Samsung tablet for Gaia or with any offroad app's?

#1
Ok I am not tech savvy when it comes to using electronics devices such as tablets, I phones for onboard Navigation. At this time the wife & I use , Google Maps, folding maps, states Atlas & Gazetteer & a small Garmin 64 st GPS handheld unit, it works great but the screen size is way to small. I have watch many video's & read many post on offroad navigation systems using tablets but I am still confused about if you have to have a cellular service with the tablet to be a navigation system the videos & post seem to not mention this in detail. Another question is, what is the best tablet, size of tablet for this purpose & user friendly offroad app's & does those app's cover all national forest areas to be downloaded since the wife & I use these areas mostly. Can you down load app's from your home computer to the tablet w\o cellular service & actually use the tablet as a navigation system? What would be the best mounting system for tablet that can be removable but is solid. I looked at the Magellan TRX and TR navigators & it seems to have more con's than good about their product especially their customer service. Can some one please explain this in simple layman's terms.
 
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BlkWgn

Adventurist
Senior Staff
Founding Member
#2
I have been running a samsung tablet as gps for years, in a few different configurations. My current, and favorite is the Galaxy Tab A 10" with s pen.

For software I mostly run Gaia but also supplement with backcountry navigator and the Earthmate app from Delorme.

The Tablet itself has a bright screen that is easy to read outdoors and the s pen, while not needed does make some of the finer details like tracing lines on a map a bit easier.

For the most part I either draw my own maps or piece together existing route files on the computer using the gaia website then let it automatically sync to the app. The base maps I download directly to the tablet (which accepts micro sd cards for tons of storage) . With the Gaia system you can sync everything automatically via wifi.

my basic work flow

  1. build route on website
  2. sync route to tablet (automatic)
  3. download the maps I want on tablet
  4. while driving I save waypoints on the gaia app on my phone along with photos
  5. when i get signal the phone automatically syncs the waypoints and photos
I use the phone since it is easier to grabe than taking the tablet out of the mount. I use that mostly for when I am on the trail and find a campsite I want to return to at a later date, I can set a coordinate, take some photos so I have a reference later
 

GeoYota

Adventurist
#3
Ok I am not tech savvy when it comes to using electronics devices such as tablets, I phones for onboard Navigation. At this time the wife & I use , Google Maps, folding maps, states Atlas & Gazetteer & a small Garmin 64 st GPS handheld unit, it works great but the screen size is way to small. I have watch many video's & read many post on offroad navigation systems using tablets but I am still confused about if you have to have a cellular service with the tablet to be a navigation system the videos & post seem to not mention this in detail. Another question is, what is the best tablet, size of tablet for this purpose & user friendly offroad app's & does those app's cover all national forest areas to be downloaded since the wife & I use these areas mostly. Can you down load app's from your home computer to the tablet w\o cellular service & actually use the tablet as a navigation system? What would be the best mounting system for tablet that can be removable but is solid. I looked at the Magellan TRX and TR navigators & it seems to have more con's than good about their product especially their customer service. Can some one please explain this in simple layman's terms.
Disclaimer: I am technically not savvy. The products below make you feel confident in their use right "out of the box."

I recently purchased (after much midnight oil burning and forum time travel) a Samsung Tab A, a RAM cup holder tablet mount, and a 5 year subscription to the GAIA application.

So far we have used it on three out of service trips, with only a little glitchy (non-rendering map pixelation) performance, the GAIA app performed very well.

I watched this YT video as a primer for using the GAIA app:


I first purchased a one year subscription to GAIA, but after the first trip was so impressed I upgraded to the 5 year plan. I figured keep it simple and not worry about "auto renewals." It is a very intuitive and easy to use application. With the upgraded subscription plan I also received access to all the cool maps in GAIA's tool kit...NatGeo NP layers, Forest Service layers, which are the two that I use the most prominently. I won't go into drastic detail on layers (thing of laying a clear map overlay on an existing paper map as an analogy) but they are an amazing feature that presents the details of a multitude of paper maps without the frustrating re-fold exercise. :)

The other ease of use with respect to the GAIA app is the ability to "download" individual sections of mapping areas for offline use. You don't need a cell phone plan on your tablet for map usage, simply access wifi in your home or at a local Starbucks for trip planning. There is a feature that is discussed in detail (in the YouTube video I posted for you) where you "save" sections of a map by using the GAIA app to simply draw a red box around the area you wish to travel in, "save" it for later use (you will name the file) and then go to your saved maps before your trip, hit record and drive into the selected area.

The map and GPS functions work "offline" and you can move around the chosen map area using your fingers to zoom in or out on mapping details. I used the app and tablet around town a few times to record, save, and play around before we actually relied on it in the outback. It performed very well each time.

I liked the Samsung Tab A tablet because it had an expandable memory slot, up to 200 GB...plenty of room for saving maps in the GAIA app for offline usage. You will need to grab a couple of extra memory cards for map storage, I grabbed to 64GB micro SD cards (smaller memory cards with a larger sleeve for traditional SD card slots) that work great in the Samsung. I think I paid $25 for both at Costco, they were right next to the tablet area in Costco.

I picked up the tablet at Costco after the holidays for $189, and it is the 10" tablet size. Bigger is better for "mature eyes." ;) The battery life has been nothing short of impressive, with plenty of charge surplus after each trip. I did buy a longer charge cord for the unit on Shame A Zon to keep things topped off on the go.

