February 3rd, 2010

#1921: It's here.

The GPS thingy arrived a few minutes ago. It's nifty.

I'll comment more when it has enough battery life that I can experiment with it, but I have to say that the little bit I got out of it before the LOW BATTERY warning came up is pretty damn cool.

I've got it plugged into the computer to charge now.

It turns out that if you select "Where Am I?" the coordinates displayed on the screen will change as your location does, which means the only reason you can't use this thing for geocaching must be that it has about a 3-4 hour battery life.

The specs said it had an SD card slot but it is in fact a Micro SD card slot.

When plugged into the computer it shows up as a flash drive with about 1GB worth of space, of which about 716 MB are free. You can't do anything GPS-y with it when it's plugged into the computer, but at least it charges the battery while the thing is connected, so WTF.

It'd be neat if you could use it as a GPS while connected. Maybe someone has written a program that lets you read GPS data via the USB port...and maybe I'm insane.

Well, okay, that's always a possibility regardless of other conditions.

#1922: Okay, first impressions time, Garmin nuvi 205 GPS

I took a trip to McDonald's for food, and took the GPS with me.

The suction-cup mount let me affix the thing to the windshield, right by the rearview mirror, and off I went.

First: the thing's ability to tell you where you are and which way you're pointing get a lot better when you're not inside a house. I wasn't worried; I know about the attenuation characteristics of multi-GHz signals inside structures and also understand that a house contains a lot of metal parts which do weird things to all radio signals, not just microwave-range ones.

The database in the unit contains speed limit information--so as soon as I turned onto the main road there was a little icon telling me the limit was 35. And when the limit rose to 40, the GPS changed about the time I passed the sign, so it's a pretty accurate map. It also tells you how fast you're going--useful when you have an inaccurate speedometer.

I didn't try the navigation feature yet. I knew where I was going. Next time I go to my brother's house I'll try it.

Anyway, I like where I put the mount, so I'll probably figure out how to run a power cord up there behind the trim. Then all I need to do to make it look good is to figure out how to patch the power supply into the vehicle power rather than use a cigarette lighter dongle.

Overall, it's cool, and I like it, and I'm not sorry I bought it.

I'll tell you what, though: even to me--one of the most technology-savvy people I know--this thing seems like some kind of black magic. That's awesome.