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Satmap pros and cons
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Paul_ffitch
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:31 am    Post subject: Satmap pros and cons Reply with quote

I've had a Satmap Active 10 for a week now, and used it in anger for two day-long walks, as well as played around with it a good deal at home. I'd list the pro's and cons as follows.

Bad news first, in approximate order of irritation to me:

1) Screen flicker. Occurs on startup with batteries that provide higher voltages (typically lithiums or new alkalines)
2) Sensitivity is mediocre. Typically no better than my older Magellan Explorist 210, and sometimes worse. Nowhere near as good as my Tom Tom One.
3) No route download and track upload facility, in spite of promises of Satsync software.
4) You have to pay all over again for OS mapping data, even if you've bought it already for Memory Map. A pain for 1:50k; a really major pain for 1:25k.
5) Trip log function seems buggy. This includes incorrect date and I'm beginning to suspect a debatable distance measurement.
6) Track plotting buggy. I've seen the track plotted on the screen come to an end short of the current GPS position, even though logging still shows as not stopped.
7) The plotted GPS position often seems to have to catch up, and 'marches' across the map until settled.
8) Battery indicator is not a lot of good. Reports four bars up until the last few minutes, then plummets to critical batter warning and forced shutdown.
9) All saved routes appear on the map as gray blobs, whether you want to view them or not. You have to actually delete them to make them disappear.
10) The compass function seems poor. In spite of calibration, the static magnetic driven function seems erratic. The moving GPS driven function also seems erratic.
11) No full user guide, which doesn't help.

And the pros:
1) It uses proper OS maps. This is the killer advantage.
2) The two or four info boxes on the map screen are 100% configurable, which is extremely useful.
3) Seems pretty rugged, with a good carry case.
4) Battery life seems better than most other dedicated GPS units.
5) It is generally very easy to use.

I find this a very frustrating device: it's almost brilliant! On the one hand the 'Cons' list is depressingly long, but on the other it does use proper OS maps, which is fantastic. Several of the 'cons' listed above may be fixed by software updates, but I suspect the flicker and sensitivity issues are down to hardware, which is worrying.

Have I missed anything?
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robs1972
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure what you mean by Cons number 6 or 7. The only time it marches across my screen is when the unit is switched on away from where I last turned it off.
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nonoftheabove
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your irritation re 4 is natural
BUT then i have had to pay out EXTRA
monies to update maps bought from Anquet
Its ALL down to Ordance survey wanting their pounds of FLESH.
No matter what system one purchased off the high street
every change in either hardware or map updates is going to cost shed
loads of cash.

Now your grumble re screen flicker well mine flickers on switch on then settles. Sensitivity lack of I am unsure what you mean by this BUT i have found it to be brilliant in plotting my tracks.

MY main pain in the bum IS the lack of software that has been 'on test'
allegedly to download tracks from PC to device. This point has gone very quite from HQ.
The sooner that something that 'functions' is released a collective sigh will be heard.
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rog62
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

agree with point 5)... I have found conflicts with the summary of the route distance being different (10%) from the information recorded against the waymark (trip versus track)..I think this may be to do with the way in which the unit resets the logging data versus what it includes when you convert a track...

..point 7)...only happens when the unit has been moved a distance while switched off...

..point 9)..this is a pain - especially if you use the unit a lot in a single area. I spoke to SatMap about this - and they acknowledge that a number of users have "complained" about this and that they would incorporate a change in future software upgrades giving an option not to show inactive routes....

I agree with the "almost brilliant" conclusion...much of which can hopefully be resolved with sofware updates...if they ever get round to issuing any!!
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Physicist
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find myself in almost total agreement with Paul's list of pros and cons of the S10. In fact I am so fed up with the long acquisition time for a position fix (notably when I have moved to another area of the country), the relatively poor sensitivity in anything other than open countryside and the indifferent battery performance that I have gone back to my Garmin 60 CSx loaded with the Garmin Topo software.

Satmap have the potential to create a truly great receiver but they cant just trade on the appeal of OS mapping while offering hardware performance inferior to much of the competition. Sort out the hardware problems (and the computer interfacing)!
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squired
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been very close to making a purchase of a Satmap unit a number of times, but the various issues, including some highlighted here, have stopped me.

My main use for the unit would be mountain biking. Poor sensitivity would definitely be a concern when riding through wooded areas. The lack of PC transfer software is also a major no-no for me right now.

