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Author Topic: GPS systems.....good brands? what to look for?  (Read 4521 times)
kbunnystarr
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« on: April 03, 2007, 08:05:19 AM »

 Smiley good morning.  yesterday a friend mentioned they might gift me with a GPS system, and asked me to look into them......I decided to start here.  He said maybe truckstops are a good place to look as well, does anyone have any real positive r real neg things to say about any particular system>  or what ot look for ? or stay away from?  he said look for the flat panel and that they plug into a cig lighter?  anyway  ANYTHING ya'll can share would be super great.......its seems like a great gift, but i want to know what im getting and also dont want to spend tons of $ on it.have heard you dont have to to get a nice system.$300-400, is that true?
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2007, 08:18:42 AM »

Hey Bunny,
I got a new microsoft streets and trip program w/gps for christmas. I got it programed in my laptop and love it! You could also use it on a PC as long as you have the power to run he PC and also a monitor screen convienently located to see it. Also as an added benefit you can use it to plan/plot your trips as you travel! FWIW BK  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2007, 08:57:13 AM »

hey BK nice to hear from you....hope the world and the road is treating you nicely, yeah the main thing for me is trip planning.....want to look into all options, have 2 laptops currently, one i use wireless the other is not set up for that yet......think i may want a gps exclusive screen thing how ever that works to jsut have mounted on teh dash.......homm, i should post some bus pics, ive not done that yet, maybe people would like to see my bus ..anyway, umm, yeah, i want to consider all options.....is there a reason you got for your lap top instead of a specifically gps only system for yer setup?  i dont know a thing about it all so, fill me in Shocked)   take care. kbs
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2007, 09:02:02 AM »

Hi Kristine,

I have the Pioneer AVICN3 in dash all in one nav system but, it's big bucks.
http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pna/v3/pg/product/details/0,,2076_310069681_295503034,00.html

They just came out with a new system thats alot cheaper called the D3. just follow this link.

http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pna/v3/pg/top/cat/article/0,,2076_310069607_411376305,00.html

And here is the portable version..http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pna/v3/pg/product/details/0,,2076_310069683_309501410,00.html

Good Luck
Nick-
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2007, 09:15:59 AM »

  Bunny, I have a set up similar to BK's only I have the DeLorme instead of the Streets and Trips.  I opted for this system for the larger screen size.(laptop screen as opposed to a handheld unit) There isn't a lot of difference between the Microsoft and the DeLorme. Check their websites for the specs.

If you have  good eyes you can easily use the smaller handheld units. They are great also, some having more features than others. Also their websites will list the features.

There was a thread about this subject not too long ago and everyone listed their favorites and the benefits of each model.

  I wanted a small handheld unit but couldn't see the screen so I went with the laptop and the DeLorme, now I have to find a space for my laptop.  Oh, and someone posted the fact that it is illegal, in some states, to have a laptop on the dash of anthing you are driving.

My laptop and the DeLorme program, with GPS mouse (antenna system), was less than $350.   The Streets and Trips and the DeLorme were about the same price when I bought mine. About $90 IIRC. My laptop was only $200, but when it arrived it needed a new battery ($48).

Generally speaking the features reflects the price.

Ask Nick about his AVIC N3 It is a fantastic unit.

Ed
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2007, 09:50:29 AM »

   I went with the laptop for 1 major reason. Bigger Screen & Older Eyes=easier to see. We installed both MS Streets & Troips and Delorme. Each of these 2 systems are around $100 each. I use both because each has certain features that I like.
  The Streets & Trips has much better detail of local streets.  The Delorme has a larger (easier to see) speed reading. Both have some different Points of Interest installed in their data bases. Either one will work and overall functions are very similar. 
  We attach our laptop to a moveable pedestal attached to the center of the dash. The laptop can be moved between driver and co-pilot.  Jack
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2007, 10:48:58 AM »

Kristine, I use both the DeLorme Street Atlas and the Magellan Roadmate, but for different purposes. 

The Street Atlas program alone isn't expensive, $30 to $50; the current version is Street Atlas 2007.  Running it on either the desktop or notebook computer, it is my trip planning tool.  While I have used it with the Earthmate GPS, having to set it up on the rental car passenger seat, or build a stand for the bus dashboard, isn't my preference.

