GPS Navigator by Palm review: GPS Navigator by Palm

Starting at $299

Roadshow Editors' Rating

6.7 Overall

The Good Compact; accurate driving directions; lots of customization options; includes windshield and dash mount for your PDA.

The Bad Expensive; works with only the Tungsten T3 and Zire 72; POI database not as comprehensive as others; can't navigate from Contacts list.

The Bottom Line Though it's expensive, GPS Navigator by PalmOne provides accurate driving directions for Zire 72 and Tungsten T3 handheld owners.

GPS Navigator by PalmOne

Dell and HP found their way to the world of Bluetooth GPS receivers, and now so has PalmOne. Partnering with GPS experts, TomTom, GPS Navigator by PalmOne lets Tungsten T3 and Zire 72 owners (everyone else is out of luck) turn their PDAs into navigation devices. It's a useful accessory for the chronically lost and mobile professionals who are constantly on the road. However, be prepared to pay the price. At $300, the GPS Navigator is one of the most expensive add-on receivers in the market, but it gets you to your destination. PalmOne also sells a $450 Zire 72 Navigation Pak for those who want to buy both the handheld and receiver as a bundle.

Cloaked in a stylish black exterior, GPS Navigator by PalmOne is compact (3.0 by 2.0 by 0.75 inches; 2.6 ounces) and travel-friendly. Even better, the company includes a dashboard/windshield mount and cradle for your Tungsten T3 or Zire 72. There are three LEDs on the front, one of which flashes orange for satellite reception, another that glows blue for Bluetooth, and one that blinks green when the battery is charging or red when power is low. On the right side, there's a port if you want to attach an optional antenna for better reception, while the charging connector and the power switch are on the bottom of the receiver. There are two rubber grips on the back, but they don't prevent the device from taking a tumble on bumpy roads or sharp turns. Other goodies packaged with the device include a car charger, an AC charger and cables, cable adapters, user guides, and installation CDs.

The TomTom software included with GPS Navigator offers most of the features you'd find in other navigation systems. You can access maps of North America, and we recommend you invest in a SD/MMC expansion card of at least 64MB minimum for carrying them. You can create routes by entering addresses from the points of interest (POI) database or via your Favorite or Recent Destinations list. Unfortunately, you can't navigate to your contacts list or get driving directions that way. GPS Navigator automatically plots the quickest route to your destination, but if you happen to run into traffic or any construction zones, just click the Find Alternative icon and you'll be presented with a new route; in addition, the device recalculates your course if you wander off track. Though the POI database includes gas stations, airports, and recreational sights, it's not as comprehensive as those with the Dell and HP options. However, there are plenty of customization preferences. You can change the display icons; choose among 2D, 3D, and night views; and select different voices for the spoken driving directions, including American English, British English, French, Spanish, and Italian.

We paired GPS Navigator with the Tungsten T3 and encountered no problems. We test-drove the PalmOne in San Francisco, and the 12-channel receiver locked onto the required satellites in 45 seconds from a cold start, and acquisition was faster on subsequent tries. As expected, the receiver lost the signal when we drove under a tunnel and between tall buildings, but it immediately locked back on once we were in the open. Turn-by-turn directions were accurate, and the voice-guided prompts were clear. In addition, the PalmOne Navigator displays your current driving speed. The receiver's battery is rated for eight hours.