When you often arrive at what feels like it could be the very best of a product class, and don’t have the time to compare alternatives you must draw on experience with similar gadgets to gauge quality and performance. Being one man with too few fingers in too many pies I often find myself at this situation and often fret that, due to the almost complete lack of “lemons” that I look at, Gadgetoid will appear biased.
I pick products carefully and look at things that make my geek senses tingle. With the Pandora on the horizon, the smallest most humble class of devices caught my eye; the Bluetooth GPS receiver.
There’s nothing bad to start with, in respect to the SiRF III Bluetooth GPS Receiver itself, the one I received was branded BlueNEXT, with no other marks distinguishing brand or model number. What I do know, obviously, is that it contains the SiRF III chipset which is close as you can get to GPS Nirvana for a poxy £30.
I’m going to go right ahead and say that, even if you do have a GPS built in to your smartphone, you’ll probably want to pick up one of these. When I finally got it working in TomTom Nav on a Touch Pro the GPS Status screen lit up like a christmas tree, showing more simultaneous tracked satellites than I had ever seen on any mobile phone or, indeed, a TomTom One in-car GPS.
And this was indoors.
Yup, from inside my bedroom (it was getting late after I’d tried getting it to work with Windows, Linux and OSX but failed due to lack of decent software or Linux being arsey) the tiny, pocketable “BlueNEXT” receiver had acquired a signal in seconds, perhaps because it had already taken the time to lock on before I had the Bluetooth connectivity sorted.
In testing this morning I had no luck with indoor acquisition, but received a strong signal within about 20 seconds after going outside.
The SiRF III Bluetooth GPS Receiver is, of course, dedicated so one can only expect this sort of performance, I was still fairly surprised, however, at how well it worked. Clearly a lot of MobileFun customers feel the same way, with the receiver just half a rating star from perfection.
My problems with Windows, Linux and OSX testing were very varied. I had extremely mixed results, but ultimately got the GPS working fine in OSX- I just couldn’t find any software on short notice to actually do anything with it.
Linux had the software, in the form of Viking, but getting the GPS and Viking to talk proved to be difficult; I’ll have to crack on with that soon!
Windows proved the trickiest, it flatly refused to pair with the receiver which I believe was because it ran on the same netbook as Linux. When double pressing the button on the receiver to tell it to connect, it saw and attempted to pair with my MacBook Pro instead.
I have only myself to blame for the failures on Netbooks and Laptops, the fact that the BlueNEXT receiver works exceptionally well with Windows Mobile reinforces this. With any luck, I’ll get it working in at least one of the three operating systems and have some interesting findings to report in the review.