26/07/2015 OK, if there is one thing that I cannot do without on our travels, it’s my Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 tablet. Take that away and I’ve had it; I won’t know where we’re going or where we’ve been.
It’s not used for email, or as a camera, or to play games, though it could do so quite capably. I have a laptop to do those kind of things.
The tablet’s primary use is as a navigation and campsite tool. With built-in GPS, it doesn’t rely on mobile cell coverage and will pinpoint its current location anywhere in Australia, direct from the GPS satellites overhead. To supplement the 16GB device memory, I’ve added a 32GB SD card, and for a little added protection, it’s fitted into a cover. Though it can take a SIM card, I haven’t bothered fitting one, and just connect through a Telstra 4G WiFi or one of our mobiles if an internet connection is needed as we travel; rarely necessary though.
The tablet sits nicely in a spot on the centre console that was almost made-to-order for it, and stays put except on very corrugated roads or rough off-roading.
The navigation app I use is Memory-Map which is a free download and comes with a standard set of basic maps of Australia. I’ve added to these by purchasing HEMA 4WD Australia (full set), Australian Outback Tracks, and EOTopo 200K, using the in-app link to the Digital Map Shop. Together, these maps provide me with very detailed coverage of every part of the country. The topographical maps are useful to get an idea of the incline of the country coming up.
These various maps were downloaded at home while I had the extra bandwidth to work with; it can take some time to pull down the complete data. The maps download either as a full set first time (haven’t mastered that for the big maps yet) or in chunks of data on-the-fly as you scroll around the map, which is OK but you need to be online to pull these data chunks down. So I pulled all the data down for each map by scrolling systematically around every part of each map – takes a little time for the whole country but that way I knew that I had the total data set in my tablet for all the maps and available when offline or travelling.
Each map is like a layer on an onion, with three or four zoom levels each. As you zoom, you might leave one map of that area and go to a different map of the same area, enabling you to select the one that suits you best. It’s all very seamless.
I been using Memory-Map for three years now, initially on an Aldi android tablet for a 4WD trip to Cape York, and have found it to be very, very accurate. We’d be driving along the Telegraph Track in the middle of nowhere, and the map would show a track coming in on the right just around the next bend…and sure enough, there it was, exactly on the mark. That tablet died last year and I was able to transfer all my maps onto a new tablet via my account at http://memory-map.com.au/.
A nice feature of Memory-Map is that our track is overlaid on each map as we go along, providing a visual record of where we’ve been so far. It also features Route Planning which I haven’t used in three years, and Way Points that I sometimes use to flag upcoming points of interest.
Other really useful travel apps loaded onto the tablet are:
WikiCamps AU – Indispensable for deciding on campsites (updated by users).
Just In Time – Indicates nearby public toilets. Great app for the ladies.
Fuel Map – Indicates nearby fuel outlets and latest prices (updated by users).
Music – Plays music or audiobooks loaded onto the SD card.
Various vehicle diagnostic apps that bluetooth into the Land Rover’s various control units to monitor and diagnose performance and faults.
“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra