This gadget is very cool indeed! Through a very special partnership between Garmin and Asus, we are now able to tap into a powerful Android smartphone with all the features of a full GPS navigation system.
Over the past few days, I’ve been putting the A10 model through it’s paces and must say that as a mad social networker using another brand of smartphone and the owner of a different brand of GPS navigation device, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
What I didn’t want to do was to draw a head-to-head comparison between my current gadgets and the A-10 – I wanted to experience the device for what it is, and approach the test run with an open mind. I very soon discovered that it is absolutely impossible to do a trial and review without acknowledging the differences between what I know and what I don’t (or at least didn’t at first).
As a person who tends to drive everywhere (sometimes even up to the local food court – how’s that for lazy?), I’ve become very familiar with many parts of Singapore… when it comes to the north and north east of the island specifically, I consider myself somewhat of an expert. The same cannot be said for the south and south west… I would never consider the trek out toward Jurong without the safety net of GPS navigation. So when the need to travel to Bukit Timah Plaza arose yesterday, I milked the opportunity for all it was worth.
As a typical guy, I like to believe that I always know best when it comes to finding my way anywhere, with an often unsubstantiated opinion that my wife (along with most of the fairer sex) comparitavely has no sense of direction. I also think it’s ok to put together kids toys or operate electronic gadgets without first consulting the user manuals!!… With the trial run of the Garmin-Asus A-10, I was shown to be both correct and incorrect at the same time. Let me explain…
I had already charged the device for what I considered was the appropriate length of time, so 5-minutes prior to jumping in the car, I instinctively switched the phone (navigator) on, and easily worked out how to get into navigation mode, set my destination by typing in the postcode and then pressing ‘Go’. This is where I was absolutely correct in my male-chauvinistic assumption – we guys have a knack of knowing how things work without reading instructions first… or perhaps it is the fact that this Android powered smartphone is just simply user friendly enough, that even an over-confident bloke such as myself could not get it wrong.
Where I was wrong, is the fact that the lovely, kind-spoken woman who is the default Garmin navigation lady, knew much more than me when it came to finding the quickest and most efficient route to my destination. I’m generally a creature of habit, so that once I find something I like to eat, I will often go back to the same haunt… same as my driving habits – once I find my favourite routes, I tend to stick in my comfort zone and always use the same few options. Usually, when travelling west, depending on known traffic conditions, I will either head down the CTE to the PIE and then due west, or I will traverse the island from the north… following the SLE to the BKE and then the PIE – further in distance but often much more efficient from a traffic perspective.
The Garmin lady took me a completely different way – cutting through the middle and taking the best of both worlds… efficient in distance as well as traffic. I made the decision to do away with instinct and follow her instructions to the letter… travelling down the CTE to Braddell Road, up to Lornie and then linking up with the PIE near Eng Neo Avenue. This route is obvious to me now, but I was floored by the huge reduction in time as compared to my other two regular routes!
Here lies one major comparison between the A-10 and my current GPS navigation unit… everytime I travel west with the lady in my current device, I get so frustrated with her that I’ve come to almost despise her – why on earth, she would want me to travel the entire length of the CTE and onto the AYE at one of the most southern points of Singapore to head back out west is beyond me… I’m coming down the CTE from the north east!! Perhaps she’s in cahoots with the petrol companies?? Anyway, the love-hate relationship I’ve developed with her has given me the confidence to ignore her when I know that she’s wrong.
Not only was the Garmin-Asus device spot-on when it came to determining the most efficient route, but the level of detail is much greater than my current device… right down to the service lanes and back streets around my HDB estate. Like I said… very cool… and not to draw such a comparison would be impossible.
The trip was a complete success and the Garmin lady currently has my complete confidence. Let’s see how she goes next time to reinforce such faith. Also, the next step is to really give the smartphone side of this neat unit the once-over. I’m familiar with the Android platform, but not as much as I am with other platforms. I’ve done a little research on the advantages and the features of the A-10, and I’m now really looking forward to the adventure… I expect when I get to that stage though, I will have collected the A-50 model – watch this space for my candid feedback on the smartphone!!
