MapMyIndia GPS Navigator

“Boss, how do I go to Shivaji Chowk?” I ask, to which ‘Boss’ replies “Do one thing, take a left, then a right and you will find Ardha Shivaji Putla (Statue), from where you take second right from the Circle and go straight and ask anyone there”. Then I follow his instructions, but only to take a wrong left and enter some chawl where the road seems to go nowhere. Again, I take a U turn and ask somebody for directions. After a painstaking 1 hour and burning an extra or two liters of fuel, I reach my destination with a sense of accomplishment only to find out that the person whom I want to meet is not at home! Tch..Tch.. I am very bad at remembering roads coz I have visited this person twice earlier, not to mention the time and fuel wasted during those earlier visits! And here I am again doing the rounds.
Well there has to be a solution to help me overcome this weakness of mine. And as if by reply, I read in newspaper, the following day, about a thingie called the GPS Navigator. Enter “MapMyIndia” GPS navigator and I thought to myself this could be my stuff.
I did not want to go for the kill immediately but wanted to understand how this device will help me, this being a new technology available for public. I read the reviews, newspapers and television and found that the device was pretty good at what it does – i.e.: navigate you through the roads, show you Points of Interest like tourist place, nearby ATMs, hospitals, petrol pumps, restaurants among others.
After a long wait, still pensive though on how will it work, I ordered the GPS Navigator, Model Lx130, price of which is bit on the higher side though prices have come down by 25% at the time of this writing.

Features are:

  • No SIM or GPRS required as it is a satellite operated device;
  • No monthly or recurring charges, the only charges you pay are for the updates.
  • Comes with a 3.5” touchscreen (don’t expect iPhone like operations, though pretty ok)
  • Touch the screen and mark your point on the road and choose that as your destination or starting point
  • Drag the map display to see other routes
  • Currently MapMyIndia offers street level turn-by-turn directions in 620 cities across India (including Kolhapur and Belgaum), over 52 categories of points of interest and over 2 million unique destinations, 5,76,000 towns and villages connected by national and state highways. So wherever you want to go, chances are that your destination is covered.
  • No worries for slow data rates, incomplete data, etc

After I received the package, I started unravelling what lay inside.

Then I tested it on the road and here are my views:

  • Touchscreen is more like a poke-screen, but pretty responsive. Marking of a point in road takes getting used to though and sometimes you lose patience if you are in a hurry. The virtual keypad for entering the street addresses, places etc. is also cumbersome.
  • The navigation is voice guided in UK or US English. So you need not look all the time at the screen for directions and concentrate on your driving. Now Hindi and Gujarati voice has also been included.
  • The screen is quite bright and unless you are viewing it in direct sunlight, it is quite easy to read and understand.
  • Boot-up and navigation software loading time is fairly fast and rarely does one witness any lag. However, the Satellite Acquisition Time may vary from 3 minutes to about 8 minutes depending upon the GPS signal.
  • The battery back-up is pretty low, with usage time ranging up to 3 hours. But as it is a car navigation device, it is supposed to be plugged into the recharge socket for most of its usage time.
  • As far as navigation and map accuracy goes, it is accurate most of the time and manages to find shortest route between two places. Even in my locality, it managed to locate small petrol pumps and ATMs with ease and directed me towards them.
  • In order to connect it to your computer and access its data (where you can export it to *.kml and view it on Google Earth), you will have to download and install Microsoft Active Sync for Windows or SyncCe / MultiSync for Ubuntu Linux or similar software for your operating system.
  • It comes with an inbuilt picture viewer, document viewer (.txt files only) and music and video player. They are pretty easy to use and work decently.
  • Sometimes, the routes are not properly mapped. But most of the times were pretty accurate. Maybe an update will help here for me though.
  • I was amazed at how detailed the road guidance is.  I reached a part of Kolhapur where I thought the GPS cannot guide me here, but I was proved wrong!!

Click here for a demo on how it works

This device has made me smile despite my initial scepticism.

All in all, my final word is that this GPS device is a very nice option to have in your car. It has indeed helped me save a lot. And Truly and Finally, a Navigator that works!!

