Solid receiver; reasonably priced; can be worn on your belt or easily mounted in your vehicle.
Bulky; could use a style makeover.
The Bottom Line
The versatile Earthmate connects wirelessly to your PDA or laptop via a USB cable, but it misses the mark in the coolness category.
DeLorme's new Earthmate GPS receiver and Bluetooth PowerPack cradle retain the bright yellow-and-black color scheme that marked previous Earthmate models. The GPS receiver itself weighs only 2 ounces and can connect to non-Bluetooth systems via a USB cable (included), but for wireless connectivity, you must insert it into the bundled PowerPack. As a result, the whole configuration, which costs $319.95 (or $129.95 for the receiver alone), weighs in at 5.5 ounces and measures 3.75 by 2.4 by 2.0 inches--easily the largest device in this roundup. Although not nearly as slick looking as the or TeleType receivers, the Earthmate can be worn on a belt or clipped onto your vehicle's sun visor, both of which afford a clear view of the sky.
The Earthmate comes packaged with DeLorme's Street Atlas USA 2004 software for desktops or laptops. You'll need to shell out an extra $40 for the handheld version, which supports both Pocket PC and Palm platforms. This program lets you select which grids you want to sync to your PDA. Street Atlas supports voice-guided driving directions; contains more than 4 million points of interest (POI), such as ATMs, restaurants, gas stations, and major attractions; and allows route creation on the fly. Street-level maps for the New York tristate region requires 28MB of memory. The user interface provides clearly marked menu tabs for creating routes, exporting maps, and creating point-to-point directions. The Bluetooth kit also includes AC and DC (cigarette lighter) power chargers, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, a desktop version of Street Atlas USA 2004, and a nine-pin serial cable for those who don't have a USB laptop.
We were generally pleased with the Earthmate's ability to lock on to the requisite four satellite signals in 40 seconds, although it fared no better than other GPS units (with the exception of the Belkin GPS) in our downtown Manhattan tests. Our in-vehicle testing was also positive; the Earthmate's signal retention and tracking accuracy were spot on. The battery, rated for up to 7 hours of life in the power pack, gave us just that, with a few minutes to spare.