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Review: Trimble Outdoors Suite for BlackBerry

By Ryan Blundell on 24 Sep 2008 10:37 am EDT
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Trimble Outdoors Suite for BlackBerry

I hate to say it, but it's official. Sigh, Summer time has come and gone again.  Pack up the sandals and sunscreen folks. But just because we have to say goodbye to the beach, doesn't mean we have to say goodbye to the outdoors! Trimble Outdoors has given me the opportunity to venture away from my desk and, blinking, begin an adventure outside.

…huh, so THAT'S the Sun…

Trimble Outdoors offers a full suite of applications to support experienced, or fledgling, active outdoor enthusiasts.  Imagine using your BlackBerry to plan and manage outdoor trips, utilizing maps and a compass feature! Or having your BlackBerry track calories you have burned while challenging yourself an aerobic hiking trip? After you almost kill yourself on the Grouse Grind, wouldn't you want to know what you got out of it?!

We’ll be looking at the following applications found in the suite; Trimble Outdoors, AllSport GPS and Geocache Navigator. These BlackBerry applications can be used in conjunction with web-based accounts for the ultimate experience. Tie your shoes, grab your water bottle, it’s going to be a long hike.

Oh, you’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road….

Those who are familiar with GPS should be very familiar with Trimble. Since 1978, Trimble have been developing products for navigation and positioning. Initially, they utilized LORAN technology (LOng Range Aid to Navigation), and eventually focused upon GPS. You could say that Trimble and GPS grew up together, seeing how the first GPS satellite was launched in 1978 as well. The Trimble Outdoors Suite is available for the following BlackBerrys;

GSM – 8800, 8820, 8310 and 8110
CMDA – 8830, 8330 and 8130

AT & T, T-Mobile and Sprint are officially supported. Rogers, Orange and Alltel, although support the Suite quite well, are not officially supported.

**please note that currently, Verizon Wireless isn’t a supported carrier**

Before you head out into the great outdoors, make sure you have your BlackBerry well protected against the elements. Be a responsible abuser (hmm oxymoron anyone?) Let’s take a look at each of the applications.

Trimble Outdoors

Trimble Outdoors Main Menu
Trimble Outdoors main menu

First, we head off-road with Trimble Outdoors, or simply “Outdoors” to avoid confusion. Outdoors utilizes not only GPS, but the cellular network to power its multiple features. The main menu offers 5 selections, easily navigated with either the trackball or the numeric keypad. This is excellent for using your Berry in one hand and a walking stick in the other. There are 5 selections which are as follows;

Navigate (#2 key) - Ah… I’m starting off with my favorite feature. This is where the working compass is found. Not as fast as the traditional compass, but it is just as accurate. Additional information, including Speed, Heading and Altitude, and GPS waypoints, will be displayed as well.

Maps (#4 key) – Here, you can download Aerial Photo, Topo, Street and Marine maps onto your Berry. On the map you can track (creating a way to find your way back to a defined start point), zoom and show/hide labels.

Trip Manager (#5 key) – Consider this an itinerary you will actually follow. In this section, you will manage your Routes, POIs, Media, Tracks and Maps. Using your web-account you can create trips and send them (along with routes and such) wireless to your BlackBerry.  This may help you involve the entire family in the trip planning.

Settings (#6 key) – takes you to, well, the settings of course. Manage position formats, your camera, units of measurement and more.

Online (#8 key) – Upload and download trips (complete with media). Within Outdoors, you can capture every moment, like “I’m tired”, “Look at that view”, “Mommy? Daddy? Is that a bear?”. Take pictures, record sound clip/voice notes or create location-tagged text notes. These trip journals, once uploaded, can be shared or viewed using Google Earth. 

Add Pictures, Audio and more
Add pictures, audio and text-notes to your trip

Outdoors promises to help you capture every moment of your memorable hiking, fishing, or camping trips.

Geocache Navigator

Geocache Navigator Main Menu
Geocache Navigator Main Menu

Geocaching is becoming increasingly popular with adventure seekers.  For those who aren’t familiar with geocaching, think of yourself as an Indiana Jones of sorts, discovering places, landmarks and more, leveraging coordinates and other data that is posted on the internet. You will become a technology toting treasure hunter.

