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TomTom Bluetooth GPS Receiver Review

01st June 2003

 Review by Dave Burrows  

 

Earlier in March 2003 we announced that Leadtek had  created a new Bluetooth GPS Receiver and showed photos of this.  In early May we also brought you ground breaking news that TomTom were soon to release a Bluetooth GPS Receiver.  It's now the beginning of June, one month later and we're glad to say we have the full TomTom Bluetooth GPS Review and before it's released!  An exclusive!

 

TomTom say that shipment of the Bluetooth GPS Receiver will commence in June 2003.

 

TomTom have always had strong alliances with Leadtek.  Previously TomTom have shipped the 9531, the 9532 and now TomTom have a new Leadtek Bluetooth Receiver (dubbed the 9821x).

 

Bluetooth is an emerging technology and we're going to see a lot more Bluetooth Receivers over the next 6-12 months.  It all started in Q4 in 2002 with the announcement and trials of the Transplant Computing Bluetooth which outside of America has been sold as the Emtac or Socket BT GPS.  Since then Fortuna has brought out a new combined handheld Bluetooth receiver and other companies who will be selling Bluetooth GPS Receivers in the near future are Leadtek, Navman and GlobalSat just to name a few.

 

The TomTom BT GPS receiver we have here is a pre-production version from TomTom.  For anyone that hasn't seen the size of an Emtac/Socket BT GPS, it's really hard to explain because no matter how many photos you see, you always think it's going to be bigger than it really is until you see it in the flesh.  This is the same with the TomTom BT GPS.  It has almost the same dimensions as the Emtac/Socket BT GPS in length (87mm) and width (47mm) but is slightly deeper in height (18mm).  For anyone that hasn't seen a Bluetooth GPS Receiver in the flesh, they are small for the technology they have inside.

 

 

The bit sticking out of the TomTom BT GPS on the first photo above is the docking station.  This docking station is also shown below.  The docking station is made out of plastic and has two screw holes in the base allowing you to secure it to the dashboard, or to a desk, on the left hand side of the docking station it has a standard power jack socket to allow charging from a standard 5vdc desk or car charger (the iPAQ one works great here).  There is also a special 2 pin socket and the TomTom BT GPS comes with a cable to fit this socket to allow you to plumb the power cable directly into the car rather than using an accessory socket which is a very nice touch!  TomTom do suggest that you get it wired by a professional if you take this route.

 

 

What's in the box ?

As this is a pre-production model we received everything except for the the Euro to UK 3-pin converter, and also the permanent power cable for use in the car. 

 

According to the TomTom BT GPS manual, UK users should get these (they are not optional attachments).

 

In the box you'll find:-

  • 3M sticky pad

  • Base magnet for if you just want to use the receiver on it's own

  • GPS Receiver

  • Docking Station

  • in-car accessory plug with extra jack socket on the accessory plug

  • a jack to jack accessory lead which allows you to connect one end to the BT GPS Accessory Plug and the other end to your Pocket PC to enable power and charging of the Pocket PC at the same time.

  • the iPAQ version comes with a 3600 to 3800 converter

  • a 2 pin American AC plug with a euro adapter (UK users should see a UK 3 pin converter).

Accessory/Cigarette Plug

The accessory plug is a new design over existing Leadtek power cables.  It's moulded like most, and has a power jack plug on the end of the cable, but notice that the cable isn't coiled ?  It's straight.  The second thing which is easier to see in the enlarged photo on the right (below) is that it also has a spare power jack socket protruding out of the bottom of the accessory plug.  This allows you to plug the extended spare charger cable in to power/charge the Pocket PC. 

 

 

Technical Specification

Length 3.38" / 86mm
Width 1.81" / 47mm
Height 0.75" / 18mm
Weight 2.6 oz / 76g
Humidity Range 5% to 95% non-condensing
Operating Temperature -4F to +140F / -20C to +60C
Power 3.5mm female
External Antenna MC female
Cradle Covered connector for power supply by cradle
Built-in Battery Lithium-Ion 600mAh
Battery Full Charge Cycle 2 Hours (receiver off)
Continous Usage 5.5-6 Hours
Power Operational Voltage 3.3V DC +/-10%
Power Input Voltage 5V DC +/-10%
Backup Battery Power 3.3V DC
Battery Operational Current 15-65mAh (Standby)
  95-110mAh (GPS and Bluetooth fully operational)
  110-130mAh (GPS and Bluetooth fully operational with external antenna)
Chipset SiRFStar IIe/LP
Frequency L1, 1575.42MHz
C/A Code 1.023MHz chip rate
Channels 12, All in view tracking
Internal Antenna Patch Antenna, disabled when optional external antenna is connected

 

How does the TomTom BT GPS perform ?

The Bluetooth GPS performs very well.  The power on and power off mechanism seems a little strange. 

Why ?  Let me explain.  If you compare it to the Emtac/Socket BT GPS you turn on the GPS and within 2 seconds the Bluetooth light will start to flicker, if you switch it off, it immediately turns off. 

