on 20 March 2008
I had been reluctant to purchase one of these due to the poor reviews, especially on the time to get a GPS lock. I spoke to the company to see what was happening and an update addressing this was due on newer models.
I bit the bullet and purchased one. Whilst the time to get a lock is slower than my old(er) Garmin, it still gets a lock by the time I have put my boots on and checked the contents of the rucksack. (2-3 minutes). The mapping is excellent and has already saved me from a couple of wrong turns. It is easy to use, durable and the idea of replaceable screen covers is a great idea.
My only small gripe is that it appears you cannot use it directly with the popular mapping software. You can upload/download, via their Satsync software but it would be nice to have the direct connectivity. I also wish the maps would be a bit cheaper as £99 for a map is pricy
on 16 September 2008
I've had my SatMap for a few weeks now and think it's an incredibly good device, though it has a few flaws and quirks.
It looks great, is of excellent quality and the buttons and joystick are easy to use. The screen is large and gives a clear image, though this can be negated by reflections from the screen cover. In bright sunlight you may need to press the backlight boost button for 100% brightness. For power saving you can configure the percentage brightness for when its not boosted.
One thing everyone comments on is the time taken to acquire satellites when it's switched on for the first time at a new location. It takes a few minutes but if you switch it on upon arrival it'll be ready by the time you're prepared to start your walk/cycle ride. It finds more satellites than my Garmin Etrex and hangs onto the signal much better than it when amongst trees (though the latest Extrex is said to better than the older ones).
I leave the SatMap's GPS switched on while I'm walking but set it so the screen switches off after 30sec. This saves on batteries and the display comes alive again at the press of any button. Leaving the GPS switched on means a continuous snail trail of your location is recorded, which you don't get otherwise.
The device is switched off (and on) with a single press of a button, which can be pressed by accident when you mean to press another one. If you switch it off by accident, the device will acquire the satellites quickly when switched on again and resume recording the trail. However, if the trail is later converted to a track and exported in GPX format to MemoryMap, the latter won't understand the way the track has been recorded in two sections. Luckily, that can easily be sorted by editing the GPX file - just remove the </trkseg><trkseg> bit which splits the track segments, and any successive lines showing zero elevation or other funnies from when the device was restarting.
I've found the SatMap's accuracy to be very good. I placed the device on top of a trig point, and when I zoomed right in on the 1:25,000 map I found the reported position was right in the middle of the trig point symbol!
The built-in electronic compass seems okay when stationary, giving a reasonably close reading to a standard magnetic compass. However, when I used the GPS-based pointer to navigate to a GoTo point, it wavered about from one side to the other of the actual direction. I ended up heading towards the middle position and that took me there okay, but it wasn't very inspiring.
Only a quick start guide is supplied with the device. A much more detailed user guide can be downloaded from the website. However, it concentrates on what each control does in isolation rather than telling you how to combine the features on a day out on the hills.
The supplied Lithium AA batteries lasted well, but would be expensive in the long term at £4 for a pack of 4 (the device takes 3 of them). I tried using 2500 mAh NiMh rechargeable AA batteries but after only a few minutes of using fully charged ones the battery level dropped from 4 bars to 3 then almost immediately to 1 bar, with a message that the system was shutting down in 30 seconds. In fact, the same quick change in battery level from 3 to 1 and shutdown happened with the Lithium batteries though at least I'd had a long period with 4 bars before that. I've now ordered the optional LiPol rechargeable battery which is reputed to be long lasting.
The Ordnance Survey maps, sold separately on SD cards, are available in 1:25,000 & 1:50:000 scale. I bought the 1:50,000 set for all the National Parks in Britain (which is good value), plus the combined 1:25,000 & 1:50:000 maps for the area where I spend most time walking. That gives me coverage of most places I'm likely to go walking, with more detail for the area I go to most frequently.
Despite some flaws, the SatMap is an excellent, easy to use and very accurate GPS with a full OS map capability, and I highly recommend it.
on 8 February 2008
I purchased a Satmap as the concept sounded great, and I'm sure that once a few teething problems are sorted out, it will be a fantastic piece of kit.
