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REVIEW: Globalsat BT308 Bluetooth GPS
Posted by PPCW.Net Editori - on Saturday, 31.01.04 - 17:01:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 17773x
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Contributed by Helio Diamant, Editor-in-Chief Pocket PC Freak

For the last months I have been dealing with my curiosity on the following issue: why did HP choose the device from Globalsat to sell as an OEM under the name IPAQ GPS?

Knowing HP for some time, already, I was quite sure that whatever led them to Globalsat was more than a simple price issue. So what would be the special characteristics that brought them to be HP's choice?

In order to check that out, I've contacted Globalsat and very kindly and quickly they've sent me a review unit for checking.

What's in the box?
As it can be seen in the initial picture above, the closed box looks nice and of high-quality. Will there be any surprise after opening?

I've opened the box, and only good surprises were expecting me there. We see a box that is well planned, with a protection cell for each component. This box can travel around the world and components will not even scratch one another.

When you first remove all the components from the box, then you understand the richness of this product. The package includes: the GPS receiver, a home charger, a car charger, a CD with software to test the receiver and with a user manual, an external antenna, and connectors for exchanging in the home charger that would make it fit for most places in the world. My package came with a simple car charger, without output duplication (needed if you desire to charge the Pocket PC and the receiver at once in the car); however, from the documentation at the box I've seen that both options are available and one can purchase the receiver with a double car charger. Probably mine came this way since it was a review unit.

This is how the receiver looks like when held in my hand:

It has approximately the same length and width as the Socket GPS, which I have known and reviewed in the past. It is somewhat thicker than its counterpart from Socket, and weights almost twice. However, this weight is still very comfortable even in my shirt's pocket, and it buys me 9 hours of GPS use instead of the 5 hours that I had in other devices from the first generation.

As usual in these devices, it comes with 3 LEDs, the rightmost yellow LED for power, the middle green one for GPS status, and the leftmost blue one for Bluetooth status.

Getting the first fix
The next part of the proof was getting the first fix. A small explanation to those which are not acquainted with this subject: every time we move from country to country, it is expected that a different set of satellites will service the receiver. So, when we first turn on our GPS receiver in a new country, it will take it more than usual to get synchronized with the satellites and begin giving your position. With other Bluetooth GPS receivers I was used to waiting around 20 minutes for first fix in a new country and waiting for 2 minutes every time I turned it on in the same country after that.

How we test it: just turning the device on and counting the time until the green light (which is always on when we turn it on) begins to blink at a predefined pace.

I turned on the device, while I stood at the balcony of my home, ready to wait. What was my surprise when after 3 minutes the green LED began to blink. I thought it cannot be, turned it off and on again, and after 30 seconds there it was, blinking to me.

I thought maybe the device had come preconfigured to Israel, and decided to postpone this review until I have the chance to test it in my trip to Switzerland last week. I turned it on in Swiss soil, and after 3 minutes, there it was blinking again. That was enough to convince me.

Connection to the Pocket PC and to Destinator 3
Next phase of the test was to connect the device via Bluetooth to my Axim using the Socket Bluetooth card and to Destinator, the only navigation software that supports Israeli maps.

First, I created the pairing:

I asked the driver of the Socket card to look for new Bluetooth devices, and immediately the Globalsat GPS receiver identified itself.

Like in most Bluetooth connections, we need to enter a Passkey. This was a point when I got a little confused since I couldn't find the right Passkey to enter. I went to Globalsat's Web site, and couldn't find it there. At the end I've found it in the User's Manual that comes in the CD. I must confess that the user manual is quite good and well explained, but finding a Passkey in there is not easy. I would suggest here that Globalsat might add a small "Getting Started" page to the package that would contain information like initial charge and passkey.

After the Passkey was successfully entered, finishing the process was immediate.

You can see the Globalsat device as first in the list, pointed by the red arrow, and besides it the old Socket device. The existence of both in my system did not create any problem, and I could easily choose which to use. Anyway, I decided to make the Globalsat my favorite, and also to give both devices a more meaningful name.

Here I changed the name of the device to Globalsat GPS.

Now the list looks better. Another thing: as expected, we can see below that the device provides us only with Serial Services.

Finally, it is time to check it with Destinator 3. Since Destinator was already set to work through COM9, my Bluetooth Serial port client, I expected it to recognize the Globalsat GPS with no change.

