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Review - MyGuide/Holux G60 - PDA with SiRFIII GPS
Posté le 27 novembre 2005 à 21:07:06 par gpspassion.

MyGuide/Holux G60 - PDA with SiRFstarIII GPS

The first PDA with a built-in GPS was the Mio 168, released in late 2003 with a SiRFstarII module (originally with the ST firmware and then the Xtrac v2 firmware) and a flip-out antenna. It met with a lot of success, particularly in Europe. Not a lot of activity on the PDA GPS front until this summer with the arrival of the Yakumo Delta X and of course of the HP hw6515 reviewed in detail here. This is where the MyGuide Holux GPSmile G60 manufactured by Compal comes in with its SiRFstarIII module and self-contained antenna. While it lacks bluetooth or WiFi connectivity and runs WM2003SE unlike the Loox N520 or ASUS A636, it's an interesting device and it's available, so let's see how it performs, bundled with OcN, as a PDA and a GPS.

MyGuide OcN Bundle - CLICK HERE for the full MyGuide OcN bundle review.
Paul reviewed the MyGuide 500 bundle : "OnCourse has decided to offer a series of pre-loaded units that consist of a Pocket PC with built-in GPS and a pre-installed copy of OCN5. Their line includes the MyGuide 300, with a 256MB SD card containing one region of the US loaded on the card and the rest of the regions on the DVD, the MyGuide 500, with a 1GB SD card containing the seamless US map, and the MyGuide 700, with a 2GB SD card containing the seamless US and Canada map as well as maps of Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico. At the time of this review prices were USD $499, 599 and 699 respectively. OnCourse sent me the MyGuide 500 for testing".

CLICK HERE for Paul's full review.

Holux GPSmile 60
Although Holux had initially announced the the NAV-50 as their SiRFstarIII PDA, it hasn't become available and was instead replaced by the GPSmile 60 that Semsons kindly sent me for review. Paul already went into a good amount of detail in his review so I'll add a few pictures and some comments on tests with SDIO cards.

Compared to the HP hw6515 and with a Socket WiFi SD card browsing the mobile version of GpsPasSion

As can be seen in the pictures above, the form factor of the GPSmile is not very different from the one of the HP hw6515, larger screen and keyboard aside of course. I was concerned by the lack of onboard wireless connectivity but was happy to find that it performed flawlessly with the Socket Bluetooth and WiFi SDIO cards. The SD slot is also compatible with 2Gb SD cards (tested with the Maxell 2GB SD card). Switching from portrait to landscape mode is easily done by pressing the hardware button placed on the side below the audio out jack. Standard connections with the 3.5mm audio jack, miniUSB for connection to a PC and recharging and MMCX for the external GPS antenna. The two buttons on the side of the screen allow for quick volume adjustment and show it has been designed with GPS navigation in mind along with the backlit buttons for nght time operation.

A few words about the screen orientation as this has been an issue since portrait/landscape switching appeared with WM2003SE. The issue is that the rotation is done in software by the operating system instead of being done in hardware by the graphic chip. While this isn't a problem for static applications like excel of PocketIE, it hurts the refresh rate of GPS software. I'm not aware of any going directly to the graphic chip as BetaPlayer (now TCMP) does, likely to stick to Microsoft recomendations. Anyway, the good news is that the GPSmile 60 appears to operate in landscape mode natively, so you can benefit from smoother display when using that more "natural" mode for navigation, even though some would argue it offers less real estate for "ahead viewing".

In terms of compatibility, it ran all the GPS software I tried, TomTom v4, Navigon, iGuidance, smart2go, or the CE Monitor, APLSiRF, MMSiRF utilities.

To round off the PDA features section, battery life came in at a respectable 4h10' with maximum backlighting and GPS turned on, this is consistent with the presence of a 1,320mAh battery and close to the numbers obtained on the Mio 168. Early test runs on the Loox N520 in the same conditions show a shorter battery life of 3h02'with its 1,200mAh battery.

Portrait mode...and the Landscape mode is a flick of the switch away ! On the right the removable 1,320mAh battery...removed

GPS Performance
Throughout my test drives and as pointed out by Paul in his review, the MyGuide/G60 showed excellent sensitivity overall, let's see how what that translates into recorded tracks using the method first used for the chipset comparison article. A quick note to clarify that static navigation is enabled by default on the GPSmile and was disabled for these test runs using the APLSiRF tool, see here. The GPSmile G60 ships with the latest 3.1.1 firmware.

Side by side comparisons in the narrow streets of Paris

Testing was done in the narrow streets of the center of Paris, almost as demanding as the urban canyons of Manhattan in some parts. The G60 delivered the strong performance we have now come to expect of SiRFstarIII based units with fast and consistent "cold" fixes. On the left it does show more drifting than the Globalsat BT-338 GPS, but not in amount that would prevent good guidance from navigation software. On the right it closely matches the track of the BT-338 with both performing significantly better than the Xtrac v2 based units, be it the Royaltek RBT-1000 with XT2 or the Microsoft/Pharos with XT2.1.

This table above shows the results of the signal analysis with the GPSsmile managing to have a slighly higher average number of satellites in the fix than the BT-338 with a significanly lower level of signal. This lower level of signal likely being due to a smaller antenna moreover subjected to RF interference from the PDA. This could also explain the drifting observed above and also seen on the HP hw6515 but much more pronounced. While not much of a problem on the road as seen above, the lower signal level will also mean that in difficult conditions it might not be able to get an initial (cold) fix when a receiver capable of stronger signal reception could, as this process requires a minimum level of signal of 28dB, see the TTFF paragraph here for more details on this issue.

Excellent overall GPS performance considering the antenna is concealed inside the PDA unlike on the earlier Mio 168 model or the ASUS A636.

The Typhoon MyGuide/Holux GPSmile 60 is a good all-round device with an efficient implementation of the powerful SiRFstarIII chipset with an invisible antenna for inconspicuous operation. Designed with GPS assisted navigation in mind it retains the full features set of a PocketPC unlike other WinCE based "all-in-one" units. The lack of wireless Bluetooth or WiFI connectivity will put off some potential users but if you need them they are both just one SD card away thanks to the SDIO slot. Unlike the forthcoming ASUS A636 and Loox N520 GPS PocketPCs, it relies on WM2003SE and not the more recent WM5.0 but based on my experience with a WM5.0 upgraded Axim X50v this is a not a cause for concern. At the end of the day, what it really has going for it is that it does the job and it's available now !

If you have questions or comments, you can use this discussion thread in the forums.

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