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 Review of Seidio G4850 w/SiRF III integrated GPS

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
lawman Posted - 02 déc. 2005 : 16:39:59
Hi All,

Here's a review of the new Seidio G4850 cradle/mount at this website for those looking for a new mount option. This unit comes integrated with a SiRF Star III chipset. Very nice unit overall. See below for more details.

Seidio G4850S - Integrated SiRF Star III GPS Receiver Review

By lawman
2nd. December, 2005


Developer/Vendor: (www.seidioonline.com)
Price: US$179.95 (check their web site for their latest and current promotional price)
Rating (out of 5): 5

Overview
Seidio has come out with a solution for PocketPC users. For most of you that has antagonized over the spaghetti cabling mess when buying a serial cable based GPS device, and getting it wired to your GPS mount, you now have an option to get a GPS mount with an integrated SiRF Star III GPS receiver. Its a very simple and good solution and removes the hassle of forgetting to bring your GPS device when going on a long trip.




Received this new GPS mount in a simple white box package. See contents of box below.


1. Seidio G4850S mount with integrated SiRF Star III chipset
2. 360-degree swivel adapter
3. 8-in windshield pedestal (14-inch windshield pedestal available for those vehicles with deeper dashes)
4. Air vent pedestal
5. Cigarette lighter DC power cord
6. Locking plate
7. An audio cable to connect the Audio Output of your PDA to the Audio Input of the Seidio G4850S mount.
8. No documentation comes included, but there is an online manual on their web site which you can download.

Cradle comparison between G2500 and G4850

The cradles when viewed below shows that the G4850 has a more ergonomic design when compared to the G2500. The G4850 is missing the RJ11 port which allows serial GPS device connections (since it already has a built-in GPS device). It has a DC OUT port (that is covered by a warning sticker - you can remove it) that can be used for powering external devices (i.e. FM Transmitter, another Bluetooth GPS device if you so wish etc.). Essentially, all the contents that came with the G4850 package above, with the exception of the G4850 cradle, is identical to the G2500 mounting kit. So, if you already have the G2500 kit, you can interchange the mounts/cradle. The speaker location is different between the two cradles. The speaker in this new G4850 cradle is located in the front and at the bottom of the base, which I think is a better design and more logical since the sound output is facing towards the driver.

More about the G4850 cradle/mount

As you can see from the pictures below, that the newer G4850 cradle is smaller but if you compare the G2500 and G4850, you'll see that when you place your Axim X50v on the G4850 cradle, your PPC will be roughly an inch higher. So, the PPC screen is up higher to the driver's line of sight without requiring the driver to drop his/her eyes lower. I definitely agree with this subtle change.

The integrated GPS device connects to my Axim X50v via serial connector to the base of the cradle where you seat the PDA as I expected. The design is very smooth and the cradle is pretty light. When I seat my Axim X50v into the cradle, there is a dull but firm click, and it seems to be a snug fit for my Axim X50v. I can rotate it 360-degrees and my Axim X50v does not get dislodged easily. So, good for displaying your GPS maps in landscape mode.

There is an LED indicator on the front and bottom right of the G4850 cradle. When the mount is powered, the LED shows a GREEN colour.



The integrated GPS device has the following written specifications and requires certain settings to be configured in your GPS mapping software.

Specifications:

* Supports NMEA transmission protocol (so should be usable with any NMEA compatible GPS programs). I was not able to determine if I could set this to SiRF mode. There is no PPC tools I had that seemed to be able to set the mode to SiRF at least with certainty.
* GPS Receiver Sensitivity (-159 dBm)
* Powered directly from external DC power source only (i.e. Cigarette lighter DC power cord)

Integrated GPS Settings (need to be set for your GPS mapping program):

* COM port of your software (in this case OCN5 for me) needs to be set to COM1 (or let your software auto-detect it)
* Baud Rate - 4800

Speaker Quality

After connecting the Audio Out (3.5mm) from my Axim X50v to the Audio In (2.5mm) of the G4850 mount, I turned up the speaker volume to two thirds of the full volume. The speaker quality is much clearer and louder than the G2500 model (due to front positioning and better quality speaker used). My wife was impressed with the clarity of the GPS navigational voice routing. There was no stuttering with the voice navigational directions from my mapping program. I probably should stop trying to impress the wife as I always end up eventually losing my "toys" to her.

I next ran GSPlayer on my Axim X50v and played some MP3 songs, and also ran BetaPlayer to play a PocketDVD movie (when the car was parked of course - I don't have a death wish), and eventhough its not fantastic, its definitely much clearer and better than my G2500 mount speaker.

Audio Output

There is an Audio Output port on the G4850 which is not available on the G2500 model. I tried it out by plugging in my Jabra phone earbud into the Audio Out port (2.5mm), and the sound was very good. Really cool ...

If you have an FM Transmitter, you can connect an audio cable between the Audio Out port of the G4850 cradle to the Audio In port of your standard FM Transmitter, and listen to the GPS navigation (or MP3 music) thru your car's audio system. This is a really nice option to have. To power your FM Transmitter, see the following.

Important to remember is that you have the additional DC OUT port ( ~ 5 V) on the G4850 that can provide power to your FM Transmitter or another GPS device. You can see this in the G4850 right-side view where the red sticker is. Remove the red sticker reveals the additional DC OUT port. The sticker is just an additional warning to the user to NOT connect the cigarette DC power cable to the wrong end.
Note:-I've verified that if you have the right DC cable, you can charge/use other devices (i.e. BT GPS) with this mount using the additional DC OUT port above. So, its useful to have. I can see lots of possibilities with this.

GPS mapping programs I tested with:

* OnCourse Navigator 5 (set your mapping s/w to auto-detect serial GPS)
* Microsoft Street and Trips 2005 for PPC
* Vito Smartmap
* GPS Monitor (CE Monitor) works for NMEA only
* GPS Tuner
* GPS Dash

On the Road

Now we take this baby on the road.



Very unobtrusive and positioned perfectly for the driver's view. I used the 8" gooseneck to try it out, but I removed it as I prefer the vent mount option. Nice to see Seidio providing both mounting options. There is a 14" gooseneck for those with much deeper dashes. Note that the goosenecks are made in Germany and the material used and design shows extremely high quality. If you've ever driven a German vehicle or used a German product, you'll know what I mean. It's just heads better than anything else. I hope they don't change it.

The GPS tracking of this integrated SiRF Star III unit showed the following characterization;

* Time To Fix (TTF) from cold start ~ 45 seconds
o These are the acquisition times I recorded;
+ Re-acquisition: < 2 sec
+ Warm: < 2 sec
+ Cold: < 45 sec
+ AutoLocate: < 45 sec

Upon powering up the mount for the first time from a cold start and after configuring my OCN5 software to use this serial GPS device, it began acquiring while I was driving, and it took < 45 seconds to acquire the satellites and this acquired while I'm moving at 70+ km/h. It takes much less time when not moving. OCN5 showed that the GPS receiver was picking up 6 birds (aka satellites) and their signals were pretty strong. Next, while driving and stopping at traffic lights, the positioning of the car on the mapping program did not waver when stopped. So, this is a good start. On the original SiRF III chipsets, when not moving, the GPS location would jump around. So, this means that the firmware (there is no software provided to determine anything about this GPS device) is new and updated on the G4850 w/ integrated SiRF Star III GPS device.

/// UPDATE ///

Using the APL SiRF tool, I managed to get f/w version number from the Seidio G4850 mount. I thought the s/w did not work, but it actually does.

The firmware is v3.1.1 and the Static Navigation is 00.



