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Nexian HandyGPS Pro for Handspring Visor (read our GPS FAQ here)
  - by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

You know you've got a PDA, but did you know that you don't have to stop to ask for directions ever again? With a GPS plugged into your handheld you have street maps, highway maps, sometimes even listings of restaurants, movie theaters right in the palm of your hand.

Nexian HandyGPS Pro

Nexian HandyGPS Pro side view

Nexian HandyGPS Pro is one of these revolutionary personal navigation devices. This Handspring Springboard module is a micro-GPS module that can pinpoint your location on a detailed digital map, show you the location of nearby shops and attractions, and aid you in finding your way to your destination. HandyGPS works with Visor Deluxe, Platinum, Prism (maps are in color) and Visor Edge. The HandyGPS Pro comes in a few flavors: HandyGPS, HandyGPS Pro and Handy GPS Pro with StreetFinder software. The HandyGPS uses 2 AAA batteries. The Pro version comes with a rechargeable Li-ion battery and travel charger. The Deluxe version adds StreetFinder software (on 4 CDs) to the GPS Pro. We tested the HandyGPS Pro Deluxe package.


The installation of the GPS was easy. The HandyGPS app is built into the Springboard module, so no need to install it. To install StreetFinder for Palm OS, Pop the CD in; install the software, sync your Visor, and you are done. Note: * Versions other than the Deluxe version come with GPS and navigation software, but do not include a mapping application or any map data. You can download either UbiGo 1.5c, which has US Street and highway maps, from Nexian's web site; or use any NMEA-0183 compatible mapping application. Whichever you choose, you must install one of the above to get street maps. We installed Rand McNally because it's included in the Deluxe version we received. Now you need to charge the Li-ion battery. It takes about 4.5 hours for the first time charge and you'll get up to 10 hours operation.

Next comes setting up the GPS on your Visor. After you slide the HandyGPS into your Visor Springboard port, you will see a Current Position screen that has Major city, Daylight savings, Local date and time fields. The first thing you need to do is to set-up the values in these fields, which will speed up the satellite tracking process. You can select a city that's nearest to you; the date and time fields will display the time setting of Visor. You can also further specify how you want your date/time, position, distance, protocol, etc. to be presented.

Once you've set up your current position, you can go to the GPS launcher screen that shows the status of GPS search for satellites and changing time. The GPS launcher screen also lists all the applications you've installed, such as StreetFinder and NaviGPS software. You can also add any application on your Visor to this screen, such as Data Book, Address, etc. When you launch the GPS applications, it will ask you whether you want 2D fix or 3D fix. If you select 2D fix, you'll acquire 3GPS signals with 2D location information: latitude and longitude. If you select 3D fix, you will acquire 4GPS signals with 3D location information: latitude, longitude and altitude. If you see No Fix, it means you are at a location where GPS signals are not well received.


The NaviGPS is an internal application in HandyGPS Pro that provides you with basic GPS data, traces your journey and checks the status of tracked satellites. There are three main menu items in NaviGPS: Modes, Tool, and Preference. In Modes, you can select on of the three modes: GPS, Navigation or Satellite. GPS mode will provide you with current date, satellite-accurate time, Position (Latitude, Longitude), Altitude, direction (course) and speed. Navigation mode will track your path and guide you to your destination. There is no map in this mode; you have to go to StreetFinder if you want to see the map. In this mode, you will see your current position, speed, destination compass, and linear distance to your destination and your route trace. You can record your path or check satellites by clicking on the shortcut buttons on the upper right side of the screen. The Satellite mode will check the status of tracked satellites. You will see square boxes with unique numbers, which represent the satellites. If the boxes are black, that means you are receiving signals from the satellites; if they are white, you are not receiving signals. There is also a box indicates the strength of the signals as well. Under the Tool menu, you can set up your destinations, routes, marking a location, set up recording, etc. Please note, in order to use the Navigation functions in NaviGPS, you must have a POI (destination). The Preference menu allows you to set your current position.


As we mentioned before, HandyGPS Pro doesn't come with map data. You need to either load UbiGo street maps by using your Reg ID and Serial number of your HandyGPS or purchase the Deluxe version which includes StreetFinder by Rand McNally. StreetFinder Deluxe is a very extensive mapping application that comes with HandyGPS Pro version. The application takes up 154MB on your desktop PC (sorry no Mac). You can look up your destination, create the route and download it to your Visor. To find a location, you can import an address from your address book to the map or look up an address or a name of business in StreetFinder. There is also a built-in list that has city info, hotels, restaurants, nightlife and nearby services.

Once you have a destination address, you can create an address-to-address path. There is also a trip organizer in StreetFinder that shows your schedules, directions, maps, articles (on attractions, destinations) and expenses tracking. After you are done with all these, sync your Visor. When you launch your maps in StreetFinder from your Visor, your GPS will start connecting to the satellites and giving your locations. Once you start your journey, the GPS actually tracks your movements so that you can see the exact direction you're going with respective of the street maps. You can zoom in or out on the map in selected area, or pinpoint the marked points. You can view directions anytime while tracking your movement and speed, or you can look up a new address, restaurant, hotel, etc.









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How well does it work?
If you hadn't forked over a couple of grand to install GPS on your car, you've just added a very useful GPS for around $200 US. HandyGPS works very well in a car while driving and outdoors. You must have a good access to the sky to get satellite signals. It won't pick up any satellites if you are in a house. The HandyGPS interface is very intuitive and the installation is painless. The StreetFinder mapping application has more features than I ever wanted, but you only want to install the maps you need because the file sizes are quite large. The street maps and names are displayed clearly on my Visor Deluxe. You'll love it when you see the GPS track your travel routes because you will never get confused as to turn left or right at the intersection like you would with MapQuest directions.

HandyGPS Pro with StreetFinder Deluxe $229.99
HandyGPS Pro $199.99

Size: 2.15 x 3.07 x 1.7 inches
Battery: rechargeable Li-ion battery, up to 10 hours of operation
Built in GPS antenna, about 11m accuracy (CEP)
Acquisition time: Hot start: 8 seconds, Warm start: 39 seconds, Cold start: 66 seconds
12 channel L1 C/A GPS receiver
WGS-84 default datum
NMEA 0183 (Ver 2.2)/Navicom proprietary protocol

Optional Accessories:
Rechargeable Li-ion battery
Cigarette charger
External antenna