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Appeared on: Friday, May 05, 2006
Globalsat GH-601

1. Introduction

Globalsat, a well known GPS manufacturer, recently released a new series of GPS devices, aimed mostly at enthusiasts with an athletic imposition. The GH-601 series, represent the modern way of athletic training, where you can record your performance and then analyse the results at the comfort of your PC.

- GH-601

The Globalsat GH-601 is a fully-sealed, waterproof, LCD wrist-watch device, as well as GPS navigation functionality that locates and tracks points from start to stop. It is intended for people who participate in a broad range of outdoor sports, such as Jogging, Running, Biking, Snow Skiing, etc.

It also can be used as a GPS receiver through the USB interface. Globalsat also offers a variation of the GH-601, with the inclusion of an electronic compass and most importantly, a barometric altimeter, which offers more accurate results compared with the standard version.

- Features

1. Built-in SiRF Star III high performance GPS chipset. Excellent sensitivity for fixing the position, even with a weak signal.
2. Built in rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
3. Large LCD for easy readout.
4. Waterproof design.
5. Records all historical data for self training by defined day.
6. Workout project : Define the project which user would like to achieve.
7. Navigation : Tracking your route as crumb method; marking and saving your tracking points by a special algorithm; finding specified locations.
8. The firmware of the GH-601 can be upgraded through PC.
9. Easy data logger & supports Google Earth software.

- Specifications

Number of Waypoints: 100
Display Size: 24.9 x 39.88 (H x W in mm.)
Display type: Black & White LCD
Pixels (H x W): 80 x 120
Unit Weight: 72.87g
Waterproof Standard: IPX7
Unit Size: 46 x 82.5 x 18.5 (H x W x D in mm.)
Backlit Display:Single level
Operating temperature: -10C to 60C
Humidity: 5% to 95% Non-condensing
Voltage: 3.7V for a rechargeable battery, 5V for charging input
Charging connector: DC 5V
Battery: Rechargeable 1600mAh Li-ion battery
Battery life: 16 hours (GPS turn-on; Compass and Altimeter turn-off with backlight off) 70 hours (GPS, Compass and Altimeter turn-off with backlight off)
Connect to PC Interface: Mini-USB port
Electrical compass: GH-601, no; GH-602, yes
Barometric Altimeter: GH-601, no; GH-602, yes

- Used chipset

The Globalsat GH-601 supports WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System). It's a system of satellites and ground stations that provide GPS signal corrections, giving position accuracy up to five times better. A WAAS-capable receiver can give you a position accuracy at better than three metres, 95 percent of the time. You don't have to purchase additional receiving equipment or pay service fees to use WAAS.

WAAS satellite coverage is available only in North America. Other governments are developing similar satellite-based differential systems - Europe's system is the Euro Geo-stationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). WAAS receivers are compatible with EGNOS.

The SiRF III chipset comes with the following specifications:

Chipset: SiRF Star III WAAS enabled
Frequency: 1, 1575.42 MHz
C/A code: 1.023 MHz chip rate
Channels: 20 channel all-in-view tracking
Position Accuracy: 10 meters, 2D RMS 
~ 5 meters, 3D RMS WAAS
Velocity: 0.1 m/s
Time: us synchronized to GPS time
Default: WGS-84 Acquisition Time (Open sky, stationary)
Reacquisition: 0.1 sec., average
Hot start: 1 sec., average
Warm start: 38 sec., average
Cold start: 42 sec., average
Altitude: 18,000 meters (60,000 feet) max.
Velocity: 515 meters/second (1000 knots) max.
Acceleration: Less than 4g
Jerk: 20 m/sec
Protocol messages: NMEA-0183 output protocol
Output format: GGA(1sec), GSA(5sec), GSV(5sec), RMC(1sec),VTG(1sec)
Operating temperature: -20° to 60° C
Humidity: 5% to 95% Non-condensing

Looking at the SiRF III specs, we notice that the chipset is capable of receiving up to 20 satellites (in reality 12 maximum), has very fast Hot/Warm/Cold start times and its accuracy reaches ~5m when the WAAS mode is enabled.

2. Package

For our tests, Globalsat provided the retail package of the GH-601. It includes the GH-601 device, a USB cable, an AC/DC 5V charger (with USB connector), a CD with drivers and lastly, a printed manual. The price of the GH-601 has not yet been announced.

The GPS device is definitely bigger than your average wrist watch. On the top of the device, it has a large LCD screen, and an array of buttons running along the bottom . The built-in antenna is located next to the display, under the G-Sat logo.

The GH-601 can fit at any size hand, with the woven wrist band which secures it firmly.

The overall weight is around 75gr, which is pretty light.

On the left side is the USB port, for charging and connecting to a PC.

