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

94669 Posts

Posted - 24 sept. 2006 :  00:05:37  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
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 ?

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putzfrau

Sweden
21 Posts

Posted - 24 sept. 2006 :  01:24:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Impressive! I want one. The info on the website indicates that it has a USB-port (USB Bridge Standard Fully compliant with USB2.0). Can you tell if it is used for charging or if it can also be used for firmwareupgrading?
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gpspassion

94669 Posts

Posted - 24 sept. 2006 :  02:21:39  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Good question, charging so far, but it does get recognized as a CP210X USB to UART Bridge on a COM port, but no NMEA data is coming through. Keep in mind that this is an early test model so that might change.

I've added a few pictures and comments to this article since you posted.

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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 24 sept. 2006 :  03:30:52  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
23 hours in continuous use with a 1000mAh battery is very nice!

Hmm, for almost everything I use AA batteries (15 minute rechargeables, 2300mAh, by Rayovac). I'd love a Bluetooth GPS that would take AA batteries, but that's off topic here :-)

Marvin Hlavac
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gpspassion

94669 Posts

Posted - 24 sept. 2006 :  12:14:00  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Yes, but that would be at the expense of size. Rikaline showed on at CES, not sure what's happened to it since.

That battery life would certainly come in handy for GPS PDAphones or Smartphones, but that would likely require some type of AGPS option, either live as with the uBlox chipset or predictive as for SiRFstarIII or Gloaballocate 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).

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coyotebush

USA
28 Posts

Posted - 25 sept. 2006 :  21:50:41  Show Profile  Visit coyotebush's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Curious about binary protocols (and raw measurements)

The datasheet only mentions NMEA, but there is the word "(DEFAULT)" mentioned, and MediaTek's MT3 chip has the ability to upload firmware. There must be another protocol around somewhere.

I'd be interested if you find any references.
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gpspassion

94669 Posts

Posted - 25 sept. 2006 :  22:29:28  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Good points, like I said the problem with these newer chipsets like the MTK or Nemerix is that there are not tools to speak of really, they have an SDK possibly ?

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cyberas

25 Posts

Posted - 27 sept. 2006 :  22:44:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Interesting GPS i-Blue family:
http://www.transystem.com.tw/p-gps-comparison.htm
I'm interested in what Nemerix chipsets are there?

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gpspassion

94669 Posts

Posted - 27 sept. 2006 :  22:47:57  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
"delayed", see the first paragraph above ;-)

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awilbourn

2 Posts

Posted - 04 oct. 2006 :  18:48:53  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Did the device have the ability to connect to a laptop via USB? It seems from the spec sheet it would have that, not sure if you tested it?
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gpspassion

94669 Posts

Posted - 04 oct. 2006 :  19:32:33  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
No, like I wrote above it is recognized on a COM port as CP210X USB to UART Bridge but no NMEA data is coming through, too bad because the Wintec is also recognized like that and it streams NMEA data.

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awilbourn

2 Posts

Posted - 06 oct. 2006 :  00:16:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I did email the rep in my area, and the device is supposed to support USB connectivity, so hopefully they will supply a driver if that is all it takes. He also said the price should be $90 US. I am new to these devices, so that may not be the answer. I did email www.semsons.com and they expect to get some in 2-3 weeks, if all is as scheduled.
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oallostavros

2 Posts

Posted - 09 oct. 2006 :  03:08:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
WOW! That solar powered GPS unit is ... wow



When can we expect that to come out? 2007ish?

quote:
Originally posted by cyberas

Interesting GPS i-Blue family:
http://www.transystem.com.tw/p-gps-comparison.htm
I'm interested in what Nemerix chipsets are there?



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gpspassion

94669 Posts

Posted - 09 oct. 2006 :  03:13:58  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looks like a concept at this point, you probably want to repost here http://www.gpspassion.com/forumsen/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=62784 until we find out more about it.

If you're looking for a solar GPS, I just received a test model of the qstarz 815 http://www.qstarz.com/products/bt-q815.aspx with the excellent MTK chipset as well will have an article about it this coming week.

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gpspassion

94669 Posts

Posted - 13 oct. 2006 :  23:30:50  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Updated 10/13 - The 737 is now available for pre-order at Semsons (see details) with 10% off for GpsPasSion Club members.

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admin_0

1 Posts

Posted - 14 oct. 2006 :  23:13:58  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi, first time posting...

Is there any news on the 727 and its release date?
Based on tests, how will the 727 and 737 compare?
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