Gadgets, TechnoGazette

My New Nokia E63 White

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have purchased Nokia E63 smart phone. I had a limited budget of Rs. 10 k and this phone fit perfectly in my wallet. There was another phone Nokia E72 costing Rs. 19 k which I compared before going for the kill. There were only a few differences that mattered according to me like:

  • E72 is built of quality materials like stainless steel whereas E63 is built of plastic. (Does that make much difference especially if you are likely to change your mobile every 4-6 years?)
  • E72 has built in 5 MP camera whereas E63 has 2 MP. (This doesn’t matter as I don’t care about camera phone)
  • E72 is lot thinner than E63. (Ok, so what)
  • E72 has a GPS receiver whereas E63 does not.  (Does not matter as I have a dedicated GPS Navigator by MapMyIndia)

That’s about it that I was concerned about, without going through the technical details. The price difference was huge so I chose ol’ E63.
The E63 came bundled with a Bluetooth Hands free (though I don’t use it). The following are the basic specifications:

  • QWERTY keypad
  • Weight : 126 g
  • Screen size: 2.36’
  • Supports GPRS, EDGE, 3G and WLAN / Wi-fi and USB
  • Practically unlimited contact and phone book entries and fields
  • Has a 3.5 mm audio jack

Available colours are Ultramarine Blue, Ruby Red, Black. But I got my hands on a pearly white E63 which is newly released. It gives a charming, professional look to it. Nice one there!

Earlier, I was using Nokia N70 (Music Edition). The phone was slowing down, the GPRS speeds were bad, internet experience was null on that phone. But, it’s understandable, as N70 was The phone once upon a time and with advancement in technology, it had to be.

My Experience with E63:

  • The GPRS and EDGE speeds of E63 is outstanding. I have a wireless router in my home, so I get good Wi-fi speeds on the phone.  Having trouble with WiFi configuration on your E63 and especially “No Gateway Reply” error?  Check out this Guide and it won’t fail!
  • The interface is intuitive and I am at home with QWERTY.
  • It has the good battery backup. It gives talk time of 11 hours and standby time of 432 hours.
  • It has amazing memory. It has internal memory of 120MB and supports expandable memory of 8 GB. It is enough for your apps, games, movies, music etc.
  • Image quality of E63 is quite decent though there is a lot of noise in the images.
  • I have configured Pull email, and it is working satisfactorily. Took some time to figure how to configure Push email from Rediffmailpro, and finally succeeded!  Works like a charm!  It is very simple indeed!  Just enter your email id and password and your push mail is ready as Nokia mail services have tied up with many email service providers.  There is no need to enter ‘pop’ or ‘smtp’ server references at all!
  • Its operating system is Symbian 60 so no worry for apps.
  • There is a huge number of audio formats supported including MP3, AAC, eAAC+ and WMA.
  • Has a provider dependant VOIP support.
  • Application downloads are available at Nokia OVI store. A few recommended downloads are:
      1. Skype:  With all the benefits of Skype on your phone you can save money and stay in touch when you’re on the move. Remember Skype to Skype calls are free anywhere in the world. And if you have a  WLAN, it’s free to use Skype in a WiFi zone. Wow!  So that!
      2. ngPay: Online mobile commerce and shopping where you can buy movie tickets, bus, train and air tickets, subscribe to magazines, buy gifts, instant mobile recharge, utility bill pay and many more
      3. iMobile: If you are an ICICI account holder, this is a must for viewing balances, transactions, funds transfer, bill pay, ordering cheque book and cheque status, service requests, shopping and much more.
      4. The Flashlight: Use the screen as a flashlight with 7 different colors.
      5. Free Dictionary: Nice and handy dictionary
      6. Best Blacklist Lite: Blacklist calls
      7. Record call

and many others.

It is the cheapest handset from Nokia stable having Wi-Fi and 3G. It gives value for money with all the latest features incorporated.

