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Holux GPSlim GR-236 Review
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Darren
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2005 5:33 pm    Post subject: Holux GPSlim GR-236 Review Reply with quote

We're pleased to announce the availability of our Holux GPSlim GR-236 Review.

The GPSlim is a SiRFStarIII chip set receiver and despite initial doubts that it was possible it has proved to be even more sensitive than the Globalsat BT338 which was until now my star performer.

Not only is the GPSlim a superb performer but it can double as a GPS Mouse with an optional cable, has a replaceable battery and for those of you looking for such a beast, a hardware ON/OFF switch which means it can be semi-permanently installed in a vehicle relying on the ignition to switch it ON/OFF.

To read the review click here.
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NickG
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How can it get 99% when it doesn't have any datalogging capabilities or multiple serial port profiles like the Emtac Trine? Does that mean the Trine should get 150%?

I'm losing faith in the reviews on this site. Anything that can get a lock in the reviewer's house seems to get 99% by default - hardly scientific. You certainly couldn't use the reviews on this site in order to decide which is best because many are out of date and the tests aren't all conducted at the same time under the same conditions. I know that you have limited resources and aren't paid to conduct the tests but I'm sure you could make them a little more reliable by testing multiple units at once. Giving nearly every half-decent GPS 98%+ simply degrades the reader's faith in those reviews. It also makes me wonder if the reviews aren't somehow biassed. Perhaps Holux are letting the reviewer keep the GPS? Why else would a fairly average unit get 99%?

Why not aim to give fairly good units 75% and save the 90%+ scores for ones with truely innovative features?

To me, this device still has some annoying faults like the blinking LEDs even after it's got a lock. (annoying if you place your device on the dashboard and use it at night).

The SirfStar III chipset is also not the grand saviour that the reviewers on this site seem to think. Other sites which conduct more scientific tests only show it to be a marginal improvement on the SirfStar II chipset. In my own experience, I have seen an Emtac Crux II and Trine easily outperform a state of the art Holux SirfStar III device in open-air conditions. The Holux didn't get a lock in the whole car journey of 30 minutes.

Sorry if this post seems harsh, but the reviews are now getting a little silly.
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Darren
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whenever you use a rating system there will be issues, our first Bluetooth receiver was reviewed nearly 3 years ago and so any score given at that time cannot be realistically compared against a current unit. Likewise its simply not feasible to conduct comparison reviews often, we simply do not have the time required and the Compareomatic database is there for that purpose.

There is no such beast as the 'best' receiver as the market moves at such a pace, today's best will be quickly surpassed. A review is the opinion of the reviewer at that time and needs to be taken in context,

As for logging and multiple Bluetooth Ports, these are niche market features which very few users want or need and so comparing a unit that has these features with one that does not is pointless, if you want one then you will make your decision based on that fact.

I'm sorry you feel you cannot make a decision based on our reviews, we speak as we find, if a unit performs then we say so but we have made a conscious decision to move away from the more technical review as GPS is fast becoming a mainstream product and most users do not wish to wade through nor do they understand the finer points of GPS technology.

I do however strongly disagree with your assertion that SiRFStarIII is not a huge leap forward, an average SSIII chip set equipped receiver is much more sensitive in the majority of situations, acquires a fix faster and holds onto a fix in marginal conditions compared with any of its peers.

I do however take on board your comments regards scores but have yet to see a better system? And we are categorically not influenced by manufacturers or suppliers, if we think its a dog we say so!
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HOLUX UK Tech
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi NickG

Wow! Your post makes for very interesting reading!

May we be so bold as to make a suggestion:

Instead of procrastinating why don't you share with everybody else your obviously vast experience about this subject and write a review yourself?

We would be especially interested in your scientific analysis of how a SiRF II receiver can outperform a SiRF III one.

We look forward to reading your wisdom. Oh and by the way, we're sorry we can't provide you with a GR-236 because that would be biasing your opinion!

Warmest regards,

The HOLUX UK Technical Support Team.

Tel: 0870 321 5929 x53
web: www.holux.co.uk

HOLUX Navigations Aids ".......Get there."
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Eldar
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Errr.... Physician, heal thyself. Surely you guys can provide us with some extracts of a comparative study between Star 2 and 3, which your R&D must have done before opting for Star 3. :-)

...and under certain circumstances a receiver with Star 2 can perform better than a receiver with Star 3. First versions of the GPS firmware from SiRF were pretty unstable and it did take ages to get a lock.
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NickG
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, perhaps my post was bit harsh and unconstructive but I'm not sure there was any need for the sarcastic and offensive reply (Holux). If you doubted my claims, why not send me an e-mail first and discuss them with me before posting your somewhat unprofessional reply on this high-usage website?

