Most GPS devices are car-centric. They assume their owners will be glued to a steering wheel for hours a day, requiring turn-by-turn directions to new destinations at a moment’s notice. Apparently their ideal consumer is a mafia hit man or traveling salesman because their products are geared towards going from point A to the New Jersey marshlands via highways and byways and not over woodland trails.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to see the Trimble Outdoors GPS pack. This three-application kit is focused on the perambulator. The pack, which costs $6.99 a month for service, includes AllSport GPS Platinum, a sports tracking system, Geocache Navigator, and Trimble Outdoors Platinum. All are aimed at getting you from point A to the New Jersey marshlands with nary a combustion engine.
The entire package is focused around outdoor activities. For example, the AllSport GPS program allows you to graph your athletic performance and watch your training history while you run. You can also measure distance, time, speed, as well as elevation and calories burned. You can store and playback routes and even share routes with friends.
The “Outdoors” application is for hikers and outdoorsmen and includes GPS mapping, trip journal software, and Google Earth interaction. For example, you can plan a hike and then follow the built-in compass to stay on track as you wander, taking and tagging pictures as you go. Like AllSport, the UI is fairly sparse but acceptably rich in features.
Finally, there’s the Geocaching application. While I can’t say that I’ve ever geocached, it seems like a great use for mobile GPS. The geocaching application gives you a list of local caches and sets you loose. It’s so simple to use that almost anyone can take up the exciting yet fairly nerdy sport of putting stuff in a hole in the woods.
These applications run on Symbian and Blackberry smartphones and cost $6.99/month for service, including maps and sharing systems.
This is one of the few downloadable applications for pedestrian GPS tracking, which makes it a unique product. While I can’t imagine many folks carrying their Blackberries into the deep, dark woods, it’s definitely a useful tool.
The software essentially replaces several dedicated GPS devices and works on your phone, thereby lightening your load considerably.
Downloading the applications is slightly complex, although they are available at Handmark.com. The monthly subscription might put off all but the most dedicated outdoorsmen.
As someone who owns a GPS watch for running, the Trimble products make for an interesting package. While I’m a bit leery of the subscription service, the training tools and desktop interface are quite complete and very compelling. While I wouldn’t stake my life on the accuracy and usefulness of a Blackberry in the wild, day hikers and tourists will enjoy the ability to track their progress and get directions without asking for advice about how to get onto the nearest interstate.
I tested the service on the Blackberry Curve and it essentially turned the smartphone into a standalone GPS device. If your training gear allows for a smartphone to be tucked snugly in a pocket or on a belt, this is a great way to go.