GPS purchasing choice – TomTom One

So after much indecision, I finally decided that I should buy a TomTom over the Garmin offerings. Both companies have openly embraced Embedded Linux, but TomTom has an established history, whereas Garmin have no currently shipping units running a Linux kernel, as of this writing (apologies to the wonderful folks at Garmin, of whom I met more last week at the Linux Symposium). Note that this is the most logical way to choose any device, when your name is jcm. Anyone else would probably go on product reviews, functional benefits, or similar…but I’m far from “normal” :P

I decided that I like the idea of not having moving parts, having a standard flash based platform, with additional media slots, and a built-in backup battery (so it won’t reset the moment the ignition is turned off…unlike my friend’s Garmin unit). I also like the idea of playing with OpenTom, once I get to the point that I have a fundamental need to break a perfectly functional gadget and turn it into an expensive paperweight. I decided not to buy the more expensive model with the hard drive and global maps, because, really, I’m probably only going to use this unit in North America. And if I do take it traveling overseas…well, it’s an Embedded Linux device… :-)

The fact that they standardized on 5V USB is a nice addition. This gives me a free 5V power outlet adapter for the car – I still need to buy a 120W inverter (I’d go higher, but the outlet is only rated for 120W from the looks of the Mazda specifications). I’ll use this as a stop gap until the weather gets so shitty that I don’t feel like driving like a crazy, essentially suicidal, New England driver in the winter and start doing an Andrew on the car wiring (taking it all apart and eventually putting it back together again…in my case with a replacement audio system and various other very non-standard modifications). Finally, the unit features a very reliable GPS mutli-channel antenna, with WAAS too (the precision flight approach system-wide ground-station augmentation to GPS), that even works inside my apartment, away from the window, with the window blinds drawn. A far cry from my decade old Garmin 12XL then “state of the art” GPS :-)

Did I mention that I like the car just a little bit? And did I mention that the roads around here are so crappy that driving in winter is going to be a test of nerve? Because I can see that it will be. The roads between here and Westford are bad enough in summer as it is :-)


P.S. I decided to skip the GPS theory discussion, but you can just obviously see that I wanted to include a little rant about the Clinton-era GPS blackouts and the general flakiness of the whole system…saved for another time, perhaps on a day the whole network falls apart for lack of replacement birds and everyone wonders why their sat-nav, failed. Random fact: I once dated a girl who was born on the GPS epoch, which was a very convenient way to remember the date…no I didn’t tell her :P

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