Transformer Prime

ASUS started sign-ups for the free GPS hardware thingy that should ease issues with location services on the Transformer Prime today. Right off the bat, I wanna say it was nice to see a company say "oops" and issue a timely fix for a hardware problem, rather than ignore it, -- or even worse -- blame the user for doing something wrong. A lot of people are giving ASUS shit for letting it get out the door with the issues, and I can't help but feel the same way, but we also need to acknowledge that they are doing the right thing. When a company does the right thing, I look their direction first the next time I'm shopping. OK, enough editorializing.

But we got to thinking. Just how useful is GPS on a tablet? Not the Galaxy Note or other mini-tablet, but a full blown 7-inch or bigger Android tablet. There's the fact that most folks have a Wifi only tablet, and you need a data signal to effectively use any navigation, but that's easy to overcome with map caching or hotspots. I think maybe the biggest obstacle is the sheer size. I know I don't have room (or desire) for a 10.1-inch Transformer Prime on my dashboard. But I'm sure many feel differently, and I'd like to know how many and why. Vote in the poll, then jump in the comments to let everyone know why you voted the way you did -- maybe you can bring something new to the discussion.



Reader comments

Late-night poll: Is GPS useful on a tablet?


So I would rather have a nice metal back than have awesome GPS reception. If the device has an LTE radio that is one thing but most tablets are WiFi only... let's get real and acknowledge that it's a non-issue. I have my mobile and Garmin for serious GPS duties... My tablet is for when I am not on the move.

I'd rather get real and acknowledge that different people have different use cases. GPS issues are a big part of why I didn't upgrade my OG Transformer. I like a large screen's and you only need a connection at the start of the trip with Google maps.

I understand that people have different use cases and I'm not doubting that some people use a tablet for gps, but I have to wonder how do you use it from a practical standpoint?

You can't really mount a tablet off your windshield like a standalone gps unit or a smartphone in a cradle, do you just leave it on the passenger seat (which I'd be afraid it would fly off the seat when I braked) or have a passenger hold it?

I'm honestly just curious I never understood the logistics of using a table as a driving aid, seems to me that a smartphone or standalone gps device would be better suited to the task, not to mention both of them can reroute you should their be a detour, or direct you to a secondary location should your plans change. Using a tablet, just seems to have so many negatives.

I actually much prefer it for being able to read the directions list. As well, especially for longer road trips where you have a "navigator" in the passenger seat. I doubt anybody really uses it alone, it seems like that would be a pretty big safety hazard. Same for your phone really, unless you're mounting it...

GPS also isn't ONLY about Navigation. It's nice to be able to stop for a second and pull up GPS-enabled walking directions to get from place to place without having to read it on such a small screen.

I think by tablet he was referring to 7" or greater... Your note, like the Dell Streak are monstrous phones that blur the line between categories but it is still firmly in phone territory.

Gps on a tablet would be a nice bonus if you could use it without wifi signal, it sucks to have a fancy tablet and not being able to use gps when you on freeway and have no wifi options

You don't need an internet connection if you download and use one of the many nav apps available. The good ones you have to pay for but it's worth it. I bought the license for Sygic and it's great. For my middle age eyes it's great to have a 10 inch screen rather than those 4 inch things made by Garmin, Tom tom, etc. The dash mounts made for these 10 inch tablets work very well and you don't have to put them on the windshield

Maybe if you have your tablet mounted in your car. But I also don't have a tablet, so I don't know. Maybe if you wanted to save some battery life on your phone.

of course, what are you talking about?? I have been wanting to navigate around while on a road trip with iPa..hmmm i mean android tablet :p

Yes, this is my use case.

A tablet with GPS, or a tablet which can read from an SD card, is a must in the racing world. I currently use my Galaxy Nexus, but it's hard to get much detail from the phone screen. I end up carrying a laptop with me just to swap over a SD card to watch video footage on a larger screen while in the pits between runs.

I end up doing further data analysis later via a computer... all because I can't get what I want on a tablet to do from the start.

Maybe I can start running Android Apps on my Windows computer and do it that way.

I got a 7 inch Samsung tab 7 from Tmobile I use wifi only with a online off line Gps program navigon it works well I may get tethering so I can use traffic on the tablet I'm looking for the best way to get Internet to it buy a simcard and service or a hotspot or wifi tether from my phone if anyone has any thoughts about Internet on my tablet let me know

Yeah, well is there a navigation app that doesn't require the internet? Because if not, it seems like having gps would be really pointless if you can't actually use it on the road.

We use and write custom GIS Software that doesn't require any connection other than GPS. If they make edits to information in the software, they can sync the edits when they get connected via wifi/3g/hard wire ect.