My dissapointment comes from a a few different areas.
1. The time taken to get a GPS 'Lock On'. This has been rather embarassing when going for a hike with a friend recently and having to wait several minutes before we could set off.
2. The 'Battery Level' indicator is innacurate. It showed good battery life whilst out on the above hike and then died completely within a few minutes. I'm sure my friend was thinking, "How much did you pay for that thing" ?. Thankfully we had a good old fashioned map with us.
3. I rang the staff at Satmap to see why I couldn't connect my Satmap to my PC as indicated in the 'Quick Guide', (No in depth user manual yet available so much of the information displayed is not understood). They sent me via email the software I would need but even when loaded I couldn't get it to do anything. I contacted Satmap again but on this occasion no-one got back to me with assistance.
This is all a bit of a shame as it has spoiled a piece of equipment that has the potential to be so good. I would agree that the unit may have been rushed out too soon, possibly the desire to get it in the marketplace in time for Christmas was a bit of a rash decision.
I will perservere for now in the hope that the updated software is released soon. Oh, and don't expect much assisitance from local outlets. I found that all the suppliers I asked didn't really know how to work the unit themselves.
Tues 12th Feb
Since posting the above review I have been on another walk.
This time, on arrival at the start point the Satmap got a GPS lock within 60 seconds which was very impressive. To preserve battery life I also turned it off and on, (as suggested in the User Guide) as required to review our route.
Unfortunately two things occured to spoil my enjoyment.
Firstly, by turning the Satmap on and off some of the route information is lost and we were unable to say how far we had walked, what speed etc.
Secondly, even when on high open ground I could not get a GPS lock for nearly 15 minutes. I removed the SD Card and Batteries to reboot the equipment as advised by Satmap staff, (who do appear to be helpful) but it still took an age to lock on.
I have subsequently contacted Satmap who admit that they have a software problem which they are working hard to resolve. A software update is to be sent out to purchasers ASAP.
So it may be an idea to wait until this has been done before purchasing what I believe to be 'potentially' a cracking piece of kit.
I look forward to being able to say my issues have been resolved and posting how happy I am on this site.
on 27 March 2008
First impressions are that it is a brilliant piece of kit. The packaging is superb and the built quality appears excellent. However, having now used it for a bit some of the problems are now coming to light - in true Microsoft fashion it crashes far too often; it can take ages to get a satellite fix; re-configuring some of the user options causes it to freeze; programming needs finishing as some menu options lead to dead ends; the screen cover scratches very easily, even by just putting it in and out of the carrying case; the electronic compass seems to have a mind of its own and does not instill any confidence that it knows where it is going; it does seem very good at keeping track of where you are though, but not so easy to get it to actually guide you along a waymarked route; the instruction book is incomplete and too focussed on technical attributes rather than a user manual ie: how do you actually use it? / how do you follow a waymarked route? / how do you change the screen cover? When it does work properly it is very impressive to see it show your position in sufficient detail from one side of a road to the other, but for kit costing £300 plus £100 per map it has far too many tantrums causing it to fail by freezing which necessitates a 15 minute restart, just when you need it most. This will in due course be a brilliant, if rather overpriced, piece of kit - but I wish I had waited another 6 months by when hopefully all the glitches will have been resolved.
on 18 March 2008
I bought this piece of kit because I was impressed by the idea of a system based on an actual OS map. Also I wanted a GPS that a fifty two year old could see! I have had some problems with the unit but have found the staff at Satmap extremely helpful and courteous. Software version 1.15 sorts out most of the annoying little problems. I get a consistent satellite lock in anything from 30seconds to 3 minutes at the longest. I understand that speed of GPS lock is a trade off for having a screen much bigger than rival units.
Use of the power saving functions does extend battery life and I can recommend the rechargeable power pack. I also find that 2100mAh Ni-Mh(2) rechargeables work well. Rather than switching the unit off and on, try just switching the screen off. That way your route progress is updated.
