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Holux GPSlim240 Bluetooth GPS receiver review 30th August 2006

Review by Lutz Bendlin

 

Introduction
Lately we have seen a paradigm shift in Bluetooth GPS receivers. First of all the change to SiRF III chipsets means that a GPS position is no longer something you get if you are lucky and positioning the receiver with completely unobstructed sky view is no longer important.

 

With a SiRF III based receiver (or any other of the third generation chipsets) you switch the receiver on, and you have a fix within a few seconds, no matter if you are in open field or in an urban canyon, if the sun is out or if one of these "quick washups" (a week long rain basically) is raging.

 

This is a true sign of the switchover from "technology" (stuff that doesn't work) to "commodity" (stuff that you expect to just work).

 

The other shift we have seen is in the target audience. GPS receivers are no longer just for nerds who value function higher than form.

 

We have seen multi colored receivers, sometimes even with exchangable face plates. And quite a few of the newer receivers can actually be called fashionable. The receiver we are reviewing here - the Holux GPSlim240 - is a prime example.

 

BuyGPSNow managed to send us a review unit, but just barely. At the time of the review they were sold out of the receivers, and waiting for the next batch to arrive (it did, they have stock again). Let's see if the hype is justified.

 

 

Quick Navigation

Specifications

Details

In Operation

Conclusion

Resources

 

 

 

 

The GPSlim240 Manufacturers Specs

 

The following specifications have been obtained from the Holux website www.holux.com:


Specifications


Tracks up to 20 satellites.*
Receiver: L1, C/A code.
Update rate: 1 HZ(max)
Antenna Type: Built in Patch Antenna.
Minimum signal tracked: -159dBm *
Dimension: 64 x 22 x 15 mm
Weight : < 35g
On/off switch: slide switcher
Lithium-ion battery lasts for more than 8 hours of use.
Operation Temperature: -10 0C to + 60 0C
Store Temperature: -20 0C to + 70 0C
Operation Humidity:5% to 95% No condensing
3 Led Function: Bluetooth , Navigation, Power

 

*) You can only see about 12 satellites. What they meant to say is "20 channels" so that you can receive multiple signals from the same satellite, particularly in urban canyon conditions.

 

What the specs don't say - this is a new SiRF III chipset - the Low Power version. And it has to be because the battery is rather small.

 

Speaking of the battery - it looks like this is becoming the limiting factor in the design of the receivers. The WinTec WBT-100 that we reviewed earlier had the same feel to it - it was just a case around the battery, with a tiny PCB tucked into the case.

 

The Holux is a tad longer than the Wintec, but only half as wide. The height is about the same.

 

The battery on the GPSlim240 is not user replaceable. Well, not easily... It is not a standard Nokia battery, but rather an exotic stick with a PCB style connector.

 

Battery runtime is given as 8 hours. I was able to confirm that, my review unit regularly pulled 8 hours 20 minutes from the fully charged state to the time when the GPS circuitry switches off (Bluetooth continues for another 10 minutes, but that is rather pointless).

 

A look at the receiver - inside and outside

 

The battery is charged through a mini USB connector, either off a wall charger, or through a computer USB connection. (When you buy the receiver you'll get a cigarette lighter USB adapter and a USB-miniUSB cable included in the box.)

 

On the side you have the slide on/off switch (which means you could tuck this device away in the car somewhere - however that would not do the nice looks enough justice).

 

Opposite the power connector is the lanyard thingie - highly appreciated since the device's size somehow encourages it to slip through cracks and get lost unless you fasten it somewhere or carry it around your neck. The strap that is shown in the pictures is not included - that's my own!

 

The top of the case is clear black plastic. Looks very fashionable until you have the first finger print on it. Happy wiping... The status LEDs will shine through the black plastic. As always they are way too bright, and while I was dismantling the unit they got the usual treatment with a touch of black permanent marker. That helps a lot.

 

 

The ceramic GPS patch antenna is really tiny, only half the size of the normally used component. The receiver sensitivity didn't seem to suffer from that one single bit.

 

The stick design might have warranted a different antenna type (a quad helix like in the TomTom MKII receiver) but the patch antenna is good enough to get a position fix even when the receiver is dangling on the lanyard, with the antenna pointed horizontally - 90 degrees to where it should point to.

 

The bottom of the unit sports two little rubber feet, but these are rather useless. Due to the low weight of the receiver the unit will happily slide over pretty much any surface. Better tuck it in somewhere.

 

The USB connector also serves as a data link for the scenario when you want to use the receiver with a notebook through USB. However, you need a special USB cable (the one with the hump) and you need to install the appropriate driver on the notebook.

 

In operation

 

Using the receiver is very simple. Like any other Bluetooth receiver you need to discover it from your Pocket PC, Smartphone, or Notebook. When asked for a PIN code, use "0000". Then you connect to the serial port offered by the device. That's it.

 

The orange GPS LED will be on steadily if the device doesn't have a fix, and will blink when a fix is available (as usual we would have wished the signaling would be the other way round)

 

When the battery starts getting low the middle LED will come on with a weak red light that becomes stronger and stronger the more the battery nears depletion. The first red light will come on a good half hour before the end, so you should have plenty of time to decide if you need to save the last bit of battery for later, or if you want to put the device into the charger.

 

 

Many Pocket PCs and Smartphones nowadays come with the same mini USB connector, and thanks to the small size of the unit it will fit in most of the powered mounts. An example is shown here (the A701 Proclip/Brodit mount that we will review soon). Looks like the mini USB connector is becoming the new iPAQ connector that was ubiquitous two years ago.

Conclusions

I do like the GPSlim240. It looks good and presentable, and it has an excellent reception. The battery runtime is acceptable at 8 hours.

 

I am not too fond about the shiny black top of the device - it gets dirty too quickly, and instills a wiping urge into the owner. I was also unable to explore the more detailed SiRF settings of the device (not that I would have needed to) - most probably the new low power chipset needs different programs to control it.

 

With a street price tag of about US$120 this is a good buy, and sure to impress your friends, even the fashion lovers and technology haters.

 

References

Manufacturers Website www.holux.com
Pocket GPS Contributors

Lutz Bendlin

Pocket GPS Contributor Website

www.Pocketgpsworld.com

Online Shop BuyGPSNow.com

 

 

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