3600 was the
first PDA with an integrated GPS to infiltrate the US market in
late 2003. The Palm OS iQue 3600 was much anticipated and well-received
at launch, proving that consumers wanted an integrated device
that kept them both on-schedule and on track to their next appointments.
But what about loyal Pocket PC users? Mitac came to the rescue
in early 2004 with their Mio 168 which
has enjoyed strong success in the US though Mitac isn't a household
name here. The Mio has middling specs by Pocket PC standards and
an excellent GPS. Garmin then released their first Pocket PC with
integrated GPS, the iQue M5. If you're looking for a more budget minded version, check out our review of the Garmin iQue M3 which was released in late 2005.
The M5 has a lot going for it: a 416MHz Intel
XScale processor which beats the Mio's 300MHz processor, Bluetooth,
a user replaceable battery (the Mio's is fixed) and it runs Windows
Mobile 2003 Second Edition with support for landscape mode while
the Mio runs Windows Mobile 2003 (not SE). Clearly, the Garmin
has strong Pocket PC specs and a high price tag to match: the list
price is $749, though it can be found for less at many retailers.
But how about the GPS and GPS software? Read on to see!
The Garmin M5 uses Garmin's own Que GPS software
which is the spitting image of the software used on their Palm
OS iQue 3600. The unit comes with MapSource City Select maps on
CD for the US and Canada with base maps of South and North America
and Puerto Rico. Maps of Europe and the Pacific rim are available
for separate purchase, and international versions are available
for users in those areas with the appropriate respective maps bundled.
In the Box
The Garmin comes with a nice bundle of goodies:
the iQue, removable Lithium Ion battery, charger, cradle, stylus,
removable flip cover, Pocket PC software CD, map CDs, in-vehicle
car mount comprised of a windshield mount, cradle, external
speaker and cigarette lighter charger.
Design and Ergonomics
The Garmin iQue M5 is a relatively large Pocket
PC in length, though it's not overly wide. It's about ½ inch
longer than the Mio 168, and identical in size to Garmin's Palm
OS iQue 3600. Like the Garmin iQue
3600, the M5 scores a bronze metallic finish that looks professional.
It has the standard Pocket PC controls on the front: four application
buttons below the display along with a round directional pad with
an action button in the center of the d-pad. The circular d-pad
moves easily (but not too easily) in all directions and supports
diagonals. The application buttons launch Calendar, Contacts, Messaging
and Que Cycle (cycle through bundled Que applications); and you
can re-assign other applications to these buttons. Above the display,
you will find a microphone/speaker grill on the left, the Power
on/off button in the center and two LEDs on the right. The left
LED indicates battery status while the right indicates Bluetooth
status. The iQue M5 comes with a removable flip cover that's rigid
and protect the screen from scratches and minor bumps.
On the top edge you'll find the standard 3.5mm
stereo headphone jack, an SD card slot, IR window and the top of
the stylus silo. The metal stylus feels good in hand thanks to
its weight and thickness. Near the top on the left side of the
device, you will find a voice recorder button and the right side,
you will find an external GPS antenna port underneath a tiny rubber
cover. On the bottom of the unit, you will find the combined sync
and charging port which plugs into the desk cradle and the in-vehicle
cradle. You can't plug the charger directly into the Garmin, but
rather you must plug it into the cradle or car charger.
The back of the Garmin iQue M5 is occupied by
the hinged GPS antenna panel that can be flipped up when using
and locked shut when not. There is a lock release slider next to
the antenna and you will need to slide it to unlock the GPS antenna.
The battery door is located below the GPS antenna and the iQue's
battery is user replaceable.
The Garmin iQue M5 comes with a very sturdy windshield
mount with integrated cradle which can be adjusted to various angles
to fit your car the best. The mounting kit has a speaker and an
in-vehicle power adapter that can charge the Garmin via the cigarette
Horsepower and Performance
The Garmin has a 416MHz Intel XScale PXA272 processor
which offers strong performance and beats out the Mio 168 in benchmarks.
