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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

A technical question from a regular Samizdata commenter

Well it all seems a bit quiet around here. I guess all the other Samizdatistas have lives, at the weekend anyway. Today, even I have had enough of a life to have nothing much that I want to say here. (I was watching rugby internationals on my television.)

However, regular Samizdata commenter Julian Taylor does have a question:

Does anyone know of a good reliable (not Garmin preferably!) GPS unit that can handle personal use, auto use, marine and is also waterproof with a long battery life? None on the market seem to have this capability.

This question up at Julian’s blog, Camera Anguish, for the last ten days. And do you know how many answers the so-called blogosphere – this mighty engine of knowledge, this magnificent organ of enlightenment, this aggregator extraordinaire of wisdom – has managed to supply? 0. This is not how things should be and I want to change it.

So, does anyone? Know of a good reliable GPS unit that can handle personal use, auto use, marine, and is also waterproof, and with a long battery life? Samizdata commenters are often rather good at discussing technology matters, so go to work, people.

I personally do not. I would need to be surer than I am now about things like what “GPS” stands for to be able to comment knowledgeably. Something to do with satellite navigation? My life seems to work okay without such knowledge. But surely others among us can do better. So get thinking, please, about those personal, reliable, waterproof, etc., GPSs.

But remember, not Garmin.

34 comments to A technical question from a regular Samizdata commenter

  • Midwesterner

    Global Positioning System.

    Can I add ‘good computer interface’?

    A better than minimal built in antenna would also be nice. Have they been getting any better?

  • GCooper

    Now you just knew you’d provoke the following, didn’t you?

    Why not Garmin?

    I’ve had fantastic service from Garmin and so has everyone else I’ve come across with their products.

  • Verity

    Wow, Brian! You really know how to pep up a party!

  • Heffalump

    Try the Lowrance iFinder H2O.. Other than that are Garmin units.

  • Heffalump

    Found another… also take a look at the Magellan Meridian Marine.

  • rws

    I could go into a long dissertation on various gps units, but I’ll just post a link to a Canadian retailer that does a good job of showcasing the various products available. Their prices are quite good too.


  • Keith

    I’m curious about “not Garmin” too.
    My little Garmin Geko is waterproof, with good battery life and it’s served me well in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. (Northern Territory, Oz and the Torres Straits).
    For three years, and nary a problem.

  • John

    I can also vouch for the reliability of Garmin. I have used an E-Map for some time in the Aust bush; it has had the usual abuse that field gear gets and has nevr let me down. Having said that, I don’t know of anyone who has had bad experiences with the other brands. A friend of mine uses Trimble which also have a very good name.


  • bob mologna

    I had a Magellan Meridian Platinum for a few years when I was in Ireland and liked it just fine. I sold it when I moved back to the US and now I have a Magellan eXplorist 100. It’s about as basic a unit as you can find and cost me $100. It’s waterproof, sturdy as hell and gets good reception. It keeps me from getting lost and cost me next to nothing.

  • bierce

    This has got to be the most boring blog entry ever. Even the poster is stifling a yawn.

    You’ve succeeded in making me cancel my Guardian sub. – they recommended this blog as part of the new commentariat. Jesus.

    Visited the blog of the guy who wants a GPS. I think he needs one to find a way out of his life

  • ernest young

    And that pretty well sums up the last few months of Samizdata…

    The recommendation of the Guardian, just has to be the kiss of death.

    Good grief, most comments read as though they were written by bureaucrats, and badly educated ones, at that…

    Never mind, the choice of blogs gets bigger by the day…

  • John Rippengal

    Brian, how can anyone who has driven a car, sailed a boat or piloted an aeroplane… or who is interested in liberty (GPS has been suggested to track vehicles in road charging schemes) or who has an interest in international politics (the incredible waste of the Galileo satellite scheme set up by the EU in cooperation with CHINA to spite the USA) claim not to know anything about GPS.
    There are those who coyly apologise for lack of any knowledge of technology, science engineering etc not
    because they really regret it but because they wish to establish themselves in the higher order of intellectual who is mainly concerned with the ARTS, don’t you know. Surely you are not one of those?

  • bierce

    Thanks for trying to add some humour to this place of death.
    Hope it works.

  • Nick Timms

    You still have not said why not Garmin. My Garmin unit, which I use on my boat, is not only waterproof, it floats. It has ever let me down. The Tomtom and RoadAngel that I use in my car are both GPS devices. I do not know of one that does all the things together, but I’m no expert.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I sail quite a bit and in my experience, you can get a handheld Garmin unit for just over 100 quid. Remember, all serious sailors should learn old fashioned navigation as GPS units can fail due to low battery power, or if the U.S. Defence Department decides to degrade the accuracy of the systems, as they did in Gulf War 1.

  • John Rippengal

    I reckon Garmin have one of the best set of products and the best product support service of any manufacturer and not only just GPS makers. Their warranty service is second to none and they often honour it outside the warranty period.

    Jonathan, the ‘Selective Availability’ or deliberate reduction in accuracy was introduced right from the start and not lifted until the Clinton administration.

    Anyway even with Selective Availability switched on the accuracy was more than good enough for marine work except perhaps in the harbour..

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ernest, did you get out of the wrong side of bed this morning? If you think the blog is so crap, perhaps you should start your own.

  • ernest young


    Thank you for translating my comment into the juvenile colloquial idiom, and in the process, making it sound so much worse than was intended.

