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SG-288 Review 12 April 2007

Review by Darren Griffin


Zycast SG-288 SiRFStarIII Bluetooth Receiver

Bluetooth GPS Receivers have become something of a commodity item in recent months with ever more variations on the theme appearing. Smaller, lighter, slimmer, lipstick shaped. The SiRFStarIII chipsets in most are so good that apart from the look and price there was very little to differentiate any of them. Until ZyCast's SG-288 appeared that is.


ZyCast have added a small high resolution LCD text display to their new SG-288 model and this is something of a first in Bluetooth GPS. Is it a gimmick or does this really have a benefit to the user?


GPSForLess, the UK distributor and retailer for this product have provided us with a review sample and having had the opportunity to test it over the last month lets see how it performed.


SiRFStarIII Chipset

The SiRFStarIII Chipset has been discussed in depth many times. Suffice to say that most of the receivers available today will contain this chipset and it works superbly. There were until recently no competitors that could surpass it but GlobalLocate and others have now stepped up although SiRF is still an excellent performer.




L1, 1575.42 MH
C/A code
1.023 MHz chip rate
20 channels all in view tracking
-159 dBm typical




1s typical

38s typical

42s typical

Power input
5.0 +/-5% VDC input.
Rechargeable 1200mAH Li-ion battery
Protocol message

NMEA-0183 Default NMEA GGA, GSA, GSV, RMC, (GLL, VTG, and ZDA optional)
8 bits data, 1 stop bit, no parity.
Dimension 83 x 45.2 x 20.5 mm



ZyCast SG-288 Box Shot

ZyCast SG-288 Box Contents



What's In The Box?

The box contains the ZyCast SG-288 Bluetooth Receiver, Multi-Standard (110/240v) mains charger and 3 pin adapter, 12v Cigarette lighter adapter and USB cable. The use of USB is handy as you can use the chargers and USB cable to charge any other MiniUSB devices you may have. Also provided is a manual.


The receiver itself is compact. Not quite as small as some of the receivers we have seen but personally I think this is the optimum size. Large enough to operate an use and small enough to place in your pocket or hang on a lanyard (for which incidentally there is a small loop you can connect to).


At the bottom is a MiniUSB connector, to the side is the On/OFF switch, and on the rear is the battery panel under which lies a 1200mAh Lithium Ion battery pack.


ZyCast SG-288 Startup Display


On switching on the unit the display shows model name, firmware version, time and battery status. The three LED lights are from left to right, Bluetooth, GPS Fix and Power status. Below the display you can see two buttons. In normal use these control Bluetooth On/Off and Back light which is a cool blue!


However there are a number of user controllable options which can be configured using a menu system which is also accessed via these buttons.


ZyCast SG-288 GPS Fix


Above you can see the display once a fix has been calculated. The image is not particularly clear but from top to bottom there is current GPS calculated time, Latitude, Longitude and on the bottom line Altitude and Speed.



MiniUSB Charger Socket


In Use

Bonding was a typically painless experience with ZyCast using the default 0000 passkey. Now here is where it all gets very interesting! Fresh out of the box the receiver got a fix within less than 5 seconds! Now that's a cold start fix. Warm starting the device I found it would lock within one or two seconds. This is much faster than any other device I've tested. From my living room the best receivers would fix within 10 - 15 seconds but now matter where I tried it, it would lock in 2 seconds at the most.


I've had great fun trying to defeat this unit but struggled to do so. It works buried deep inside the cupboard under my stairs and similarly hidden in the glove box of my car or under the passenger seat.


The configuration options allow you access to the following menus:

  • Time Offset (used to set to GMT or GMT+1 etc)
  • Speed Alarm (you can set a maximum speed above which an audible alarm is triggered)
  • Speed Units (mph / kph)
  • Bluetooth ON at Startup or OFF

But it has to be said that accessing and configuring the options is fiddly!



The ZyCast SG-288 is EGNOS/WAAS capable.


Battery Life

A huge plus of this receiver and an oft requested feature is the hardware ON/OFF switch. Some users are keen to install their Bluetooth GPS in a remote location in the vehicle, hidden under the rear parcel shelf for example. Many current receivers have 'Soft' ON/OFF switches which makes them unsuitable but with the SG-288, if it is supplied with an ignition controlled power feed then it will switch ON/OFF with the ignition if its power switch is left ON and the battery is removed.


Bottom view with battery removed


The 1200mAh battery ran for close to 12 hours during tests with Bluetooth on. With Bluetooth off it was still running after 18 hours and I gave up!




The ZyCast SG-288 has usurped the Holux 236 as my favourite receiver. The almost instant time to first fix is superb. I like the display although the information is nice to have it is of limited real use but the performance alone makes this a great buy. It does aid in verifying all is working though, nothing quite like seeing a Lat/Lon calculation to confirm you have a fix. If it could display OS Grid References it might have more purpose perhaps?


  • Supports both EGNOS and WAAS
  • Battery
  • SiRFStarIII
  • Hardware Power Button
  • Over speed alarm
  • Flash memory, new software revisions upgradeable through serial interface


  • Menu slightly fiddly



Manufacturers Web site http://www.zycast.com.tw/
Review supplier http://www.gpsforless.co.uk
Pocket GPS Contributor Darren Griffin


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