Here’s a nice little Bluetooth GPS that I picked up on a great deal over at Geeks.com. I’ve been keeping an eye out for one for awhile and this came up with the features I wanted at the right price. For $40 I really couldn’t go wrong. Read on for the review.
There were three main features I was looking for in a Bluetooth GPS: An external antenna jack, WAAS capability and auto-power off, and here’s a brief explanation why.
External Antenna Jack
This allows you to stick the receiver wherever you want in the car and not have to worry about line of sight. I haven’t got the external antenna yet. All of my testing so far has been with the receiver on the dash and it has done pretty well. The biggest reason why I want the antenna is so I don’t need to have the GPS on the dash in direct sunlight and sliding onto the floor when I turn a corner (but I guess that’s what the velcro is for.)
WAAS is a feature of most newer GPS chipsets that allows it to receive additional correction data to give you a more accurate position. This really makes a big difference.
This particular GPS actually does NOT have this feature, despite what the specifications seem to imply. The specs quote 300 hours of battery life for “standby” time. I thought that meant that it went into standby after loosing the BT connection for some time. However, you actually have to hold the power button to put it into standby. This is different than the On/Off switch on the side of the unit. This seems pretty redundant and pointless. Oh well, this would be the feature I would sacrifice if I had to.
In the box along with the GPS unit, you’ve got a car charger, manual and a patch of velcro. The GPS unit was a lot smaller then I thought it would be. It was really hard to tell from the pictures what the relative size was. So, here I’ve included a picture of it sitting next to my Pocket PC.
I’ve tested it using TomTom 6 on my Pocket PC and it works great. When connecting it the first time with TomTom, make sure that the GPS has a satellite lock, otherwise it won’t recognize it, but that’s not a problem with the GPS. Also, as with any GPS the first time it locking can take up to 10 minutes to receive the almanac data, so this should be expected. Subsequent power ups seemed to meet the advertised cold start time of 27sec if the unit is not moving. If you turn it on in the car and take of, you can expect at least twice that time.
I’ve noticed at least twice that the Axim will appear to be paired with the GPS, but I don’t get any data. If I do a soft reset on the Axim, then everything works fine again without touching the GPS. So, if you run into problems, give that a try. (Hey, it’s a Microsoft OS, when in doubt, reboot.)
I’ve also tested it using the Bluetooth module on my Dell Latitude D620. I used a very simple GPS info program that just reports the satellite status. I didn’t have any problems with that either.
So, for the price, I think it was a fantastic deal. This spring I’ll be looking for a new handheld for backpacking. For handhelds, I’m a big fan of Garmin. I’d really like to see them come out with a unit that also has Bluetooth capability..
Here is some more information on the BTG-7000 at the Cellink website.
UPDATE: Looks like the company website is down. Here is the manual for the BTG-7000 [6MB] for anyone that wants it.