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Holux GPS Cradle and FreeCruiser Cradle for Pocket PC review
Posted on 3-Aug-2005 12:49 by Peter Torr Smith | Filed under: Reviews

So you want to use your PDA in your car or boat for GPS navigation. You will most certainly be needing a cradle of some sort to allow you to navigate safely. Here we will look at two different types of PDA cradles, both targeting in-car/boat navigation, one with the GPS unit built in, the other which can take an optional plug in GPS.

Holux Cradle GPS

The Holux CR-100 Car Cradle GPS receiver is a solid solution with a pretty accurate GPS unit built into the back of the cradle. This means all you have to do is supply the PDA with your choice of street navigation software.

The built-in GPS unit is mounted on a rotating / swivel connection, which allows for it to be positioned level for optimal reception even if you operate your PDA in landscape mode. The GPS unit is very accurate, and quickly returns even minor changes of speed and direction with a negligible delay (more responsive than any of the 3 other GPS units I have reviewed here recently).

The downside of this unit is that it does seem to take quite a while to get its first fix from a cold start (sometimes several minutes), but once fixed, the lack of positional overrun when navigating was reassuring. There was no external antenna connector, nor any way of plugging in an external GPS unit (except directly into the PDA) should you wish to use a different GPS receiver.

Holux Cradle GPS

The cradle itself has a spring loaded self-clamping grip for holding your PDA in place. The clamp seems easily strong enough for its purpose, though you need to slightly awkwardly pry open the grips to insert the pda. The cradle uses a PDA-specific connector to communicate and charge your PDA (specify which PDA when you purchase), so while one connector will not fit all PDAs, thereís a good chance you can obtain a replacement/upgrade connector if you need to in the future.

The cradle is mounted on what appears to be a very strong and flexible goose neck which uses a rubber suction foot to affix to the inside of your windscreen (or any other flat and smooth surface). Both the neck and the foot appear robust and had no problem remaining affixed to the windscreen when I needed to adjust the position/angle of the cradle/PDA.

It comes with a built-in speaker, with a volume control and an audio connector cable, to allow for navigational voice prompts (if provided by your navigation software), and any other sounds from the PDA, to be heard clearly over the ambient noise in the car. Power for the GPS unit, and to charge the PDA, is provided through a car-charger-cable.

Overall a solid cradle with a responsive GPS unit built in. Available in New Zealand through Goldfinger Ltd for just over NZ$220 (US$150, excl. GST). Goldfinger also distribute a very basic non-GPS, non-powered, cradle.

Good built-in GPS unit.
Volume control.
Charges PDA.
Loudspeaker for PDA audio.

Will not hold iPaq with expansion sleeve.
No external antenna connector for GPS.

FreeCruiser PDA Cradle

If you already have a GPS unit for your PDA, have available a PDA holder that may suit your needs. This unit does not have a GPS built in, but it does have a connector to allow for an optional external GPS unit (such as their GMouse magnetic and waterproof unit). The cradle has a speaker built in for voice prompts connected through an audio cable, but no volume control, so that must be controlled via your PDA. It too has an interchangeable PDA connector plug in the base, so you need to specify which PDA you will be using when purchasing.

The goose neck and suction foot on this cradle didnít seem quite as solid as in the Holux, but still stayed firmly stuck to the windscreen when I repositioned the unit. This cradle can alternatively come supplied with a screw mount for a more customised and permanent mounting in your car or boat.

FreeCruise PDA Cradle

What I really liked about this holder was the grip system. To load your PDA, you simply place it on the connector and squeeze the side grips together. They will stay as tight as you squeeze them, and when you want to take your PDA out, the grip jaws spring wide open with the push of a button.

The cradle is powered through a car-charger-cable, charging your PDA, and powering any external cabled GPS unit if connected.

Overall, a reasonable navigation and charging cradle with built in speaker. Available in New Zealand through efrontier for just under NZ$60 (US$40, excl. GST). eFrontier also have available a no-frills PDA holder if you donít want the benefits of charging and speaker.

In both cradles, the iPaq connector worked with both my HP 4700 and my iPaq 3860, but neither would cater for the extra depth of an iPaq with a compact flash expansion sleeve attached.

You can use your own GPS unit.
Can plug external GPS unit.
Charges PDA.
Loudspeaker for PDA audio.
Can also be purchased with screw mount.

Will not hold iPaq with expansion sleeve.
No volume control.

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