This is a weblog about genealogy in and about the State of Ohio. It will feature news and views (mostly mine) about developments of interest to genealogists doing research in Ohio, no matter where they reside.--Wally Huskonen

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Spring for In-Car GPS Unit

Four short years ago, my wife purchased a Garmin hand-held GPS unit for me for my birthday.

I immediately learned how to use it in hand-held mode and in my mini-van mounted on the dashboard. It me helped find destinations and I was able to use it in genealogy, too.

One genealogy application involved finding my three-great grandfather’s homestead and farm site in Montgomery County, New York. Finding the farm site is a problem because the property was absorbed into the Charleston State Forest. All buildings and other evidence of the farm were removed many years ago.

Using a historic map and the legal description from the deed, I was able to locate the location on a DeLorme New York State Atlas with longitude and latitude grid lines. By plotting the location on this map, I was able to estimate the longitude and latitude, enter those into the Garmin unit, and navigate to the site during a summer genealogy trip to Montgomery County the summer before last.

I also have been able to “mark” the longitude and latitude of several family gravesites and enter the data into my family database on The Master Genealogist.

Just yesterday, I took delivery of a Navigon 2100 navigation system. In a few hours of use last night, I learned some of the advantages of the more modern technology available in 2008. The Navigon presents its maps on a brightly lit color display, which is visible both in daylight and at night. This alone represents a substantial improvement over the Garmin unit which only has a black and white display that isn't readily visible at night, at least with AA battery power (I never did spring for the power cord offered for use in a car, even though this would enable using the Garmin’s back-light feature with the display.).

One of the reasons I purchased the Navigon 2100 was price: it was on sale at CompUSA for $140, and that included a life-time subscription to a real-time traffic advisory service, a $99 add-on.

I used this service on a commute into downtown Cleveland this morning and it really works. It warned me of a serious traffic tieup on I-77 and calculated an alternate route.

This unit is easy to use for directions to destinations that can be entered with an address, including a street number. I haven’t explored the ability to enter destinations with longitude and latitude.

The Navigon does have the ability to mark a location by longitude and latitude, but I haven’t yet explored this feature—much less compared it with the same capability on the Garmin.

Navigon is a newcomer in the automotive GPS market in North America, having entered the market only in late 2007 from a position of leadership in Europe. On its website, http://www.navigon.com/, the company claims to be one of the world's leading providers of navigation products and software solutions. NAVIGON makes its own navigation brand consumer products and creates software solutions for OEM customers operating in personal navigation, wireless, and automotive sectors. Founded in 1991, NAVIGON employs more than 400 people in Europe, North America, and Asia. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, company officials announced that it had achieved the No. 5 ranking in automotive aftermarket GPS sales in the U.S. in the short time since entering the domestic market.