to your dash or the hood of your car for better signal. I've had quite a few PDAs over the years, and this is by far the best I have found. Here's the link: http://www.mobilecrossing.com and here are the descriptions for the available models:

WAYPOINT 100:

The WayPoint 100 is our most affordable GPS PDA. It comes in a sleek Space Silver and is designed to look good in your car. It features a complete set of maps and points of interest customized to your geographical region. The WayPoint 100 features a SiRF powered GPS chip providing you the fastest, most accurate navigation service. Additionally, Mobile Crossing will be offering WayPoint 100 owners the option to upgrade to the wireless capabilities of the WayPoint 200.

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wp100/105
(Regional or National Edition)
MSRP: $549.99-$599.99


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WAYPOINT 200:

The WayPoint 200 is our newest and very powerful GPS PDA. It comes in a sleek Blue finish and a complete car kit designed to look good in your car. It features a complete set of maps and points of interest customized to your geographical region. The WayPoint 200 features a SiRF powered GPS chip providing you the fastest, most accurate navigation service. Your WayPoint 200 will get going with organization and confidence knowing you have everything in the palm of your hands. With pre-installed maps of your home region, you can quickly drive to your destination. What are you waiting for? Freedom. To Go!

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wp200/205
(Regional or National Edition)
MSRP: $699.99-$749.99


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Left Side

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Gizmos

Postby gdurkee » Sat Feb 18, 2006 9:53 pm

Ah, Gizmos! Yes, I wished I'd looked at that earlier, though might have been a little too pricey. I just got a Dell Axim x51 with bluetooth build in ($250) then got a bluetooth GPS ($50). Works great. Got ArcPad loaded and it maps fine as well as records data.

Also tried out Mapapolis to navigate down to Santa Rosa and a specific address. Pretty weird to have a gizmo talking to you but it worked (Mapapollis allows you to try it free. The software works when loaded; the trial maps go for 9 days.

Worth having if you navigate around cities a lot. I don't, but Mapapolis seems a cheap way to do it only occasionally.

I'll encase the thing in a hard core case (Otterbox). Interesting to see if it works in severe winter conditions.

Only two weeks, but I'm pretty happy with it so far.

g.
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Re: Gizmos

Postby ERIC » Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:02 pm

gdurkee wrote:Ah, Gizmos! Yes, I wished I'd looked at that earlier, though might have been a little too pricey. I just got a Dell Axim x51 with bluetooth build in ($250) then got a bluetooth GPS ($50). Works great. Got ArcPad loaded and it maps fine as well as records data.

Also tried out Mapapolis to navigate down to Santa Rosa and a specific address. Pretty weird to have a gizmo talking to you but it worked (Mapapollis allows you to try it free. The software works when loaded; the trial maps go for 9 days.

Worth having if you navigate around cities a lot. I don't, but Mapapolis seems a cheap way to do it only occasionally.

I'll encase the thing in a hard core case (Otterbox). Interesting to see if it works in severe winter conditions.

Only two weeks, but I'm pretty happy with it so far.

g.


With ArcPad included, was it really that much more than your Dell? Also, compare the speed of this device verses others on the market. I had a Dell (still have it, actually), and it had many problems when it came to CF GPS cards. This was a very wise investment for me, personally. But I'm sure there are others out there that are just as good! :righton:
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Gizmos

Postby gdurkee » Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:17 am

Yes, if I'd had to pay for ArcPad the price would have been way over the one you just got. Since I'll be using it for several projects at Sequoia Kings, it's a government license. Does the Waypoint read DRGs etc. or are the maps propriatory?

PathAWay looks like a fairly inexpensive substitute for ArcPad, but it doesn't take DRGs directly. You've got to rectify a map using a program of theirs (I think...).

How does the Waypoint handle data entry? Can you create simple databases to enter information associated with a point or polygon? If it's a fairly dumb-proof system, it might be an inexpensive solution for some of the GIS needs at the park (everyone else has entered the 21st century, but rangers can't be trusted with anything that has a microchip in it...).

Although I had some set up problems with the bluetooth/GPS (port config.) it seems plenty fast for me and now works fine with several GPS programs.

Keep us updated on how the Waypoint works, especially if it's fairly sturdy for field work (a possible disadvantage for the Axim, but still way cheaper than a Trimble or something).

