GPS- navigation unit or iPad?


Just wondering if anyone could share their opinions of what gps/ navigation setup they use. We are leaving on our trip around oz in a week or so and I have been looking at a few different options.
The 2 main options seem to be a Hema HN7 or the newer Hx-1 or an iPad/android with the Hema maps app on it.
Unfortunately my iPad died recently so the decisions is a bit harder. To replace it with a wifi/ cellular unit with 128 gb is at least $800 ( this is the cheaper one not the pro model which is dear again)plus the maps app plus a mounting system, probably well over $1.
I have been reading reviews of the Hema hx1 navigator , but was a little put off by people’s opinions of them. Does anyone have one that can comment?? The are around $550 with a mount , charger and free map updates.

Can anyone recommend a cheaper android instead if the iPad that will be up the the task?

Cheers Brent


New member
A Garmin GPSmap62s has worked well for me on my trips around the USA and down into Mexico.

I import iOverlander waypoints into Garmin's BaseCamp program, then plan my routes between them.



If budget is äround $500-$600 then Samsung Galaxy S2 (8 or 10" 3gb RAM with GPS) is good choice + $40 for Hema maps. Default maps are ok and goes down to 1km scale most of the places (sometime even up to 100meter offline).
Sometime ago I was reading Hema hardware specs are not as good as iPad or Samsung tablets, hence slower.


It really sounds like you need to figure out how to read a map. I still have all of those paper things and I never get lost.


My vote is iPad and GAIA GPS.

I've used for years now and am very happy with the hardware and software. The nice thing about an iPad is it can be used to surf the web/email, ETC. when not in navigation mode.


Robinson Fuso
Sorry if you didn't like my reply but I did years of geology work and all we had were paper maps and a compass.
Cool story. I remember using encyclopedias. The problem is that they are static, a snapshot in time. If something changes you won't know about it until you buy the next edition.

I've tried a lot of different setups, but keep coming back to a standalone Garmin GPS. It does what I need, and uploading custom waypoints, etc is super easy.


depends where you are headed ...

wikicamps and apparently sygic apps on an android thing. wikicamps to find the camps, sygic gps to get directions. I haven't tried Sygic. The further from coastal Aus the more useful Hema becomes, the less useful conventional gps. I have Hema maps on Oziexplorer. Which tells me where I am but not how to get to where I want to be. The conventional gps tends to run out of steam, In various ways they treat coordinates where they don't know about tracks oddly. I currently tolerate Igo on android because I could get world maps, but current version won't leave the map facing north - which means I need a separate compass or the sun. I've had Tomtom and Garmin. Both struggle out back. Little oddities like "turn right in 50m" means it thinks the vehicle is not on the track but has got close enough that it thinks its heading towards the track. Perhaps its an Aus thing but maps haven't caught up with reality in some (vast) areas.

I have Oziexplorer on my laptop (win 10) but also loaded it (and Hema maps) on the win ce (I think) device that Igo came on. One of the XGody devices off eBay. 7" would be nicer with stronger backlight to combat Aus sun.

I sometimes use google satellite view before leaving. Some tracks can be seen and waypoints picked at corners and junctions. Google map coordinates are "reasonable". The contrast for tracks on the maps is atrocious and things disappear at some zoom levels.

we use paper maps for planning. The Hema books, and in some cases the "parks" maps. The distances can be vast and difficult to see the whole picture through the limited window of a computer. Planning a thousand km on tracks with a gps I find impossible - they are designed around "trust me", and I don't.

to repeat - one very important bit .... don't trust the gps. There are lot of spots where tracks don't meet up on the maps. Gps can be showing 300km to destination and frequent "turn back" announcements. Then the miraculous "recalculating route" that suddenly changes to 10km to destination.

I also recently used the wikicamps compass and coordinates on phone (android) walking with no tracks to find a tree. The phone is designed better around battery life, standard gps are not and I'm a skinflint so haven't bothered to look at specialist bush walking gps.


When shopping around for hardware and looking difference between IOS & Android, one will note IOS devices have consistently less RAM than Android phones/tablets over several years. This is something to do with the memory/CPU management (just google for more information). Before buying, I tested 2gb RAM Samsung Android tablet with my friends iPhone (2gb RAM) and it struggled with the offroad Hema maps. With 3gb Ram model, android was good. Downside with online buying non brands tablets is that you may find any issue only after you have bought & tested it in the field. I didn't take that risk and borrowed the tablet and tested before buying one in the shop.

On offroads I run Hema app+default map (with HERE map + any local map overlays) and WikiCamps. Also before going to the trip, at home while online I zoom the Hema map for that route to the lowest possible scale (around 50m-100meters or at some intersection crossings down to 10m) to bulid up the cache - maybe it is overkill.

Paper maps are good for planning though (as mentioned above).

Aussie Iron

I run Ozi-Explorer running Hema maps on a Surface Pro3 mounted on a Ram Pedestal Mount. Use a Garmin Glo bluetooth Gps. Works really well. It's accuracy for me is good enough to pick the right one of two tracks coming of a road within 100 metres of each other.

Ozi- Explorer is the program that runs the "Hema Maps" (maps). If you buy a Hema Gps it has an operating system that runs "Hema Maps". And yes it will run on a tablet if you get the right version of Ozi-Explorer. It can run on Android (this I know) and I believe on Apple products. Go to Ozi Explorer on the Net and take a look. We have run this on a Sampson Galaxy and works well.

Paper maps are used to work out the direction we are going and then Ozi-Explorer does the rest. No it doesn't give me turn by turn but is easy to follow the pointer and see where we have to turn.

When we were in the Simpson our Garmin GPS told us we were on a 4WD track but other than that it was lost. I didn't try and set a course to home to see what it would do but that probably would have been interesting.



for the non-Australians ....... Australia is a big country with population very urbanised and concentrated round the edges. There's a big portion called "outback".

About the size of US with about 1/10 th the population. Lots of arid country and desert in the middle. The 14,500 km ring road is sealed all the way. There's a north south sealed road up the middle.

the maps are more important than the technology.

Hema is an Aus mapping company that provides touring maps and larger scale contoured 4wd maps.

"The Simpson" desert that Dan mentions is 1100, 200km long, 3-30m high, ns longitudinal sand dunes with ew straight line oil exploration tracks. World's largest "dune desert".


I recommend a 10 Samsung tablet (built in GPS)and run Add a Ram mount and your golden!
OP to be aware of that known brands have very good quality and sensitive GPS chips which are quicker in locking to GPS satellites. While many unknown brands can have A-GPS (assisted GPS) chip which uses cell tower information to speed up this process. these devices may have weak GPS receivers that can have poor (or no) ability to lock GPS satellites by themselves and require A-GPS to actually work properly. These types will be useless in offroad situation where is no mobile reception.

"The Simpson" desert that Dan mentions is 1100, 200km long, 3-30m high, ns longitudinal sand dunes with ew straight line oil exploration tracks. World's largest "dune desert".
Also Non Australian may find it interesting that these long 1100+ dunes run in parallel and are static. they are held by vegetation and prevailing winds - mostly in same direction. The origin of the very long thin dunes is not resolved and have many theories.