I did encounter a problem with the 2 box data settings freezing the unit but Satmap have advised how this can be prevented and version 1.16 sorts that problem out (available imminently).
The accuracy of the unit is outstanding, the slightest deviation from the route seems to show up.The unit is rugged and the soft touch buttons and joystick practical. Whilst a comprehensive user guide is now available, when I bought just after Christmas, you were stuck with the very basic "Quick Start" guide. Fortunately, the unit is so easy to use that a route can be set up without guidance
I haven't used the "SatSync" software yet although I am looking into it. Anybody who thinks you can just plug the unit into your PC and create a route on-screen will be disappointed, although this may be a future option. If you have computer based mapping software that saves to .GPX or .MAP format, you can plan a route and save the waypoints to the Active 10. I know that Memory Map can do this and Anquet have just confirmed that their software will do the same. If I am successful, I will post a future review.
OK, you could argue that Satmap marketed the unit earlier than they should but the hardware is brilliant; with tweaks to the software it can only get better. There is a limit to the amount of testing you can do and sometimes you just have to market technology and rely on your customers identifying problems. I seem to recall that Bill Gates made a dollar or two with the same policy.
Finally, although the maps may appear expensive I understand that the mapping dep't will put map data up to 4Gb on an SD card for you. They will make any sort of custom map for you and can even put different areas of the UK on the same card. I always take a map and compass with me but would have no hesitation in recommending the SatMap
on 27 August 2008
I have had this product since it was first launched and will say that unless you have the latest software, 1.20, you may be disappointed with features like satellite lock. However, when first released it was one of the fastest on the market. I love the OS map features and have recently completed Snowdon in pouring rain and had absolutely no problems. It was superb and after 7 hours walking I still had 2/3 batter power left using their own rechargeable battery pack I set my unit to turn the display off after 20 secs of idleness. I have tried the Garmin Colorado and find its screen too small. This display is perfect and being weather proof a big bonus. I tend to carry it on a lanyard over my neck tucked into a chest pocket and have had problems losing satellite lock at all.
on 18 June 2008
Caution advised here, trawl the Internet and read the very mixed reviews. On a good day (that means low light conditions and the Satmap Active 10 doing what it's supposed to do) it's impressive and, frankly, unequalled.
However, my experience includes up to thirty minutes wait for a satellite lock, a screen that's difficult to see in strong sunlight (you'll also need your reading glasses if you wear them), erratic compass needle and direction pointers, random freezing or crashing followed by data loss and then you have to disconnect the power supply to re-start. Also, mains charging can leave it switched on after disconnection without you knowing leading to battery discharge if you're not careful. It won't last long on AA batteries you need the LiPol rechargeable. The carry case supplied will mark the casing after repetitive use. Users familiar with iPods and Garmin products, for example, will find the build quality in the battery compartment and accessories flimsy and poor quality. If you move around the UK in pursuit of your outdoor activities then be prepared to spend a small fortune on SD Card maps.
In their defence, Satmap are easy to contact and helpful if you phone them up and they seem to be working hard to sort out all the teething problems. Meanwhile, I wouldn't advise relying in this product solely if you are leading a group or venturing into hostile environments. Potentially a great product possibly launched too early.
on 28 March 2008
Ok, my software version is 1.16 but there are still teething problems with this device. Mine spends all it's time attached to my bike's handlebars so usually has a good view of the sky. Satellite lock is a lot slower than my Garmin Extrex Legend CX but the plus side is the OS mapping. However, some things are a faff - the Satsync sofware is currently flaky to say the least. I use Tracklogs as my digital mapping software but despite some people on forums claiming to be able to transfer routes from tracklogs (as a GPX file) to the device flawlessly I have had variable success doing this. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Another option is to export Tracklogs files to GPS Babel, convert them to GPX files and then use Satsync to import them to my device. Even then it doesn't work all the time. Unfortunately I don't really have the time to go trawling through forums looking for answers to problems that really should have been resolved my now.
Other problems I have are that water gets under the screen protector, the screen protector can get scratched, and that the unit freezes (for no apparent reason). The only way to unfreeze it seems to be to pull the batteries out and put them back in again. This has happened to me with both disposable batteries and with the rechargable battery that Satmap supply as part of their power bundle.
