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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 20691x
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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.

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