Thanks,

g.
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Postby ERIC » Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:14 pm

Mobile Crossing will package any GIS software you want to use onto the WayPoint units. So GIS data (layer) entry all depends on what software you choose. I like ArcPad because it's easy. Another easy GIS software is HGIS. It's also pretty cheap. If you want a copy of one of the older versions of that software, I can send it to you free of charge (legally). There are a ton of similar softwares out there on the market. Many of them are cheap or even free. Others do more, but will cost you a bit. I'll do some research and see if I might be able to come up with a list of a few of them for you to take a look at. Seems to me a buddy of mine was recently talking about a free one out there that does a bunch of cool stuff that he really liked; and he's a GIS wiz-kid. Like anything else, you usually get what you pay for (or don't pay for)...but maybe this free program can help you out?

The WayPoint is very nice. I really like it so far. However, if I had more money to spend I would have purchased one of the "ruggedized" units that a few other manufacturers market, like Trimble. That would have been my ideal if money had been no option. They not only make ruggedized handhelds, some companies even manufacture and market ruggedized tablet models, which are wicked cool but larger and heavier than a handheld. Ruggedized anything is always at least 30% more expensive. But you won’t have to worry about hurting them, and battery life is usually quite a bit better. Again, you get what you pay for!

Port config problems are extremely common. Sometimes it seems there's no rhyme or reason why some of those problems occur. Pretty frustrating...

ERIC
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PDA software

Postby gdurkee » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:10 pm

Eric:

HGIS sounds kind of cool. Yes, I'd try an older version, though I'm pretty happy with ArcPad. Is it small enough to just send email? You could also zap it to my FTP box.

If I were making zillions, I'd definitely get a Trimble or something. Still, I used a Palm Tungston for 3 years in the backcountry -- and not even using a case -- and it survived fine. I'm hopeful the combo of the Dell and an Otterbox will give pretty good protection.

Thanks,

g.
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Postby ERIC » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:24 pm

Yep. Email should get it there. Check your inbox and let me know if you have any problems/questions. It's not the greatest software, but it's another option for ya........and it's FREE....from me, anyway.
Last edited by ERIC on Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PDA

Postby gdurkee » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:26 pm

Eric:

Hey thanks. Whenever you can get to it.

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more dweeb stuff

Postby gdurkee » Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:56 pm

Just a comment for anyone looking for a cheaper field solution than a Trimble -- and maybe even a more versatile substitute for a GPS unit.

This summer, I used a combination of ArcPad 7 on a Dell Axim x51 ($225) with a separate bluetooth GPS (BT-77; $50). I encased the Axim in an Otterbox 2600 ($50), which fit the PDA perfectly, even with the thicker 2200 mAH battery. The whole thing worked great under a wide range of environmental conditions (rain, 11,000 feet in altitude, 10F temps, getting banged around etc.). I had about 4 databases open and several USGS digitized map quads (stored on a 2GB CF card). Speed in ArcMap was fine.

With the larger battery, I could go about 3 days of use without recharging, though I also carried the standard 1200 mAh battery as a spare. I was careful, though, to power down between data collection sessions. There would be occasions when I'd have it continuously powered for 6 hours (for tracklog recording)and it still gave long battery life. The GPS would also go several days without requiring recharging.

As a side note, I found that it worked well for me to have a separate GPS that I could leave in the center of the site while I walked around collecting data (vs. having the GPS built into the PDA).

I've also found this a much better combo than what any of the dedicated GPS units can offer. You can just download the digital USGS maps free from the Californnia State server. It not only allows you to use it as a regular navigation tool (like a dedicated GPS unit) but also for anything you can use a computer for. Of course, if you have to buy ArcPad, that bumps it up another $500. But there's other programs out there that are cheaper.

A semi-major problem, though, is being able to see the screen in full sunlight. I'd always have to turn to shade the screen or go into the trees to see it adequately. Otherwise, great (and much cheaper) combination.

George
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Re: more dweeb stuff

Postby ERIC » Mon Oct 09, 2006 10:19 pm

gdurkee wrote:Just a comment for anyone looking for a cheaper field solution than a Trimble -- and maybe even a more versatile substitute for a GPS unit.

