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Appeared on: Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Polstar igeo-pro

1. Features

Polstar iGeo-Pro PBT-648 - Page 1

- Introduction

Polstar Technologies is another manufacturer that has recently released a SiRF III enabled BT GPS device, their iGeo-Pro. We compared the device with the most famous SiRF III GPS from Globalsat. The results should be interesting. But first, let's take a look at some background information on Polstar Technologies.

- Polstar Technologies background

Polstar Technologies was founded in 2003. Head-quartered at Taiyuan Science Park, Hsinchu, TAIWAN, Polstar concentrates on GPS related technologies. As Polstar states "...We treat our customers as the most precious assets, take honest as our keystone, and services as our first priority. With these humanity principles, we build up our company images and creditability, and make us toward a world class corporation. Polstar is not just a GPS manufacturer; Polstar aims to be different. Our core competency is based on the strong integration and innovation capabilities with both hardware and software. Polstar not only manufacturers products, it creates smart devices..."

- Polstart iGeo-Pro

The Polstar i-Geo PRO is a high performance Bluetooth GPS receiver that is both compact and portable. The sleek and distinct i-Geo PRO fits in your hand or pocket easily, allowing you to take it wherever you go. With the Polstar i-Geo PRO, you can now add full GPS navigation capabilities to your PDA, smart phone or laptop at minimal cost while enjoying performance that rivals dedicated GPS navigators. Experienced and new users alike will be able to operate the i-Geo PRO with minimal effort. Because it employs the SiRFstarIII chipset, users will enjoy unsurpassed positioning accuracy and performance.

Powered by Li-ion rechargeable batteries with an impressive battery life, the i-Geo PRO is as easy to carry around as your mobile phone. Date transmission and connections via Bluetooth eliminate any need for wires, and the Bluetooth transmitter allows GPS data to be transmitted to your PDA, smart phone or any other Bluetooth enabled device within 10 meters. The high-sensitivity GPS receiver will pick up the weakest of signals, allowing you to place your i-Geo PRO anywhere without compromise, and enabling you to begin navigation immediately with the very fast Time-To-First-Fix.

- Used chipset

The SiRF III chipset has the following specifications:

SiRF Star III WAAS enabled
1, 1575.42 MHz
C/A code:
1.023 MHz chip rate
20 channel all-in-view tracking

Acquisition: -148dBm
Tracking: -159 dBm

Position Accuracy:
10 meters, 2D RMS 
~ 5 meters, 3D RMS WAAS
0.1 m/s
us synchronized to GPS time
WGS-84 Acquisition Time (Open sky, stationary)
0.1 sec., average
Hot start:
1 sec., average
Warm start:
38 sec., average
Cold start:
42 sec., average
18,000 meters (60,000 feet) max.
515 meters/second (1000 knots) max.
Less than 4g
20 m/sec
Protocol messages:
NMEA-0183 output protocol, Bluetooth Interface Baud Rate 4800bps
Output format:
GGA(1sec), GSA(5sec), GSV(5sec), RMC(1sec)
Operating temperature:
-20° to 60° C
5% to 95% Non-condensing

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

2. Package

Polstar iGeo-Pro PBT-648 - Page 2

- Package

For our testing purposes, Polstar Technologies sent us the retail package that includes:

The current price for the product is around US$100.00, as found around the net.

Bluetooth Specifications

GPS Specifications

The i-GeoPro GPS is about the same size as the Globalsat BT-338.

On the front of the device, there are two LED indicators, along with the i-Geo Pro logo, while on the right side there is another led showing GPS status and the on/off switch.

On the left side, you can see the DC jack used for charging the device.

Underneath, we see a sticker with the CE and FCC approval logos, place of manufacture, Polstar's web address, and usage and handling information:

The Li-Ion battery is rated at 1050mAh, 3.7V:

The external dimensions are 74x43x21mm. The 3 LEDs indicate the following status of the device :

3. Tests

Polstar iGeo-Pro PBT-648 - Page 2

- Installation

Installation of the device is very easy. After charging for about 3hours, you can install on either your PDA or any BT enabled laptop. Remember, the pair key is four zeros (0000), in case the application asks for it. All tests here were carried out using an ASUS A6JA laptop. We logged all produced data for a pre-selected route with VisualGPSX and later analyzed it with GPSLog.

In order to record the TTFF measurements ("Time to First Fix" which is the time it takes for a GPS to determine its current position), we used the GPSInfo "Cold Start" function. All tests ran simultaneously, under the same environmental conditions while driving around in an Audi, model A4 2004.

The retail package doesn't offer any kind of testing software. However, if you visit the Polstar Technologies website, you can download two software packages, one for PDAs and one for PC platforms.

- Tests Day One

On the first day we tested the device, it was daylight with a clear sky, and a temperature of 28° C.

Globalsat BT-338
Polstar i-GeoPro PBT-648
Time to First Fix (TTFF)
38 sec
46 sec


Average (in view)
Average (in use)
Average Signal Level (in dB)
Maximum per Satellite
Average per Satellite

The PBT-648 showed good performance, very similar to the BT-338. In fact, in most cases, it performed better than the BT-338.

- Tests Day Two

On the second day of testing, we had partly-cloudy daylight conditions, with 30° C.

Globalsat BT-338
Polstar i-GeoPlus PBT-648
Time to First Fix (TTFF)
39 sec
40 sec


Average (in view)
Average (in use)
Average Signal Level (in dB)
Maximum per Satellite
Average per Satellite

It is not surprising to see such close results from the two devices since they are both powered by the SiRF III chipset. There are some minor differences in the max and average levels, but not enough to be concerned with.

- Tests Day Three ( Indoor Sensitivity)

We placed both receivers inside a house, close to a large window and monitored their performance. The Polstar PBT-648 had a 3D fix with 6 in view and 4 in use satellites, whereas the Globalsat Globalsat BT-338 had a 3D fix with 7 in view and 5 in use satellites.

- Overall impressions

The Polstar i-Geo Plus PBT-648, is powered by the SiRF III chipset as we have already mentioned. The device showed typical SiRF III performance, good reception levels, good sensitivity and quick TTFF times. The Globalsat BT-338 seemed to be slightly better tuned, especially for indoor use. Most users however, won't even notice the differences.

4. Conclusion

Polstar iGeo-Pro PBT-648- Page 3

- Conclusion

Polstar Technologies recently entered the SiRF III chipset race with the introduction of the PBT-648 GPS device. As we expected, the performance was very good in all cases, matching that of the Globalsat BT-338. The device doesn't have any obvious weaknesses, but one shortcoming is that you cannot connect an external antenna.

The retail price of US$100.00, makes is comparable to the Globalsat BT-338. There are no major problems that we could see, so it is up to users to see which device best suits their needs.

The Positive

The Negative

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