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Going Mobile To St. Louis – Part 1



HP 310 Travel Companion In this InkShow, I showed off the kit I was using in my van, showing different technologies like GPS, Zune, TC1100, iPhone, etc.

Over the next several days, I’m going to discuss what worked and didn’t work, as well cover some other mobile technology issues I ran in to.

First off – GPS. As I mentioned in the video, I have a horrible sense of direction. So, I was planning on utilizing the evaluation HP 310 Travel Companion GPS that HP sent me.  Well, I tried to, anyway.

The unit I traveled with was actually a replacement. The first one I used during CES had trouble getting a GPS lock, then a week before my trip to St. Louis, it stopped working altogether by going into an infinite reboot loop. HP was kind enough to send me a replacement unit just days before I left.

The replacement unit locked on to GPS within 30 seconds, and initially operated really well. Overall, I was generally pleased with the 310 at getting me from point A to point B, finding the nearest hotel from my GPS location, etc. Navigating the 310 was pretty simple, too. Within a few clicks, I was able to locate just about anything I needed and it was all logically layed out. It didn’t feel like a geek needed to operate it.

Besides the big problem that I’ll outline below, I did run in to a couple of issues, though. During the trip, I experimented with using the 310 as a speaker phone tethered to my iPhone. It paired up without a hitch, but people I spoke with on the other end noticed a lot of background noise and said it was hard to hear me. Secondly, I found the voice that the 310 uses to give directions very hard to understand. It sounded just like a computer, mumbling words together. On more occasions than not, I had to ask my wife to repeat what it said because I couldn’t understand it. Some turns happen really quickly, so I couldn’t really glance at the 310 for the next turn information. I had to rely on the voice to tell me what to do.

photo2Upon entering St. Louis was where I needed the 310 the most, and where it failed me at the worst possible time. Right in the heat of traffic, the 310 suddenly rebooted and went into the same infinite reboot loop that my first 310 did. Frustrated, I pulled over to the nearest gas station, tried to do a soft reset, etc – all to no avail. Eventually, it failed to turn on at all.

So, I turned to Google Maps on my iPhone. I used the Find Me function to get my current location, then keyed in my destination address, and I got to the hospital without any problem. My wife did need to read the directions off to me as I went along because navigating the iPhone while driving is difficult and dangerous. During the rest of my time in St. Louis, and the return trip, I used Google Maps on the iPhone to get me around. I was quite pleased with how accurate and easy it was to use. I wouldn’t call it a GPS replacement, but for my purposes and needs, it worked great.

photo3I really like to give a device the best chance I can, especially for a review. However, having gone through two 310 Travel Companions each exhibiting the same problem, I can’t recommend it as a reliable GPS solution at this time. The 310 has a lot of potential, and I look forward to giving the next iteration at try.

Next, in Part 2: What happened to my Kindle?





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