Searching through Geocaches is pretty simple. The Navigator gives you a few search options;

Near Me – Geocaches found near your current position
Near Address – input a specific address and find Geocaches
In Zip – Geocaches found with a specific Zip/ Postal Code
By Cache Code – Use longitude/latitude coordinates to find Geocaches

I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy finding new places in my own back yard. Once you select a Geocache to follow, a compass similar to the one found in the Outdoors application is displayed. This version includes a directional arrow pointing towards your goal and measurements including distance and bearing. There are three other views available as well. The Radar view will display the goal as the red dot in the center and you as the red arrow. This arrow will show which direction you are moving in.

The Map View is similar to the Outdoors maps. The red dot will show the goal and the arrow is your current position. Finally, the Detail view will display the notes made by the cache contributor. Learn about the location you are travelling to, and discover the difficulty and terrain levels.

Discover what others have found
Discover what others have found
Incoming!
Incoming!

If you love to get out and explore, Geocaching Navigator is a must!

AllSport GPS

AllSport GPS Main Menu
AllSport GPS Main Menu

If you want an application that focuses on the fitness aspect of outdoor activities, look no further. Trimble calls AllSport GPS a “full-featured GPS Trainer.”

The main menu of AllSport GPS gives you a variety of activities to choose from. I’m going to take it easy and select walking (you’ll just have to take my word for it).You are able to record your “sessions” for future use. Once you record, you will see your speed, time elapsed, calories burned and distance travelled. In order to properly track your calories, you have to enter in your weight into the application (if you dare).

If you get bored with this view, you can switch to a map and see where you are. When biking or running, the application will be able to determine if you are at rest, maintain your true average speed results. As you finish your session and stop recording, your session summary is automatically uploaded to your web account’s training log. These summaries can be deleted on your BlackBerry. Heading to your web account, you can view your performances, utilizing maps and graphs. Hopefully, you should be able to see improvements.

I haven’t had the chance to try this, but you can actually (virtually) compete against other users by opening a race and attempt to beat their results.

Record speed, distance, calories burned and more
Record speed, distance, calories burned and more

After a long day on the trail

As someone who’s trying to get (and stay) active, I would recommend the Trimble Outdoors Suite. It’s a fun, informative way to mesh technology and trail blazing. The adventurer in me prefers the Geocaching and Outdoors applications, especially being able to use a compass and maps, or record media to capture every moment. The suite requires both network coverage and GPS, so if you are out of range of a cell tower, you’re out of luck.  The Suite is available through a yearly or monthly subscription; I would lean towards a monthly subscription if you are looking to use it for a month or two. Those who are looking at the Fitness or Geocaching features may want to look at the yearly subscription.

Pros

  • Add audio, images and text notes to your trips
  • Download maps and upload your results
  • Utilize a compass or radar
  • Manage each application using web accounts

Cons

  • Bring a back up battery, these applications eat up the juice!
  • Must have network coverage for the suite to function

Download

Each application costs $5.99 per month or $39.99 per year. For more information on the Trimble Outdoors Suite, visit www.trimbleoutdoors.com.

Reader comments

Review: Trimble Outdoors Suite for BlackBerry

7 Comments

Great software... that we can't use on our 8330's from Verizon.

Everyone with a Verizon GPS-equipped phone, please contact Verizon and complain.

Total BS that Verizon disables the GPS in their phones! I don't give a !@#$ that they have the biggest network in the US, Will the bold GPS be disabled too? If not, then why can't they unlock the GPS in 8830 and others? Verizon Sucks!!! Verizon Sucks!!!

Verizon, I'm counting these up - SpotJots, YahooGo, GoogleMaps, Beyond411, Live, and now TrimbleOutdoors - don't work to their fullest potential or don't work at all on my Verizon 8330 Curve. I'm sure there are more.

If you dare try to sell me Storm or any other phone, you had better be prepared to show me a demo of these apps working to their fullest.

I won't be fooled again.

Unable to set up my email and also unable to access the web
very dissapointed in the setup instructions or lack there of. Please help

You Verizon folks aren't the only ones that this doesn't work well on. I'm on Alltel and have the GeoCache Navigator on my BB 8330. The GPS fails to get a signal 9 times out of 10 even though the GPS on other applications (Google Maps/TeleNav) always have good signals. When Geo does work, it is an awesome program. I would love to keep it but until Alltel wants to play ball I'm afraid I'm out of the game :( Any suggestions??