Comparison between Sendero GPS and Trekker
What are some of the major differences of Sendero GPS products and Trekker?
Note: Sighted instructors should carefully consider the long term benefit of the blind user they might be instructing versus what may be easier for the sighted instructor to learn. Most sighted users will not be using the device on a regular basis so the tendency is to choose a unit they can easily remember rather than what might be appropriate for the blind person who uses the product regularly. Are we setting the bar of expectations appropriately?
Both BrailleNote and Trekker offer multiple PDA applications as well as GPS. The Sendero GPS runs on all the BrailleNote and VoiceNote products and the Trekker GPS runs with the Maestro PDA applications. Note that the BrailleNote has either a Braille or laptop style keyboard as does the VoiceNote, which does not have a Braille display.
The BrailleNote offers a full keyboard and Maestro/Trekker works with a 33button keypad. The PDA applications are more highly developed on the BrailleNote. Maestro covers the basic applications. So, if a PDA is of primary importance, the BrailleNote can provide better productivity. See product brochures regarding the PDA applications.
This document covers the differences in the GPS functions. Both systems provide the basics of GPS.
Summary of Key Sendero GPS benefits to remember: Keyboard versus keypad, much richer POI content, turn-by-turn manual routes off-road and on campus, Better preview of auto route turning announcements. Excellent PDA applications on the BrailleNote and the option of a built-in Braille display.
- The user interface is one of the biggest differences between Sendero GPS and Trekker. Sendero GPS is mostly command driven, meaning there are hot keys for almost every function.
Trekker uses a menu system and grouped command approach, meaning that you scroll through a list of options and select your choices with multiple key presses. This is primarily because the BrailleNote has a full keyboard, either Braille style or regular laptop style, and Trekker has a keypad as part of a 33 button interface. You can use an external keyboard with Trekker but not at the same time as the GPS so the keypad is the only practical input method.
- The Sendero GPS systems have been on the market since 2000 plus input from Atlas users as far back as 1995. 13 years of user feedback has made the Sendero software very mature compared with newer products. In fact, the Sendero GPS has approximately double the commands available on Trekker.
- The rich Points of Interest content and powerful search capabilities with a full keyboard are major benefits of the Sendero GPS. It takes 10 key presses to search for Starbucks on the Sendero GPS as opposed to 26 to 40 key presses on the Trekker keypad depending on the type of keypad input you have chosen.
- Press the Simple Find command, type in a search string and press Enter to search among 15 million North America points of interest on the Sendero GPS, 10 times the number of points in the Trekker database.
- Search by category or by range with the Sendero GPS like 0 to 10 miles or from 200 to 1000 miles. On Trekker, you can only search up to 5 miles in GPS mode and no proximity search is available in Virtual mode. Find the nearby points you specify with Sendero GPS with the F Command within seconds. Search for or listen in Lookaround mode to points of interest in your direction of travel. Compare this simple powerful search process on the BrailleNote with the same functions and you will appreciate the difference between the BrailleNote GPS keyboard and the Trekker keypad interface.
- Sendero users have built up over 11,000 user points of interest through Sendero's user-sharing section of the Sendero web site. In addition, thousands of transit stops are available with the Sendero GPS from 5 major U.S. transit agencies. Talking ATM locations from 3 banks are also in the Sendero GPS database included with every product. These invaluable 250,000 extra POIs are not available on any other GPS.
- Sendero GPS uses text names for User POIs whereas Trekker primarily uses voice tags for User POIs. Text strings are nice because you can search on them as opposed to voice tags where you cannot search.
- Both Sendero GPS and Trekker allow the user hands-free operation for automatic announcement of key information like the street you are on or the intersecting street.
- When advising a driver about upcoming turns, it is important not only to hear the next turn announcements as most GPS systems do but also to be able to review the next several turns to be an effective back seat driver. This "look ahead" capability while in active GPS mode is unique to the Sendero GPS as is the two quick turns in a row announcement, not available on Trekker.
- The Sendero software has comprehensive manual route recording and following features compared with other products. One can record waypoints across a campus or in the woods and that route will be played back with turn-by-turn instructions as if you were on streets. Although Trekker can establish points off-road in its "Free Mode", it cannot create turn-by-turn routes.
- Both Sendero GPS and Trekker Breeze have the ability to record the user's GPS movements and to then turn those movements into a route. Sendero allows the user additionally to add annotations to those custom routes.
- You can create and browse a route across the entire U.S. on Sendero GPS but not on Trekker.
- The Sendero GPS has some unique "Look-Around" features. Choose announcements you want to repeat every X number of seconds for hands-free operation or choose to hear the announcements only when you stop. Refine "Look-Around" even further by selecting the categories of information you wish to automatically trigger like the upcoming intersection, restaurants or hotels. These options are invaluable so the user does not have to take his or her hands off the cane or harness. Also, it can be much less distracting to a dog guide if the owner is not stopping and starting mid block.
Note: If user action is required, important commands on the Sendero GPS can be operated with one hand as can some commands on Trekker.
- If you are a Braille reader, there is a huge advantage to having a Braille display for location information, built into a Sendero GPS but not with Trekker. This is paramount for deaf-blind users. Street names and Points of Interest names can be difficult to understand sometimes with a speech synthesizer. Having the Braille display adds a significant level of location literacy because you can "see" how names are spelled.
- The BrailleNote PK weighs in just under one pound and the Trekker weighs 1.3 pounds according to the Trekker website. Considering that the PK has a Braille display, the size and convenience of this little unit with multiple applications as well as GPS, makes the PK a very powerful and portable information device. The Voice Sense with Sense Navigation from GW Micro is smaller yet.
- The built-in battery life is double on the BrailleNote versus Trekker.
- The BrailleNote speaker volume is loud enough that it doesn't require an external wired speaker as the Trekker does although one can add an outboard wired or Bluetooth speaker to the Sendero GPS if desired. Either system can use earphones, however, this is not advisable when walking with GPS for obvious safety reasons.
- You can use any GPS receiver you like with the Sendero GPS. Sendero is constantly testing receivers and the best receiver is included with the Sendero GPS package. However, our users like to test other commercial models they hear about and they can do this easily with the Sendero GPS as opposed to a predefined list of receivers on Trekker. For example, the Breeze uses the older Sirf 3 GPS technology, less sensative than the latest Holux model being used with Sendero systems.
- Support and training are important to consider when investing in any GPS system. Sendero Group is the only company with a primary GPS focus. It offers toll free tech support, free on-line chat sessions as well as trainings at conferences or other venues. Up to 3 hours of free training is included when a VoiceNote or BrailleNote are purchased directly from Sendero. A free comprehensive training guide is available from the California School for the Blind.
- Finally, one should consider whether Trekker or Sendero GPS best meets the needs of the user once he or she evolves beyond the initial learning phase? Which has the best long term potential versus first impression? Is a keypad or keyboard most productive for the user? Is the rich POI content available on the Sendero GPS important?
Besides the BrailleNote products, Sendero GPS is also on the Braille Sense and Voice Sense from GW Micro as well as on Windows Mobile devices with Mobile Speak and Mobile Geo. Sendero is proud that it has spawned competition so blind people have choices. We believe that the Sendero GPS, developed by blind people, for blind people, is a very powerful independence tool and deserves your serious consideration.