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Emtac Bluetooth GPS v2 - Trine
Posté le 08 novembre 2004 à 21:35:18 par gpspassion.

Emtac returns with the Trine Bluetooth GPS

The Emtac Trine Bluetooth GPS is Emtac's second Bluetooth GPS after the model that started it all in 2002, the Emtac CruxII Bluetooth GPS. It started it all because it was the first Bluetooth GPS to be released and also because publishing a review of this GPS was the reason was set up in the late summer of 2002 ;-) To backtrack a bit, I had been in touch with Steve from (now in the forums (Dale, where are you now ?) and in light of my enthusiasm he'd offered to sell me a prototype of the Bluetooth GPS that served as a basis for this review. Since that time, many a Bluetooth GPS has been released by the likes of Socket (a clone of the Emtac), Fortuna, Holux, Royaltek, Haicom (in order of appearance). The Emtac BT GPS kept it's well deserved reputation as a top performer but suffered from its high price and relatively short automomy combined with the absence of a removable battery. The Trine fixes the latter, adds a 24,000 point data logger and breaks some new ground with it's "Multilink" feature for multiple Bluetooth connections. The review sample was provided by Storage Media who carry the full line of Emtac GPS receivers.

A design in keeping
In terms of "looks", the Trine certainly takes after the CruxII, same shape, same placement of the LEDs, same colors, same location of the external connectors (MCX antenna and 3.5mm DC jack) and if you weren't paying attention it would be easy to confuse one for the other. The only real difference is it's thickness (21mm vs 17mm)r, probably to accomodate the arrival of the much requested removable battery, a powerful 1,000mAh Li-Ion battery. Not much else to add in this area, all in all a classic and stylish design that should appeal to general consumers and "pro" users alike.

"Unlimited" Battery Life
The Trine sports a removable battery, a feature first seen on the Fortuna ClipOn Bluetooth GPS in late 2003 and that we now take for granted and that most would consider a "must have". Emtac are using a Li-Ion battery while others (Fortuna, Haicom) chose a Li-Polymer battery. My past observations show that Li-Ion batteries offer more battery life at an equivalent rating, and in keeping with this, the 1,000mAh Li-Ion battery of the Trine provides 8.5 hours of continuous operation, similar to the ClipOn and its 1,200mAh Li-Polymer battery. The Trine's battery can be recharged "in-house" (inside the Trine) of course by plugging in the DC jack or with an optional wall charger that houses the battery. Emtac have listened to the users of the CruxII, so kudos to them for that!

Solid GPS Performance but no high sensitivity mode
When I first started using the the CruxII in 2002 I was stunned by its GPS performance compared to the GPS receivers I had used over the years by Magellan and Garmin and that more or less required a line of sigh to the "birds" (satellites) in the sky to get a "fix". Not so with the CruxII that was happy to operate from within the glovebox of my car! I later found out that this was made possible by the fact that the CruxII was the first consumer GPS to use SiRF's latest SiRFstar IIe/LP chipset. Two years down the road, the Trine sticks to this excellent chipset but Emtac are not offering the high sensitivity Xtrac v2 firmware (see the Xtrac File for details) as an option and that could put off users who have to deal with a heat reflecting winsdshield in their car and who will have to place the Trine next to a side-window or in the back or use an external antenna. The good news is that the use of the ST (standard IIe/LP) mode, allows for more precise position tracking than XT2, and preserves advanced GPS features such as power saving (trickle) and SBAS (WAAS in the US and EGNOS in Europe - details here) unlike Xtrac. Emtac do continue to sell a non-WAAS version and a more expensive WAAS version, alhtough WAAS can be activated for free, albeit until the internal battery runs out, from within Cruxview, the software provided with Emtac GPS receivers. In terms of sensitivity, I put the Trine to the "GpsPasSion Sensitivity Test" and it came out with a solid 100% mark, quite comparable to the CruxII, but far from what XT2 can offer at 150%.

Trine as seen from a PC and an iPAQ (Widcom BT Stacks)

MultiLink - 4 simultaneous Bluetooth Connections
The Trine breaks new ground in terms of Bluetooth management, being the first GPS receiver to allow for multiple simultaneous Bluetooth connections, a feature that will be useful with specific setups such as a navigation system and a tracking system or simply if you're hiking with friends and want to share a GPS feed so that progress can be tracked by more than one person, possibly using different software. Emtac are blazing the trail with this feature and so far Bluetooth "stacks" present on PDAs or included with USB dongles have not really been designed to deal with a device that has 4 Bluetooth Serial profiles. Overall it works well and I've been able to share a GPS feed between 4 PocketPCs (iPaq 3970, Toshiba E800, XDAII, Dell X5 with a Socket BT CF card - see captures above and below) although some experimenting will be needed as there is no automatic "hand-over" between the 4 BT serial profiles and a PDA will generally insist on using the profile it originally "discovered" and sometimes it only finds one of the four, such as the XDAII (QTek 2020) or E200 (Qtek 8080 Smartphone). Both PalmOS based PDAs (not tested) and S60 Smartphones (tested on a Nokia 6600) turn the Trine into a single profile BT GPS, although I was able to connect a 6600 and an XDAII at the same time, likely due to the BT "hack" on the XDAII...Also, I noticed that after a random period of time (from 1 hour to 6+ hours), the Trine stopped feeding GPS data during a "MultiLink" session and had to be restarted, so again, be ready to experiment with this groundbreaking feature.

Trine as seen from a Toshiba E800 and from a Dell X5 with a Socket BT CF card

An Unfinished Datalogger
Emtac have outfitted the Trine with a 24,000 point datalogger (compared to the Royaltek RBT-1000's 33,000 points), but have so far failed to provide PC or PDA software that will easily allow for retrieval of this recorded data, which is suprising since Crux_Log lets you start and stop the data logger from a PC or a PocketPC. True, tHere is a command line program that runs on a PC but I have not been able to get it to run properly on any of my PCs (Win2k or WinXP) and this would still be a far cry from the RBT-1000's user friendly data logging software. Hopefully Emtac will provide similar software at some point to leverage this useful and seldom seen feature.

Time for a conclusion, and I'd say the Trine is certainly a worthy successor to the groundbreaking CruxII BT GPS of 2002 adding a much requested removable battery and breaking new ground of its own with its mulitple simultaneous Bluetooth connections. The experimenting required to get this feature to work consistently and the disappointing lack of software to retrieve the GPS data logged by the Trine are a bit of a disappointment though, as is the lack of a version with the high sensitivity Xtrac v2 mode, ideal for driving in dense urban areas. Overall, Emtac has not been able to generate the same "excitement" around the Trine as they did around the CruxII in 2002 but that would have been quite a tall order if it had been their goal in the first place. As for the upcoming SiRFstar III chipset, it seems Leadtek are taking the lead with the 9553, but maybe Emtac has an ace up their sleeve?

The review sample was provided by Storage Media who carry the full line of Emtac GPS receivers.

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