Saturday, December 08, 2007

Review: GlobalSat BT-359 Bluetooth GPS

By Melissa Oxendale
July 17, 2007

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I have never played with GPS before, but have used a Bluetooth headset with my BlackBerry and a Bluetooth mouse with my PC. That's all the experience I have with Bluetooth and GPS. So trying out the GlobalSat BT-359 Bluetooth GPS receiver, which combines the two technologies, was a unique experience.

My verdict: It successfully turned the BlackBerry I tested it with into a navigation and location-based services tool.

The unit I reviewed is the same as the one sold by AT&T. It came with a wall charger and car charger adapters, and charges via a USB cable just like a BlackBerry, which makes charging easy and the adapters very useful. My review unit came charged, which is always nice. There is nothing worse than waiting for a battery charge before playing with a new toy.

First, the GlobalSat BT-359 Bluetooth GPS Receiver was smaller than I expected, smaller than the BlackBerry Pearl even (see picture - Pearl on left, GlobalSat BT-359 on right).

It has a back door for battery replacement, 3 LED lights, and a power button. One light is the power indicator, letting you know if the battery is low and if the receiver is charging. Another light indicates if the receiver is locked into the GPS satellite network: If it flashes it is connected, if it is solid it is not. The last light is the Bluetooth indicator, a slow flash means it is not connected and a faster flash means it is.

Pairing the receiver with the Pearl was simple. I just went into the Bluetooth menu on the BlackBerry and added the device.

The receiver worked fine with RIM's BlackBerry Maps and Google Maps.

I liked the options available in Google Maps a little better. I tried it with Telenav and Nav4All navigation and tracking applications without any problems at all.

With the receiver, I was able to obtain a connection to the GPS satellites inside my apartment without any problem, as well as everywhere I drove around. When watching the location on the map while driving at interstate speeds the receiver and image on the maps was able to keep up no problem.

The battery is supposed to last for up to 11 hours, in continuous mode. The receiver powers itself down after 10 minutes of inactivity to save power.

In addition to AT&T, you can get the GlobalSat BT-359 Bluetooth GPS receiver through RIM's BlackBerry accessories Web site. It is available for a range of prices from various Web sites, for between $100 and $140.

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