////////////////

As well, I was not able to determine whether WAAS is present or not in this GPS device, but I did not notice any issues with the accuracy on the mapping programs I used. In fact, the GPS positioning shown on my mapping programs was good and tight (meaning it showed with relative clarity as to which roads/lanes I was on when there were multiple roads veering off each other when exiting the highway).

Next, I powered OFF the G4850 cradle (unplugged the DC power adapter) and verified that the OCN5 mapping software lost the GPS signal. Then, I waited for 60 seconds, and powered it back on. It took less than 2 seconds for the OCN5 program to re-acquire the birds. This is again excellent.

I drove thru downtown and weaved between skyscrapers, and I did not lose sight of the satellites unlike my GPS10. So, the SiRF Star III chipset does work as expected. On cruise control using different speeds and a straight and even road, I verified that the calculation of the car's speed was similar to my Garmin GPS10.

The G4850 cradle/mount w/ integrated SiRF Star III chipset makes it less hassle for users who always removes their GPS devices when parking in unsafe places where it might get stolen. And the removal of additional cabling makes it a neater solution. It looks like an empty PDA holder when not in use.

Over the course of the last 6 days, using the same tried and true procedure that I had with my older G2500 power adaptor, I tried to blow out my car's 10A fuse but failed with this newer power adaptor.

After Day 6 of torturing my new Seidio power adaptor from the G4850 package, I have to concur that this new power adaptor does not have the previous issues, and is fixed in my new version.

I've attached the pictures so you can see in attached pictures, the older G2500 power adaptor was version "04" and the newer G4850 is version "06".

I can say that the new Seidio power adaptors works well to power the mount and seem to have fixed the previous older issues. Excellent job! Also, it is 3A rated.






Pros:

o Smaller, and has a much nicer design
o More ergonomic
o Less cabling
o Very good snug fit (feels just right, not too tight)
o GPS quality is amazing for the price
o Speaker quality and design is very good - I'd rate this 8/10 by itself
o Newer version of the Cigarette power adaptor (works very well). I could not find any bad issues compared with the previous older version.


Cons:

o No option for a removable battery to power the integrated GPS device in case the DC power cable fails. Similar with other GPS mount makers, so this is not specific to Seidio models.

+ Note:- Just in case, I tested the Radio Shack power adapter - "Part# 270-1594" - and that works very well as a backup power option to power the G4850 mount and charge your Axim X50x PPC.

Originally posted on http://www.aximsite.com/boards/showthread.php?t=107435

Cheerios,
lawman
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
lawman Posted - 18 déc. 2005 : 04:01:11
BTW, my generic cable that I use charges my X50v. My generic brand is from RadioShack and called NexxTech. The DC cable only has a 2A fuse. Not sure what's the difference but my generic DC cable charges my X50v even when my X50v is at less than 20% power. I'm able to use my X50v and also have it charge at the same time.
lawman Posted - 17 déc. 2005 : 07:10:46
Oh...that was easy... if you look closely at the purple fuse on the Seidio DC power adapter, you can actually make out the number 3. I then went to the local RadioShack and found identical car fuses that looked identical and they were also rated as 3A. ... :-)

I updated the review above with the closeup of the 3A fuse.


gpspassion Posted - 12 déc. 2005 : 13:01:07
Thanks for the update.
Just got my own test model, just as impressed as you were by the design and GPS performance (need to check my logs now).

In case anyone has the problem with the x50v not charging and not being able to switch to SiRF, MAKE SURE you are using the specific Seidio DC cable, I was using a generic 5v/2a DC cable and while the GPS worked, it wouldn't charge the x50, looks like 3A are needed, how did you figure out the rating ?

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lawman Posted - 08 déc. 2005 : 02:58:38
Hi All,

I updated the review with my last and final test on the new power adaptor on the new Seidio mounts to compare against my older G2500 Seidio mount.