Well, now for a few cons after using the phone for 6 months (Recent Update):

  • Sometimes the phone freezes just like a Windows PC, especially after using Internet applications like chat and stuff.  I have to restart the phone.  But thats the case with all the phones, right?
  • The GPRS / 3G connections sometimes don’t work.  For this again, I have to restart the phone.  Well, also depends on the connection / reception quality.
  • Nokia Chat application gave up on me.  Hence installed Fring , which is working ok right now.
  • The Email client was working pretty good.  But suddenly, the Push email stopped working on its own.  Hence now I have to manually Sync with my email server.  Well, now figured it out!  From the email application menu, selected “Go Online” and now working as required.  Don’t remember when I selected “Go Offline” mode, but then why should I?
  • The battery back up was great earlier (See above).  Now the talk time is about 4 to 5 hours and standby time is about 48 hours.
  • Now the Mother of all Cons!  The signal / reception sometimes just goes out even when you are in the heart of the reception.  Then you have to restart your phone.  I never had this nagging problem with my earlier phones.  I have seen this inherent problem with other E63 phones as well.
  • When you are roaming and having “Always on” packet data connection with chat, email applications running, the battery goes down within 4 hours of stand-by time which is very sick!  Imagining if I used 3G connection, my phone battery would have lasted not more than an hour at this rate!!!!

Asked the service personnel to fix this and he could not.  He says its only an electronic device and these things are bound to happen!  Yeah right, thanks for reminding!!!

P.S.:  Why can’t any mobile phone and its applications work consistently once it is working as expected?

Overall my rating for E63 is:  7/10 (Very Good)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Software and Operating Systems, TechnoGazette

Ubuntu Linux!!


I am a huge fan of Ubuntu Linux ever since I installed it on my home desktop!!  It has never hung up on me since then except once (that too due to some hardware problem).  The GUI is very user friendly and is improving every time a new version is released.  Normally Ubuntu releases new versions twice every year, once in April and other in October.  The Operating System comes bundled with all the features like office, photo manager and editor, browser, email program, internet tools and much more – out of the box!!!  So once you install it, you can immediately start working (unlike in Windows, where you have to purchase and install software including drivers to ready the computer for use).  And like an icing on the cake — it is FREE!!  I am a huge supporter of Open Source software like Ubuntu.  I recommend people to come out of the Windows web and experience the freedom offered by Open Source.

Advantages of Ubuntu are:

  1. It’s free of charge (seriously, you can download and install it for free!).  Go to for more information.
  2. You’re free to do with it as you please (no proprietary / closed source apps, unless you install them yourself.)
  3. Support may cost.  However, you will not pay for help from forums and online chat, which I employ and all my problems till date are solved.
  4. Ubuntu comes with a huge store-house of applications called repositories, you can download and use via package managers that make installing things a breeze.
  5. Once it’s up and running the way you like it, it pretty much maintains itself. There’s no defragging, virus-scanning, spyware scanning, or other maintenance.   I am using 8.10 since October 2008 and have never had any problems whatsoever till date despite my computer runs throughout the day!!!!  A rarity in the Windows world.
  6. Linux makes good use of older hardware.  I’m running Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex with all the bells and whistles turned on on an old P4 2.4ghz box, and it runs smoothly and efficiently. Meanwhile, to get Win Vista running smoothly (with some of the bells and whistles on) I have to run it on on a dual-core 2.4ghz with 2gb ram.

Disadvantages of Ubuntu are:

  1. You can’t just walk into the software store and buy software for Linux (rare cases, like some games now support Linux, but for the most part, no). Not being able to play the most recent comp games on it tends to be a major turn-off for younger folks.  However, now a days, Computers are mostly for file server/storage, internet, audio/video, etc these days instead of game playing.
  2. Things break-sometimes. Ubuntu tends to be “cutting edge”.  If you don’t like it, you can stick with an older version (Ex: Hardy Heron 8.04 was pretty solid).  Or, stick with their Long-term releases, which are more stable and supported for 3 years.
  3. Even when you install some things through their package managers (which have tons of different software), it can be a pain getting some of that installed software to work.  Ubuntu developers have to improve on that one.
  4. You usually HAVE to run it on older hardware (like a year or so old at least) since hardware support can be hit or miss, especially with cutting-edge hardware. The hardware manufacturers are still pretty anti-Linux, and usually don’t make Linux drivers for their hardware. So, the Linux crowd has to reverse engineer or ad-hoc build some themselves.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine