Archive for March, 2008

Bluetooth Sound Quality Roundup Update

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Ailph Jawbone

Last week I got my hands on a Jawbone. I have to say, it is atrocious in the looks department. I really dislike the attempt to make it some sort of artform. However, looks aside, its is an impressive unit. The noise isolation is very effective. The inbound and outbound sound quality is light years ahead of the BlueAnt Z9. While the unit does let some background noise get by, it does it with grace. The user sounds normal. The BlueAnt seems to want to mask any background noise, great if you want to hide where you are at the expense of sounding like a cyborg. So I guess you can take your pick, look like a cyborg (Jawbone) or sound like one (Z9). Check out the update at the BT Comparo 1.1 .


Friday, March 21st, 2008

I finally got around to updating my Sprint Mogul. The new ROM unlocks the A-GPS as well as EVDO Rev A. I searched around for a small GPS app that could record track logs and export them to KML files. WMMiniGPS fit the bill. Nice, lightweight and KML exports. Above is the result of this mornings bicycle ride. Its great to finally have a phone, mp3 player and GPS in one unit.

Avoiding a Zumo

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Garmin Zumo 550

I’d like to point out that if Garmin made a Zumo 350, I wouldn’t be writing this. What would I want a Zumo 350 to be? A Garmin 550 minus XM, Bluetooth, MP3, the (silly) cradle mounts and as slim as a NUVI. I think $350 would be a fair price for such a street unit. Essentially this would be a Nuvi 200 with PC routing, unlimited track log, 3.5mm headphone jack and waterproof.
I’ve been using a Garmin Emap for about five or six year. It does nothing really well, but it has been ok for creating routes on my PC and using them when I go riding. It also is ok for recording track logs. While the internal log is somewhat small, you can save routes. The biggest shortcomings are the map data isn’t for the whole US, the 128 meg card can handle most of the east coast. Most people would toss the unit because it does not do auto-routing. You can either create it on the PC or try to create a route on the unit itself (very tedious). Last year I broke the better emap I had, the other had hit pavement a few years back. For this year I wanted to have something that:

  • Allowed route downloads from the PC
  • Had a large (days) track memory and allowed that to be uploaded to the pc
  • Geared for motorcycle use and waterproof
  • Good map data

I purchased a Garmin 2610 in Feb from EdgeGPS. The price had lured me, ~$200 for something that did everything I wanted except kept log track logs. I thought I could live with this, but after getting it, and thinking about it some more, I really can’t live without a good track log. I don’t want to have to worry about when I should save info and not. I don’t want to worry about dragging the thing upstairs after a long day of riding to download the limited data. Eff you Garmin, I can live with 2000 points, but let me set the interval. If that could be changed, I’d have keep the unit.
The current Zumo is a fantastic motorcycle GPS.  My big peave with the Zumo is the cradle mounts. They are not simple a mount, but a necessary part of the unit. I guess I’d be ok with using a cradle mount for the car if it bought me a speaker, however for the bike, I want small and I want to have an inexpensive mount so I can get an addtional one for another bike.

What stopped me from getting a Zumo:

  • Cradle Mounts
  • Bloat – BT, XM, MP3
  • Poor handling of offroad tracks
  • Price – I don’t mind paying for features I want, but there is a lot on the Zumo I don’t want and the price premium for being a bike specific unit is over the top

I had read about a couple of people using TomTom One’s on motorcycles. While the One is considered a second rate GPS by many, it has a very redeeming quality. It core os is Linux and TomTom have made adding 3rd party apps very easy with the bundled Home app. The selling points for me were:

  • One PC Route Creation using Tyre, an app that is superior to the very aged Mapsourse (Garmin users can use this app and convert routes if they wish, but it is designed for TomTom)
  • Unlimited Track Logging using Tripmaster
  • Finger friendly screen entry with left or right orientation (perfect for left hand operation on the bike).
  • SD Card – was a great idea at first but now it may be a moot point, there is plenty of storage on the device for tracks
  • Mini-usb charging – I have several items that use mini usb to charge, this means carrying one less power adapter

The two major downfalls are not being waterproof and no audio out. But at a price point of $150, these are things I can give up. If it rains, I’ll put a plastic bag over it, and I’ve been just fine with no audio while using the emap. My only areas of concern are brightness in full sun and vibration resistance on my DRZ. Only time will tell how well it works out. I purchased the One LE and I’ll be ordering a ram mount soon.