For a long time, I have been fascinated with Geocaching. It’s the practice of finding caches hidden in the wild or in cities, using a GPS receiver and some coordinates. Some of the caches are simple, some of them demand that you solve a riddle, and yet some are huge day-long treks across military training grounds.
The ones I’ve liked the most thus far are the simple ones. Punch in the coordinates, park somewhere in the area, and go and try to find the cache. Usually, there’s a nice view, interesting architecture or a nice outdoorsy atmosphere along the way.
I didn’t have a GPS receiver for a long time, so I hadn’t ever really started on this hobby. Then I went to visit Sune and Helle, and we went with a couple of friends to log my first few caches. Shortly thereafter, I bought myself the Nokia N95, as referenced earlier, owing mainly to three things:
- GPS receiver
- Wireless networking
- Calendar/PDA functionality
Oh, and it’s a phone and camera as well, which aren’t bad things. But GPS receiver was really what I wanted, to get started on the geocaching.
So for the first few caches, I picked some rather easy ones, in areas I knew to some extent, and caches that were referenced by some landmark close by. This meant I could at the very least find the general area, and if all else failed, I would go by sheer luck and try to find them 😉 I didn’t have any problems, though, and today I went and did yet another cache, in Selling, an area I have only driven through once or twice.
The main problem was me. I started out walking down the wrong path, which didn’t really help – but once I got down the right path instead, I had no problems at all with the GPS. It reported an accuracy varying between 50 and 125 meters, most of the time around 50 – and in the end, it brought me to within 5 meter of the cache. I am really satisfied with the result, and I would expect nothing more of a low-price commercial GPS receiver.
All in all, using the Nokia N95 for geocaching: I approve.
Have you tried using the GPS for driving directions? I’ve got a TomTom on my PDA at the moment, but have been considering getting the N95 as a PDA replacement (i.e. one that I’d actually remember to carry around).
What’s it like at other things, like mobile emergency internet access? I hear the camera is pretty good, and it plays mp3s too? I’ve always been reluctant to get an all-in-one device (usually jack of all trades, master of none), but this thing looks pretty appealing :p
I have two concerns though: keypad rather than keyboard? And with all those features, the battery life on that thing has surely got to suck?
I had a good go with the N95 on the road (bicycle) and found that (in Eastern Europe between Vienna and Istanbul) the GPS took forever to get a fix. Sending the ‘location’ via SMS to another phone was a waste of time unless you are at a street address; it would send location as ‘not on road’, or ‘A3’. If it sent lat.long. it would be awesome! Also great if another N95 could use the location SMS to enter as a destination. Using the GPS data tool which works on lat.long. it is difficult to cut/paste into an SMS or email as it doesnt have that function there…
The batt. life was absolutely terrible, and seriously needs recharging at night or earlier if you use it much during the day… Using it much is easy as it can do so much! Solution is to get a spare battery – they are not big – and a car-charger if you have access to a car.
Hoping to find a geocaching utility for it soon!!!
The navigation works heaps better/faster in the civilised world I noticed, but the hotel/restaurant listings etc is not the most complete!!