Pedestrian Navigation

 

My wife, sons, and I are in Washington DC on Spring Break vacation this week. We flew in Sunday and have been taking the Metro and walking to the various attractions. Anyway, although I have been getting by with my Garminfone and Nexus 7 with Co-Pilot, my Garminfone battery doesn't last long enough. I had some additional batteries, but I am down to one right now.

What are others here doing for pedestrian navigation? Are you bring two devices while on foot? I am considering keeping the Garminfone for navigation only and getting a Google Nexus 4 as my smartphone.

Or, maybe I will just bring along the Garmin Nuvi 500 for the next trip like this! I think the Nuvi 500 battery would last long than the Garminfone battery.

.

I love my Nexus 4, it's amazing. I've gotten 40 mbps down, and 20 up on LTE Band 4 here. Even H+ is awesome.

--
nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK

my iPhone--

I've got my phone with me all the time -- either Google Maps, or Apple's maps, it's a toss-up, but both are good at giving me a bird-s eye view of where I am, and of where I'd like to be.

--
Nuvi 2460, 680, DATUM Tymserve 2100, Trimble Thunderbolt, Ham radio, Macintosh, Linux, Windows

Old School

Not to be snarky, but a paper map and compass should help you save the batteries for when you can't get sorted with the map/compass.

handheld

If you are looking for GPS that works for pedestrians then you have to look for so called handhelds. Car GPS will not last longer than 2-3 hours on battery, so for longer journey they are useless. There is lineup from Garmin:

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=145

They have positive sides:
- work on regular AA batteries,
- last for up to 10-12 hours on one sot of batteries,
- you can load maps and POIs into them
- are waterproof

and minuses:
- price is much higher than car devices (about 2 times),
- usually they don't have maps installed so you have to buy/get free map to use them

That's what comes to mind right now. You have to decide if you prefer something else.

getting around DC

Jim1348 wrote:

What are others here doing for pedestrian navigation? Are you bring two devices while on foot? I am considering keeping the Garminfone for navigation only and getting a Google Nexus 4 as my smartphone.

The city can be quite confusing until you learn the layout of the streets. Streets with numbers are all north/south. Streets with letters or names are all East/West. Streets with state names are on a diagonal. The "center" is the U.S. Capitol with the quadrants centered here.

The easiest way to get around is to buy a little map called a "City Slicker". It's a detailed map encased in heavy plastic and built to fold up. Cost - around $8. It's one thing that's issued to Limo drivers and carried by many cabbies for some of those not often visited areas. Even though most of them now have GPS units, the map gives them an overall view of the route an the area rather than just a magenta line to follow.

--
Illiterate? Write for free help.

Pedestrian

I have used my Garmin 265WT car gps for pedestrian travel. I turn it off when I don't need to use it. A relative got one for rental car use and for pedestrian travel.

It accomplishes all I need.

Pedestrian Navigation

Thank you very much for all of the replies. The other thing that I was thinking out with regards to this is similar to an issue that I realized a year and half ago when I was in Atlanta. That is that I, personally, am NOT a very savvy urban mass transit traveler. By that, I mean that I grew up VERY rural , but have since transplanted to a 5 acre hobby farm in a suburban/exurban area. As a result, I am very accustomed to driving where I need to go, parking close by, and then simply walking from my vehicle to my destination.

Urban, mass transit navigation is very different to me. For example, if it is a simple matter of driving or walking to the train station, getting on the red/blue/yellow/green line and arriving within walking distance, not a huge change.

Where I do find it more challenging is throwing in the factor of buses. It seems to me like each metro area has a huge number of buses and when I am in a new urban area traveling it can be a bit daunting to:

-Walk To The Bus Station,

-Ride The Bus To The Train,

-Ride The "X' Train To The Place Where It Meets "Y" Train.

-Ride The "Y" Train To Another Bus Station.

-Then Take Another Bus To The Final Destination

Or shall I say at least close enough to walk to the destination.

So, for me being a displaced farm boy, it probably means a more sophisticated means of determining this route and timing. Basically, it means a smartphone WITH a data plan.

I do seem to recall Garmin adding a Mass Transit feature on a few GPS units a while back. Has that particular feature continued to improve? Does it work well?

I also recall reading that Google added functionality like this. In retrospect, I really should have tried that over the course of the past week in Washington DC. Does Google sort of have the corner on the market for that sort of navigating? It really is quite a challenge to be able to go into a major metro area and determine the correct connections between buses and trains on time. For the average commuter that makes the same trek to work, school, etc every day, no big deal, but to someone new to an area is can take some real planning!

Anyway, lets hear, what are your best tips for this sort of thing? Do you almost need a tablet/laptop/desktop computer or smartphone for this sort of navigating?

.

I'd definitely recommend a smartphone with Google Maps. They've integrated mass transit into the map for major cities so you can now choose a route based on driving, walking, biking, or using mass transit. With the mass transit option you can even select the preferred mode between bus, subway, train, or tram/light rail.

Here's a link to the cities covered by Google Maps mass transit feature http://www.google.com/landing/transit/cities/index.html#Nort...

