New Treo Smartphone Navigator GPS Edition2: Hardware Impressions
A couple of days ago I finally received my own new Treo GPS Navigator Smartphone Edition 2 which is bundled with the latest (and by far my favourite) TomTom 6 GPS navigation software.
First impressions were extremely good as I opened the box to reveal the single most complete GPS kit available today for the Treo (pictured below) which includes:
- TomTom NAVIGATOR 6 software conveniently provided on a DVD this time (with US, Canada, Guam and Puerto Rico maps) instead of the 10 or so CD’s which came with TomTom 5…
- 1GB SD card pre-installed with map of the continental United States and Canada
- A useful pocket USB 2.0 SD card reader
- a beautifully designed small (about half the size of a pack of cigarettes) and light (20% lighter than Palm’s previous model) GPS receiver powered by SiRFStarIII (instead of older SiRFStarII) with Bluetooth wireless technology
- Vehicle device cradle with mounting bracket and suction cup pad
- An extremely convenient vehicle power adapter with dual connectors to charge your GPS receiver and Treo smartphone at the same time in the car
[Note: Please see my previous post New Palm GPS Navigator Smartphone Edition 2 for a breakdown of the terrific $$$ value that this package offers.]
The new GPS receiver pictured below is extremely elegant and beautifully designed with a ‘brushed steel’ look and a minimalist Palm logo embossed at the front as well as three clear indicator lights for GPS (orange), Bluetooth (blue) and Battery (green/red). However, there is no doubt that the main appeal of this bundle is that the TomTom Navigator 6 software now comes extremely conveniently pre-loaded with US and Canada maps on a single 1GB SD card (below right) which means that you can now start using GPS navigation on your Treo in under 5 minutes with no need for a PC installation at all…
The bottom part of the GPS receiver (image below) has the new USB connector for charging (finally) and on the left side is the On/Off slider as well as an external antenna (not included) connector.
At the same time there is a back cover which slides out to reveal a thin 850mAh battery but unfortunately I found that it did not fit perfectly into place – it moves about 1mm or so – making the unit feel somewhat ‘flimsy’ – a shame since it looks terrific. Additionally, where most other high-end GPS receivers cover large sections of the back with rubber to provide additional surface grip on your car’s dashboard, Palm have opted to only add three small and fairly useless rubber dots which provide almost no grip at all.
Another valuable piece in the Treo GPS Navigator Smartphone Edition 2 kit is the vehicle power adapter with dual connectors which allows you to again conveniently charge both your Treo and GPS unit with a single accessory.
As advertised, getting started using the TomTom GPS navigation software was done in a snap thanks to the new pre-loaded SD card:
- I switched the GPS receiver on
- I turned Bluetooth on my Treo to ‘On’
- Inserted the TomTom SD card in my Treo (which automatically installs the required Navigator software on your Treo)
- Selected ‘USA and Canada’ maps immediately after the TomTom software launched
- Activated the software with the 15 character product code written on the TomTom DVD sleeve (keep this product code in a safe place) using the ‘Automatic’ activation option which authenticates the code with TomTom’s servers over the air
- I paired the GPS receiver
- Less than 5 minutes after inserting my card I was ready to start navigating with GPS on my Treo and I used it to plan a car journey that I will have in a couple of weeks from LA to San Diego…
I will write a separate more in-depth post next week about TomTom’s new version 6 software as well as the TomTom PLUS services. In the meantime, overall I can happily repeat that I consider that this Treo GPS Navigator Smartphone Edition 2 kit offers absolutely terrific quality and value on all fronts with the most complete accessory bundle around.
If you do not currently own a GPS solution for your Treo then this is undoubtedly the one that I would recommend. If like me you already own the TomTom Navigator 5 bundle then I would wait for TomTom to release their new/upgrade version 6 software on an SD card as the existing GPS receiver in this bundle (pictured below left) is still my favourite (even though it does not offer USB charging). Yet others who have separately purchased the TomTom 5 software and a GPS receiver (such as the excellent new Globalsat BT359W below right) will probably also want to wait for the version 6 release.
Comparatively speaking below, the two drawbacks that Palm’s GPS receiver has is a relatively low operating time of only 5 hours (due to its size and therefore smaller battery) as well as the lack of an ‘Auto Shut-Off’ functionality (which turns your receiver off if no Bluetooth connection has been detected in XX minutes to save battery). Having said this, arguably both the battery life and Auto Shut-Off functionality is only relevant if you do not typically have your receiver plugged-in to the charger.
Treonauts never get lost…