Saturday, April 05, 2014

Trimble Outdoors Product Review

This is the best app that I’ve found for hiking – it has all of the features that I was looking for, and some features I didn’t know that I needed.  The basic application is free, but it only took me a couple of uses of the 14 day free trial of the Elite subscription to realize that I wanted to unlock the full potential.  The subscription price for the “Elite” version is only $29.99 per year and I think it is worth every penny.

My Favorite App Features

When I first started looking for a hiking app, I wanted one that would store the locations of pictures that I took along the way, and Trimble Outdoors takes this to another level.  Not only does it place photos on your trail as way points, it also allows you to place video, audio, or simple text.
I use my phone as my GPS device; it works just fine regardless of whether or not I have a 4G connection.  But what does one do if there is no cell phone coverage where you’re hiking?  Simple – download a map to use offline!  The maps that you download can have roads, aerial imagery, or a hybrid.  They are completely “zoomable” so you’re pretty well covered.  The only downside is that the file size is limited to 2GB so sometimes I have to create multiple offline maps to cover a large area.  If you prefer, you can download topographical maps county by county.  Here in Florida, the topography isn’t as important to me as the aerial view, so I really don’t use them too much.
The app also gives statistics for your hike as you go – things like how far you’ve traveled, how much time has elapsed since starting.

On the Website

The ability to share trips is also there, and very easy to use.  All of the hikes that I share here have been stored on the Trimble Outdoors website.  This is also handy for other people who are looking for places to hike.  Simply go to the “Trips” tab on the website and type in the zip code, state, or city and a map will open showing the starting points of everyone’s public trips in that area.  You can then click on them and look at the trip details to see if it is one that you would like to visit yourself.
The Trip Planner (also on the website) allows you to manually create a trip, or import GPS files from someone else’s trip.  One of the websites that I use for hiking information in Florida is FloridaHikes.com – they offer .kml files to show their trips, so I have to use kml2gpx.com to convert them before uploading.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could see all of your hikes at once so you can see the areas that you have yet to cover?  The website also exports KML files that you can import into Google Earth… that’s all you need to do.  I’ve created a directory under “My Places” in Google Earth where I keep ‘em all together. 
There is also a forum for discussing the application, and if you have a question about the application or a feature that you would like to see, post it hear and you’ll be surprised how quickly you get a response (usually within 24 hours).
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