With regard to D.C., Google just added real time updates for the metro http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/google-map...

And last but not least, if you're going to use a smartphone or PND while walking, you may want to consider purchasing an external battery charger. Good investment for $20.

retro

perpster wrote:

...a paper map and compass should help you save the batteries for when you can't get sorted with the map/compass.

Actually, in small-town/rural America -- I'll bet this is still a fairly common choice for visitors and definitely a valid option IMO!

But hey! When I'm going for that bona fide retro-navigation look while ambulatin' in Hollywood -- I just plop on a pirate hat and whup out my sextant!

Pedestrian Navigation

GadgetGuy2008 wrote:

.....And last but not least, if you're going to use a smartphone or PND while walking, you may want to consider purchasing an external battery charger. Good investment for $20.....

Thank you very much for the tips. I had been meaning to try Google Maps for that. Maybe the next trip to a major city I will get a chance.

I was at the Mall Of America a week or so before the Washington DC trip and I was eying up external battery packs. I figured that if I bought one of those I could use it now AND (hopefully) with any future phone I might buy. Do you have any recommendations for an external battery pack?

Finally, since I did buy a used Casio G'zOne Commando earlier this winter, I was thinking about simply adding TomTom For Android and bring it along in addition to other phones. It is light enough that having a second smartphone with while on foot shouldn't be a problem.

I am also still sort of eying up a pair of used Motorola Titaniums, too. http://www.motorola.com/us/consumers/MOTOROLA-TITANIUM/73006... With Nextel vanishing later this year, the devices, which are already pretty cheap, should get even cheaper very soon. With off-network Direct Talk and a GPS with off-network Androdi maps, this would be a handy pair of communicators for the family during various excursions!

Charge each night

I have always taken my Nuvi for walking in cities. I charge it at night, turn it off when in buildings for a spell and turn it on when needed. It has always lasted for all my day trips. We took it on a trip on the Texas T and then walked to Mecum Auto Auction and got there great. Turned it off while at the auction and back on when we left.

I charge it over night every night in the hotel room even if it doesn't need it.

I now have a Nexus 7. Have been taking it to town when we go. I plug it in to the car while driving if I have used it much. It has worked good in the car. Haven't taken it for a walk yet.

I am taking my Nuvi for long trips as I find I like her maps better than CoPilot on the Nexus 7, and I know how to use Nuvi better.

I always carry my Nexus 7 in my purse so I always have a map with me.

--
Mary, Nuvi 2450, Garmin Viago, Honda Navigation, Nuvi 750 (gave to son)

.

Jim1348 wrote:

I was at the Mall Of America a week or so before the Washington DC trip and I was eying up external battery packs. I figured that if I bought one of those I could use it now AND (hopefully) with any future phone I might buy. Do you have any recommendations for an external battery pack?

I haven't bought an external charger yet since I always have access to car/wall chargers when using my phone. But a good starting point would be www.monoprice.com. I purchase all of my cables & small gadgets from them. They have a 2600mAh charger for $20. http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=112&cp_id...

With external chargers the main thing you want to focus on is the mAh (milliampere-hour) rating. First figure out how large the battery is in your phone/tablet. For example, the Nexus 4 is 2100mAh, so if you want to fully charge the Nexus 4 you will need a charger which has at least 2100mAh rating. If you purchase a smaller charger, it will still work but it won't fully recharge the battery to 100%.

The Nexus 7 battery capacity is 4325 mAh. So an appropriate charger for it would be something like this http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=108&cp_id...

Urban transit map options

As I tend to use public transit when in a strange city (a lot of cities, it's almost a necessity because driving is painful) there are a few good apps for this that are GPS enabled.

I can confirm that Google does have a feature within Maps (Google Transit) that usually works well...as long as the transit agency provides their info to Google Maps (not all do, but you do stand a good shot of it in larger metro areas). Anymore, it covers a fairly impressive list of large- and medium-sized cities and their public transportation systems (http://www.google.com/landing/transit/cities/index.html).

Hopstop is also a good one, and (happily) is also a remarkably platform-agnostic solution--Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile (a rarity) and even feature-phone versions are available--and even a general website if you know what route you're looking for. In some cases it tends to have a bit better coverage even than Google Maps does, and in particular may be a good solution for iDevice users now that Apple uses its own map solution.

In some larger cities with multiple public transit modes (Chicago and NYC in particular) there are also generally apps available that either give "next available" for the nearest mode of transportation or do multimodal mapping (for example, in Chicago, one can plan a route to catch the next CTA bus to an L station to go to the nearest Metra station and catch a commuter train).

The bad news is in smaller cities this isn't exactly available...in some areas, pretty much your best hope (mobile or otherwise) is to download timetables to your smartphone, then use your GPS to lead you to the nearest bus stop. Even worse, some are...proprietary (Gatlinburg, TN comes to mind--it uses Otvia as its "next bus" mapping solution, and instead of setting up a Google Transit feed you're expected to open the Otvia page up on a mobile browser).

Cabs tend to be tricker (and even "hail a cab" services tend to be surprisingly city-specific) but if you're relying mostly on buses/trains/subways/L-type transit you should be OK with the above solutions.