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Navman GPS for Palm m series PDAs (m125/m130/m500/m505/m515, not m100)
 - by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

New Zealand based Navman, established in 1988, is a leading manufacturer of world-class marine electronics and GPS technology. (If you wonder how GPS works, read our GPS FAQ.) They offer GPS solutions for both handheld devices and notebooks.

The Navman GPS m Series includes the Navman 12 channel GPS receiver using the Helix Antenna, Rand McNally StreetFinder® Deluxe Travel Navigation Software, a windshield mounting bracket with single lever suction cup, and a vehicle power adapter. The GPS comes in the form of a back plate with a short but fat antenna. It allows the Palm to slide in to connect via the sync connector and has a tight lock that secures the Palm on the GPS plate. Navman GPS m Series uses 3.3v DC from the Palm internal battery or can be charged through supplied 12.0 V vehicle power adapter. It supports Palm m125/m130 and m500/505/515. The warranty is 1 year. Suggested retail is $199.
Also available: the p Series: supports Palm III, V and VII series, $149.95

Like many Palm GPS solutions, Navman GPS uses StreetFinder Deluxe for navigation software and US maps. It comes on 4 CDs. The setup program will put the navigation software as well as maps in your HotSync queue. You must install the map for your current location to use the GPS. You can either install the maps to your desktop or leave them on the CD, which requires CD swapping occasionally when you export them to your handheld.

Given the rich features in StreetFinder Deluxe and small screen of a Palm, it makes sense for you to plan your trip on your desktop/laptop with StreetFinder, export the route to your Palm, and only use Palm to make small changes and for emergency route planning.

Planning your Route
You can import an address either from the map or your address book. Finding locations on the map is easy with a few handy View Options in StreetFinder on your desktop. To quickly locate your area on the map, use the Locator Map. Once you are in the area map, you can choose whether you want the highway map level with all terrain and road conditions displayed for longer traveling, or the street level with detailed road types for zoom in display. There is an Airport Diagram option that displays the layout of all major US airports, which you can print out, but not export to your handheld.

To plan a trip in StreetFinder, use the Trip Organizer. You can get driving directions and maps for your trip. To get driving direction, choose addresses from your address book or type in the address. If you are not sure about the address, you can search it by location, name of the business, etc. or search the built-in yellow pages. If you use StreetFinder for your daily schedule, you can use the addresses listed on your schedule list. Another nice thing in StreetFinder is that you can search and map out routes for walking/bicycling trails as well.

There are a large number of points of interest (Concierge in StreetFinder) that includes fairly new lists for hotels, restaurants, nightlife, other services and city info within number of miles you define. The Concierge can also be displayed on your maps, and you will have the choice to display any type of Concierge in Map Options. Once your route is mapped, hit the Export to Handheld button to export the route map and directions to your Palm. To help you manage the file size, StreetFinder offers 3 map types for your handheld: Rectangle map (has the entire route and surrounding areas in a rectangular snap shot), Ribbon map (cut the map into a ribbon shape around the mapped route only), and Barbell map (only displays the map around the departure and arrival points). When you select the map type, StreetFinder will tell you how much memory it requires. HotSync your Palm and you are ready to go.

Navigation and Driving
The Navman GPS is integrated with StreetFinder on your Palm. You will only see StreetFinder icon and access your GPS there. There are mainly three screens you will need while driving with Navman GPS. There is a map screen where you can choose to display any map exported from desktop, a direction screen that lists all the turns in the route and a turn-by-turn screen that lists one turn at the time with the distance to the next turn. There is a vertical shortcut toolbar on the right hand side to help you zoom in and out of the map, or switch between map and direction screens. You can turn on or off the POI (points of interest) for the map as well as change color themes for the map display.

Use the menu to turn on the GPS. Even though there is no screen showing how many satellite signals the GPS is getting, I find the Navman GPS starts up very fast with strong and clear signal. The cold start takes less than half minute and the warm/hot start takes only a few seconds. The GPS will turn on the alerts sound twice before each turn, and you can select anywhere from 10 seconds to 60 seconds for the alert to come on before the turn, which is a very nice feature.

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Combining the rich features of StreetFinder Deluxe and the strong GPS receiver from Navman, m Series GPS is a great choice for any Palm m series user. The GPS unit adds very little bulk to the slick looking m500 and m130. The route planning is quick and easy with StreetFinder, and the display is clear and colorful on the Palm device. The GPS receiver gets a very strong signal and is integrated with navigation and map software. Make sure to check for latest map updates from Randy McNally if you don’t have the latest edition.

Navman m is priced at $199.95 and can be purchased at Fry’s Electronics, Micro Center or check the Navman website for additional local retailers.