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 GPS Receivers for PDAs and PCs
 iBlue 737 with MTK chipset - Reviewed and Compared

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
gpspassion Posted - 24 sept. 2006 : 00:05:37
UPDATED20061221
iBlue 737 - REVIEWED and COMPARED
Bluetooth : auto-off/on - MTK Chipset : GPS power of SiRFstarIII, 50% power use





UPDATE - SiRFstarIII vs MTK side by side comparison in Manhattan in this article

News item on the portal
The new line of Transystem GPS receivers caught us by surprise in early August with the exciting news of the arrival of the NJ-2020 NemeriX chipset on the 727, but it has apparently been delayed. In the meantime, iternet sent me a test model of the i-Blue 737/PS-737 with an MTK chipset, an excellent surprise.

The iBlue 737 uses the same advanced bluetooth power management as the original i-Blue, Bluetooth auto-off/auto-on, with a rounder form factor. The big news though it the appearance of the MTK chipset I hadn't seen before, an excellent surprise since it packs the power of SiRFstarIII at about 50% of the power use.

High-sensitivity and accurate tracking with MTK chipset
The sensitivity is rated at -158dBm versus the -159dBm of the SiRFstarIII chipset but if anything I've seen it hold the fix in more difficult environments than the SiRFstarIIIv2 Globalsat BT-359 and uBlox SupserSense v5 also rated at -158dBm. Oddly enough there is no sign of any GPS activity on the MTK website so it's anyone's guess how they came up with such advanced performance for their first outing on the market unless it was available on other GPS devices on the market that I've missed.

Seen below some test results in a difficult environment, in a semi-underground basement. Typically high-sensitivity tracking will provide fast TTFF in a variety of environments.


In these very degraded conditions in the semi-underground basement of a house where the average signal level is around -155dBm, only the MTK, SiRFstarIII (BT359) and uBlox hold the fix


Sensititivy is one thing, navigation is another and I was concerned that the tracking accuracy might be inferior to the one offered on the SiRFstarIII platform and tuned over time on the SiRFstarI and II platforms. Again, I've found it to be on par with SiRFstarIII and possibly even better when it comes to handling of multipath as seen below. Preliminary pedestrian use testing shows that the MTK chipset does not have any "static navigation" type of filtering implemented (unlike the RFMD based Rikaine 6032) so it is fully usable although the SiRFstarIII based BT-359 produces tracks that look more pleasing as they appear to have been "smoothed out".


Side by Side Comparisons


5 Bluetooth GPS receivers ready to fight it out !
iBlue v4, Socket uBlox SuperSense, Holux 240 SS3 v2, Globalsat SS3 v2, iBlue 737 MTK



Picture produced on GPSVisualizer.com
In dowtown Paris a sharp turn on the right on a fairly wide boulevard generates a strong multipath reaction on the SiRFstarIII receivers with the Nemerix NJ1030 v4, uBlox doing better but the best performance comes from the MTK chipset that is spot on



Picture produced on GPSVisualizer.com
Going round a roundabout under various underpasses, irregular tracks except on the Nemerix and MTK based receivers



Again the MTK and uBlox come out on top


A Lean Machine
There had been powerful platforms in the past such as the RFMD chipset used on the Rikaline 6032 rated at -157dBm and the uBlox Antaris 4 chipset rated at -158dBm with the SuperSense firmware but they essentially had the same power requirements as the SiRFstarIII chipset. The iBlue on the other hand offers a battery life I measured at 23hours in continuous use with a 1000mAh battery, so that's an excellent minute/mah ratio of about 1.4 versus 0.8 for uBlox/Socket, 0.7 on the SiRFstarIII/BT359 and 0.5 on the RFMD/Rikaline. If you factor in the very convenient auto power off (30 seconds)/on(instant) when you connect or disconnect over Bluetooth, you can use it for a very long time.

This low power requirement would come in handy for portable devices such as tracker or GPS PDAPhones/Smartphones, we'll see if MTK can get any traction in that market, but that will likely require some type of A-GPS option, either live as with the uBlox chipset or predictive as for SiRFstarIII or Globallocate, to make up for the small antenna these types of devices use and resulting lower signal level that slows down cold/warm fixes (ephemeris downloading).

