Another GPS module for the Handspring Visor has found its way into the growing Springboard add-on market. GeoDiscovery's Geode GPS is actually one part of the GeoDiscovey system, which combines GPS technology, Web-based travel content, and mapping software into a package that turns your PDA into an accurate, yet pricey, electronic travel guide. Another GPS module for the Handspring Visor has found its way into the growing Springboard add-on market. GeoDiscovery's Geode GPS is actually one part of the GeoDiscovey system, which combines GPS technology, Web-based travel content, and mapping software into a package that turns your PDA into an accurate, yet pricey, electronic travel guide.
Quick and easy
Housed in a translucent-white plastic case and weighing nearly six ounces (with batteries), the Geode not only adds considerable weight to your Visor, it throws in two inches in height as well. Getting started is easy. We downloaded the free GeoView software (179K) and a local map (188K) from GeoDiscovery's Web site and plugged the Geode into the Visor Prism's expansion slot. The 12-channel receiver went right to work, locating and locking onto satellite signals. We obtained a 3D position fix in less than a minute on the first use, which is extremely fast compared to the five-minute lock-on time of Magellan's GPS Companion.
The Geode's GPS receiver is as accurate as any we've seen, but we lost signal strength from time to time, especially while driving. On a more positive note, the Geode has a built-in digital compass, a feature that's missing from most of the current GPS add-on units for handhelds. We also liked the distance feature; tap a section on the map, and the Geode calculates the distance from your present location.
About those maps: Our New York map provided street-level detail and showed our location. However, we were disappointed that the maps were not in color and were not of the highest quality. We found it difficult to plan a route because we could not view a map other than the one we were currently in, as the Geode controls map-switching based on your location. Plus, street names are not displayed unless you tap the street with your stylus. This makes Geode a poor choice for in-car use.
If you want more detail, GeoDiscovery offers city guides, but you'll have to shell out $10 for each guide. The guides include useful information such as local attractions, historical tidbits, hotels, and establishments for shopping and dining. You can also create your own points of interest by capturing your location, adding your own personal notes, and saving it in memory for future use.
The Geode is powered by two AA batteries, which are included in the package along with a CD containing maps of national parks, international cities, and U.S. freeways and waterways. The batteries lasted for more than 4 hours, about equal to Nexian's HandyGPS but well short of Magellan's GPS Companion (10 hours). The addition of two MMC (MultiMedia Card) slots is a nice touch, allowing you to store and use map and travel data without chewing up your Visor's memory, although the media and the software that manages it are not yet available.
Aside from the built-in compass and the points-of-interest features, the Geode does not stand out as a top-of-the-line GPS add-on device, which has us wondering why it carries such a high price tag ($289). For half the price, you'd be better off with Magellan's GPS Companion.