 

The TomTom BT GPS is somewhat different.  You have to press the power button on top of the receiver to power it on, but just a simple press and release will not power it on which is good as a safeguard, you have to press and hold the button in for about 1-2 seconds and release and then you'll see the unit power up.  The Bluetooth light won't light up for about 13 seconds, so it appears to go through a self check before initiating Bluetooth which is a bit of an annoyance.  Although 13 seconds isn't long to wait, it won't start talking until this 13 second period is over, which adds time to your TTFF effectively if you could the time from when you hit the power button.

 

Now to power off, you have to hold the power button in for 3-4 seconds.  If you continue to hold the power button it will still remain on, but as soon as you see the green power light go constant, you can release your finger and it will power off.  This does seem a little strange, but it does cater for false power on's and power off's. 

 

The Emtac/Socket BT GPS was revolutionary because of the new SiRF chipset it contained and the antenna built into the receiver enabled you to pick up a satellite lock on windowsills where you wouldn't usually be able to pick up satellite locks with the average GPS Receiver.  Below you will see two comparative screens where both GPS Receivers were placed on a windowsill which won't give a signal to most Pocket PC GPS Receivers, the first is the TomTom BT GPS and the second is from the Socket BT GPS.  Although they have both picked up different satellites, you'll see signal strength and satellite numbers are on a par with each other.

 

 

Time To First Fixes as you'll see in the tables below are very respectable mainly coming in below 50 seconds which is what we tend to find on the better Pocket PC GPS Receivers.

  

 

GPS Hardware TTFF (Time To First Fix)

 

Cold

Test 1

Cold

Test 2

Cold

Test 3

Cold

Test 4

Cold

Test 5

Cold

Test

Average

Warm

Test

Hot

Test

CoPilot CF 1m 22s 1m 8s 56s 1m 17s 54s 1m 07s 52s 16s
Emtac Sleeve/CoPilot 40s 37s 42s 37s 46s 40.4s 10s 9s
Emtac/Socket BT GPS 47s 53s 42s 36s 38s 43.2s 10s 17s
Garmin eTrex 39s 44s 40s 41s 43s 41.4s 8s N/A
Garmin eTrex Summit 38s 41s 45s 39s 42s 41.0s 8s N/A
Garmin eTrex Vista 37s 57s 32s 35s 38s 39.8s 17s N/A
Garmin GPSMap76 42s 34s 23s 56s 32s 37.4s 12s N/A
Garmin GPSMap76S 32s 53s 32s 39s 36s 38.4s 11s N/A
Garmin Geko 101 1m 37s 45s 38s 44s 41s 53s 15s 13
Garmin Geko 201 34s 45s 38s 43s 40s 40s 19s 10
HaiCom 302 CF 50s 33s 1m 25s 36s 1m 25s 57.8s 23s 10s
HaiCom 303 MMF 42s 1m 05 s 41s 1m 02 s 1m 18s 57.6s 36s 3s
Holux GM-210 42s 38s 35s 37s 42s 38.8s 30s 4s
Holux GM-270 54s 1m 07 s 1m 03s 50s 1m 12s 61.2s 39s 4s
Holux GM-270U 46s 49s 42s 1m 01 s 49s 49.4s 35s 3s
Holux GR-230 1m 02s 55s 50s 49s 52s 53.6s 39s 5s
LeadTek 9531 / 9532 29s 37s 39s 41s 43s 37.8s 9s 5s
Magellan Meridian Range of GPS 38s 53s 43s 33s 35s 40.4s 18s 15s
Magellan SporTrak Range of GPS 37s 47s 46s 41s 41s 42.4s 19s 16s
Navman 3000 (ROM 2.0.0) 49s 52s 1m 33s 3m 23s 8m 5s 2m 56s 20s 11s
Navman 3400/3420 (ROM 2.1.2) 1m 33s 2m 30s 1m 32s 52s 1m 17s 1m 32.8s 20s 12s
Navman 3450 (ROM 2.1.2) 57s 50s 1m 09s 48s 1m 0s 56.8s 20s 11s
Navman 4400 53s 1m 03s 1m 19s 54s 53s 1m 00.4s 0s 0s
Pretec Compact CF 1m 28s 2m 47s 57s 45s 1m 2s 1m 23s 1m 16s 12s
Pretec Compact LP CF 3m 48s 5m 32s 4m 59s 1m 53s 4m 02s 4m 04s 52s 33s
Rikaline X5 41s 41s 34s 41s 42s 39.5s 39s 0s
Rikaline X6 34s 60s 44s 48s 57s 48.6s 38s 0s
RoyalTek Onyx 1m 28s 1m 39s 2m 23s 1m 38s 1m 35s 1m 46s 1m 24s 17s
RoyalTek Sapphire RGM 1m 02s 1m 0s 56s 41s 55s 54.8s 37s 10s
RoyalTek RBT-3000 57s 46s 43s 41s 55s 48.4s 30s 9s
RoyalTek RGM-2000 48s 52s 40s 45s 39s 44.8s 33s 7s
SysOnChip BT GPS 48s 77s 66s 67s 51s 61.8s 37s 4s
SysOnChip CF Plus (SIRFXTrac) 40s 30s 33s 38s 39s 36s 30s 0s
TFAC MG30 Mouse 1m17s 1m 26s 1m 38s 1m 36s 2m 11s 1m 37s 34s 4s
TomTom Bluetooth GPS 48s 52s 46s 59s 51s 51.2s 37s 3s