The power of Smart Phones and Tablets are taking over dedicated GPS equipment that cost much more. Plus they are more flexible, as most high end GPS Survey equipment use Windows Mobile versions. The GPS in our consumer products are nowhere near as accurate, but for many applications they are accurate enough. example: Inventory of Street Sign location and a Geotagged photo.

Go to the Play Store and download the ESRI viewer. There's lots of public available maps that you can check out and see how useful a GPS enabled tablet can be with the right software.

(it's free) Make sure it's the official ESRI ArcGIS app.

the answer is yes. There are numerous nav apps that do not require data usage during use.
You just download the maps to your storage card so all you need is GPS.

My primary use for my tablet is as navigator in the car and in the boat, so yes, it would be completely useless without GPS.

If it was supposed to support those things and didn't work, I would be pissed to.

But it's not supposed to.....

tether up my evo and the gt 10.1, and use google maps and slacker on daily drives.. the larger display makes navigating and controlling slacker easier for both driver and passenger.. i mount the tablet over the radio, since its pretty useless once set to aux and powered on.

Not everyone can tether, so GPS it's cool to have on a wifi only tablet. We know if you have 3g GPS will work well enough, I would like to have option that prime tablet puts out there, I would only use fugly wart when I need GPS. I can deal with that

Yup -- makes the mother of all sat-nav screens. Almost too big, but surely there's no such thing? :-)

(Asus Transformer, tethered.)

The GPS is always toggled off on my wifi-only GTab 10.1. I can and do tether when there is no wifi available but not for navigation, my phone works just fine in those instances.

i own a wifi only android tab as well but i have another device (bla*******) for my navigation needs. also cant tether to my tab yet cos of rooting issues. my solution to navigation on my tab is an offline map app (Navfree) plus a bluetooth gps receiver.

I don't know if there should be GPS for everyone, but for me a GPS is necessary for the odd times I need to find a certain place I am heading to and how to navigate to it immediately. Plus the screen estate does beg for a large map to be seen doesn't it?

I voted yes, as I only use a tablet. However, if it was a WiFi-only tablet, I'm not sure I would feel the same way.

The market for GPS in tablets is there - from navigation in larger vehicles to navigation and service call tracking in any industry that utilizes field service technicians. The claim that most folks (who own tablets) have a Wifi-only tablet isn't relevant. If lack of mobile data on your tablet makes you think that GPS on tablets is useless, that's a reflection on your poor choice of tablet, not the usefulness of GPS on tablets.

Wifi only = poor choice of tablet? If that's what you're implying, most consumers seem to disagree with your opinion. For me, GPS isn't "useless" it just fits into a small Niche use on a 10 inch screen.

It's not a reflection of poor choice of a tablet, for many users who already own smartphones or a standalone gps device it's just unnecessary, I don't doubt that some people prefer the bigger screen and have figured out a good way to mount a tablet in their car, but the reality is that mounting a smartphone on the windshield is easier for most people, you can look at it without taking your eyes off the road (a big safety plus), you always have a data connection so you don't have to pay for a gps app that has all the maps included and my 4.3 inch screen is plenty big enough, if I need to save power or it's a long trip I just plug my smartphone into my car charger. I would say that these feelings match the majority of tablet users.

I do occasionally use apps like foursquare or other location dependent apps, but for those a wifi triangulation is more than sufficient, so I don't think gps is very important on a tablet, if the tablet I wanted had it that's fine, but it's not important to me and a large number of users.

Unless docked so you don't have to pick it up, I would view a 10 inch tablet as a distraction for most drivers. The only use I see in it is if you have a passenger that can co-pilot for you.

No offense Jerry but I think you may be asking the wrong question. GPS would be useful on a laptop (and lots of other devices) as well but people don't freak out because its not a standard feature on laptops. I'd have asked "Should GPS be a standard feature on Wifi only tablets?".

I would view a 10 inch screen as a distraction for most drivers anyway. The good thing about a 3-5 inch screen is it tells you what you need to know, and leaves the rest behind. A 10 inch screen has a lot more data to distract lazy eyes.

In my opinion, a GPS on a tablet isn't necessary. I would rather not have to use my 10 inch tab in my car because it would be a bit much for me to handle by myself.

I'm glad someone here mentioned NavFree. I'm going to check it out and possibly download it to my Galaxy Player.

GPS is necessary. These aren't just for watching movies anymore, you can actually do real work with them. Data collection for disasters or other infrastructure where sub-meter accuracy isn't required is just one example. Not to mention fleet management and a million other business uses.

