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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Garmin GPS Problems!

Found this important information over on The Market Ticker this morning. If you own a Garmin GPS, it is vital that you read this information to make certain you don't end up with a completely non-functioning unit!

From: The Market Ticker
Thursday 24 Jun 2009

Garmin: Blown Nuvis?

There is apparently something VERY wrong with a firmware update that got pushed to Garmin Nuvis (one of their portable GPS systems.)

If you have one of these, and have not used it recently, do not until you check with Garmin! If your unit has the "bad" firmware it may go completely dead, requiring replacement.

While Garmin is apparently making good, they are not (as of this time) eating shipping charges back to them nor doing anything for your time without the unit.

There is now a Garmin FAQ entry up on this that has firmware update instructions - IF your unit is displaying "Updating GPS firmware" or similar messages.

If its dead, you're screwed as the unit will apparently have to go back.

This is a major design defect folks, and if it is also the case for other Garmin products, this has the potential to cause serious trouble for Garmin, and serious COST to them.

Of late manufacturers have gotten into the habit of putting field-upgrade capability into their hardware. Garmin has done it for a long time. This is generally a good thing, as it allows new features and bug fixes to be distributed.

HOWEVER, it is absolutely essential that all such devices have a HARD ROM area that cannot be overwritten or damaged, and a means for the consumer to get back to that ROM entry. This "zero loader" capability means that if you screw up an update, or the manufacturer sends you an update that blows your device up, it is recoverable without sending the unit back to the factory by entering that "zero loader" and re-flashing the firmware.

Garmin apparently has omitted this safety feature and good engineering practice in their units - another buck or two worth of cost in the form of a permanent PROM with a boot loader in it, which can't be overwritten and which is accessed by holding down a button or similar while powering on.

As a result they are now going to get socked with returns of these devices and the reprogramming cost which they will eat.

This hasn't shown up in their stock price - but it very well might.

Hattip JFedak on the forum for the original story.

Disclosure: No position, but will consider a short in the morning.

Again, I strongly urge you to make The Market Ticker a part of your daily reading. The information and education you'll get from reading the posts make it some of the most worthwhile reading and time spent in the whole day.

2 comments:

matthiasj said...

Thanks for the heads up my GF has one of those.

matthiasj
Kentucky Preppers Network

adam said...

Garmin's other design decision, to not have an easily accessible battery, makes this fix so.

Users can fix the GPS but they have to unscrew the unit and unplug the battery from its circuit board. This will hard reset the unit and then you can apply the firmware.

Getting ahold of a Torx screwdriver is a bit of a pain as it is not a common screw bit size like Phillips or a regular flathead.

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