The NEW - Memory Map TX3 GPS & Smartphone
Sat 28th February 2015
Memory-Map TX3 GPS & Smartphone with/without OS Maps
If you looking for a device that offers 3G phone, Bluetooth & WiFi and of course GPS then the waterproof, robust Memory-Map Android TX3 GPS is worth consideration especially if youíre already a fan of their easy to use PC software.
Like the Memory Maps Adventurer range of GPS the TX3 runs on a specially written mobile version of Memory Map pre-installed on micro SD card and offers a range of mapping options from base unit with blank SD card to use with your existing MM products to OS Landranger or Explorer GB bundles.
One of the big attractions of this offer is the fact that itís a multi-device licence and the whole deal is wrapped around Memory-Map PC software which is in our opinion the most user friendly computer mapping software on the market. Essentially the deal delivered the luxury of premium OS Explorer GB mapping for both our PC & GPS with the option of adding it to our other mobile devices if required.
If you think of Memory-Map as the software then the Seals TX3/TS3 is the hardware; itís a rugged and waterproof Android Smartphone based on the Seals TS3 that has been upgraded by Memory Map with additional features. It features a 3.5 inch colour touchscreen display, Wi-Fi, GPS, Compass & Barometer, SOS GPS Text messaging and 5 mega pixel dual cameras. It runs on Android 2.3.6 (not the latest version) and offers Removable Lithium polymer battery with USB cable & charger. Whilst this is not the latest in smartphone technology it would seem to be one of the few rugged & waterproof devices out there and a good partner for Memory-Mapís software.
First impressions; the device sits solidly in the palm of your hand and has the familiar android operating features and clear bright touchscreen, but for us the all-important comparison was going to be the touchscreen visibility on the hill in direct sunlight. The comparisons were going to be between my Samsung Galaxy S4 (useless in direct sunlight) and my Oregon 650 (very good in direct sunlight) I have to say we were pleasantly surprised as the TX3 sits nearer the Oregon than the S4. When on the hill with the installed Explorer 25k OS maps were clearly visible even in direct sunlight, the GPS reception was spot-on and I always felt confident that I was on track.
WiFi & email are fundamental to getting the best from this unit especially when getting started.
After switch on the first tasks are to link to your WiFi and setup Google email & playstore accounts if you donít already have them and create a Memory-Map account. As the TX3 is a fully featured smartphone itís up to you to decide if you want to use PAYG or Contract SIM card; as we plan to use the phone in our device for emergency & casual use whilst on the hills we installed a PAYG SIM with £10 of call credits.
Before you can view the maps you will have to activate the maps installed on the SD card using the internet; once this is done you can install the maps to your PC as well instructions for both tasks are to be found in the quick start guide included in the box.
If you are an existing Memory-Map owner/user of their PC software you could consider the purchase of a Base Unit (£279) and have the ability to copy across any existing maps you own to the device. Be warned however you will only be able to copy MM sourced mapping to the device.
Navigation with the TX3
We suspect that most folk will navigate at a fairly basic level and this is where the mapping excels; once you have opened MM and have the GPS active then by selecting Menu > GPS Lock the map is centred and scrolls as you move so if you have a detailed map on view you can hardly get lost.
Whilst on the go you can view details of your current position, your distance travelled and follow a directional arrow to your destination if you are following a route or GoTo on the Trip Computer accessed by tapping and dragging at the top of the screen (you can change the layout & fields to suit your navigational priorities).
Following Routes in a mobile device is not going to be the same as using a traditional handheld GPS we think a different approach is required. We tend to use this method; an easy way to keep yourself on course. If you send a route to the device it will be seen overlaid on the map (if you have one at the location and the more detailed the map the easier it is to establish your location) then if you lock the screen you will see your location in relation to the route as you move.
If you are a regular user of MM on your computer you will be familiar with the idea of route planning, data management and sending user data like waypoints, routes and tracks to/from your GPS & PC; all this is possible when you have MM installed on your PC.
There are several ways of moving user data to and from the TX3; all of which are relatively straight forward once you get your head around the system; however we have to admit nothing was obvious to us but with help of MM support we worked it all out.
Basically there are two methods import/export by saving to/from download folder in the device and something completely new to us the ability to attach a gpx exchange file to an email and mail it to yourself and your device. You can import/export user data as follows
MM to TX3 - By saving gps exchange file to Download Folder in the device
MM to TX3 - By emailing saved gpx exchange file to the device as an attachment
TX3 to MM – By Importing gpx exchange file to MM from download folder
TX3 to MM – By emailing gpx exchange file as an attachment from device to yourself
Geocaching made easy
Using the internet capacity of the TX3 to access the Geocaching App (£6.99 from the playstore) takes geocaching to a new level and of course geocaching is probably the most fun you and your family can have with a GPS.
Once you have installed the app to your device you can log in to your account and search for nearby caches either by list or map, create an off-line list and if you are a premium member you will be able to view logs and hints and of course navigate to the cache using either a GoTo or the map.
We prefer using the app on the go to the previously more complicated procedure of creating Pocket Queries that weíve always found a bit of a pain.
Having been really disappointed in the visibility of maps on my Samsung S4 on the hill so as I set off to evaluate the TX3 on a day out in Geltsdale in the Northern Pennines I had no great expectations of anything better of the TX3; I quickly relaxed as it became plain that I could easily read the map even in direct sunlight and with the screen locked I could always see my location on the map.
Having use MM mobile on the Adventure series I had a reasonable idea of what to expect when navigating so in that respect there were no surprises; but for those who have never used MM mobile software on this type of device you may find that it is short on the navigation options you may be used to on a handheld GPS.
I recorded, saved and imported my track (record of my trip for the day) back into Memory Map on my PC and was able to review the statistics of my trip which is always nice to do. Over the years weíve used and evaluated many different computer mapping software and MM is our clear favourite. So for me it just felt like a nice combination of hardware and software provided you were happy to navigate at a fairly basic level and with premium maps like OS Explorer why would you need more. So if you already have bought into MMís PC software already then this combination allows you to make the best of product/maps you have already purchased.
Itís obvious that this is another step along the road towards the integration of Smartphone & GPS technology and worthy of your consideration especially if you are already a MM user. For more information call Shepherds Walks on 01669 621044 or click here to find out more about the units.
So to wrap it all up this is a device we are happy to recommend; which combination you go for is up to you, but if the pennies allow our top tip would be the GB Platinum Edition. Not because itís the most expensive but because we just love walking with OS Explorer maps.