I found the battery life with disposables to be pretty bad - i only got about 3 hours use out of the supplied Energizer batteries and that was with the backlight at a lowish level. With cheap duracell batteries from Poundland I was lucky to get 90 mins. Since I got the rechargeable battery the battery life is much improved though although there have been reports that some people are having problems with batteries not recharging proerly.
On the plus side the OS mapping is much better than the mapping supplied by other handhelds although my Garmin Etrex legend CX can do route navigation much better as it's essentially using a road database. The Active 10 can display maps trail up which is an absolute necessity for me when cycling in unfamiliar territory and the ability to cleary have features such as treelines marked on the map is a godsend.
However, I'm still unsure of this device. I actually wish i could cross breed it with my Garmin device to get the best of both worlds. OS maps on a handheld are probably the way to go but it might take a few incarnations of this product before it can be thought of as the class leader.
on 18 December 2008
I have had my active 10 several weeks now and overall I am VERY pleased with it. I use software version 1.20 and have not had any major issues such as crashing or slow lock. I would comment that it is a touch quirky and have actually sent a feature wish list to satmap (which they have acknowledged). These are nearly all 'would be nice if' ideas - none of them are show stoppers in any way at all. When I have had questions not obvious from the documentation I have had an email answer from satmap technical within hours - brilliant.
I use it on the mountain bike mainly - I have some 2.5Ah rechargable cells and they are usually showing 3/4 full after a 3-4 hour ride with the backlight on nearly all the time. The handle bar fixing is a bit tricky to get to stay put - but eventually I found a couple of layers of insulating tape made it stay.
The compass seems to be one of the quirks - the GPS compass is fine when moving at a few mph - but the static compass loses its calibration when you turn off the satmap and isn't too brilliant even when calibrated. It mostly works - but leaves you feeling ' is that right?' from time to time. I do like the 'trail up' feature - but the static compass performance takes the edge of it slightly. Because it switches to static compass at slow speeds - I've found trail up is not very usable for walking.
Another quirk (I would think quick to fix in the software) is that in planning mode it always reverts to a fixed point. On my map that is central glasgow - and I live in yorkshire. It is annoying to have to scroll down to home - porbably takes 2-3 minutes to get to starting to plan after switching it on. This is typical of the quirks - slightly annoying, but could be fixed quite easily when the pressure is off the developers.
I have found it waterproof - but water does get under the screen protector. It does no damage - you ping it off - dry it and replace it. Ok but a minor faff. I also think the rubber covers over the connectors may not survive repeated removal - you also can easily accidentally unseat them - destroying the water resistance.
PC wise - it uploads and downloads GPX tracks/routes easily - no probs. I have used memorymap for some planning and online sites for other. It works nicely with google earth.
The maps are pricey. You can share maps with friends by swapping the sd cards - but you cannot copy them.
I would buy this again. It is very very good. With some (mostly) software changes it could become brilliant. I have a good feel about satmap the company - they come across as enthusiastic about their product and determined to make it better and better. Thats good enough for me!
on 1 March 2008
Well I put mine in for a service recently as the satellite lock was so bad and boy was it worth it, £25 well spent. I now get a lock (from cold) as quick or quicker than my Garmin 60csx and a warm re-start is almost instantaneous. Along with the latest software all my frustrations are nearly gone.Could do with a larger font size but that's another story. Also being able to have multiple maps on one card is really useful. I would recommend this device to anyone now.
I concur completely with the review by gadget boy. The GPS lock does take far too long, sometimes 20 minutes+ which is very disappointing. My garmin device is only about 1 minute and my car satnav device almost instantaneous. So come on satmap people sort this out please. This is very annoying especially if you have to change the batteries mid-walk.
I have been using rechargeable batteries and noticed the other day, when the Satmap stopped working, when I started dis-charging them that only one had been used. Next time i will switch the batteries around to see if that is really the case.
The product is a great idea. Let's hope the annoyances are resolved soon