    However, why would I want to start my own blog, when there are so many excellent ones already available? and just where would all you ‘market leaders’ be, if all of your commentariat went and started their own blogs? Isn’t the blogosphere incestuous enough already?

    Interestingly, the majority of really excellent blogs do not support direct comments.

    Sadly, like the little neighbourhood restaurant that was so good when it started, Samizdata does seem to have become – shall we say – a tad mundane of late.

    Hopefully it is just a temporary ‘burn-out’, and the wit and wisdom will make a return…

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ernest, I don’t know why most blogs do not have comments, it may be to do with the bandwidthl. Some blogs also seem to attract a lot of nutters. Melanie Philips scrapped her comments to avoid having to sweep away loads of anti-semitic remarks, which can get pretty ugly after a while.

    Personally, I think this blog is as good as it has always been though I haven’t a clue how one replaces Findlay Dunachie’s brilliant book reviews. Sorry Ernest, but your remarks came across as rather patronising.

  • ernest young


    Sorry about seeming to be patronising, not really intended that way. As a long time reader, I suppose I have developed an affection for the way things ‘used-to-be’.

    However, your point is taken, no more criticism – even of the well meaning kind…

  • bierce

    I think you just kissed Nurse Ratched’s ass.

  • ernest young


    Yep, you are right – and she never even gave me a good spanking!…

    And — I didn’t need a GPS to find it….it was right there – between her ears…

  • Julian Taylor

    Thank you very much indeed Brian for the post, and many, many thanks to J.M. Heinrichs for the Magellan link – I’d never seen that model before.

    The reason I didn’t favour Garmin was because of the lack of contour detail in the UK/Europe land maps – somewhat awkward for anyone walking in the Lake District, as an example. The Magellan system appears to now be fully compatible with the new digital UK Ordnance Survey map system, as well as fully up to date on most UK marine aspects.

    I realise that the report in The Guardian about Samizdata drove many of its readers to here but surely there must be a web log out there more suitable for bored Gaudinearth readers to savage than this one?

  • ernest young


    I realise that the report in The Guardian about Samizdata drove many of its readers to here but surely there must be a web log out there more suitable for bored Gaudinearth readers to savage than this one?

    Why?- do you feel that you should be above criticism?,

    You seem to suffer the same lack of comprehension as most Guardian readers, – it is not the Guardian arrivistes who are ragging the Editors, it is us ‘old-time’ regulars, who feel that threads such as this one are no more than space fillers, until the first team returns, and deigns to favour us with their collective wisdom…

    Hint; a good place for such information is the internet, perhaps you should give it a try, I hear it’s quite good!.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ernest, give it a miss, old chap.

  • Wow, another threat hijacked by the whingeing Ernest. If you don’t like the subject matter then don’t read and don’t comment. What is so hard about that? I can see how the Guardian reader has a hard time with that…but a long time Samizdata reader should have got the message by now one would hope.

    I think blogs without comments are actually rather pointless and in fact cease to be blogs if they don’t allow comments. One of the key things about blogs is inter-activity; if you don’t have that what is the point? A site merely becomes a forum for ranting. It shows a certain lack of belief in what one is writing as well.

  • Bruce Hoult

    if the U.S. Defence Department decides to degrade the accuracy of the systems, as they did in Gulf War 1.

    I’m afraid that’s backwards. “Selective availability” (deliberate reduction in accuracy for civilian GPSs) was on from the start, but was turned off during the 1991 Gulf war because there were not enough military GPSs available so the US troops were using civilian ones.

  • ernest young


    Just had a look at your so-called, ‘blog, you know the one with comments turned off.

    A site merely becomes a forum for ranting. It shows a certain lack of belief in what one is writing as well

    Couldn’t agree more! … practising what you preach is obviusly a virtue you do not believe in…quite pathetic!

  • Julian Taylor

    Bruce, I had heard of the GPS ‘Selective Availability’ being switched on during Desert Storm and I have also previously heard of that being blamed for the multiple ‘blue-on-blue’ incidents that occurred. Approximately 17% of casualties in Desert Storm have been attributed to ‘friendly fire’ incidents, in a number of cases apparently from units losing essential co-ordination during vital combat manoeuvring.

    One thing that Bill Clinton thankfully achieved before he left office was to permanently switch off Selective Availability, from 1st May 2000, and thus open the market for consumer GPS systems which did not need to constantly recalibrate to take into account the loss of multiple triangulation.

    Ernest Young, Andrew’s site does actually have the means to post comments.

  • ernest young


    Quote from Dodgeblogium;

    ‘Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.’

    So you have the secret password…!!

    The last comment was July 12, last post, – (rather appropriate), July 9 …

  • AID,

    Just had a look at your so-called, ‘blog, you know the one with comments turned off.

    Ernest how terribly duplicitous of you. Comments are closed after two weeks to prevent spamming. If you are tried to comment on something the slightest bit fresh you would see I allow comment. Hence why there is a comment button on my blog.

    Try this post and see.

  • sesquipedalian

    I haven’t read the above comments so appologise in
    advance if I am repeating. My response is rather late but I’ve just come back from a rather long weekend (snigger).

    There’s a Tom Tom device which sits happily on the dashboard of your boat or your car. It has a decent battery life and is portable (but it wouldn’t fit in a pocket). I don’t have the web link but have used it first hand and was suitably amazed that it showed all the marine filling stations in the oslo fjord plus what you’d expect in downtown manhatten. I don’t know the model of the unit but the screen’s about the 9 x 6 inches.