Cheers.
gpspassion Posted - 05 déc. 2005 : 01:29:36
Sure, and thanks for sharing your review of the G4850, can't beat a "win-win" situation ;-)

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lawman Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 20:22:00

Thanks again for your help. Nice to learn new things each time.
gpspassion Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 19:55:00
Excellent !
So yes, it has the latest 3.1.1 firmware and SN is not activated, so you're getting the "real" GPS position, so with very poor reception conditions in dense urban areas, you may see some "wobbling", if it bothers you, just hit "StatNav ON" and you will see a 01.

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lawman Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 19:44:53
Ok, I got APL SiRF working as you had correctly indicated. Excellent! Here is the info that I retrieved.



Thanks again, and my curiosity is now quenched!
lawman Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 19:27:13
Thanks for the clarification.

I'll check it once more and see if I can get the APLSiRF to work by tapping the two buttons you indicated.

The article discussing GPSTweak is located here -> http://www.gpspassion.com/fr/articles.asp?id=50&page=2
gpspassion Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 11:12:08
quote:
-- Update ---

Ok, I ran APLSiRF 0.0.0 and it does nothing but put lines of ">>>>>>>>>" on the screen when I changed it to SiRF.
After the fifth line of ">>>>>" I switched it back to NMEA, and my GPS mount is working again. So, I can confirm that APLSiRF does not work either to switch the G4850 to SiRF mode.

This seems normal actually, as you can see on the screenshot here, once you get the >>> hit "rd dev ID" and then "rd SN stat". Then you can switch back to NMEA again ;-)

GTSTweak is pretty difficult to use, I should probably remove references to it now that we have these better tools, where did you find it ?
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paulkbiba Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 05:53:11
SiRF is the native language of the chipset that powers the GPS. There is no "need" for it as all consumer software nowadays operates in the NMEA mode. The only reason you have to switch to SiRF is if you want to do something to the chipset itself, such as switch Static Navigation on or off, switch WAAS on or off, or read the firmware or other status items that can only be seen in the SiRF language. Otherwise, stay in NMEA and don't bother ever switching to SiRF unless you have some special purpose in mind.

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lawman Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 04:43:15
Just thinking to myself...I'm beginning to wonder about the need for SiRF other than the benefit of higher transfer speeds. 95% of the applications out there are NMEA-based, and SiRF is only recent. Its not like there is a bottleneck between the GPS device and the PPC. I think the current NMEA transfer speed is more than sufficient. At least for now... :)
lawman Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 03:19:52
Yes. Is it safe to use? Those are the ones I have but have not tried. I'm kinda hesitant to run them for fear that my GPS mount might end up being a dud.

The GPS Tweak failed when I tried to go from NMEA > SiRF, saying something about a corrupted command. GPS unit stopped dead, then I switched it back from SiRF > NMEA, and luckily everything is working normally again .. :)

So, kinda hesitant since everything is working.

-- Update ---

Ok, I ran APLSiRF 0.0.0 and it does nothing but put lines of ">>>>>>>>>" on the screen when I changed it to SiRF.
After the fifth line of ">>>>>" I switched it back to NMEA, and my GPS mount is working again. So, I can confirm that APLSiRF does not work either to switch the G4850 to SiRF mode.

gpspassion Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 02:25:08
That's right about "line in", I guess I was thinking more along the lines of hands-free, but that would really require a PDAPhone to check it out.
APLSiRF is probably the tool you want to use, connect in NMEA, switch to SiRF and then you can read the FW and SN status, I'd bet on 3.1.1 and 1 respectively ;-)

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lawman Posted - 04 déc. 2005 : 00:20:15
I used the Line In for the audio cable between the Audio Out port of the Axim X50v to the Line In (Audio In) of the G4850. Yes, the speaker is behind the Seidio logo.

The tools I used works in NMEA mode only, I'll look closely and see if I can read the firmware version number from the PPC tools. However, with the tools I used, I was not able to set the SiRF mode. Once I know more, I'll update the info here.



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