For vehicles, I'm now using the Magellan Roadmate 760.  Yes, the screen is smaller than a notebook, but I have the audio turned on.  (You can use audio with DeLorme, so this isn't a unique feature).  If I set a route on the Magellan, I glance at the map occasionally, but follow the verbal cues.  That's a major increase in the safety factor, I don't have to take my eyes off the road.  If I decide to go a different way, or make a wrong turn because of lane choice, it will re-route me after a fairly short period of time.  The Magellan is about 6 inches long by 3.5 inches, the screen is four inches diagonal.  I can zoom in, or zoom out with the screen.

Since I'm a frequent airline traveller, the small size, and the fact that I can slap it on the rental car windshield with a suction cup mount is an advantage.  Before buying my first Magellan, I had to unwrap and plug in the notebook, boot it up on the passenger seat, and pray no one cut me off in traffic - to send it to the floor.  The suction cup mount isn't the best, I've had it fall of the windshield sometimes.  For the 4107, I'm going to install a permanent mount on the dashboard.  By the way, one other advantage of the small size is that it doesn't create much of a blind spot.

One advantage of having both, is each keeps the other honest.  Teaching a scheduling class in Michigan a few weeks ago, one showed that the route from the hotel to the transit authority was quite devious, while the other showed the straight line using a local road - some kind of glitch.  One version of DeLorme showed the route from the house to the church with multiple highways, about 20 miles.  In truth, it's leave the house, turn left, turn right, enter the parking lot 9 miles later - something was missing from the map database.  You can (and I do) get the same from looking at paper maps, always using something to cross-check the electronic devise. 

Since I've been on the DeLorme mailing list for years - probably going back 5-7 versions, I seem to recall a recent email that they're coming out with a portable stand-alone version.

There are a bunch of competitors on the mobile units, Tom Tom has some TV ads, Garmin makes some (I use a Garmin bag to protect my Magellan), Lowrance, etc. 

I do my shopping at Frye's Electronics, or their on-line site (outpost.com), and before I bought the last one I studied many on-line reviews (google search on GPS).  After study, I ended up getting the Magellan at Best Buy, when they had a rebate program.  The latest isn't necessarily the best, I chose the 760 rather than the 800 - while the 800 would play music, most cars have a radio - and the 760 had a bigger screen, which does make a difference.  Like all electronic gadgets, the market is constantly changing, and prices are falling.  My research from last Summer, and my choice of the 760, would not necessarily be valid now, nine months later.

I would suggest studying the reports/reviews on-line, but then visiting an electronics store to actually look at and play with the various alternatives.  Electronics stores should have more options than truckstops, at least that's what I've seen.  All that said, if you already have a notebook computer, with power, at the front of the coach - the cheapest way is Street Atlas, Microsoft, or whatever with a GPS receiver that plugs into the USB port.  The way I do it is just what works for me, so the other responses also have some very good points.

Good luck.

Arthur
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2007, 10:52:33 AM »

Is there any possibility of combining the GPS monitor with a Back Up Camera monitor and having it built into the dash?
Richard
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2007, 12:04:18 PM »

Richard,

That is what my Pioneer system does..

It splits the screen with Nav. and backup. And you can send them to other tv's in the coach too.

Nick-
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2007, 12:25:28 PM »

I use the Garmin 18, with my laptop, and am really happy with it.
I paid about $75.00 for it, and there is not much there.
Steve
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2007, 04:24:04 PM »

Kristine,
I too was looking for a good GPS several months ago. I have programs for the laptop, but the last thing I wanted to do was lug the ol laptop everywhere. I was looking for something small, lightweight and portable enough to move from vehicle to vehicle.
I tried several different brands and had differing opinions for each one. There are many great systems out there.
A friend let me borrow his and now I refuse to give it back. It is a Delphi NAV200. It is by far the best and the easiest that I have come across. The internet list price is around 350.00 but I see them all the time on E-Bay selling brand new for around 200.00. Well worth the price if you are looking for the small portable type.
It has a 7" screen that is easily seen both day and night, a option for voice commands(scared the bejeebers out of me the first time I left that turned on) and requires nothing to download. Just put in the address and it gives you the best route turn by turn.
There are many systems out there and I tried many but I don't think you can beat this one.
I'm not really sure where you can find them in stores but as I said I see them on E-bay selling all the time.