My expectations were fulfilled. In seconds Destinator was talking to the Globalsat receiver and receiving data from the satellites. One can see above the 6 satellites being seen. I have not experienced during the last 3 weeks any disconnection (neither GPS nor Bluetooth disconnections) and I have a steady navigation with good response times and strong signal.

Final Conclusions

I feel happy to say that in my opinion HP did a good choice for its OEM device. This is a strong high-quality device which does its work in the best possible way. It is also a device which can be made available to the public for a better price than many of its competitors.

Pros

  • An incredibly good time for first fix acquiring
  • 9-hour battery life between charges
  • Very stable, no disconnections

Cons

  • Weight and thickness; but, as I said, it is still very comfortable, and if this can provide me 9 hours of battery life, it is a price I am happy to pay.
  • The package does not bring any navigation software; this is not important for the Israeli user, since no existing device bundles Destinator, the only software supporting Israel, but could be a disadvantage in other markets.

Related Links : [More Information]


 

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Comments
Posted by WILL on 15.02.04 - 13:14:43

I like you coverage of the subject. I am seriously in the market for a GPS system for my PPC Phone Edition and it has been a difficult mission seeing that I cannot demo any and I fear paying too much for a cheaper unit. Can you direct me to a reliable and cheapest destributor that I can purchase The destinator and the GlobalSat? or suggest some compareable / better solutions? Thankyou - Will.

Posted by paul moody on 30.03.04 - 01:01:17

hi, great review made me buy one, but i havnt been so lucky my tomtom says gps position unreliable, any sugestions

Posted by James Fong on 04.04.04 - 00:24:12

Hi

I am a ebay power seller of all GlobalSat GPS products. your article for this Bluetooth GPS has been help a lot of my buyer.

I just want to say Thank you for the good work.

Gadget CT

Posted by Tom on 04.04.04 - 06:40:41

Any one can tell me that this GPS will work with palm T3? Need any software?

Posted by Tommy on 07.04.04 - 21:50:19

Tom: It works fine. You don't need any software except the navigation software itself ofcourse.

Posted by RR on 27.04.04 - 21:39:47

where and what kind of software will work in ISRAEL.

Where can I buy it?

Thank u in advance

RR

Posted by Helio- on 28.04.04 - 16:01:48

The only GPS software currently supporting Israeli maps is Powerloc's Destinator. You can buy it at PDA dedicated shops like Handy or Compilot, or directly from the distributors in Israel GPS & More at http://www.destinator.co.il

Posted by ID64 on 07.08.04 - 05:08:11

Is there any information about iMATE XDA2 and this unit? I just got one from  James Fong, should be here sometimes next week,

TIA

Posted by andy on 17.08.04 - 04:09:03

[3] Hi James, 

Interested in purchasing a BT-308.  What is your best price and which software works best with this device ?

Posted by Helio Diamant on 10.09.04 - 17:45:52

[8] I am using now the BT-308 with the iMate2 with no problems. All I needed was the Bluetooth Tools freeware to make it easier to pair de devices, and it works fine.

You can find Tobias's utility at http://www.angeltowns.com/t... but download the older version 1.0.1.2 since in the new one he seems to have screwed-up the headset profile.

Posted by Helio Diamant on 10.09.04 - 17:47:54

[2] This is very strange, I have not had experienced until today, almost 9 months after the review, any kind of ureliability of the device.

Posted by luca on 30.10.04 - 15:07:30

Hi,
I've just bought a GPS Global sat 308 but I'm not able to use with my Sony PEGTH55 !!!
The Cd contains a test program but only for Pocket PC.

Does anybody can tell me where to find a palm a palm version ?

thenks
luca

Posted by trak on 26.11.04 - 12:02:12

Hi!Today i get bt-308, and can't use it  with my TT3. I trying Atlas software, it want to use gps throoth Connections, but it lmpossible  to prepare it. sad

Posted by António Figueiredo on 07.02.05 - 12:38:18

Hi!

I  own a PALM One Zire 72.  Will Globalsat work with it?
Thanks.

António
Portugal

Posted by Zefram on 28.03.05 - 10:15:06

I have not been able to get the BT-308 to work with my HP iPAQ rx3115 since I bought the GPS several weeks ago. I have let the battery drain for four days and recharged it. I bought Pocket Streets 2005 to use with it. My first concern is that I am not able to get a satellite fix nor information being exchanged. Is there something that I am doing wrong????

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