I have started mapping a little with my old Garmin GPS 12. It does it’s job okay, I like that it seems indestructible (waterpoof, would survive falling down) and I really like that I can put standard AA rechargeable batteries into the device that are cheaply available.
But unfortunately it does not save more than 1024 track points which limits the length of my mapping tours a lot. Additionally I can’t load OSM maps onto the device which I would really like.
I considered buying a new unit and it looks like that this is not going to be cheaper than buying an android smart phone. But a smart phone would obviously give me some more advantages besides using it for navigation purposes (such as that I could use it as a telephone and address book and for mobile Internet access and I could even code my own java applications,…). I stumbled across the Motorola Defy that is even waterproof and I found some devices that I can put my AA rechargeable batteries into and use these AA batteries to charge the internal battery of my smart phone, allowing me to go a long time without access to a power socket. Additionally I’ve got a camera in the device so I can take photos and hopefully have the location coordinates in the EXIF tag.
So I wonder: Is there any reason to prefer a dedicated GPS device above an Android smart phone? Is the GPS better quality and more accurate? Or anything else?
I don’t have a dedicated unit, but rather use my HTC myTouch 3G Slide (an Android phone), and it works quite well. As for accuracy, it depends, but remember that smart phones can use AGPS and cell tower locations to help improve the accuracy, though I haven’t seen a comparison against dedicated units. I think where it excels is in custom apps for mapping. That being said I’d still like to purchase a dedicated unit that I can use as a backup. Because smartphones are so complicated, there can be problems, but generally I’ve been very happy with it.
There is a whole ecosystem of maps for Garmin GPS devices based on OSM data. Higher accuracy, POI searches, routing and tracklogs are some of the reasons I stick with a GPS, plus the easily replaceable AA batteries.
I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab, and a Garmin Oregon 450. I ran some dual-tracking experiments
The Galaxy is not so bad when it is not covered, lying on the dashboard of my car for example, but it looses accuracy more often than the Garmin. For example, http://berck.se/maps/2011/20110507.html shows a track where the two are mostly identical (You’ll have to zoom in to the south of Sweden). The tracks(s) with the timestamps are the Galaxy-tracks, the other one is he Garmin. Note that in this case I took the Galaxy into the stores, but not the Garmin.
This track http://berck.se/maps/2011/20110509.html shows a longer car journey. The interesting bit is the ferry between Helsingborg and Helsingør - their the galaxy lost signal, and had trouble getting back on track in Denmark.