I’ve included some pictures here that my wife took from the back seat of the car yesterday. It’s important to note that I am fully aware that it is an offence to watch DVDs on the front screen of the vehicle… in my defence, I never watch DVDs while driving, and it was only set to the front screen to appease my son who was very agitated and tired.. believe me, Hi-5 is not my thing while in control of a motor vehicle!! So no need to point out the obvious…
Below is some PR and specs on the Garmin-Asus A-10… firstly, check out the video:
Networks: HSDPA DL:7.2Mbps UL: 384Kpbs,UMTS 900/ 2100 EDGE/GPRS/GSM 850/900/1800/1900,
OS : Android 2.1 (Eclair)
Memory: 512 MB SDRAM + 512MB ROM, 4GB eMMC Flash
Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, USB v2.0, WLAN 802.11b+g
GPS: Qualcomm GPSOneCGen7 (AGPS supported)
Display: 3.2 HVGA TFT with capacitive touch , 65Kcolors
Camera: 5 megapixel, Auto Focus
Battery: 1500mAh Lithium
Standby Time: 530-660 hours(2G/3G)
Talking Time : 560-710 minutes(2G/3G)
Expansion Slot: microSD (supports SDHC, up to 32GB)
Browser: HTTP / Google browser
Messaging: SMS / MMS / Email / Push email
Exchange Support: Calendar, contacts, e-mail
Video: Video Playback: MPEG4/H.264/H.263/WMV @ 30fps VGA Video Recording: MPEG4/H.263 @ 30fps QVGA
Audio: Mp3/mpeg4/wma/aac, aac+, aac+/wav/midi/ogg/3.5mm earphone jack
Google : Android Market?, Google Talk?, GMail?, YouTube?, Google Maps?
Navigation: Pedestrian navigation, Automobile navigation
Garmin-Asus A10 Car Mount ** Features :
• When the A10 is mounted, the car mount will automatically recharge the phone.
• It automatically switches the A10 to hands-free mode.
• A built-in speaker amplifies the volume of calls and of sounds from the handset.
• When the A10 is dismounted, it will automatically record the final GPS location
The Garmin-Asus A10 smartphone combines the versatility of the Android™ platform with Garmin’s GPS location technology, bringing people and places together — whether used inside or out, while walking or driving. Sleek and stylish, the user-friendly A10 is designed to connect you to the world around you while you’re on the move.
Go Your Own Way
Featuring Garmin’s award-winning navigation, the A10 offers full-featured navigation that’s easy to use whether you’re traveling by car or by foot. With A10 you can find addresses and get voice-prompted, turn-by-turn directions that speak street names to your destination. The A10 also supports Lane assist with Junction view — so you’ll always know the right lane at the right time. In addition, A10 comes preloaded with over 140,000 points of interests, so you’ll have details to assist you while you’re on the move.
Connect Your Worlds
The A10 runs on the powerful Android platform and comes ready to go with preloaded Google™ Mobile Services. With one simple sign-in to your Google account, you’ll be connected to Google Calendar™, Gmail™*, YouTube™, Google Talk™, and more.
Explore Your Surroundings
Featuring pedestrian-friendly navigation, the A10 helps you find your way with ease. And with Garmin’s proven GPS location technology on board, you’ll benefit from easy-to-use interface that gives you all the information you need. The A10 also features a 5.0 MP camera that geo-tags pictures so you’ll be able to share location details about the places around you with friends and family.
Experience Location-aware Content
Recognizing that location is relevant to every aspect of every day, the A10 is designed with location-aware functionality at its core. Navigation features are linked to frequently used applications such as calendar, contacts, email, Internet browser, and messaging. So no matter where you are, you’ll always have details about your surroundings right in front of you.
Find out what are your friends up to With Ciao!™. Ciao!™ employs location-centric social network applications such as GyPSii, with more networks to be added in the future.
What’s the weather going to be like? Tap the Weather icon to get current and five-day forecasts tailored for your current location or destination. You can also search for weather information for cities around the world.
Get quick access to flight departure/arrival times and gate information from airports around the world, with information from the closest major airports displayed first.
*Google Mail in some markets.
Google™, Google Calendar™, Gmail™, YouTube™, Google Talk™, Android™ and Android Market™, are trademarks of Google Inc.
The recommended retail price for the A10 is $598 without contract and $568 for the A50 without contract. All phones come with a car kit when purchased with major telcos and authorised Garmin-Asus distributors. More information on the two phones are available here – http://www.garminasus.com/en_SG/