Randy
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2007, 06:15:27 AM »

I use co-pilot in my laptop we really like it.My wife complained about using the laptop in our car,so I just ordered a garmin nuvi 660.We travell fulltime,so I hope we get a lot of use out of it to offset the high price.
      Don
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2007, 07:19:14 AM »

Like Jack, I use Delorme Street Atlas and Microsoft Streets and Trips.  To me, Microsoft is easier to learn, and more user friendly for mapping routes.  But, the Delorme is easier to use as a GPS.  Both are very powerful.  If you already have a laptop, it is a no-brainer between either of these and a stand-alone unit.

Ed Roelle
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2007, 07:35:37 AM »

I have the Magellan Roadmate 360, which is a cheaper unit that does an excellent job of tracking your route.  I like it because it is a separate stand alone unit that only has to be plugged into the cigarette lighter, then just suction cups to the windshield with about a foot long goose neck.  I mounted mine right above the backup camera TV (the backup camera system was $165.00, now I think they are around $230.00).  On my last 17 day trip to Arizona, Utah and Nevada, the only thing I had to do was to punch in when we got into Arizona, and again we came into Nevada.  Only once did it send us astray when there were two locations with the same name (how often does that happen?).  What was really neat is when we were in a big city, we could ask where the nearest Safeway was, and it was on the unit!  It is about the 1.5 times the size of a deck of cards and does everything I need it to do.  My theory is to buy just what you need without a whole bunch of other junk built into it.  This unit is upgradeable over the internet for added streets.  Highly recommend it.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2007, 07:54:52 AM »

 Since we have a 15" tablet laptop with touch screen I am in the process of ordering Co-pilot (plus the SDK's) and will be using X10 for the back camera and some of the control on the electricals. I need everything as big as possible so I can quickly check the screen and keep my eyes on the road. With the 15" screen
I should be able to run split screen between the two apps nicely.

  Skip
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2007, 04:17:53 PM »

Here is the platform we made for our Laptop when used as a GPS. This allows the laptop to be positioned for use by either Driver or co-pilot.  Jack
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2007, 07:41:39 PM »

I have a Rand McNally GPS for a laptop that you can have for free or anybody for that matter. It's an older one and is a 9pin serial connection instead of USB. I have the software also. Just give me an address to send it to and it's yours. antenna model # 1225B-R1
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2007, 09:14:50 PM »

wow you guys all ROCK with all this info!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ron how does it hook up , i may know what you mean by 9pin connect but i dont knwo the term off hand, please explain.....i will email you direct also.

you guys are such a huge help!!

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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2007, 09:29:23 PM »

Here's a picture, You'll have to send me a PM as My domain was not renewed and therefore my email doesn't work
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2007, 05:23:49 AM »

With the 15" screen I should be able to run split screen between the two apps nicely.

That is what we do. We run MS Streets & Trips and Delorme. That way we get the better detail that we like on the Streets & Trips and the better (larger) Speed reading on the Delorme.  We have also, on rare occasions had one quit working (lost signal), but have never had both fail.  Jack
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« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2007, 10:28:58 AM »

I'm a big believer in buying industry standard equipment.  All of my GPS have been Garmin with the exception of the nameless pucks that come with MessySloth Streets & Trips.  I've used both a Garmin 40 and 45 with external antennas.  I've used the puck antennas, with limited success.  Currently I use a Garmin Etrex Legend.  The new GPS antennas are so effective that I can just throw the Garmin on the dash and it will acquire a signal through the windows.  It will even read most of the time while it is lying on the bar. 

One thing to watch for when buying a GPS is that it will puke out NMEA - I don't know what the acronym stands for but it is some kind of industry standard output.  My eTrex won't speak NMEA - that created a bit of a challenge to get it to talk to MS S&T.  I use Franson GPSGate to handle the input from the Garmin.  GPSGate allows me to set up virtual ports so I can have as many apps running off the GPS as I want.  Typically I have MS S&T as well as the proprietary Garmin Mapsource software running simultaneously.  Sometimes I also run Fugawi (love that name).  Every piece of software has its strengths and weaknesses - having multiple systems running is often handy.  The other bonus with GPSGate is that it will translate garmin-speak to NMEA.