The iQue M5 does extremely well in graphics benchmarks and as a
result maps render quickly, and game and video playback are excellent.
The device has 64 megs of RAM with 63 available
to the user and 64 megs of flash ROM, 15 of which is available
to the user as "safe Store" non-volatile memory which
will survive a hard reset and complete battery depletion.
The Pocket PC has an SD slot for expansion which
supports SDIO for networking cards. Need more space to store map
data? Simply put them on an SD memory
Gaming performance is very good, and video playback
is excellent using the included Windows Media Player 10 and 3rd
party players such as BetaPlayer.
Above: side view with antenna extended (left) and
flip cover attached but open (right end).
We performed benchmark tests using Spb Benchmark,
which has become the standard for testing Pocket PC performance.
The Garmin did well, holding its own against other recent 400MHz
Pocket PCs and beating out the 300MHz Mitac Mio 168. Certainly
if you're looking for a Pocket PC with integrated GPS and good
processing power and graphics performance, the Garmin is a good
Display, Sound and Gaming
The Garmin has a 3.5" QVGA transflective
64,000 color display running at 320 x 240 resolution. The display's
brightness and contrast are average for a Pocket PC, and color
saturation is quite good, though the display does have a pink
tint. While not nearly as bright as the Mio 168's display which
is one of the brightest and sharpest we've seen on a Pocket PC,
it is on par with the Dell Axim X30 and X50 Pocket PCs.
Voice volume through the built-in speakers
is loud enough for normal applications, gaming and route guidance
as long as the road or your car aren't terribly noisy. The volume
doesn't come close to the Mio 168, which is by far the loudest
PDA. The Garmin is louder than several iPAQ Pocket PCs and compare
favorably to Dell models. The included in-vehicle mounting kit
has a louder speaker, which ups the volume adequately. Sound
volume through a pair of stereo headphones is very good, and
it's louder than the the iPAQ 4705 for MP3 and movie playback.
All the games we tested worked very well on
the Garmin. Game speed is very good, even when playing some of
the most processor intensive titles. We tested some 3D flight-shooters
including Metalion 2, Anthelion,
the 2D shoot 'em up game Sky
Force and the ever-popular Age
of Empires. Controls are
responsive and games play smoothly. Game sound FX and music are
quite loud through the speaker.
The Garmin's 1250 mAh Lithium Ion battery provides
good runtimes. Garmin claims that it can get 5-7 hours of continuous
PDA/GPS use, which is a bit optimistic unless you're only using
the GPS and PIM functions, set brightness below 50% and do not
use Bluetooth. Gaming and video playback will consume power more
quickly as will active Bluetooth usage. That said, the Garmin
is above average among Pocket PCs and will outlast the Dell Axim
X50 and some iPAQ models. In our tests, the iQue M5 played MP3s
with the display turned off for just over 7 hours before it hit
the 10% battery mark.
HP iPAQ rx3715 (400MHz)
Axim X30 (312Mhz)
Mitac Mio 168
Garmin iQue M5
Spb Benchmark index
File system index
Write 1 MB file (KB/sec)
Read 1 MB file (MB/sec)
Copy 1 MB file (KB/sec)
Write 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
10 KB x 100 files (MB/sec)
Copy 10 KB x 100 files (KB/sec)
Directory list of 2000 files (thousands
Internal database read (records/sec)
Graphics test: DDB BitBlt (frames/sec)
Graphics test: DIB BitBlt (frames/sec)
Graphics test: GAPI BitBlt (frames/sec)
Pocket Word document open (KB/sec)
Pocket Internet Explorer HTML load (KB/sec)
Pocket Internet Explorer JPEG load (KB/sec)
File Explorer large folder list (files/sec)
Compress 1 MB file using ZIP (KB/sec)
Decompress 1024x768 JPEG file (KB/sec)
Arkaball frames per second (frames/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MFLOPS (Mop/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MOPS (Mop/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MWIPS (Mop/sec)
test: copy 1 MB using memcpy (MB/sec)
* Spb Benchmark couldn't complete
some CPU and mem copy tests on the Mio 168, so results for the
Mio aren't available in all categories.
