Sony PEGA-CC5 Car Cradle - posted Oct. 29, 2003 by Tong
Zhang, Senior Editor
In August 2003 Sony released a car cradle that can
functions as a GPS with a special bundle of StreetFinder navigation
and map software. The car cradle can also read your email and schedule
to you via the Text-to-Voice feature, play MP3 or ATRAC3 music in
stereo sound and has a FM radio transmitter built in. And of course,
as a car charger, it also charges the internal battery of the Clié handheld
when it’s plugged into cigarette lighter socket. This multifunction
car cradle, however, only works with the Sony Clié NX80V, NX73V and TG50 models
at the moment.
If you want to know more about GPS, read our GPS
FAQ. If you need help evaluating GPS solutions for your handheld,
read our GPS Evaluation Guide.
What’s in the Box?
The Sony PEGA-CC5 package comes with a cradle that’s
slightly larger than your Clié which your PDA will plug into,
a cigarette lighter power adapter, an external GPS antenna that can
be placed on top of your car roof, a remote control that allows you
to control the car cradle functions, and an extensive collection
of mounting components that allow you to install this car cradle
package in your car. An installation CD and a Rand McNally StreetFinder
C3 navigation and map software CD along with three guides are also
included in the package.
The car cradle has three ports on the bottom: a DC
5.2V port that can be connected to the cigarette lighter socket via
the included power adapter, an I/O port that can be connected to
your car audio or CD/MD changer (they have to be Sony BUS compatible
and connection adapter XA-CC1 is not included), and a GPS antenna
port that can be connected to your external GPS antenna included
in this package.
The software installation is very easy. Insert the
installation CD and follow the instructions to install the software.
It installs an app installer on your Clié and you need to
run this installer on your Clié to install the application.
The StreetFinder CD will install the navigation and map software
on your desktop and handheld. You will need to map your route on
the desktop and download it to your Clié. The mapping software
can be installed on your Memory Stick.
The car cradle hardware installation and mounting are
a bit more complicated. Luckily Sony provides us with a 13-step installation
instruction sheet that comes with pictures and a step-by-step installation
guide. You will need to take some time to mount the car cradle in
a fastion best suited to your car.
Trip Planning with StreetFinder C3
StreetFinder C3 (Clié Car Cradle) includes street
level maps of all continental US States and Hawaii. It provides an
extensive set of features that can help navigate your routes quickly
on your desktop. Use the Trip Organizer to get directions, maps and
even track your expenses and trip schedules. To find a location,
you can import an address from your address book, input an address
and search it from the database or look up an address or a name of
business that’s already in StreetFinder’s POI (Points
of Interest) database. The categories in the POI database include
airports, banks, movie theaters, pharmacies, sports, post offices,
city info, hotels, restaurants, nightlife and a lot more. Once you
have the destinations, you can map out the directions and see it
on the map and export it to the handheld. You can also build multiple
trips and export them all to either the internal memory or the Memory
Stick on your Clié. The trips I have planned with StreetFinder
C3 have been quite accurate with the most efficient routes.
Driving with GPS Car Cradle
When you plug your Clié into the car cradle,
you will see a car cradle launcher that has icons of all available
applications you can launch. The applications include Mail, Music,
Photo, StreetFinder, Schedule, GPSMeter and Monitor. If there isn’t
any operation on the Car Launcher screen for a while, a screen saver
will come on. The remote control is very handy when it comes to launchign
your applications. It has a very easy to use interface; just make
sure that the IR port on your cradle can get the signal from the
remote control easily when you set up your cradle.
The small mouse GPS gets decent signal strength if
you put it on the roof of your car. The GPS tracking window can
be launched from the Clié car cradler launcher. You will
see the number of satellites being tracked and in view. In the
StreetFinder map view, you will see your routes colored in Green.
There is a set of vertical icons on the right hand side that will
help you to modify the view of the map including zoom in/out, mark
a spot on your map, find an address, name, or POIs and more. Very
convenient for you to navigate through the map or search for a
location. The map display supports the hi res plus screen resolution
at 320x480. You will find a large Route button at the bottom right
corner of the map view, which will take you to the turn-by-turn
driving directions. The text-based turn-by-turn driving directions
display has two screens. One is to display the entire trip and
distance, and the other is to only display the next turn. You can
switch between these two views easily by clicking on a large button
on the bottom left hand side. There is also a large button to take
you back to Map view.
You can tune the granularity of the details on the
display by making changes in Preferences. You can modify the details
in the map display such as how many labels per street, whether
to display POI icons or hide lakes or rivers and add more street
names. You can also modify the map styles by giving various colors
to different type of roads. GPS settings Zoom options such as AutoZoom
with Speed, Next turn or manual Zoom, turn on/off map rotation,
set number of seconds for the voice alert to come on before a turn.
If you turn the AutoZoom on for the next turn, you will see the
map zooms in when you are close to the turn and shows you in a
large view where you need to turn. You can also record your trip
or run a demo trip when you plug the Clié in the cradle.
With a huge number of POIs in the database, you can modify which
types of POIs you wish to see on the map so that you get accurate
amount of data without cluttering the map view.
Text-to-Voice Feature, Photo and MP3 Feature
The Text-to-Voice feature allows the car cradle to
read your emails, schedules and events. When the car cradle is
reading the email in your Clié Mail, you can use your remote
control to scroll through your messages and use the filter features
to modify which portion of the email you wish to hear, for example
you can omit the original email or signature text.
There are a several reading modes in reading schedules
including Normal reading out mode where the schedules/events continues
to read out from the beginning to the end of the day, Alarm reading
out mode which reads out the alarms you have set in your schedules
and Start time reading out mode which I find the most useless as
it reads out the schedule for an event when it starts.
Launching the Music application, you can listen to
music on the Memory Stick on your car stereo. There are a several
ways you can do this; one is to use the built-in FM radio transmitter
at frequency of 95.9 MHz to 101.9 MHz via the car radio. If you
have the necessary adapters, you can connect the car cradle to
a Sony BUS compatible CD/MD changer or the cassette player. Check
the manual for the adapter part numbers and you can purchase them
from Sony separately.
The Photo application is a slide show that can display
all images on your Clié and Memory Stick. You can set the
display interval and sort the images by title, date or random.
Pro: Sony gets an A+ for the innovation of adding
a text-to-speech application, image viewer, MP3 player and a power
charger to an in-vehicle GPS package. The full featured navigation
and map software bundle from Rand McNally makes this a complete
solution as a GPS package. Though the StreetFinder C3 navigation
software shows its age, it has all the tools you need to plan your
trips and get info from a large POI database. Utilizing text-to-voice
feature for mail and schedules gives us more hands free time while
driving. The ability to interface with the existing car stereos
gives MP3 fans a great way to listen to their favorite music without
having to burn CDs.
Con: You cannot re-route your map on fly. Only supports
certain Clié models. The FM transmitter is a great idea
but the supported frequency range is limited and could prove to
be problematic for users in dense urban radio signal areas. We
noticed on our NX80V that when we had Sony's Bluetooth Memory Stick
software installed (this card isn't widely available in the US)
it conflicted with the car cradle software.