 

Fastest

TTFF

Cold

Tests

Slowest

TTFF

Cold

Tests

Manufacturer

Stated

Times

Warm

TTFF

Tests

Manufacturer

Stated

Times

Hot

TTFF

Tests

Manufacturer

Stated

Times

CoPilot CF 54s 1m 22s Not Stated 52s N/A 16s N/A
Emtac Sleeve/CoPilot 37s 46s Not Stated 10s N/A 9s N/A
Emtac/Socket BlueTooth GPS 36s 53s 1m 20s 10s 45s 6s 10s
Garmin eTrex 39s 44s 45s 8s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin eTrex Summit 38s 45s 45s 8s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin eTrex Vista 32s 57s 45s 12s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin GPSMap76 32s 56s 45s 12s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin GPSMap76S 32s 53s 45s 12s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin Geko 101 38s 1m 37s 45s 15s 15s 13s N/A
Garmin Geko 201 34s 45s 45s 19s 15s 10s N/A
HaiCom 302 CF 33s 1m 25s 48s 23s 38s 10s 8s
HaiCom 303 MMF 41s 1m 18s 48s 36s 38s 3s 8s
Holux GM-210 35s 42s 45s 30s 38s 4s 8s
Holux GM-270 50\s 1m 12s 45s 39s 38s 4s 8s
Holux GM-270U 42s 1m 01s 45s 35s 38s 3s 8s
Holux GR-230 39s 1m 02s 45s 39s 38s 5s 8s
LeadTek 9531 / 9532 29s 43s 48s 9s 38s 5s 8s
Magellan Meridian Range of GPS 33s 53s <2m 18s <1m 15s <15s
Magellan SporTrak Range of GPS 37s 47s <5m 19s <1m 16s <15s
Navman 3000 49s 8m 05s 2m 0s 20s 48s 11s 18s
Navman 3400/3420 (ROM 2.1.2) 52s 2m 30s 2m 0s 20s 48s 12s 18s
Navman 3450 (ROM 2.1.2) 48s 1m 09s 2m 0s 20s 48s 11s 18s
Navman 4400 53s 1m 19s n/a 0s n/a 0s n/a
Pretec Compact CF 45s 2m 47s 1m 0s 1m 16s 45s 12s 8s
Pretec Compact LP CF 1m 53s 5m 32s 2m 10s 52s 45s 33s 20s
Rikaline X5 34s 42s 45s 39s 38s 0s 8s
Rikaline X6 34s 1m 00 s 45s 38s 38s 0s 8s
RoyalTek Onyx 1m 28s 2m 23s 45s 3m 0s 45s 17s 20s
RoyalTek Sapphire 41s 1m 02s 45s 37s 38s 10s 45s
RoyalTek RBT-3000 41s 57s 45s 30s 38s 9s 8
RoyalTek RGM-2000 39s 52s 45s 33s 38s 17s 45s
SysOnChip BT GPS 37s 77s 45s 37s  38s 4s 8s
SysOnChip CF Plus (SIRFXTrac) 30s 40s 45s 30s  38s 0s 8s
TFAC MG30 1m 17s 2m 11s 45s 34s  8s 4s 0.1s
TomTom Bluetooth GPS 48s 59s 45s 37s 38s 3s 8s
 

Summary

The TomTom Bluetooth GPS seems a good GPS Receiver.  We haven't yet had time to perform extensive tests, these will carry on over the next few weeks, but from what we've seen so far, it comes close to the Emtac/BT GPS in performance.  The Receiver itself is nice and compact, the silver design makes it look a little flashy.  TTFF's are very respectable and overall the performance of this receiver is good.  Those of you who are Leadtek fans and have purchased the 9531 and 9532's will be happy with this little device.  One thing about this and other Bluetooth GPS Receivers is the price.  Bluetooth is a new emerging technology, it's on the leading edge (bleeding edge when concerned with money), so expect to pay more for the technology than you would a cabled or CF receiver.  TomTom say the retail price will be 349.00 or 250 as a standalone unit available in June 2003 from leading retailers throughout Benelux and will be available on it's own or packaged with TomTom Navigator Software and Maps across Europe in July 2003.

 
Conclusion  
Manufacturers Website http://www.tomtom.com
Pocket GPS Reviewer Dave Burrows
Pocket GPS Reviewer Website http://www.daveburrows.com
   
Rating  
Construction
Installation
Usability
Robustness
Performance
   
Overall Rating 98%
How did we achieve these ratings ? Review Ratings
 

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