When I first read about the Satmap I was so excited as it seemed perfect for me, but I can't help but think I may be sitting here 6 months from now waiting to see if something better is going to come along. If it was a couple of hundred quid cheaper I might just get it, but at around £400 with mapping, bike mount and battery pack (when it is finally available) we are talking half of what my mountain bike cost brand new. With fully operational car gps systems going for less than £100 now I really do think it is too expensive.
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Paul_ffitch
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re Robs1972 reply above:

Re con 6): I have definitely seen, on one occasion only so far, the red track 'blobs' stop short of where my current position was being displayed. I carefully checked to see whether I had accidentally asked it to stop tracking, but I hadn't, as the 'Trip Log' screen was clearly showing the left button as 'Stop' (ie it's still tracking) rather than 'Start' (which would indicate that it has stopped tracking). It isn't clear to me what caused this, and I haven't been able to repeat it.

Re con 7): I have seen on at least three occasions, the GPS position when checked to be on a point somewhat further back in the walk that I was on, and then gradually move (while I was stationary, just watching the screen) over a period of about ten seconds, to the position I actually was on the map (which was clear from the surroundings on each occasion). Again, I'm not clear what caused this, although I suppose it's possible that it may have temporarily stopped updating the position due to an unstable lock (while the unit was in it's pouch strapped to my rucksack hip belt), and then updated it's position when it got a better lock after I took it out to hold. This is speculation, but if true it wouldn't say much for the sensitivity.
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GJF
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Physicist wrote:
.........In fact I am so fed up with the long acquisition time for a position fix (notably when I have moved to another area of the country), the relatively poor sensitivity in anything other than open countryside and the indifferent battery performance.......


The position fix is my worst part, although i have the new software upgrade i don't find that this is any better.
Sometimes it can take me ten minutes to get a fix (so frustrating) and when i do get it, it can often disappear to start searching for satellites all over again, one evening this went on and off 10 to 12 times before i gave up.

The battery flickering - when i first had my A10 this was a major problem, but since throwing the supplied batteries and using re-chargable this issue has gone, i haven't found the charge time a problem (2 to 3 hours use at a time) but not sure how these would last over a very long period, although i would naturally carry spares on a longer trip.

I have also found that the compass function seems poor. i agree that spite of calibration, the static magnetic driven function seems erratic and the moving GPS driven function also seems erratic. I'm not confident as to whether this is 100% reliable - as it would need to be.

Like others i hope that this can be rectified with future software upgrades and hopefully time wise not too far ahead.
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mikealder
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 4:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Satmap pros and cons Reply with quote

Paul_ffitch wrote:
1) Screen flicker. Occurs on startup with batteries that provide higher voltages (typically lithiums or new alkalines)
I have seen this a couple of times when loaded with new Lithium cells, after a while it settles down though on my device so I can live with it as these type of batteries tend to have a much higher output voltage than standard AA cells which causes the flicker on the unit.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
2) Sensitivity is mediocre. Typically no better than my older Magellan Explorist 210, and sometimes worse. Nowhere near as good as my Tom Tom One.
I have never really had an issue with mine, I have tried it under heavy Evergreen foliage and it works fine, I always make sure it acquires a signal lock BEFORE going into such an area and I don't turn the device off, just use the screen auto off feature to save battery power, automatically turning off the unit fully is not recommended when using it out in the field for the day.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
3) No route download and track upload facility, in spite of promises of Satsync software.
This is a shame, but we live in hope, you can get data from the routes off the device (I have explained how in other posts) - planning a walk using Google or Memory Map then transposing the data to be compatible is something I am messing around with in my spare time.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
4) You have to pay all over again for OS mapping data, even if you've bought it already for Memory Map. A pain for 1:50k; a really major pain for 1:25k.
This is a hit you have to take with the unit, I to have MM software and maps, now I have a few SatMap SD cards, but I have been more selective in purchasing the specific areas I walk in, Local, Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
5) Trip log function seems buggy. This includes incorrect date and I'm beginning to suspect a debatable distance measurement.
I don't really use this so cannot comment.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
6) Track plotting buggy. I've seen the track plotted on the screen come to an end short of the current GPS position, even though logging still shows as not stopped.
I have seen this when following a "Closed" route, when you get to the last way point the device stops plotting position, but you are not at the end of the route as you still need to make your way to the start point, this is the only time I have experienced this though.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
7) The plotted GPS position often seems to have to catch up, and 'marches' across the map until settled.
Don't power down the device when in use, use the auto screen off function to save the batteries, but don't use he Auto Power Off feature, otherwise each time you switch it on you will need to acquire a GPS lock, also what version of software are you running on the device? - the 1,03 release offers you the choice to turn the "snail trail" down to avoid drawing rubbish all over the screen.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
8) Battery indicator is not a lot of good. Reports four bars up until the last few minutes, then plummets to critical batter warning and forced shutdown.
I agree, the battery indication is of very little use, I tend to keep a mental note of how long the cells have been in use for, I also fit a fresh set of cells at the start of any serious day out with the unit (I have a large collection of partially depleted cells which get used in the kids toys, so they don't get wasted)


