Monday, March 22, 2010

GPS in the Philippines

Two years had passed since I took home my trusty mobile phone as part of Smart Communications customer retention plan. It was again time for me to claim a brand new free cellphone unit or get a more expensive phone with a big discount.

This retention round I chose a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. It costs 15,000 in malls but I got it for only 7,300 under Smart's retention plan. Yehey! I chose it because of the high resolution video recording with 30 fps frame rate, Auto focus lens with macro mode for those close up shots, Vario Tessar focusing system, Wi-fi to connect our home's network and the thing I've always wanted to play around - GPS (Global Positioning System).

This year is a good time to buy a GPS capable phone because shortly after Google announced the availability of free turn by turn voice navigation in the US for their Nexus One phone, Nokia, to protect their worldwide leadership I guess, announced that it will stop asking payments for GPS voice guided navigation and will now give it away for free in all their GPS capable phones all over the world including the Philippines. I read that stock prices of GPS navigation devices dropped after this announcement. Good thing also that Nokia announced it early this year because I was eagerly awaiting for the GPS Navigation Systems that will soon arrive in CD-R King Stores. Now I don't need to buy it because my new phone already has it. Voice guided drive navigation and pedestrian navigation. Woohoo! I downloaded the British female voice as my voice navigator. So when the phone announces the driving directions, it's like being in James Bond's car complete with the British accent - bloody cool! hehe.


I owe much to CD-R King with their low cost consumer products so I bought from them the car mount for the phone.


Now let's take this new phone for a ride and see and hear what Nokia OVI Maps can do. I tied a safety cord to the car mount inspired by the harness we used in Dahilayan Adventure Park's longest dual zip line in Asia. It took 3 minutes for the GPS receiver to lock on to the satellites and determine where we're at.


We drove to NUVALI with the GPS navigation on and visited Treveia. Nokia OVI Maps has a navigation window that displays a real-time compass showing which direction you're headed, how long you've been driving and your current speed. The speed was actually very close to the car's speedometer. Those satellites up there looking at me sure have clear eyes!


The trip distance window shows real-time numbers and statistics of your trip. Now this is a good trip meter!


This is the view of Treveia's Phase 2 taken from the central park with a cloudy view of Mount Makiling.

Scr000013 treveia nuvali

And this is the altitude and GPS location of Treveia's Central Park.



The voice guided navigation displays where you are, street names, current speed, compass, how far you are to the next turn, total distance traveled and marks where the gasoline stations are located.


One thing funny happened is that when we were on top of the overpass crossing SLEX, it told us to turn left and jump off the overpass to get to SLEX. But if you don't do it for obvious reasons, it auto re-calculated our route and kindly told us to take the cloverleaf toll road instead. Never believe in it a hundred percent.


This is the dashboard window info while voice guided navigation is turned on.


This is what the screen looks like at night to lessen night driving disruption.

All in all, a Nokia phone with Nokia OVI Maps installed is a good GPS for a newbie like me. The whole Philippine roadmap is just a 12MB file that you can download at home and use on the road without the need to connect to the internet then pay 3G/HSPDA charges. When I tried using Google Maps for Mobile 4.0, it needed 3G/HSPDA/Wi-fi connection to download maps while you drive so it will cost you money. It also saves downloaded maps to the phone memory without an option to save them to the memory card. But one good thing with Google Maps is that they have more updated street maps than Nokia and Navteq. I hope Nokia catches up soon in this respect.

What's missing in Nokia OVI Maps for the Philippines are the POI or points of interest. After some searching I came across a Java based open source application than can run on any gadget that allows running Java apps including your PSP. The graphics is not as good as Nokia OVI Maps or Garmin Mobile but all the important and meaty guts are there - comprehensive POI all over the Philippines that's updated weekly thanks to, altitude, speed, compass, the ability to define roads & POI of uncharted areas, uploading to and voice navigation.


Driving along Governor's drive with visible POI.


Complete POI details of a part of Makati including traffic directions.


Zooming in will give you the names of each building.


Driving along an uncharted area. So what do you do?


Well, be an explorer like Magellan and define the roads as you drive by. Upload it later to Openstreetmaps so others will benefit from your exploration.


Uploading my first GPS tracks for an uncharted part of the Philippines in Openstreetmaps.


Before charting.


After charting.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Amaia Scapes Calamba - An Ayala Land Project

Ayala Land enters a new phase in their land development and offers affordable homes to more Filipinos with the same high standards that Ayala is known for.Time for you to get that dream home and good real estate investment.

  1. Ayala properties are know to have above average property appreciation rate.
  2. Amaia Scapes is located in Calamba City near SLEX Batino Exit.
  3. Seven house designs to choose from. Price starts P600,000.
  4. All homes sold comes with 1 year workmanship warranty.
  5. Amaia Scapes will be continuously managed by Ayala Properties Management Corporation so you can be assured the village rules and restrictions will really be enforced similar to what they still do in Ayala Alabang Village, Forbes Park, Santa Rosa Estates and now in NUVALI.

Serious buyers can contact Lilia Unite at 09088637715 or for inquiries and reservations.

Still in pre-selling stage so hurry!

Click here for a satellite view (Wikimapia, Google Earth)