Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My First Experience with GPS

I am a technology laggard, being slow in adopting new technology. While Kikey Loo, our London-based blogger, has been traveling around Britain with the aid of GPS device, I only recently decided to purchase a Garmin Nüvi.

Before I give my views with regard to Nüvi, let me digress a bit. Back in those days when I was in the United States, I used to download driving directions from Yahoo, and copied them on a piece of paper. Driving was easy in America. I never needed a GPS device.

Now let’s return to the Garmin. After using it for a couple of times, I have to say that I am a little bit disappointed. First of all, Yahoo (America) gave us the options of ‘shortest route’ and ‘fastest route’. Garmin doesn’t – at least not in Malaysia. (Update: Upon checking, I found that Garmin does give us the option of ‘faster time’, ‘shorter distance’ and ‘off road’, though my experience suggests that its algorithm isn’t so accurate. Plus, its search function is terribly slow.)

Secondly, as it is tough to look at Nüvi’s 4.3” screen while driving, I have to rely on voice prompt navigation. Unfortunately, the GPS unit tells me to “turn left” or “turn right” too early. If there are a few junctions adjacent to each other, I could easily make the wrong turn.

What’s more, the fear of theft implies that I will keep the device at home most of the time.

So, should I simply sell away my Garmin and revert to using Google Maps? Unfortunately, that may not be a good option either. I once downloaded directions to Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur. Google Maps told me to turn into Jalan Syed Putra. Somehow, I couldn’t locate the road. The problem of driving in Malaysia is that the road signs are either too small, hidden behind trees, or absent altogether.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to navigate around this country…


  1. Nokie N97 comes pre-installed with Garminn. If I were you, I'd opt for those savvy phones that incorporated GPS instead of going for a dedicated device. You have the option of navigating via google map on the phone as well, though I dont think it's GPS-powered. And there's Nokia's own GPS app. So many choices! :)

  2. So even GPS is not good enough bro? :( I was thinking of getting one.

  3. hey i have been using garmin on my phone and so far it has never failed me. i agree with u on the multiple turning part when that fella speaks too soon. i will look at the screen for confirmation, eg turning to left in 80m. i couldnt get used to it initially, but now i love it!

  4. i installed the software into my hp...
    playing with it the previous week, but it refuse to identify my home XD

  5. kyh
    I bought a phone slightly over a year ago, and don't plan to replace it anytime soon.

    Not up to my expectation lah...

    Eh... how big is the screen of your phone?

    Some software bugs?

  6. Garmin do has the Fastest or Shortest Route. You can select it under the setting session. The machine normally will tell you to turn before 150 meter from the junction, if it tell exactly at the junction to turn then it might create an accident cos it's too dangerous.
    Normally we don't need to look at the screen all the time, but only when it prompt. You can have activate the auto zoom option, so the screen will show only the junction you need to turn in large skill for easy viewing.
    I'm not a GPS salesman, it's just my experience with my Garmin GPS. So far, what I can say...Garmin still on the top list of GPS device. :)
    Thanks and happy navigating...

  7. I agree with you, directions in North America in general are so easy - much easier than in Europe. I almost never get lost here, despite my terrible sense of directions!

  8. Haha! That's why I don't use GPS! They sometimes lead you on a long way to your destination when there's a much shorter way.

    I still rely on my good old map. Much more reliable.

  9. Robo
    Oh really, Garmin has shorter and fastest route selection? I must try it out.

    I just don't understand why other countries can't emulate North America.

    I'll only resort to GPS if I don't know the way.

  10. definitely smaller than yr GPS. im only using E71, but for now it still serves well enough for me. + i figure if i get a standalone GPS, i will have less chances of using it.

  11. I used GPS in US as well.

    I think you should keep your GPS, and after you used to it (maybe after 2 or 3 times) you will understand more the GPS you have and also used to look (peek) at the GPS while you driving.

    It really better than looking at paper drive around, because GPS will tell you new route when you miss you direction (turn) very flexible. And the paper direction couldn't.

    The GPS i using is called Tom Tom, it does give you many options, like shorter route, faster route, avoid pay toll route... very useful.

    Normally it also have different views for you to choose, choose the view that easy for you to understand is important as well.

    Have fun with using GPS (^.^)

  12. xin
    I am myopic. I need a bigger screen.

    Many people recommend Tom Tom, but it doesn't has a dealer in Malaysia.

  13. I think it's a better bet to use Garmin as it supports more Malaysian maps. As for using it, I had to get used to the prompts at first too, but once you get used to it, it's actually pretty standard. The trick is to see the distance before the turn, located at the bottom right of the unit, so you know for sure exactly when to turn. Also, to look at the shape of the highlighted road, whether the curve matches that on the road. Something like that.. :)

  14. witch
    Guess I need to try a few times to get used to it. Thanks.

  15. I prefer relying on old-fashioned road signs reading (if there are any road signs..that is).

  16. I suppose it takes some getting used to. Practice makes perfect.

  17. Mei Ting
    The problem is: road signs are unreliable in this country.

    Definitely need some practice!

  18. i still think a GPS is more efficient than Google Map, at least it's realtime.. you only go for the map is you are quite familiar with that area, else the GPS will be more preferrable.. well, i think GPS gives the shortest distance, but not the shortest route, right??

  19. no idea, i bot the ori software loaded in my satio... it will only leads to the street i am on, not the house i stay... or is it supposed to be like this ? @_@