Unlike HP iPAQ Pocket PCs and several other
brands with integrated Bluetooth, the Garmin does not use Broadcom's
(formerly Widcomm) excellent Bluetooth stack and software. Instead,
the iQue runs Stonestreet
One's BTExplorer. While there are some similarities in the
user interface and overall functionality, BTExplorer falls short
of Broadcom's offering. The user interface is less than intuitive.
When creating a new Bluetooth connection, you'll select the new
connection option, and like Broadcom's software on recent iPAQs,
you can either select "Explore Services on Remote Device" to
allow the Pocket PC to discover available services, or if you
know what you want, you can use the drop-down menu to select
other options such as ActiveSync, "Connect to the Internet
using Phone/Modem"," Browse Files on Remote Device" and
so on. Once you've made your selection, you'll hit "next" to
have the M5 scan for Bluetooth devices in range. Unfortunately,
once the Garmin has found a Bluetooth device, on subsequent visits
to this page, it will only show the device(s) it found the first
time. There is no refresh or scan option, so you'll sit there
pondering how to make the little bugger find its intended new
Bluetooth pairing partner. How to do it then? Tap and hold in
the devices window using the stylus to bring up a menu which
offers options to discover devices, delete all devices and more.
An integral step in the discovery and pairing process should
never be a well kept secret. Once the Garmin has found the Bluetooth
device it will take you to the next screen where it lists discovered
devices. This window has a pop-up menu near the top which filters
results (all devices, audio devices, network devices, phones,
printers, computers, and OBEX devices). Oddly, even if you started
off by selecting phone pairing, this window's default filter
seems to be Network Devices, so you'll wonder where your phone
went until you tap the pop-up menu to select phones or all devices.
But the good news is that the device does pair
nicely with standard mobile phones like the Nokia
N-Gage QD and
other recent Nokias as well as the Sony Ericsson T610. It did
pair with the Audiovox SMT5600 smartphone
but for some reason couldn't make a connection to the Internet,
though this phone plays nicely with other Pocket PCs such as
iPAQ hx4700 and the Dell
The Garmin M5 has a strong selection of Bluetooth
profiles such as audio, ActiveSync, serial port, OBEX push, dial
up modem, and networking (via access point or connection sharing).
Once you get beyond the interface, the functionality is good.
The Garmin iQue M5 runs Windows Mobile 2003
Second Edition operating system. Since both portrait and landscape
orientations are supported natively in this version of the OS,
you can view the maps in either orientation. The Garmin also
comes with the standard Microsoft Pocket PC software including
Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Windows Media Player 10, Internet
Explorer, Pictures (a photo viewer), Terminal Services Client,
MSN Messenger, and Outlook (Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Notes
and Messaging). Like all Pocket PCs, the Garmin comes with ActiveSync
and Outlook 2002 for the desktop. Pocket PCs sync to Outlook
for PIM data (contacts, calendar, tasks, notes and email), and
you can use ActiveSync to sync files and install Pocket PC applications
on the Garmin.
In addition to this standard Pocket PC software,
Garmin includes Stonestreet One's BTExplorer for managing Bluetooth
connections and a nice application launcher Today Screen plugin
called QuickLaunch Bar. The Garmin also comes with Sprite Backup,
an excellent backup program that allows you to back up your data
to an SD card or the 15 meg flash ROM area of memory.
And of course, the M5 comes with GPS and navigation
software. The unit comes with Garmin's signature "Que" suite
of applications. These are QueMap, QueFind, QueGPS, QueTrip,
QueRoutes and QueTurns. The iQue M5 package also includes a very
impressive map package called MapSource City Select that utilizes
map data from NAVTEQ, offers highway and street level maps for
all 50 US States, Canada and Puerto Rico, and over 5 million
POIs (Points of Interest).
Above: the Bluetooth wizard.
Above: the Garmin Que apps. Below:
Garmin's Today Screen Plugin with status popup.