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ThinkNavi GPS mount review Date 28th July 2005

Review by Richard Davies

 

There seems to be a trend in PDA design towards smaller speakers and reduced audio levels and as we are using PDAs more and more for in-car navigation systems this lack of volume is becoming a critical issue. A newcomer in the field of amplified speaker GPS mounts is ThinkNavi.

 

Quick Navigation

Overview

Compatibility

Review

Conclusion

Resources

Overview

The ThinkNavi range of GPS mounts feature a nicely designed compact cradle with an integrated amplified speaker and a flip up 12 channel GPS receiver and it is powered via a single cable.

 

This review is based on my experiences with the HP iPAQ hx4700 ThinkNavi GPS Mount but as the cradle is common to all models my comments are applicable to the whole range. The review cradle was provided by h@ndtec and you should visit their website (www.handtec.com) to see which PDA models are currently supported.

 

Unfortunately there is not a model for the HP iPAQ h6300 series as HP changed the configuration of the PDA serial connector to accommodate its clip-on keyboard.

 

Whats in the box

The box contains the following items:

  • GPS cradle
  • Windscreen Gooseneck
  • Richter adapter plate
  • Vent mount
  • Suction cup adapter with self adhesive backing
  • Cigarette jack charging cable
  • Speaker cable
  • Printed User's Guide

GPS receiver specifications

The following details were extracted from the ThinkNavi Free User's Guide.

 

GPS

  • SiRF Star II GPS Module
  • 12 channel GPS receiver

Acquisition Rate

  • Snap start < 3 sec., average
  • Hot start < 8 sec., average
  • Warm start < 38 sec., average
  • Cold start < 45 sec. average

Output Information

  • Baud rate 9600 bps*
  • NMEA-0183 and SiRF binary

* The user guide specifies 9600 bps, but testing showed that it should be 4800 bps

 

ThinkNavi GPS Mount
ThinkNavi GPS Mount

ThinkNavi GPS Mount

Compatibility

The ThinkNavi GPS Mount is currently available for the following PDAs:

  • HP Ipaq 2210
  • HP Ipaq 4150
  • HP Ipaq 2110
  • HP Ipaq hx4700
  • HP Ipaq rx3715 /3700
  • HP Ipaq 1710 / 1715
  • HP Ipaq hx2750
  • HP Ipaq hx2410
  • XDA II / XDA IIi / Qtek 2020 / XDA / SPV M1000
  • O2 XDA IIs / MDA III / Orange SPV M2000 /Qtek 9090

The ThinkNavi GPS Mount review

 

 

Car installation

The Richter adapter plate has to be used to connect the GPS cradle to either the windscreen gooseneck or the vent mount. There is a circular recess in the adapter plate, which engages with a protrusion on the back of the GPS cradle when the two units are coupled together.

 

The gooseneck was easily bent to shape to fit my Audi A3 and it fitted snugly in either a central position or to the right of the driver. The attachment to the windscreen was positive but it is always advisable to have the lower part of the mount in contact with the dashboard.

 

The GPS receiver, which is on the back of the cradle, should be angled to give the best satellite reception but generally it will be at right angles to the back of the cradle.

 

Next attach the cable between the output socket on the left-hand side of the cradle and the audio output socket on the iPAQ.

 

Finally, attach the power cable to the socket on the right-hand side of the cradle and plug the other end into the car cigarette lighter socket.

 

All of this is very obvious but at least you have a printed User’s Guide to follow, although its English is a bit "quaint".

 

ThinkNavi GPS Mount

The ThinkNavi GPS mount in use

The iPAQ slides easily into the cradle and it is held firmly by the spring loaded side supports. The cradle must be powered before the GPS receiver and speaker will function so most of my initial tests were done sat in the car on my drive.

 

No software is provided with the unit so it is necessary to have either a navigation program or some other PDA based program to assess the unit. I opted to use TomTom Navigator 5.100 (5160) using GPS driver v1.20 but I also used a utility program, GPSInfo, which came with my GlobalSat BT-338 Bluetooth GPS Receiver.

 

In both of these programs it was necessary to select the COM1 serial port running at 4800 baud to communicate with the GPS receiver.

 

There is no volume control on the cradle, but I found that with the volume level set at 80% in TomTom Navigator the output from the powered speaker was more than adequate. There was also a noticeable improvement in the sound quality of the voice commands from the larger speaker in the cradle.

 

ThinkNavi GPS Mount

Car installation using a Brodit Proclip

Personally I do not like windscreen mounts and for some time now I have been using the Brodit Proclip system. So I ordered a Brodit Richter adapterplate (Item No. 215058, £26.98 including delivery and VAT from GPS For Less Ltd).

 

This was attached to my Proclip using the four screws provided and, bingo, I was then able to attach the ThinkNavi Free cradle to it using the adapter plate it the kit. As the Brodit unit includes one of their tilt-and-swivel ball joints it is easy to orientate the PDA to reduce reflections.

 

However, even though the GPS receiver is now further from the windscreen, and so the view of the sky is not quite so good, I did not experience any difficulty locking onto satellites.

 

All of my road testing was done with this configuration.

ThinkNavi GPS Mount

 

Problems Encountered

The only problem that I came across was associated with the cable connecting the iPAQ audio output socket to the cradle. It was necessary to push the connector firmly home to get a reliable connection. Also it is difficult to get at the stylus and power switch on the iPAQ when the audio cable is plugged in, but this is an iPAQ design fault.

 

Conclusions

The ThinkNavi Free GPS cradle is a well-designed, well-constructed unit that performed faultlessly during the time, albeit a short time, that I have tested it. The h@ndtec price of £88.11 including VAT is certainly competitive for a cradle, GPS receiver, amplified speaker and mounting kit.

Pros

  • The overall design and quality of the cradle. It fits very snugly round the iPAQ and the spring loaded side grips hold it firmly. The unit is very compact which is a benefit these days when we have to hide away our GPS systems to reduce the chance of having our cars vandalized.
  • The use of the Richter adapter to connect the cradle to the mounting hardware.

Cons

  • The locking arrangement between the cradle and its support. It is not necessary and it makes it very difficult to separate the cradle from the mount.
  • The need to apply power to be able to use the GPS receiver.

 

References

Suppliers Website www.thinknavi.com
Review sample supplied by www.handtec.com
Pocket GPS Contributor

Richard Davies

Pocket GPS Contributor Website

rjdavies.users.btopenworld.com

   
Rating  
Construction
Useability
GPS Signal
Sound Volume and Quality
Stability
   
Overall Rating 96%
How did we achieve these ratings ? Review Ratings

 

 

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