Other aspects
The 737 is SBAS (WAAS/EGNOS) capable and in light of my previous testing, I haven't looked into it yet, but as with the RFMD or Nemerix chipsets there are no PC or PocketPC tools to tweak the settings unlike the many freewares available for SiRFstarIII based receivers or the very advanced software offered by uBlox, more details. No external antenna connector for those who might need that and recharging is done via miniUSB from a wall/car charger or a laptop.

Availability
Updated 10/13 - The 737 is now available for pre-order at Semsons (see details) with 10% off for GpsPasSion Club members.


PICTURE GALLERY




The 737 compared to its older brother the iBlue v1
No MCX external antenna connector but a large pad rubber pad



Compared to the competition


Questions, comments ?
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
wobbletop Posted - 18 oct. 2007 : 06:36:06
Hi all,
Looking for configuration settings for frequency of different messages from the 737. I'll quote this directly from what my GPS software is asking for since I am new to this.

quote
"To work around this, most receivers come with tools to reduce the types and frequency certain GPS / NMEA sentences are sent. Please configure your GPS receiver to send RMC and GGA only with high frequency (e. g. 4Hz) and in addition GSA with low frequency (e. g. 1Hz). Everything else is ignored by LapTimer anyway…"
endquote

Any idea how to setup the 737 communication this way?

Thanks,
Walter
bub181 Posted - 03 oct. 2007 : 22:31:16
Thanks for the information. Is the new firmware, with static navigation turned off, only for the i-Blue devices or is it going to be used on other MTK devices like the new Holux M-1000B and M-1200 (http://www.gpspassion.com/forumsen/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=96916)?

Does the new firmware revision make the i-Blue (and other MTK devices) better, or equally as good as the Sirf Star 3 based receivers for walking?

Thanks!
gpspassion Posted - 30 sept. 2007 : 00:31:31
Yes, the problem was fixed with v1.94 and I hear there is a v2.00 in the works, not sure what they're improving in this one though.

As for flashing current units, I haven't heard of anyone being able to do that, no tools and no actual firmware. Pretty standard for Bluetooth GPS receivers, only the new Skytraq based systems (see their thread) seem to have been planned for end user FW upgrades.
bub181 Posted - 30 sept. 2007 : 00:17:10
I wasn't able to get the firmware revision for my device using GPSview 1.0.3, but I did email Transystem technical support and this was their reply:

---------------------------------
from "gps.service" <gps.service@transystem.com.tw>
date Sep 28, 2007 3:27 PM
subject Re: i-Blue737 GPS receiver low speed heading problem

Dear Mr. ------,

Some GPS do not update heading at speed below 5 mph, especially used for walking/ hiking (speeds approx 3 mph).
i-Blue737's newest firmware has following improvement:
1. Improved multi-path performance at walking speed.
2. No heading drift at low speed.
3. No position frozen and velocity accuracy problem.

As we check from product serial number, your product is with former GPS firmware.
But it's a running change situation, and users aren't allowed to update GPS firmware themselves.

Regards,
Victor Chen
---------------------------------


So it seems that the static navigation problem has been fixed on the MTK chipsets, and you need an i-Blue737 with the latest firmware update. However, I don't have the latest firmware on my device and technical support won't let end users flash the new firmware. Does anyone know of any way I can flash the latest firmware onto my device?

Thanks!
gpspassion Posted - 26 sept. 2007 : 12:27:47
What are you using to check your heading ?
Can you try checking the firmware version with the tools here http://www.gpspassion.com/forumsen/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=81990 ?
bub181 Posted - 25 sept. 2007 : 11:58:53
I recently bought an i-Blue737 from eBay. At low speeds my position and speed update correctly, but my heading does not, so it seems static navigation is only partially disabled. Also, is it possible for me to update the firmware on my unit myself? I'm hoping to flash it with a newer firmware (when and if it's available) that turns static navigation completely off.
gpspassion Posted - 22 sept. 2007 : 19:47:10
Good question, based on my observations that would mean FW v1.94 (used on the Qstarz BT-Q1000) and above (I hear a v2 is in alpha), you can ask Semsons in their forums here ;-)
jasonparekh Posted - 22 sept. 2007 : 17:23:30
Does anyone know if the currently shipping 737 (not the pro) from either Semsons or buyGPSnow has the firmware with static navigation disabled?