This summer, I used a combination of ArcPad 7 on a Dell Axim x51 ($225) with a separate bluetooth GPS (BT-77; $50). I encased the Axim in an Otterbox 2600 ($50), which fit the PDA perfectly, even with the thicker 2200 mAH battery. The whole thing worked great under a wide range of environmental conditions (rain, 11,000 feet in altitude, 10F temps, getting banged around etc.). I had about 4 databases open and several USGS digitized map quads (stored on a 2GB CF card). Speed in ArcMap was fine.

With the larger battery, I could go about 3 days of use without recharging, though I also carried the standard 1200 mAh battery as a spare. I was careful, though, to power down between data collection sessions. There would be occasions when I'd have it continuously powered for 6 hours (for tracklog recording)and it still gave long battery life. The GPS would also go several days without requiring recharging.

As a side note, I found that it worked well for me to have a separate GPS that I could leave in the center of the site while I walked around collecting data (vs. having the GPS built into the PDA).

I've also found this a much better combo than what any of the dedicated GPS units can offer. You can just download the digital USGS maps free from the Californnia State server. It not only allows you to use it as a regular navigation tool (like a dedicated GPS unit) but also for anything you can use a computer for. Of course, if you have to buy ArcPad, that bumps it up another $500. But there's other programs out there that are cheaper.

A semi-major problem, though, is being able to see the screen in full sunlight. I'd always have to turn to shade the screen or go into the trees to see it adequately. Otherwise, great (and much cheaper) combination.

George


Thanks for the update, George! Glad you found a combo that you like... Yes, I agree, the separate Bluetooth GPS units are much better. The attached models draw on the handheld's battery supply and only shorten the length of use between re-chargings. The wireless units use their own battery supply, which is key.

ArcPad 7 is a great software, if you are in a possition to poney up the money for it. It should also be pointed out that ESRI, the maker of ArcPad, offers many AWESOME free data layer resources for download off of their website...including many wicked trail, topo, imagery, historical, biological and enviornmental data sets.

Question about the Axim...have you experienced any COM port complications? That tends to be the biggest complaint I hear about those units. But I had one myself and enjoyed it. However, to date, the best field handheld I have found (for the money) is still far and away the Mobile Crossing WayPoint 200: http://www.mobilecrossing.com/products/wp200/index.aspx
(You might be able to find a better price on Amazon or Froogle, BTW...)
And the Bluetooth GPS device they offer is highly recommended as well...

The glare factor is a problem. I'm in contact with a couple manufacturers who claim that newer models coming out soon will do a lot to improve this drawback. More expensive field units, by companies like Trimble (as you mentioned), do have better glare retardant features. Screen size is also an issue, but due to size and weight constraints, I'm not too sure there is anything that can be done about that.

Here's one of the Trimble units I'm referring to:

Image

Just for fun (I know this isn't exactly suited for backpacking) here's what I'm purchasing for my work: Tablet PC with Bluetooth GPS unit and ArcPad 7[/img]
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GPS gizmos

Postby gdurkee » Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:25 pm

Eric:

Sorry for the delay. Although I had some configuration problems related to the com port, I eventually got it working fine (with both ArcPad & a GPS utility). No problems since. Over on the ArcPad forum, there's some discussion about com port conflicts with more than one Bluetooth device (hmmm, maybe it's the Axim forum...). I'd actually like to try hooking a BT digital camera in -- ArcPad allows that. According to the folks on the ArcPad forum though, there's still some glitches and not too many compatible cameras.

The Waypoint looks extremely cool -- when I win the lottery, I'll buy all these gizmos and compare them. And the Tablet PC!! Gotta go buy some lottery tickets for sure. Too heavy to backpack with, but I'd looked into those a few years back to record data for road patrol (MVAs, EMS stuff & other forms we use). Some Ambulance companies use them. Not sure if any police depts. do, but it would make sense.

Have you used either Memory Map or Backcountry Navigator for mapping software? Both look good (and cheaper than ArcPad) -- maybe BC Navigator better??

g.
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Re: GPS gizmos

Postby ERIC » Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:49 pm

gdurkee wrote:Have you used either Memory Map or Backcountry Navigator for mapping software? Both look good (and cheaper than ArcPad) -- maybe BC Navigator better??


No, I haven't used any of those... Any experience? I'd love some detailed insight!
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