This is the cup holder tablet mount I purchased, and have been very impressed with how solidly it holds during off road travel. I ran a 94 mile loop around Bloody Basin Road as well as some local washboard fire roads...very stable.

https://express.google.com/u/0/product/12982557835515501699_5665464156277718422_6136318?utm_source=google_shopping&utm_medium=tu_cu&utm_content=eid-lsjeuxoeqt,eid-fuowqbwzks&gtim=CNrIkabGsaStTxC-oY7BzM-cv14YwOPVJSIDVVNEKJCr5-MFMP7D9gI&utm_campaign=6136318&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyriFvZXc4AIVUhx9Ch1j2QJIEAQYAiABEgJlhvD_BwE

In actual use the tablet does cramp our space in the cab of our 2003 Tacoma, but they are renowned for their spacious cockpits to begin with.

I'm not sure where your cup holders are located in your Sportmobile, but I'm willing to bet you can locate a tablet in there somewhere nicely Don.

The nice thing about the cup holder RAM mount is how easily it dismounts, freeing up space if necessary. And, you can take the tablet out of the mount and carry it around the campsite, or for nostalgia's sake place it on the hood of your vehicle like an old road map...just be careful of the heat.

Hopefully that helps to break things down and gets you pointed in a similarly successful direction.

Cheers!
:clang
 
#4
I have a Samsung 8 inch tablet, it works well but with "mature eyes" maybe 10 inches is better. Space in my jeep is limited though. I use Back Country Navigator with Cal Topo GPS maps. No complaints !
 

brentbba

Adventurist
#5
So totally unimpressed with a Garmin Overlander that I'm also looking at a tablet and Gaia. Gaia has city maps now too so wondering if thats as good as a 'normal' gps for in town navigation?
 

Greg

Adventurist
Senior Staff
#6
I have a Samsung 8 inch tablet, it works well but with "mature eyes" maybe 10 inches is better. Space in my jeep is limited though. I use Back Country Navigator with Cal Topo GPS maps. No complaints !
A Galaxy Tab A 8" is a fairly cheap option now. A little slow now but I haven't found a suitable replacement. I have Gaia, Backcounty Navigator, and Torque on it.
 

Herbie

Adventurist
#7
Yes, another vote for a small Samsung Tablet. I too am using an older (2015) Tab A 8" on a small RAM tablet mount. I have no data plan for the tablet, but a little planning lets me load everything up over WiFi and it's been 100% reliable off-network. I use it with a whole mess of navigation apps, depending on what I'm doing:

  • Google Maps w/ cached data
  • Backcountry Navigator and Navigator XE (been a long-time user of the original, got in on the Kickstarter for XE)
  • Navmii (offline road maps/navigation for whenever I haven't cached Google Maps)
  • iOverlander
  • Garmin Earthmate (Now that I have an inReach Mini)

I also like being able to load it up with other reference material - Repeater lists, PDFs of the FSM for my van (and all the add-ons like charger/solar/fridge),

EDIT: My dash mount (w/o the tablet snapped in)
dash.jpg
 
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#8
Another Gaia fan here. I use it on an 11" iPad in a cheap case with magnetic cover. The magnets in the cover stick very well to the steel speaker grille cover on top of the dash, on Ohio's potholed and broken roads. Haven't tried it on any thing rougher yet.

I use Waze for street/highway navigation, 'cause Toyota's nav stinks!

IMG_5963.jpeg
 

Trump

Adventurist
Senior Staff
Founding Member
#9
Yes, another vote for a small Samsung Tablet. I too am using an older (2015) Tab A 8" on a small RAM tablet mount. I have no data plan for the tablet, but a little planning lets me load everything up over WiFi and it's been 100% reliable off-network. I use it with a whole mess of navigation apps, depending on what I'm doing:

  • Google Maps w/ cached data
  • Backcountry Navigator and Navigator XE (been a long-time user of the original, got in on the Kickstarter for XE)
  • Navmii (offline road maps/navigation for whenever I haven't cached Google Maps)
  • iOverlander
  • Garmin Earthmate (Now that I have an inReach Mini)

I also like being able to load it up with other reference material - Repeater lists, PDFs of the FSM for my van (and all the add-ons like charger/solar/fridge),

EDIT: My dash mount (w/o the tablet snapped in)
View attachment 55407
I recommend the Repeater Book app. If you want a quick reference, it's a GPS proximity repeater database.
 
#11
Same tab. With the protective case I have had a hard time finding a decent yet inexpensive mount. Most are either sized too large for bigger tabs or too small due to the case. May just have to bite the bullet with a Ram.
 

Herbie

Adventurist
#12
Same tab. With the protective case I have had a hard time finding a decent yet inexpensive mount. Most are either sized too large for bigger tabs or too small due to the case. May just have to bite the bullet with a Ram.
Yeah, I ended up going case-less just because the mount choices were so lean. I just have to use care when moving the tablet between house and rig, but otherwise it isn't in much danger.
 

Greg

Adventurist
Senior Staff
#13
Same tab. With the protective case I have had a hard time finding a decent yet inexpensive mount. Most are either sized too large for bigger tabs or too small due to the case. May just have to bite the bullet with a Ram.
I ended up modifying the ram mount that I had for my iPad. The top of the side cradles were cut off and sanded smooth.

PXL_20201107_190046095.jpg
 
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