We have a tv monitor extension arm mounted behind the driver.  It is on a parallel link that swings out far enough to be sort of in front of the passenger or directly by my right hand side.  It works really well and doubles as a computer desk on the couch or in the pass seat when we are parked.  We swing it around over the driver seat to get it out of the way or it will telescope behind the driver seat and be relatively innocuous. 
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2007, 11:25:39 AM »

Bob

    I wouldn't be to hard on the legand   It does support rs-232 NMEA-0183 (1.5 in Micro speak)  where microsft has decided to support NMEA 2.0 only.
   so it is a non-backward compatablity support issue on the McroSft side. Go Figure

   Skip
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« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2007, 12:32:04 PM »

I don't think that is correct Skip.  This is an eTrex Legend we are talking about which is different than a Legend.  I've had this argument before & won.  Mine won't speak NMEA.  Its not insurmountable but nevertheless something to watch for when buying a new GPS.

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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2007, 12:36:07 PM »

 Ok

  One of the better explanations of NMEA
http://www.gpsinformation.org/dale/nmea.htm

  More than what you would ever want to know I'm sure

  Skip
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« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2007, 07:04:09 PM »

We use the Garmin Street Pilot 2600(I think that is the model number).  It is fantastic for getting you to any address or location in the US.  We just got back from a month in Mexico, going past Mexico City, and it worked quite well, showing all of the major highways, but couldn't dial the exact address and have it get you there.  It does work quite well with lat/long in Mexico.  We use it with the external antenna and are very pleased with it.  It is a little pricy $1000 when we got it two years ago but the price has come down a lot since then.

Denny
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« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2007, 07:20:27 AM »

It is a little pricy $1000 when we got it two years ago but the price has come down a lot since then.

Even at 1000 bux we have some amazing technology available to us and you can buy handheld GPS with street level detail built in for under $500 now.  When we were kids this was the stuff of Dick Tracy comic books - who among us ever thought we would own the technology some day?

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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2007, 05:34:23 PM »

Does anyone know if any of the portable gps systems have a tracking feature, which will allow the location of the transmitter to be tracked online? I know this sounds like a creepy question, but I am building a business leasing out entertainer coaches, and I  am getting ready to install GPS for my drivers.  The ability to track the location of a coach online would be a fantastic feature.....
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« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2007, 09:41:11 PM »

I asked this question way back for use on my website. There is an ad on tv for a cell phone that does it so I would imagine it could be done cheaply for your use. I know some entertainer coach leasing companies use gps tracking to repop a bus that isn't being paid for. Where you doing business out of?
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« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2007, 05:30:34 AM »

I thought that it ought to be easy to do... I know that Onstar & other similar services are able to track locations of vehicles to assist police in recovery of stolen vehicles, but I didn't know if the less expensive portable models offered that as a feature....

I'm working out of Birmingham, AL. 
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« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2007, 06:42:24 AM »

Check out some of the systems that are designed for long haul truck dispatch. 
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« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2007, 04:06:56 PM »

I have a customer that uses the Nav-Trac system on all his trucks. It is pretty impressive. You can sign in to their website & track all your trucks within 1/4 mile in real time. It will also tell you speed, engine RPM, temp, oil pressure, gear selection, and a LOT of other info depending on what you want to know. If you are looking for Big Brother, they got it!   Undecided
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« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2007, 04:42:51 PM »

I was realizing this afternoon that we haven't discussed one of the most important reasons to buy a GPS.  Everything else notwithstanding, it is an absolutely amazing safety feature.  This afternoon, I landed in Atlanta, put the GPS in the rent car.  Drove to Marietta (30 miles, but it took me longer to get from the airport to the hotel than the flight from Dallas - but that's another story.)

I'd looked at the route on the map, no big deal.  However, the GPS gave me two mile, then half-mile warnings of exits, keep to the left, keep to the right, etc.  When the interstate backed up solid, I took an exit and reprogrammed the unit to avoid freeways.  Just followed the voice prompts, occasionally glancing at the screen.  At no time did I have to take my attention away from the traffic, I never had to pull over (or wait for a red light) to look at a paper map, and I didn't have to worry about getting lost - or suffer from "get-there-itis."

So, for all of us who wanted it because it's a neat gadget, but we told others it was for safety, we were actually telling the truth.

