Geekzone: technology news, blogs, forums
Welcome Guest.
You haven't logged in yet. If you don't have an account you can register now.

Navman Bluetooth GPS 4400 for Pocket PC review

Posted on 29-Sep-2004 20:56 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

Not everyone knows it, but Navman is a New Zealand based company. Their software covers American, European and Australian cities, but strangely the GPS models sold here don't have local maps. I have contacted Navman a couple of times, requesting review units, but until now our contacts with Navman failed to arrange this, with the excuse that since local maps weren't available it would be of no interest (for us, or to them?).

Anyway, some of the folks at Advanced Portable Technologies are quite active in our forums, and have helped us by arranging one of these devices for this review. The company also distribute products from Socket Communications and other brands.

The Navman 4400 is a well built and engineered product. It is about the same size of other Bluetooth GPS products we've seen before. It works with three AAA batteries, or a car adapter, which comes with the product. These batteries can supply up to 30 hours of continuous GPS reception. The GPS antenna is multi-directional, and there's an external antenna adapter available.

Navman Bluetooth GPS and i-mate Pocket PC Phone Edition
Navman Bluetooth GPS and i-mate Pocket PC Phone Edition

The GPS receiver has 12 parallel channels, and supplies updates once a second after a fix is obtained. Available protocols are NMEA, GPGGA, GPGSA, GPRMC and GPGSV. The brochure states that a hot start takes around 8 seconds, while a warm and cold start will use 38s and 45s respectively. According to the specs it's accurate to 5m 95% of the time.

The software that accompanies the product in each different market covers all of Australia, United States and Canada, plus other European countries. Since I couldn't source this software for testing, I can only say that its specifications lists voice and screen driving directions in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Swedish and Danish.

The Bluetooth software on this GPS implements the Serial Port Profile (SPP). One strange thing is the default PIN. First it's not documented anywhere in the manual (an Adobe Acrobat file in the CD), and second it's alphanumeric, instead of just numbers, like other devices. Finding the default PIN was a test for their support service. My e-mail query to the local office was answered correctly and quick � around one hour response time. For the record, the default PIN is NAVMAN.

I guess the reason why the PIN is not in the manual is because the device does not need to be paired to work with most Pocket PC. This is the case with the HP iPAQ h4150 I used to test it. Unfortunately it's not the case with Pocket PC Phone Edition devices, like the i-mate Pocket PC Phone Edition. These devices use the Microsoft Bluetooth stack, and they only connect to a SPP device if you pair both beforehand. This wouldn't be a problem, except that the Microsoft Bluetooth software does not accept alphanumeric PIN. Thanks to a small free utility called enable char pin this can be changed.

 Navman Bluetooth GPS and i-mate Pocket PC Phone Edition
Three AAA batteries or car charger, and yes, Made in New Zealand

Now to the software test. The software we have used before when testing a Bluetooth GPS is no longer available. But one of our users pointed in our forums to a new local product, called Pocket WAW.

Pocket WAW works on Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC devices in two modes:

  • While in on-line mode it downloads maps and street directory over any network connection � most of the times this will be a GPRS or CDMA (for those users with a Pocket PC Phone Edition). The on-line service is fine if you have GPRS or CDMA coverage, which are sometimes hard to find while walking in the bushes in the middle of a national park.
  • In off-line mode the software uses maps previously downloaded and stored in the Pocket PC's memory.

    The software works with any GPS supporting the NMEA protocol, and it allows maps to be downloaded from two different servers � one with New Zealand street maps and the other with New Zealand topographical maps. The software will download only the required portion of a map, when the user moves out of the edge of the current map, or while zooming in and out.

    Pocket WAW connect to a Bluetooth GPS
    Pocket WAW connected to the Navman Bluetooth GPS

    Pocket WAW street directory
    Searching the street directory

    Find my way with Pocket WAW
    Finding my way with Pocket WAW

    Find my way with Pocket WAW
    Finding my way with Pocket WAW (zoom in)

    Another interesting function is the street search. Entering a street name will return a list of towns and cities, and tapping one of these entries will bring the correct map, including in some cases street numbers for each block.

    I've noticed a couple of performance problems and a fault when exiting the program without disconnecting the Bluetooth device, but the developer was quick to reply to our questions and comments during the review, even sending a new version with fixes for the fault reported.

    The Navman Bluetooth GPS worked flawlessly, performing well, and with some good local software it can be used in this country. As for the bundled software and its usability in other countries, I could live with a �research� trip to Australia