I'm sure you would admit that when a single website gives products which are OBVIOUSLY not perfect (like TomTom Navigator 5) 97% you have to lose some respect for the quality of the review. I have TT5 myself and have been using TT for years, but it is quite obvious to me it is far from perfect. Many (most?) users will freely admit that TT5 ships with out of date map data which contains errors (it doesn't even show my road properly and it's been there 11 years!). By your own admission this data is more than 6 months out of date and is updated infrequently by TomTom despite the fact that they receive regular updates from TeleAtlas. As the map data is critical to the entire point of the application I do not see how you can award it 97% when there are so many map data errors reported by so many users. I do however, think it is the best product on the market BUT I still would not award it more than 80% until they sort out the map data and release map updates more often (perhaps as incremental downloads).

It also has many many known bugs which you will realise if you've read the forums on this site. One I come across regularly is "at the roundabout, take the 3rd exit" when the screen clearly shows you need the 2nd or 4th exit (etc). The voice directions often contradict the on-screen map.

> We would be especially interested in your scientific analysis of how
> a SiRF II receiver can outperform a SiRF III one.

I don't claim to have a scientific analysis and I'm not publishing my results on the web for others to depend on! PocketGPSWorld are. I've tried an Emtac side by side with a Holux GPS PDA mount (which has been sent back to you this week) and I found the Emtac much more reliable. Try it yourself if you don't believe me with the one my father (P Gilbert) just sent back to you this week.

I'm sorry (Holux) you felt you had to write such a sarcastic and rude reply to my post. I have used Holux products before and with the exception of the GPS PDA mount they have all worked brilliantly. I expect that the GR-236 is just as good and I have already recommended it to a friend based on the strength of my experience as well as the review before I even posted my first message in this thread.

> why don't you share with everybody else your obviously
> vast experience

I didn't say I had vast experience or that I could do better, I was ONLY pointing out that giving products scores of 99% when they are missing features compared to others does not give us readers much confidence in the reviews! Unless of course, they honestly believe the product is perfect and has every feature that they are likely to need.

I do not doubt that this is probably the best BT GPS on the market, but without the features I mentionned - I do not see why it deserves a 99% score. The flashing LED problem alone would have been enough to make me give it no more than 95%. Lights flashing in your field of view while driving are obviously irritating and dangerous. The reviewers of this site definitely agree with me as they have mentionned this point in several other reviews.

> As for logging and multiple Bluetooth Ports, these are niche market
> features which very few users want or need

Datalogging is especially useful if you use the GPS for aviation, sailing or skiing or any other activity where it is useful or interesting to be able to replay your journey. Perhaps in the rating section, there should be a new type "Features" for which things like the Trine should receive a higher score than a box standard cabled GPS.
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Eldar
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NickG wrote:
I do however, think it is the best product on the market


Therefore 99% (or whatever the mark was) - as compared to other products *currently* on the market.
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Darren
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NickG wrote:
By your own admission this data is more than 6 months out of date and is updated infrequently by TomTom despite the fact that they receive regular updates from TeleAtlas. As the map data is critical to the entire point of the application I do not see how you can award it 97% when there are so many map data errors reported by so many users. I do however, think it is the best product on the market BUT I still would not award it more than 80% until they sort out the map data and release map updates more often (perhaps as incremental downloads).

I'd rather not get into this here as it's OT for this thread but the mapa data currency is a problem every product suffers from. TA release quarterly updates, TomTom don't necessarily buy every release as the costs are significant, given the moaning over the heavily discounted costs of the V5 Map Update I don't think any manufacture sees a more regular release offering as viable at present.
Quote:
I do not doubt that this is probably the best BT GPS on the market, but without the features I mentionned - I do not see why it deserves a 99% score. The flashing LED problem alone would have been enough to make me give it no more than 95%. Lights flashing in your field of view while driving are obviously irritating and dangerous. The reviewers of this site definitely agree with me as they have mentionned this point in several other reviews.

Our problem is that having taken the route of using a percentage scoring system we've painted ourselves into a corner somewhat, if we gave something a score of 95% it would suggest its worse than a receiver reviewed perhaps two years ago that received 97%. I'm genuinely open to suggestions about a fairer and more realistic scoring system that would stand the test of time, perhaps we should drop scoring completely?
Quote:
Datalogging is especially useful if you use the GPS for aviation, sailing or skiing or any other activity where it is useful or interesting to be able to replay your journey. Perhaps in the rating section, there should be a new type "Features" for which things like the Trine should receive a higher score than a box standard cabled GPS.