Now, the one thing an earlier poster mentioned, that I'd like to have, is one that addresses low clearances.  For the coach, that would be a real benefit.  Coming home on the purchase trip, we got off the highway in southwestern Connecticut, wanted to stop for lunch.  I saw a low railroad bridge, with no clearance sign posted.  Had to do a 3-point (actually, probably a 5-point) turn in the 4107.  Earlier on that trip, in Moncton, NB, I realized all the Kodiak Transit drivers were looking at me funny because I was headed for the 3-something meter bridge, known locally as the subway.  This time, I saw the sign, and told my wife we were taking the next right, whether we could make it or not.   

For coach use, if there are any portable units that have the low clearance avoidance feature in the routing engine, that would be the tie breaker for me.  We have a bunch of city streets in my part of Dallas that don't allow heavy vehicles, due to light bridge loadings.  If a unit had both features, I'd seriously consider purchasing one for the coach - even though my Magellan is perfectly good.  I prefer the portable units because I don't want to set up a notebook computer in the rent cars, I like to keep my sight lines as uncluttered as possible in both cars and the coach.  It doesn't take much of a blind spot to kill someone (but that's another client, not this week's stop). 

Arthur   
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« Reply #32 on: April 16, 2007, 08:43:53 PM »

 Grin Grin Grin  wow you guys rock with all this info!!!!!!!!!!!!  i jsut got back online, havent been able to.......and will be off in a few days....thank you for all this info, and thanks Capt ROn !!!!!!! you guys are all super!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

k
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« Reply #33 on: April 16, 2007, 11:53:31 PM »

Arthur -

Did you try my suggestion for positioning your GPS in the rental car?

 Wink
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RJ Long
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Fresno CA
Runcutter
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« Reply #34 on: April 17, 2007, 09:35:55 AM »

Russ suggested putting the GPS on the left portion of the windshield, near the "A" pillar - rather than in the center of the windshield where I normally mount it (Magellan Roadmate, suction-cup mounted).  Drape the power cord over the dash or steering column.  He raised a good point, that our eyes are less disturbed by light coming from the left, as we're used to oncoming headlights from that side.

In answer to Russ' question, I tried it last week in a rental car in Atlanta (Toyota Corolla or some such).  It didn't work in that car, I ended up rapping my knuckles on it when I turned the steering wheel.  Fortunately, I was still in the rental car parking lot, so I could move it before I got on the road.  I haven't had occasion to use it in my own car since I got home, but I'll try it there (bigger car, windshield further away.)  Russ' point makes sense. 

Another thread discusses glare and screen readability.  I haven't had issues with readability or glare, day or night with this unit.  I did have occasion to turn my notebook computer on, in full daylight outside recently, and couldn't see the screen at all.  So, for various reasons that I've mentioned before, my choice continues to be a stand-alone rather than a notebook-based GPS. 

In a previous Roadmate, I had to put a post-it note over the power light for night driving, and manually adjust the screen to the night display.  This one (the 760) automatically adjusts the display, and the power light isn't as bright.  In the other thread, someone just mentioned that we should use the audio feature, so we only glance at the screen when safe.   

I absolutely agree.  It took me longer to get from the Atlanta airport to Marietta, than it had to fly from Dallas to Atlanta.  With a highway backed up, I took an exit and drove cross-country.  The audio feature let me watch traffic and remain alive, glancing at the screen only at traffic lights (and I had plenty of opportunity to do that).

Arthur 
« Last Edit: April 17, 2007, 12:06:13 PM by Runcutter » Logged

Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
1968 PD-4107

Working in the bus industry provides us a great opportunity - to be of service to others
Len Silva
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« Reply #35 on: April 17, 2007, 02:41:15 PM »

Does anyone know if any of the portable gps systems have a tracking feature, which will allow the location of the transmitter to be tracked online? I know this sounds like a creepy question, but I am building a business leasing out entertainer coaches, and I  am getting ready to install GPS for my drivers.  The ability to track the location of a coach online would be a fantastic feature.....


Heres one:
http://www.dieselboss.com/track/track.htm
http://www.rentaltrack.com/rentaltrack2.asp

Looks like $300.00 for equipment and $9-177/month depending on number of queries.
Speed check, remote starter disable, territorial boundaries etc.

Len
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