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Appeared on: Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Globalsat BT-359b


1. Introduction - Features
Globalsat announced back in March the next generation of BT GPS products, the BT-359 series. This new line offers the power of the SiRF III chipset with a new and attractive design and superb performance. We test the new Globalsat BT-359S alongside its younger brother, the BT-338, under various environmental conditions.

- Globalsat BT-359S

The BT-359 series is the next generation Bluetooth GPS receiver. Globalsat's new top of the line bluetooth GPS is both stylish and functional in true GlobalSat tradition. Taking its design criteria from the market leading BT-338, Globalsat have pushed the limits of GPS even further with greater sensitivity, more accuracy, and longer battery life than ever before.

Globalsat BT-359S

The GlobalSat BT-359 contains the latest SiRF III Low Power Chipset for high sensitivity. It communicates with Host Platforms (PDA, Laptop, etc.) via Bluetooth Serial Port Profile. With Bluetooth version 2.0 and a built-in ceramic patch antenna, the BT-359 provides faster acquisition times and improves accuracy in urban canyons and under dense foliage. It contains a replaceable battery with a large capacity, which enables the BT-359 to operate for up to 11 hours. A slide battery lid makes it easy to remove and replace the battery without the use of tools. It also supports WAAS and EGNOS for even greater accuracy.

Available in two styles the BT-359S has a solar-look design and the BT-359W has a wave-look design.

Globalsat BT-359W

- Features

SiRF Star III high performance and low power consumption chipset
• Communications with Host platform Via Bluetooth Serial Port Profile
• Bluetooth Version 2.0.
• Built-in ceramic patch antenna.
• High sensitivity GPS receiver provides faster acquisition times and improves accuracy in urban canyons and under dense foliage.
• Battery life up to 11 hours of operation time, in continuous mode.
• Features power saving mode (powers down after 10 minutes of inactivity).
• Supports WAAS and EGNOS Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems for more accurate corrected position reports.
• Physical dimensions: 82.0 mm x 41.0 mm x 13.4 mm.

- Used chipset

The SiRF III chipset has 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
Sensitivity

Acquisition: -148dBm
Tracking: -159 dBm

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, Bluetooth Interface Baud Rate 4800bps
Output format:
GGA(1sec), GSA(5sec), GSV(5sec), RMC(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 (actually 12 maximum), has very low Hot/Warm/Cold start times and its accuracy reaches ~5m when WAAS mode is enabled.

The main differences between the BT-338 and BT-359S are:


2. The Package
For our testing purposes, Globalsat sent us the retail package that includes:

The current price for the product has not yet been announced, and it will be a while yet until the product hits the store shelves.

The BT-359S is significantly smaller than the BT-338 and much more eye catching:

The battery can be accessed easily by removing the plastic back plate. It is rated at 3.7V with 1300mAh capacity:

The only available jack is the USB power port, located at the right of the device.

Under the battery, we find a label with various information such as the device S/N, certifications, handling instructions. Note our device's #SN, 1 ;-)

The external dimensions are 82.0 mm x 41.0 mm x 13.4 mm with a weight of <70gr, making it truly portable. On the front, there are three LEDs showing the status of the GPS, Bluetooth and Battery.


3. Installation - Tests
The installation of the device is very easy. After charging for about 2 hours or more, you can install it either on your PDA or BT enabled laptop. Remember, the pair key is four zeros (0000), in case the application asks for it. We recorded all produced data for a pre-selected route with VisualGPSX and later analyzed it with GPSLog. In order to measure the TTFF tests ("Time to First Fix" which is the time it takes for a GPS to determine its current position), we used GPSInfo "Cold Start" function. All tests ran simultaneously, under the same environmental conditions.

Using GPSInfo, we could see among other things, the device's firmware revision (3.1.1.)

- Tests Day One

On the first day, we tested the device with a clear sky, daylight, 39° C.

Globalsat BT-338
Globalsat BT-359S
Time to First Fix (TTFF)
Secs
39 sec
42 sec
Fix
Invalid
0
0
2D
0
0

3D

100
100
Satellites
Average (in view)
10.09
10.81
Average (in use)
8.35
7.54
Average Signal Level (in dB)
Maximum per Satellite
45.70
42.30
Average per Satellite
32.78
30.99

The BT-359S is powered by the SiRF III chipset, so its performance was very good and came very close to what the BT-338 delivered. Globalsat has notified us that the product may need further fine tuning so there may well be improvements before its final release. But with such good performance already, most users won't even notice the difference.

- Indoor Sensitivity

We placed both receivers inside a house close to a big window and monitored their performance. Both the BT-359S and BT-338 had a 3D fix, but the BT-338 had somewhat higher reception levels.

- Overall impressions

In our tests, the BT-338 seemed to have better reception and sensitivity than the BT-359S, which seems logical since the device we had was an early release. We expect that the final product to hit the market will have been fined tuned and will offer the same, if not better performance than the BT-338.


4. Conclusions
Globalsat's BT-359S is the next generation design for BT GPS products. The new design from Globalsat is very good and very appealing visually. The device we tested was lighter than the BT-338.

In its performance and in comparison to the BT-338, the BT-359S was not that far behind, remembering that both are powered by the famous SiRF III chip. There are some differences as our tests showed, with the most obvious being the higher TTFF times. However, we believe that this and other areas will be improved before the device becomes available.

Globalsat BT-359S

Overall, we were satisfied with Globalsat's BT-359S and its new design. The retail price is not yet known but should be at around the same range as the BT-338. With the fine tuning that has been promised, the BT-359S could soon become the next champion of the BT GPS arena.

The Positive

The Negative



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