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Living with the Nüvi

The Garmin Nüvi 660

I’ve had the nüvi for a few weeks now and it has become an indispensable part of my driving. The voice synthesis is a lot better than I expected it to be – I’ve only heard it get one road name wrong – and very much a useful addition to city driving. The traffic broadcasting has turned out to be extremely useful with the joyous London traffic, although it does cause me to ask “If I’m not in traffic does it exist?”. Although this may sound like philosophical wank there is a serious point – short of driving into bad traffic areas I have no way of checking that the GPS isn’t just making up where the problems are for the sheer fun of it.

It has taken me on many interesting routes to different places that I would never have been to otherwise and the rapid recalculation speed is a real boon. Coming back from Woking recently it took me on a great route through the countryside before dumping me on the motorway for a short while. It was quicker that the route that I would have taken, more enjoyable and the views were a lot more picturesque than the view from the motorway.

The mp3 playback is good quality (although it does not play Ogg Vorbis which is a major downside for me as my entire music collection is encoded using that codec). The other slight downside is that I live in a fairly built up area with tunnels, high buildings and thin roads. This means that it sometimes has problems locking on to the satellite signal until I am out of the area; I just have to remember to stand around outside to let it get a strong enough signal before I get to the car.

In short, a great tool which appeals to the map geek in me and brings back some of the joy to driving which living in Central London has sucked away. Granted, a lot of that is due to the traffic avoidance: if you live in a big city don’t get a GPS without it!

Published on 2006/11/03 at 08:29 by Toby, tags , , ,

Adding context to getting lost

I have finally bought myself a GPS system. It is the Garmin Nuvi 660 which was very recently released in the UK. You can safely say that I am rather impressed, and that is before I try to use it to get me to places.

I had a discussion about the uses of GPS with Ben a while back whilst using an early GPS unit to find the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker (which was in the “local tourist attractions” list). Although, yes, they are useful in finding your way to places that you have not been before, there is much more interest in using them as a tool for adding context to where you are. The sense of freedom in having this context when travelling makes the whole process much more interesting and, hopefully, will encourage me to take diversions and discover more of my country.

Well, that’s the theory anyway. I think I need to discover a time machine first.

Published on 2006/10/12 at 19:13 by Toby, tags , , , ,

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