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Thursday, July 06, 2006

GPS Receivers Guide and Explanation

Here we offer you one very quick to read but good for novice or future becoming GPS users guide. Recently at the market there are four major types of GPS receivers - the Standalone GPS receivers,
Bluetooth GPS receivers, CompactFlash GPS expansion cards and Combo devices.

Standalone GPS receiver

Standalone GPS receivers come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit different budgets from the basic monochrome screen ones to full-colour handheld and car navigation systems.

There are quite a number of manufacturers in the market, but the more well-known ones are Magellan and Garmin, and they produce a bewildering array of standalone receivers, even down to wristwatch-sized ones specifically meant to monitor activities like jogging and cycling.

Some issues to consider when buying a standalone GPS receiver is how much built-in memory it has normally 1MB to 4MB of internal memory is not a good idea if youre planning to load a lot of maps into the receiver as most maps tend to take up about 2MB to 5MB.

High-end models also feature barometric pressure sensors and even digital compasses to augment the information provided by the GPS unit.

Most standalone GPS units are also built to be very tough and water resistant which makes them ideal for hiking and water activities like sailing.

Bluetooth GPS receiver

Increasingly becoming a popular item for tech-savvy GPS users, the Bluetooth GPS receiver does not have any kind of display whatsoever instead, the device is used in tandem with a PDA, laptop or even a smartphone.

With the appropriate software installed, the PDA /notebook/ smartphone gives you functions normally found in ultra-expensive standalone GPS receivers a colour screen, colour maps and turn-by-turn voice directions.

Because the Bluetooth GPS unit can interface with all kinds of Bluetooth-enabled computers the versatility is only limited by the software and maps available for the particular host device.

While a Bluetooth GPS unit is great for navigating the streets and getting driving instructions, it's not particularly great for hiking experiance because of the generally poorer weather sealing and the necessity of carrying two devices for it to work.

CompactFlash GPS expansion cards

The predecessor to the Bluetooth GPS unit, the CompactFlash GPS receiver plugs directly into the CompactFlash card slot on some handhelds and notebook computers.

A CompactFlash GPS receiver has all the functions of a Bluetooth unit but doesnt have the same versatility as it only interfaces with devices that have a CompactFlash slot.

Nevertheless, devices such as these are generally cheaper than Bluetooth units and are great if you are walking around holding a PDA in your hand, as the reception is generally better with the aerial facing directly to the open sky.

Combo devices

Some manufacturers, such as Mitac, Holux and even Garmin have come up with devices that marry a Pocket PC or PalmOS device with a GPS chipset, offering a unit similar to a standalone GPS but with the versatility of a full-fledged operating system.

These devices often come with the manufacturers own software and maps pre-installed on the device but theres nothing stopping you from installing your own applications and maps.

The bonus, of course, is that you can use the handheld as a personal digital assistant as well to keep phone numbers, appointments and even manage your e-mail.