MobileTechReview.com PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide
PDA Phone Notebooks Gaming Gadgets iPhone & iPad Shop Discussion

 


Advertisement

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.

Sony Car Cradle GPS

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.

Installation

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions? Comments?
Post them in our Discussion Forum!

 

 

 

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.

Conclusion

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.

Price: $299
Web Site: www.sony.com/Clié