Tag Archives | TomTom

Last Gadget Standing Finalist #10: A Hybrid Watch for Runners

What do you get when you combining Nike’s “just do it” athleticism with the GPS expertise of TomTom?  You get a running watch–and our tenth and final Last Gadget Standing finalist.

The Nike+ SportWatch GPS powered by TomTom is a hybrid gadget that  combines both GPS technology and an accelerometer, located in the Nike+ shoe sensor. Runners can upload their data to the well-regarded Nikeplus.com website, where they can track their favorite routes, set goals, receive coaching, and challenge their friends.

Key features include the GPS tracking with the shoe sensor –great for runners off trail. The tap interface activates the backlight to mark laps during a run. And the watch has a USB connector molded into the watch strap, so you can plug it directly into a computer, no cable required.  At Last Gadget Standing we’ll find out if it tells time, too.

The SportWatch GPS should hit stores in April; the price hasn’t been announced yet.


TomTom Puts the U.S. on Sale

GPS kingpin TomTom, which released its much-awaited iPhone version back in August for $99.99, has a new version out today for $49.99. The difference? The original edition (which remains available) covered the U.S. and Canada, and the new one is U.S.-only. It may not technically qualify as a price cut, since you get less for your money. But it does feel like a telling reaction to the extreme price sensitivity in iPhone appland, as well as the arrival of cheap GPS apps such as MotionX ($3.99 to buy, then $3.99 for any month when you use it).

Next question: What happens to TomTom and Navigon and AT&T and Networks and Motion and even MotionX if Google brings its free version of Google Maps with turn-by-turn directions from Android to the iPhone?


Is TomTom Toast?

Tom Tom GPSAmong the bevy of interesting things about Verizon’s Droid smartphone is Android 2.0’s new version of Google Maps, which includes full-blown turn-by-turn GPS navigation with spoken instructions–for free. Judging from the couple of trips around San Francisco it’s guided me on so far, it would be pretty darn appealing even if it wasn’t a freebie–the directions worked, it speaks the names of streets in a crisper voice than AT&T Navigator sports on the iPhone, and I like the way it switches to a Street View photo once you’ve arrived at your destination.

Google says it’s working on bringing the new version of Maps to other devices. If it does, for-pay navigation applications will have to be radically better to compete, which is bad news indeed for all the companies charging for smartphone navigation apps–and probably even worse news for those who sell stand-alone handheld navigation devices. People are already spreading doom and gloom about the future of navigation stalwarts such as TomTom and Garmin.

There’s at least one form of dedicated navigation hardware that I hope doesn’t vanish: built-in car systems, which have nice big screens and, in some cases, user interfaces better designed for on-the-go use. And pilots, sailors, and other specialists will still want their customized GPS devices. But if we all get navigation that’s 90 percent as good as the best stuff out there for 0 percent of the price, it’s hard to see how many folks will justify paying for another gadget–especially one that may carry a monthly service charge.

Your take on the fate of GPS hardware, please:


TomTom GPS Comes to the iPhone: So Far, Not So Good

TomTom Car KitTomTom’s long-awaited–relatively speaking–GPS navigation software for the iPhone is now available on Apple’s App Store. It’s $99.99 for a version that includes maps for the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada–pricey for an iPhone app (and almost three times as much as CoPilot Live, which I haven’t tried yet) but not outrageous given the extreme usefulness of turn-by-turn driving directions.

This isn’t a full-blown review, but I’ve been using TomTom for a few quick trips around my neighborhood, and so far I’ve found it far less appealing than AT&T’s Navigator (a $10-a-month iPhone service powered by TeleNav)–even though the two products are comparable in many ways and TomTom is packed with worthwhile features.

That’s for two basic reasons:

A) TomTom offers spoken directions available in multiple languages with a variety of voices in both genders with a variety of accents. They sound nice and crisp. But so far in my trips, they’ve never spoken the names of roads–not even major highways, let alone neighborhood streets. Navigator offers only one voice (plus a Spanish-language option) and it sounds pretty muffled even over my car stereo. But when it tells me to turn, it mentions the street by name. Every time so far.

B) When TomTom wants to give me a heads up that I’ll need to do something before long, it specifies distances in yards. Odometers, most road signs, and my brain all use fractions of miles. And so does Navigator.

Between the lack of spoken road names and the frequent references to yardage, I’m finding it mighty tough to follow TomTom’s directions through the audio instructions alone; I have to glance at the iPhone a lot, and even then it’s not always clear what TomTom wants me to do. With Navigator, by contrast, it’s pretty easy to keep on track simply by following the spoken directions.

Other notable differences between the two packages relate to the fact that TomTom is an app-plus-maps package sold at a flat price, while Navigator is a service that downloads maps and other info as you need them. TomTom occupies a hefty 1.2GB of space on your iPhone, works even if you don’t have a data connection, and doesn’t offer live traffic info. (Maybe the company will offer traffic data as an optional service–it’s available for its hardware devices.)

Navigator, by contrast only uses 3.2MB of memory on your phone but requires a working data connection. And it does offer live traffic info–a feature which helps to justify the monthly fee.

Both Navigator and TomTom have done a good job of keeping pace with my wanderings via the iPhone’s built-in GPS so far, but I’m still intrigued by TomTom’s car kit, which builds more powerful external GPS into a mounting bracket. TomTom doesn’t seem to have announced the price for this optional accessory yet.

Bottom line for now? I’ll take Navigator over TomTom for now, but I’m still looking for my dream iPhone GPS solution, and want to check out other available options. Are you using an iPhone for GPS? Any recommendations?

After the jump, a couple of TomTom screens.

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