Our device had serial number 00211 :-)

3. Menus

In order to use the device the first time, you need to charge it. It shouldn't need more than 2 hours. If you keep the power button pressed for a couple of seconds, the device powers up and we are welcomed with GlobalSat's logo:

The main screen shows the average speed, the training time and overall distance.

By pressing the "Up/Down" buttons, there are more indications, like speed, time and elevation.

Pressing the "PG" button takes us to where are all the goodies are. The menu here consists of four main areas: Sport Record, Navigation, GPS Mouse and Configuration.

In the sport record selection, we find all tracked records, with time/date, and we can of course delete or view (replay) them:

In the navigation selection, there are several features to check or view:

Lastly, in configuration, mode settings are available

And of course, we can check the device's firmware:

WAAS/EGNOS setting can be turned on/off:

While after a full 3D fix, each satellite is represented with the corresponding signal strength (dB).

The LCD screen can be backlit by pressing once, the power button. For power savings, it only stay on for 10secs. Just press the power button again to light it up.

4. Installation

In order to use the device with a PC, first you have to install the software driver, which is included in the accompanying CD. There is a newer version available, which we tested and found it worked without any problems.

After rebooting the PC after installation of the driver, your device is recognized and is assigned a COM port. You can then download your records, or simply use it as a GPS mouse (remember to enable this function in your GH-601, otherwise you won't see any data with your GPS software).

Globalsat includes a software that can be used to upgrade the GH-601 or download/upload track records to Google Earth.

5. Performance

- Tests Day One

We tested Globalsat GH-601pitting it against its older brother, the BT-338. Both use the Sirf III chipset, with of course different end target uses. The BT-338 was connected (Bluetooth interface) with a Dell Axim X50v, while the GH-601 was connected to a laptop via USB.

We recorded all data for a pre-selected route with VisualGPSce (free edition) and later analyzed it with GPSLog. All tests ran continuously, under the same environmental conditions (night, cloudy , 15° C), installed in an Audi, model A4 2004.

Globalsat BT-338 Globalsat GH-601
Time to First Fix (TTFF) Secs 38 47
Fix Invalid 0 0
2D 0 0


100 100
Satellites Average (in view) 8 9
Average (in use) 6.55 5.97
Average Signal Level (in dB) Maximum per Satellite 46.50 34.14
Average per Satellite 39.19 28.20

The results showed significant differences, especially in average signal levels. The BT-338 performed better than the GH-601, but that doesn't make its performance was bad by any means. On the contrary, it is sufficient most tasks.

- Tests Day Two

We tested the Globalsat GH-601 against its older brother BT-338. The BT-338 was connected (Bluetooth interface) with a Dell Axim X50v, while the GH-601 was connected to a laptop via USB.

We recorded all data for a pre-selected route with VisualGPSce (free edition) and later analyzed it with GPSLog. All tests ran continuously, under the same environmental conditions (daytime, cloudy , 12°C), all installed in an Audi, model A4 2004.

Globalsat BT-338 Globalsat GH-601
Time to First Fix (TTFF) Secs 39 48
Fix Invalid 0 0
2D 0 1.9


100 98.1
Satellites Average (in view) 8.94 9
Average (in use) 7.35 5.24
Average Signal Level (in dB) Maximum per Satellite 44.88 32.29
Average per Satellite 34.41 25.11

Again the performance of the BT-338 is better.

- Tests Day Four ( Indoor Sensitivity)

We placed both receivers inside a house, close to a big window and monitored their performance. The BT-338 had a rather quick 3D fix, with 8 satellites in view 8 and 5 in use, where as the GH-601's 3D fix had 7 in view and 4 in use.

- Overall impressions

The strength of the Sirf III chipset shows up in these tests. Both the BT-338 and GH-601 had quick TTFF times and good reception levels. As was expected, the BT-338 has better performance, while the GH-601 is perfect for most common tasks. Certainly, the announcement of the release of the GH-602 which includes a barometer, will further adds to the attraction of this device, especially for hikers.

6. Conclusion

The GlobalSat GH-601 is a fully-sealed, waterproof, LCD wrist-watch, as well as a GPS device, that locates and tracks points from start to stop. Users mainly having a need for this device would be those active in outdoor sports, such as Jogging, Running, Biking, Snow Skiing, etc. Moreover, it can be used as a GPS receiver via the USB interface.

The built-in Sirf III chipset provides good reception levels with quick TTFF times. Compared with the BT-338, another award winning GPS device, the GH-601's performance was not as good, but it is certainly enough for its intended target group.

The device offers many different settings and options for the user. After tracking and recording your route, you can export the data to Google Earth and view it. The device can also be upgraded with new releases of firmware, keeping it up-to-date. The included battery will last for a long time (around 16 hours) and in case you like to work out in the dark, the backlit LCD makes for a readable display.

The retail price for the package has not yet been officially announced. But we did find pre-order prices of €160, although we can't be sure if this will be its eventual release price.

The Positive

The Negative

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