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I've been using GPS for a couple of years now. I started with the GPS kit for the Compaq iPAQ series - the one that attaches to the iPAQ as a jacket.
This had given me a couple of serious 'downers' about GPS, which nearly prevented me buying GPS again.
Firstly, my old device was unable to hold and lock onto a signal through my heated front car windscreen, meaning that I'd had to buy a re-radiating antenna. Secondly, the device was next to useless for walking or hiking, because it kept disconnecting from the iPAQ.
I'd seen, and wanted one of the TomTom bluetooth devices, but, seeing as they were going for around £85, was reluctant to invest. I kept on checking eBay and other sources over a period of about 8 months, and saw, continually, the TomTom device, along with a whole host of cheaper (and, to be honest, not very pretty) alternatives.
Suddenly, the GlobalSat BT338 popped up in front of me. It looked more like a fold-up mobile phone. I seriously thought that it was all looks, and no function. I was fortunately proven wrong.
One quick eBay bid, and a couple of days later, I was holding the GlobalSat BT338. The first thing that struck me was how small, but solid the device felt. Of the external appearance, only one thing bothered me, and that was the rubber cover for the DC power supply (to the lower left of the image shown). The rubber was so soft, that it felt rather anaemic.
The device is supplied with a large capacity 1700mAH Li-Ion battery. When you see how small this GPS receiver is, you'll be even more amazed that about half of that size holds the battery. The battery fits snugly and securely inside the device, by means of a slide off back cover.
This back cover also plays host to a couple of long oval rubber feet, which seem to grip pretty much everything - certainly, on my desk, you have to really drag the receiver to overcome the friction of these feet.
OK ... switching the device on entails holding down the power button for about 1 second. That's as difficult as the device gets. It has just one button, and three LEDs.
Once the device is on, it begins it's search for GPS satellites. The three LEDs are pretty simple. The one with the battery symbol next to it indicates when you need to charge the battery (and with a 17 hour battery life, it's not very often). The middle LED, the green one, indicates your current GPS lock, whilst the bottom, blue LED, indicates your Bluetooth connection status.
Incidentally, the green LED flashes when you have a GPS lock, and is constant when you don't. Not the most logical, but it is OK once you appreciate that!
I'm not going to cover the Bluetooth connection aspect of this device, because that is really governed by whatever device you want to connect to. What I will say, is that this device is more versatile than my original iPAQ device, because it is connecting via Bluetooth. So you can connect it to your PDA, laptop, desktop, smartphone, or whatever other device you have that processes GPS signals, and possesses Bluetooth. But, it seems that it can only connect to one device at a time.
OK. As far as reception of GPS signals go, this is an absolute beauty. It tracks 12 GPS signals, rather than the new claim of 16 signals that I have seen (and am sceptical of). It tracks those 12 GPS signals like a bloodhound!!
I am able to use this GPS receiver indoors - which, compared to my old device, is a miracle. It works beneath my heated front windscreen. It works when it is placed in the centre console. It even works at my workplace - on the first floor of a four storey building, about 5 metres from an external wall!
Right now, I am using this device, with it sitting on my computer desk, about a metre from the window, with no 'sky-view', as used to be required by the older devices. I am achieving a 3D-lock onto between 6 and 9 satellites. If you've used GPS, you'll know that is good. If not, then please just believe me, or ask someone who knows!
Basically, this device has changed my perception of GPS. Previously, I had wondered if GPS technology was just not up to it. This device has persuaded me that it is. It's small enough to fit in your pocket, and if you don't want it in there, then you can put it into the supplied belt holster (which if it isn't real leather, is an exceptionally good fake!!).
The only thing that was a little disappointing was that the small rubber DC supply cover broke off. To be honest, that is such a small drawback, as to be not even worth considering a fault. That is the only reason I have not been able to state the Durability & Robustness as Very Strong. Ignoring the rubber cover, the durability and robustness is A1.
If you are getting problems with your GPS, and you can connect via Bluetooth, get this receiver now. You won't regret it!
Hi again - this sounds really good - but I still reckon my SysOn CF one is neater and easier to carry - but I'll not argue ! - Trevor
cootuk 28.07.2005 07:35
Much better than my review!...though i still can't find this on Ciao when I do a search for it. Something strange going on with the listing methinks.
It is an excellent little GPS receiver.
sylviesinc 27.07.2005 22:24
It's not often that I can reciprocate with an "E" but in this case, I had no choice. I understood every word and knew exactly what you were talking about, even though I am not at all familiar with this technology, so that's how good the review is!