If these features were important then surely you would only consider those receivers that had these options?

Again whilst I'm naturally defensive of our work I appreciate your views and are open to genuine suggestions that would improve matters.
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NickG
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

> the map data currency is a problem every product suffers from.

I know. The answer to that is that no product should receive 99% until it has been sorted by the data provider the product uses. The fact that there is no better alternative currently available should not mean that a product receives a perfect score - it is still being hindered by the bad/outdated data and the score should reflect as such.

Quote:

Our problem is that having taken the route of using a percentage scoring system we've painted ourselves into a corner somewhat, if we gave something a score of 95% it would suggest its worse than a receiver reviewed perhaps two years ago that received 97%. I'm genuinely open to suggestions about a fairer and more realistic scoring system that would stand the test of time, perhaps we should drop scoring completely?


Perhaps a ranking system would work better? This way new products would go to the top and older products (if worse) would slowly get pushed down. To find a GPS, users would then simply look at the rankings rather than the actual score and choose the first one that meets their needs. The star rating system works well if all the reviews are done at the same time, but perhaps the actual star ratings themselves should receive some occasional adjustment when new products are released.

Quote:
If these features were important then surely you would only consider those receivers that had these options?


Yes, but multiple receivers might have the features I need - in which case I want the one with the best performance. I'm not actually looking for a GPS myself at the moment - I was just pointing out that your reviews currently make it difficult to choose.

Quote:
Again whilst I'm naturally defensive of our work I appreciate your views and are open to genuine suggestions that would improve matters.

I think I could have phrased my post better, but I would like to say that I strongly value this website, it's reviews, and the work your team does to keep the site up and running. This review-score problem is just something that has been niggling me over the past few months! Smile
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Darren
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now a ranking system may be the answer, I like it Smile

We can retain the star ratings to explain the distribution of the rank amongst its features and then have an overall rank page which would dynamically change as better receivers or software arrived.

I'll discuss with the team.
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NickG
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eldar wrote:
NickG wrote:
I do however, think it is the best product on the market


Therefore 99% (or whatever the mark was) - as compared to other products *currently* on the market.


NO! The fact that something is the best product currently on the market OBVIOUSLY doesn't mean that it is absolutely perfect! If something is perfect, then by definition it can never be improved upon. I would expect a GPS with a score of 99% to receive a strong signal from 12 satellites in a dense forest or urban canyon (one day this could exist). The reviewer said this GPS could get a 4 satellite lock in his lounge. What if tomorrow, someone releases a GPS which can get a 12 satellite lock in his lounge? What score should that get? 110%?

If you review products using percentages, then unless a manufacturer makes a big mistake, it is likely that any more recent product will be better but receive a similar percentage score to an older product. How is that useful?
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NickG
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Now a ranking system may be the answer, I like it


A single page on which you could view all the GPS receivers and see features such as battery life, chipset, and review score (and sort by each) would be really useful.

If I knew any php I'd offer to help (especially as I live in near you), but I'm an ASP.NET man... Smile
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Eldar
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NickG wrote:
I would expect a GPS with a score of 99% to receive a strong signal from 12 satellites in a dense forest or urban canyon (one day this could exist).


And my perfect GPS would tell me where my spectecals are, but seriously, if you develop a scoring system which is 99% perfect do let us know.
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uffe73
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would be very interested in a judgement of the Time To First Fix measured for this receiver. I've owned a GR-213, its little brother, a few weeks now and am very impressed with the sensitivity - once it has fix. The problem though is that it sometimes takes several minutes to get a fix, even when it's only been a short while since my last fix. A few Hot, Warm or Cold starts usually fixes the problem, but it's still annoying. Am I the only one having this problem?

Can my Time To First Fix problem be found with the GR-236 unit you tested? I would also like to ask which SiRF FW version the tested unit has. Mine has the version GSW3.1.1_3.1.00.07-C23B1.00.

Regards,

Ulf
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Darren
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

uffe73 wrote:
I would be very interested in a judgement of the Time To First Fix measured for this receiver. I've owned a GR-213, its little brother, a few weeks now and am very impressed with the sensitivity - once it has fix.

I have a GR-213 awaiting review, I'll be doing the review this weekend and will test the TTFF.

As for the GR-236, TTFF is typically sub 15seconds from cold, I have not observed the symptoms you describe with the GR-213.

I don't have the GR-236 at the moment but will get the firware versions for both over the weekend.
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