For those scenerio's you would most likely have 3G/4G connectivity in the tablet, for 3G/4G tablets a gps is useful, for wifi tablets I won't say their is absolutely no use for them, some people may like one, but for most people it isn't neccesary, but an optional feature that if a company chooses to include it may attract a few additional buyers.

I have no use for GPS on my tablet. I use my phone for that. I only bought 1 tablet with it's own data connection and since there, I won't be doing it again. WIFI tablets are good enough for me.

I fly a homebuilt experimental airplane and use the Naviator app. The maps (FAA Sectionals)are downloaded at home over wifi. GPS is absolutely essential for me. Works fine on my wifi only Xoom.

I would have bought a Transformer Prime if the GPS worked. Now new tablets will be here soon so I'll wait and see what becomes available.

I knew there would be another pilot here.

If you fly an airplane, GPS is essentially for situational awareness. I guess you could always get a bluetooth GPS to stick on the dash like the iPad uses to get around the Transformer Prime issue.

I use an Archos 43IT which is basically a mini Wifi tablet. I bought a separate GPS to connect via bluetooth which works but takes more connection time to set up each time. I use Co-pilot for offline navigation. I would definitely want it on a larger tablet.

Two years ago, phone manufacturers were still saying WiFi wasn't necessary on phones. Now, it is almost a requirement on all smartphones.

GPS might not be for everyone, but it still has a place in the market. If my tablet had GPS, it would definitely get used. The larger screen would definitely help.

That being said, I actually would prefer if my tablet had phone capabilities (already does Skype and GrooveIP). Get me back to carrying one device, even if it is a larger one.

The 2 things I absolutely HATE about my Nook TABLET is the lack of Bluetooth and gps! This thing will be tossed once a decent quad core 7" is released! I like the Galaxy's upcoming Tab 7, But the lack of processer speed bothers me.

I have an Acer A100 and it doesn't require a data connection to load maps like my Evo 3d does. I think a lot of you do not have a tablet and are assuming that a data connection is needed like on your cell phone. I tether my tablet for traffic updates and that is about it.

The only time I use the GPS on my tablet is for finding a place to eat or browsing the globe via Maps or Google earth. I can't see myself driving with my tablet for navigation... but my smartphone works great for navigation so I use that.

I think a more divided question is "Is GPS Navigation important/useful on a tablet?" I don't personally think so, but the tablet being able to get a GPS lock is very important considering how many location based services are out there.

In my experience with a wifi only tablet with no gps, wifi triangulation is more than sufficient for other location based services.

Not saying it's useless for other apps, but many people use wifi only tablets without a gps just fine, I've had both and honestly it doesn't affect my usage of a tablet, if I bought a 3G/4G tablet that would be a different story, those should have gps.

I have used both my Droid2 and Xoom for GPSing, and I would rather use my xoom. I use a paid stand alone GPS app that requires the downloading of maps, but it is very accurate and does turn by turn spoken navigation. Though it is a little more difficult to mount in a vehicle, they do make car mounts that attach places other than your windshield. I just made an 3000 mile round trip with my xoom and it was great, it sits on the console in front of the gear shifter in my wife's car perfectly, but my truck is a different story. Also, I think it is a lot easier to select POI on my tablet than my phone. Another plus is that my tablet battery last much longer (up to 12hrs), and then my phone is free to take calls.

My main use for my tablet (OG Transformer) is on vacation and I LOVE having GPS on it. I can navigate while walking down unfamiliar streets and use it to find restaurants, hotels, and other sights in my immediate locale. Much easier to walk around with than a laptop and if I need data I just tether to my phone. I gave up my old Nook Color (which I otherwise loved) just to get a tablet with GPS.

I use my Xoom with offline topo maps apps when I'm out riding ATV's. The bigger screen is great when you're looking at the maps. So I'm all for GPS on the tablet. I wouldn't get a new one without a GPS.

I personally own a Transformer Prime and yeah, the GPS doesn't work one bit. I have applied for the dongle thing (just because I like free stuff) but I doubt I will ever use it. I have a phone with GPS if I ever do need on the go navigation, as well as a TomTom for longer trips. GPS on a wifi-only tablet is useless, and I've yet to see a valid argument for why you actually need it. Navigation on a 10 inch screen? Come on.

I have the WiFi Motorola Xoom and I use GPS all the time on it. As a matter of fact, I never turn it off. I think people confuse GPS with Navigation. While Navigation does require GPS, not all GPS is Navigation. Many apps use GPS to show you useful information, and if I'm already goofing around on my tablet, it's convenient to have the feature, rather then having to put the tablet down, and grab my phone to look up stuff real quick, like the cheapest gas prices around me, what's going on nearby on Google+, check traffic before heading out the door, check if any new Geocaches have been hidden in my area, or see the location a picture or tweet was sent from.