Paul_ffitch wrote:
9) All saved routes appear on the map as gray blobs, whether you want to view them or not. You have to actually delete them to make them disappear.
This was acknowledged by SatMap a while ago and should be fixed in a future software release, the ability to select a single route from a list and just display the one would be very handy IMHO.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
10) The compass function seems poor. In spite of calibration, the static magnetic driven function seems erratic. The moving GPS driven function also seems erratic.
I still carry and use a normal magnetic compass, the electronic ones I have tried in the past simply don't cut the mustard, and to be honest if the device fails you really should have a back up paper map and compass available to hand.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
11) No full user guide, which doesn't help.
This is quite normal with most GPS related equipment these days, I am not condoning such action, rather, pointing out what the industry seems to accept as standard.




Paul_ffitch wrote:
1) It uses proper OS maps. This is the killer advantage.
That was one of my main reasons to purchase the device.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
2) The two or four info boxes on the map screen are 100% configurable, which is extremely useful.
Very useful when used correctly and there is a heck of a selection to choose from in terms of information.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
3) Seems pretty rugged, with a good carry case.
Agree, although when putting the device back in the case with it still powered up if you catch the cursor control the device drops out of GPS mode reverting to planning instead, I only ever "holster" the device once the screen has turned off to avoid this annoyance.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
4) Battery life seems better than most other dedicated GPS units.
It is very good, the rechargeable pack option will further enhance the device when it is made available in my opinion.


Paul_ffitch wrote:
5) It is generally very easy to use.
Which really negates the item 11 above, a few minutes playing with the unit and you will be up and running if familiar with mapping and route planning - Mike
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Paul_ffitch
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do acknowledge Mike Alder's comments in his reply above, which are all reasonable. I agree a good number of the issues will hopefully be sorted via software updates, and I'm willing to put up with non-ideal 'oddities' initially as long as they get sorted in a reasonable timeframe.

The issue I am most concerned about, on reflection, is the sensitivity. The screen flicker (which I originally put as my top annoyance) is I suppose ultimately not a functional issue -at least not after a few minutes settling.

The sensitivity on the other hand is very much a functional issue, be it an unnecessary and frustrating wait for a satellite lock, or the frustration of a lost lock. It seems a shame that a SIRF-III device is being let down by some other aspects of the design (antenna?). I guess it begs the question of how often or easily the device actually loses a lock in practice. Mine didn't on the walks I have used it on (at least not that I noticed), only when I went indoors, which is understandable. Does anybody (Physicist?) have any examples of actually losing a lock after initial lock-on? May be better to post any reply to this particular question to the separate 'Sensitivity' topic thread.
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Alpine9
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:11 pm    Post subject: SAT MAP - MINOR GRIPES Reply with quote

I have one of these and basically I agree with the pros and cons.

Regarding accuracy. I was on the summit of Fairfield Mountain recently and the unit showed me about 25 meters to the east of where I actually was (at the trig point) and gave me an incorrect NGR. This unit is no substitute for a real map and compass. My Garmin Fortrex was almost spot on with its reference

I have found the availability of maps difficult. Although I have the Lake District National Park Premium it is proving very difficult to obtain others in the 1:50,000 range. Perhaps this is a supply problem.

Wonder if anyone else has had similiar experiences.
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kidstypike
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anyone know which software version the is loaded on the current A10?
I would presume Satmap are shipping the latest A10 with version 1.03.
Can anyone with a recent purchase say for sure?

kidstypike
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Paul_ffitch
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine was bought on 28th December and has 1.03 loaded.
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kidstypike
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Mine was bought on 28th December and has 1.03 loaded


Thanks Paul.
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TheReverend
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a great thread, as I'm just about to purchase a GPS unit, and the Satmap seems like my ideal companion. However, I have read all the posts and am struggling to identify why the Satmap is better than other GPS units? I am assuming that the mapping on other units is so inferior to the Satmap, that I should just buy one and be done with it? I would use it to go walking/hiking etc all over the UK...and would like OS maps on the device for wherever I am going. Please could you let me know what maps come with it, and what I get over and above a Garmin unit for instance? I'm assuming that the OS maps are not available on any other platform, and other maps are just not as good?
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