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PalmOne GPS Navigator For Bluetooth Enabled Palm PDAs (Zire 72, Tungsten T3, Treo 650, Palm T|X, Tungsten E2, Tungsten T5)
Posted August 5, 2004 by Tong Zhang, Editor in Chief and GPS Guru

Teaming up with TomTom, palmOne now offers a Bluetooth GPS package that works with its flagship PDA products with built-in Bluetooth networking capability. This GPS will simplify Palm customers' purchasing process since they can get the handheld and GPS from the same manufacturer. The palmOne GPS Navigator includes a palmOne branded Bluetooth GPS receiver, TomTom navigation software and TeleAtlas map and POI data. Map databases include the street level and highway systems data of US and Canada. The US maps include both Alaska and Hawaii.

What's in the Box?

The palmOne GPS Navigation package includes a Bluetooth GPS receiver, a charging cable that can recharge both your palmOne handheld and the GPS receiver at the same time, an in-vehicle power adapter and a wall A/C adapter (both can connect to the charging cable via USB), a German built windshield mounting kit providing a very sturdy holder that will secure your PDA in an easy accessible position, 8 CD-ROMs containing TomTom Navigator software and Tele Atlas North America maps, printed Read This First and Getting Started Guide.


PalmOne GPS



The short printed manuals in the box will show you how to charge the GPS receiver and how to mount the PDA in your vehicle. Both processes are quite simple.

To install navigation software and maps, you will need to use the CDs that come in the box. There are three major pieces of software you will need to install before using the GPS on your Palm: TomTom Navigator, Voice Prompt software and at least one map database.

TomTom navigation software comes in 8 major Western languages and will give you voice guidance in your native language based on the choice you make at the beginning of the installation. The navigation software is very easy to install and takes about 1MB memory. Next you will install the map databases. In the map database installation window, you will see a long list of databases that you can highlight and install. This list includes not only the map database of each State, but also a list of map databases of each State plus neighboring States. Since there isn't any visual aid to select map data across the State lines, this list is extremely important for installing maps that cover more than one State. Each of these databases has file size marked so that you know how big a storage card you will need. You will have a choice to install the maps to a card in the handheld, to a card reader or to the PC.

You will need to HotSync after each installation. Make sure you have an SD card inserted in your Palm before the HotSync. Once all the software and map databases are installed, take out the SD card and insert it back in again, the software will auto start the TomTom navigation software on your Palm screen.

GPS Receiver

The palmOne branded Bluetooth GPS receiver gets very good signal strength and takes short time to get fixes. The 12-channel receiver takes less 1 minute to get a 3D fix in a cold start and only a few seconds in warm/hot starts. It consistently tracks 6-7 GPS satellites in the Silicon Valley area. The receiver is WAAS enabled and has a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and a power saving mode when the GPS isn't in use. It also supports NMEA v2.2.

You can access the GPS status via TomTom navigation software. On the GPS Status screen, you will see general GPS info such as position info, moving speed, number of GPS satellites in-sight and tracking, signal indicator and more. Pairing the GPS receiver and a Tungsten T3 has proven to be painless. Make sure that you follow the short instructions in the printed manual as it provides important software activation steps and a Bluetooth access code. The Bluetooth range between the GPS receiver and a T3 doesn't reach 30 feet, but it has plenty enough range for using the devices in a vehicle.


You can do route calculations and get driving directions on your Palm once you've received the satellite signals. To map out a route, you can enter a new address, use a POI (Point of Interest) from the database, re-use an address on your Favorite destination or the Recent destination list, and use your current GPS position which is very useful if you are lost and have no idea what the street address is. Once you've enter all the destinations, hit Navigate to button and you will get the turn-by-turn driving instructions as well as a 2D or 3D map showing you the route.



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There are many display features offered in TomTom navigation software such as setting display color schemes (day and night colors), change/set units (US vs. International), change voice or language, use left-handed lay-out, change icons and much more. You can spend a lot of time customizing how you want your map, driving instructions and other properties of the navigation software displayed on your Palm handheld.
There are various sophisticated options in the TomTom navigation software for you to customize route planning. These options include calculating an alternative route, avoid roadblock, travel via any address and avoid part of the route. The route calculations seem to be largely on target in our trip planning tests. The route mapping reflects the options and always got us to our destinations, sometimes with some surprising detours. TomTom navigation software will automatically re-calculate the route if you've missed turns in the planned route and will try hard to get you back on the original track.


After you've planned out a route, you can follow the directions on the map, by text/icon direction list or a turn-by-turn guidance that shows you both a route map with the planned route in bold highlight and text/icon turn instructions. You can view the map in either 2D or 3D view. The map redraw when following your moving speed is smooth on the Tungsten T3 in hi-res plus mode (slider open). You can change between the Day color scheme and Night color scheme for better viewing in different lighting conditions.

The voice guidance will come on twice before each turn, once at 200 feet and once at the turn. You will also see a turning status bar that fills up as you approach the turn. The human voice is very clear in the US English version and the volume is quite adequate to overcome the noise on the road. You can change the volume anytime via the menu. The frequency of the voice guidance seems to be set at low level. Many times when the navigation software recalculates the route, I did not get a voice warning that I've driven off the planned routes.

About the map data

PalmOne Bluetooth GPS package includes the Tele Atlas' North America map and POI database. Tele Atlas is one of the major mapmakers who offer both US and international maps. They claim that their North America map data provides 100% basic attributed coverage for all of the U.S. and Canada. Basic attributed maps contain a complete street network, address ranges, ZIP codes, and geographic area codes. Tele Atlas employs a large professional field data collection force that drives the North American road network each day, gathering new information and updating their map data and POI database. You can check out a sample of Tele Atlas' map on this site: In addition to the maps, the POI database has a few million entries.

screen shot


map screen shot


The GPS Navigator package adds a strong product to palmOne's accessory line. It will give the power users another reason to shop for palmOne's high-end devices.

The GPS receiver gets great signal strength and very reasonable time to get fixes. The receiver comes with both in-vehicle and A/C outlet adapters. It's easy to pair with palmOne Bluetooth enabled devices.
TomTom navigation software is solid when running in both hi-res and hi-res plus mode. The map display on the 480x640 and landscape mode provides a great experience. It also offers to install maps to a card reader which speeds up the map database installation dramatically.
The route mapping provides many options to customize a trip. Re-calculations are quite fast. TomTom navigation offers many options to customize the map and directions display.
Voice guidance system is on target and the voice quality and volume can stand the noise on the road.
The in-vehicle mount is very sturdy and easy to use with your PDA in or out of its case.

Voice guidance could use a little tweaking and more frequent warnings.
There isn't an easy way to cut the map of the areas you need. Instead you will need to install maps of the entire State or several States.

Price: $299.99
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