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Home > Hardware Reviews > Mobiles

Monday, September 25, 2006
Palm GPS Navigator - Smartphone Edition

2. Setup & Use

gps device

Set up:

The Palm GPS Navigator was hands down the easiest GPS package I have ever set up. The GPS unit paired with the Treo in seconds via Bluetooth. Simply search for the device in the Bluetooth settings of the Treo, follow the instructions and you are ready to go.

The only thing easier was setting up the software. This version of TomTom Navigator software was just a joy to use. Put in the SD card, tell it what GPS unit you are using and your position is acquired in minutes.

From then on, the software was a cinch to use (and will be discussed down below.)

Ease of use:

This will seem like a contradiction, but, this is the beauty and the curse of this package. The problem is the use of Bluetooth and the limitations of the Palm OS. To be fair, I did not get to test this on the Treo 700 W, so I don’t know if the same issue applies to the Windows OS.

Here is the potential problem. Bluetooth on the Palm OS does not allow for multi tasking and a multiplicity of connections. Ideally, you pair your Treo with one device and just keep using it and it works great.

If you do not use a Bluetooth headset or car kit, you will have no problems with this GPS unit at all. It will work flawlessly and beautifully.

If, however, you use your Treo with a Bluetooth Headset or car kit - you will not be able to use the Treo with both simultaneously. If you want to use the GPS, you must disconnect the connection from the headset, connect to the GPS and then turn off your headset.

If you remain connected to your headset, the Treo will not be able to "see" the GPS device. This is just the way it is when trying to use the Treo with more than one Bluetooth device.

I asked the Palm rep I work with why they chose a Bluetooth GPS and not a hardwired GPS that could work through a serial connection and free up the GPS port and he said it was because this unit is designed so the user has the ability to walk around and use it.

I have to think that most GPS users will buy this for driving. I also believe that Palm (and many states) encourage us to use a Bluetooth hands free headset or car kit in order to drive more safely. Herein lies the problem - you have to choose which one to use.

All that being said, once you decide to use the GPS it is so easy to use. Much of that is attributed to the use of the TomTom software.

softwareSoftware

TomTom has long been regarded as one of the leaders in GPS software. This version, tailor made for the Treo, was flawless. Once connected, the display screen shows a beautiful 3D or 2D view and lots of data in big letters and numbers.

So much of the data is user definable - you can see how long until your destination, what time you will arrive, how fast you are going, how long until your next turn, the name of the street you are currently on and more.

I was skeptical that the little screen of the Treo would not be effective for GPS navigating - but I was very wrong. The high resolution of the Treo screen (Palm OS) allowed for bright, clear views of my route. The information I needed was nice and big and navigation through the menus was a joy.

TomTom really worked with Palm to design this software. It is easily operated with one hand and can even be set up for left or right handed use. The navigation buttons are large on the touch screen and the menu button on the Treo and the navigator d-pad can also be used to get around.

One nice feature of this software is that it assumes when you get in that you want to go home. When you first start the software, you input your home address and that is saved. You can also save any other trip and a record is also kept in a "recent trip" file.

If you aren't going home, it is so easy to plug in a new destination. It takes a little longer for the route to be planned than in other GPS programs I have used - but once planned, the trip is seamless.

If you take a wrong turn, don’t worry - the software will re-route you on the fly. You can even tell it to avoid toll roads and highways or visa versa. One very nice feature is that when you plug in your destination, the software asks you if you need to arrive at a particular time - if you need the "quickest" route - it will send you that way.

The POI feature is implemented wonderfully on this program as well. Just navigate to Points of Interest and select what you are looking for - restaurants, movies, museums, airports - whatever. Find the one you want, touch the navigate button and you are re-routed to that point.

This is calculated very quickly and so very useful. Imagine you are on the highway in a strange city and your spouse has a craving for sushi. Just search for "closest Japanese restaurant" and look at the list. Pick one that is near by and TomTom does the rest. Now, there is always the risk that the restaurant may have closed - but I have not encountered this in my testing.




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