With that said, I would never use my tablet for Navigation. My Galaxy Nexus screen is more then big enough to see comfortably. Do I need GPS in my tablet? Not at all, I can always grab my phone if I need it. Is GPS convenient for me? Yes! There is more to GPS then just Navigation and I'm glad my tablet has it for apps that use or require it to give me relevant and accurate information.

How would I use a table with GPS?
First, good topographical software would have to be made available for a good map program on the tablet. Then, I would have a mount designed or possibly purchase one that would allow a 10” or larger tablet to be mounted in my vehicle, over the console, so that I can use the tablet in off-road situations; either for SAR or just for personal use when in desolate areas.
My current setup is an inexpensive ACER 16” laptop, mounted on a RAM mount, running Garmin nRoute with specialized topo maps (maps that shows who controls the lands I am driving on). An outside GPS receiver antenna allows for a very close fix. (I also travel with a trimble, but use it only for ground spotting outside of the vehicle in rugged canyon country where pinpointing a location up to a meter or less can be important).
So, when the software is made available, and the price of the tablet drops, I might consider replacing the laptop with the tablet. Price is also important. Due to the conditions in the desert, laptops last about two years max. My current ACER, with a dual core Pentium 5 processor, 4GB of RAM only cost $329, when I purchased it in Feb to replace a Toshiba that finally bit the dust (no pun intended).
There are needs for GPS in a tablet, and I can only guess that there are some who want this feature for just plain cross country travel between cities on major highways.

Now, I have to leave for a trip with the laptop installed, the Hummer packed and a job to do.

I use my EVO VIEW 4G as a HUD speedo (Ullysse Speedo) flat on my dash in front of my OEM instrument cluster ... works like a charm.

I voted "Not a tablet user" but I want to add "yet" because I plan on buying one within the next few months. $500 was going to be my limit for a 10" tablet, but I don't know if I'll hold out for the Infinity. The metal construction of the Prime and the Infinity has me sold.

For me, GPS is a plus but not a necessity. I wanted to make sure my first smartphone had mobile hotspot capability, but after 17 months I just used that feature for the first time two days ago and love it. I said that to say, you don't know a feature is truly useful until you use it. Knowing the feature is there, whether I use it or not, is psychologically comforting.

BTW, if the Prime gets a price reduction after the Infinity is released, I'm there, if I can wait.

If you have onboard mobile data, I think you need gps... If you are using a hotspot for data, you can easily use one of the GPS over WiFi apps to streamt he GPS data with your data, so in that use case it is a non-issue.. ..remember that routing / navigation generally doesn't work without a data connection on these devices, even if you can cache the map locally (..there might be an app for that too..).

I'm sorry, but if you use a 10 inch tablet for GPS, you should be beaten.

If you were my friend and I got in your car with a douchebag unclassy setup like that I'd seriously punch you in the face.

I'm sorry, but if you use a 10 inch tablet for GPS, you should be beaten.

If you were my friend and I got in your car with a douchebag unclassy setup like that I'd seriously punch you in the face.

I'm sorry, but if you use a 10 inch tablet for GPS, you should be beaten.

If you were my friend and I got in your car with a douchebag unclassy setup like that I'd seriously punch you in the face.

I'm sorry, but if you use a 10 inch tablet for GPS, you should be beaten.

If you were my friend and I got in your car with a douchebag unclassy setup like that I'd seriously punch you in the face.

I think the most succinctly that I can sum this up is:

GPS on a tablet is useless until you don't have it.

I can see using a 7 inch tablet for GPS in certain situations but a 10 inch only when sitting downsomewhere would it be beneficial. But I can't see either being useful in the car unless you have a passenger navigating for you with it. smartphone would still be prefered for most situations that I can think of. Concidering the prices of tablets $299 and up it would be minor difference in build cost to include so I see no reason not to offer GPS.

My use for wanting to use a tablet is so when my wife and I travel in our 1931 Ford model A, leading a tour my navigator (wife) can have a greater amount of information easier than with a phone of small gps. We only travel on secondary roads and county roads. I need a program that will let me preload my trip.There are plenty of mounts that will give me options for installation into the car. I'm still looking for the right tablet and GPS combination so your expertise would be greatly appreciated.

A lot of the comments here seem to relate specifically to SATNAV, only one of GPS. OK, Satnav works fine with just a phone, but when it comes to looking at cached maps a 7 inch plus screen is a big plus.

I use Viewranger on my NEXUS 7 which gives me 1:50,000 OS mapping for the whole of GB at a fraction of the cost of the paper maps. The only thing I have to worry about is battery life.