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Thanks to dedicated in-car GPS units from the likes of the TomTom and Garmin, Sat-nav is now a mainstream technology. However, before these devices appeared it was general purpose PDAs that gave most people access to the technology. However, as phones get smarter, the concept of a PDA is becoming increasingly outdated, but companies such as HP are still persevering with them, so there is some sense in it offering a GPS bundle and package.
The product name is self explanatory as you get an hp iPaq rx1950 PDA and a GPS in-car navigation system to put it in. These are quite separate, so it’s quite different to devices such as the E-TEN G500 and Mio A701, which feature integrated GPS receivers.
The PDA itself is a good example of the genre. It’s small, light and quite pocket friendly, but reasonably powerful too. Powered by Windows Mobile 5, you get mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Internet Explorer out of the box. The 3.5in display is only QVGA (320 x 240), which with many phones such as the Sony Ericsson K800i offering the same resolution, actually seems quite low considering the size of the screen. The display is bright and clear and while it’s not the best I’ve seen, it’s still better than that on my TomTom One, with superior contrast and richer colours, though the GPS software really doesn’t make any use of this.
The PDA itself is dominated by the accompanying in-car holder that integrates the GPS receiver. The bulky unit attaches to the windscreen via a suction cup that is tightened by turning a circular grip, which is quite awkward to do. Once it’s done it does hold the heavy unit tightly to the screen. The power connector is hidden between the suction section and the PDA holder making it very hard to attach – you certainly wouldn’t want to do it while driving.
What is good is that you can easily turn the screen round sideways to give you a widescreen effect, just like the latest generation of TomTom Go. However, a design quirk means that the cradle bezel hides the power switch so you can’t turn the PDA on of off while it’s in, a flaw that’s made all the worse by the fact that it’s tricky to get the PDA out. Another bizarre oddity is that every time I came back to the unit after it had been left overnight, I had to reset the PDA to get it to turn on, which delayed getting going.
When the unit has a GPS lock a small blue LED lights up in the base and this took over 20 minutes the first time, though after that it was far quicker depending on location and sky cover.