Thanks!
jason
clackerz Posted - 27 juil. 2007 : 00:08:27
[SNIP]
Thanks again - what I mean't was: Would the unit operate correctly if I were to carry it around inside my backpack - i.e. in a front pocket.
I was looking to use this unit for the purpose of logging my route on a bike (so I'm not looking to use it to give me directions on the bike, more so just so I can log my rides), as well as in-car navigation, so if it works at slow speeds then it really suits my purpose.
Enrique Muyshondt Posted - 26 juil. 2007 : 20:46:51
I'm not sure what you mean by still work. If you have the unit where it can receive the satellite signals, say on the top of your backpack and not surrounded by foil or metal, then it should be able to keep track of your position.

I don't know what the performance is for slow speed (on foot or on a bicycle) navigation. Some of these units have algorithms that keep the unit steady on a spot unless it is moving above a certain speed threshold. This is to avoid appearing as if it is moving when perfectly still, due to variations in the received signal. I have only used my unit for car navigation. Perhaps others can comment on its use for hiking and other slow speed applications.
clackerz Posted - 26 juil. 2007 : 01:19:50
quote:
Originally posted by Enrique Muyshondt

clackerz

I have a 737 and it doesn't have logging capabilities. It would be up to the software you use to keep track of your position and altitude information (which the 737 does provide, it just doesn't record it). You may want to look into one of the logging GPS units like the iBlue 757. For car navigation I use TomTom Navigator 6 on my PDA. I don't record my position data so I wouldn't know what to recommend for your biking application.


Great thanks heaps - that does help. So if I go with a 737 I would need to ensure I found software that does the data recording, but the 757 does this instead?
Would the unit still work (either 737 & 757) OK if it were to be carried around in my backpack with the PDA? I have heard that they may not, but I'm unsure about this.
Labman Posted - 24 juil. 2007 : 23:39:09
It seems that there is another model from iBlue....

Its an improved 737 with better battery life.

[URL=http://img411.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dscn1681km3.jpg][/URL]

[URL=http://img168.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dscn1683tv6.jpg][/URL]

[URL=http://img392.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dscn1682pu5.jpg][/URL]

[URL=http://img239.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dscn1684on2.jpg][/URL]

[URL=http://img522.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dscn1685zg5.jpg][/URL]

[URL=http://img522.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dscn1686xe6.jpg][/URL]

[URL=http://img127.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dscn1688vf1.jpg][/URL]

[URL=http://img407.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dscn1691kh0.jpg][/URL]

Hardware: TomTom 6 and I-mate Jam.
Enrique Muyshondt Posted - 20 juil. 2007 : 16:58:05
clackerz

I have a 737 and it doesn't have logging capabilities. It would be up to the software you use to keep track of your position and altitude information (which the 737 does provide, it just doesn't record it). You may want to look into one of the logging GPS units like the iBlue 757. For car navigation I use TomTom Navigator 6 on my PDA. I don't record my position data so I wouldn't know what to recommend for your biking application.
wobbletop Posted - 18 juil. 2007 : 03:45:51
New user :)

Have a new 737. Since everyone seems to post the FW versions....
N $PMTK704,1.902_40__1102_0001,0609_mA279,0002*7C
N $PMTK705,M-core_1.8,0001*32

I did the resistor mod and was able to set it to 5Hz update rate with NMEA.exe (great program).

clackerz Posted - 18 juil. 2007 : 03:27:09
Hi - I'm also a new member and new to GPS. I have a Pocket PC running Windows mobile 2003 and am looking to use a BT GPS with it - in particular the i-Blue 737. I am looking to use it in 2 ways. One is normal in-car navigation, but the main reason is to use it when I am cycling to map my route. What I need to know is will it record my route with elevation data, time (i.e. start/finish) and a date/time stamp at each waypoint etc and can I then use the .gpx file to upload to my pc so I can track my ride and progress?
Also what software I will need for the Pocket PC for mapping etc.

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