Software-Class 4

18 07 2008

A Global Positioning System (GPS) such as Garmin or TomTom which can be hand held, are portable  receivers and can display through graphics on a screen your exact location on this earth. They have to be used outside but unlike the explorers of the past you don’t have to navigate by the stars in the sky anymore. You just put in your location into the receiver using the touch of your fingers and the satellites will transmits your location in three dimensions diplayed on your GPS screen.

According to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, “GPS operations depend on a very accurate time reference, which is provided by atomic clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory. Each satellite has atomic clocks on board.” They are usually within a 20 meter accuracy of your location and your destination. The Garmin brand started in 1989, is an American designed GPS that has so many ‘bells and whistles’ on it that is sometimes confusing to use. Like the TomTom designed by a company in Amsterdam and started in 1991, is an intuitive interface touchscreen but costs half the price of the Garmin.  The TomTom’s display screen has less icons than the Garmin. It is really easier to use and takes you less time to figure out. Simplicity is one of their marketing features and they are right.

I visted both web sites for Garmin and TomTom and they were very reflective of their products. The Garmin site was sophicated, with a polished appearance and human models. Whereas, the TomTom site has a bright and colorful graphics design with animated drawings but, yet again the TomTom site was more user friendly. I have had the opportunity to use both these GPS while traveling and I found  that the TomTom gave better value for the dollar.

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