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GPS / PDA Review...


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G’day “Team’,


As I have had to conduct a review of PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistants) with either mobile phone and or GPS for clients, I thought I’d share part of the information I researched with you as I see a number of aviators have asked about these units as to their pros and cons. One of the requirements was the GPS part had to be built-in to the PDA.


I highlight this as there are a number of PDA's available with GPS operation but they use a seperate GPS receiver usually connected via a bluetooth or other type device. After searching for all units that met the above spec’s I came up with a short list of five (5) PDA’s.


* Garmin’s iQue 3600, M4 and M5.


* Mitec’s MiO A701 and


* E-Ten’s G500+.


(See photos of each shown)


Both the A701 and the G500+ have mobile phone, GPS and PDA functions but are presently quite difficult to obtain yet here in Australia.


The A701 appears to have no Australian distributor and the G500+ has only just been released this month. They can though, be sourced via the internet online sales overseas.


The Garmin models are all currently available here in Australia.


The main differences between Gamin’s three models are;


The 3600 runs on the Palm Operating System where-as the M4 and M5 run on Windows 2003 Second Edition Mobile Operation System.


The 3600 is powered by an ARM 200 MHz processor and has 32 megabytes (MB) of memory. The M4 has an Intel 312 Mhz PXA 271 processor and the GPS receiver chipset is a SiRF III version and has 64 MB.


The M5, it’s powered by a newer 416 MHz Intel® PXA 272 Xscale® processor, plus a dedicated 48 MHz ARM7 GPS receiver/coprocessor along with 64 MB but with 15 MB of that memory in dedicated safe storage.


All three are able to store 50 routes and waypoints and come with the Pacific autoroute mapbase built-in.


The M4 and M5 have 3.5 inch (8.9 CM) diagonal screen sizes 320 x 240 pixel resolution. The 3600 has a 3.2 x 2.1 inch (8.13 x 5.35 CM) with 480 x 320 pixel screen resolution. The M4 and M5 have superior screen resolutions at 65,000 colours where-as the 3,600 has 16 colours. Screen orientation is either vertical or horizontal for the M4 and M5 and vertical only for the 3600. Other varations between the two models are 3D map viewing with the M4 but not with the M5 model.


All use a LCD variation of screen type. The M4 and M5 have a flip-up (folding) GPS antenna and the 3600 fixed.


The number of tracking pointing per unit are 10,000 each for the M4 and M5 and 5,000 for the 3600. All have audible alarms but none are weatherproof or waterproof, best if you don’t allow the units though to get wet.


MP3 (music) playing is enabled with the M4 and M5 but not with the 3600.


Map storage is build-in pre-programmed with the M4.


The M5 has the capability of using SD/MMC storage cards and with these cards now going to up 4 GB in capacity will give you a huge map and information storage capability. The 3600 also allows for SD/MMC cards too. Strange that the M4 only has a built-in storage though?


Now, that big question… how much gold. A check of Australian pricing shows that you should not pay more than around the $825 for the M4 in base spec’s and $1164 for the M5 and $850 for the 3600 model.


Note - Latest information (August 18th 2006) from Garmin’s web site is that that have now discontinued the 3600 model.


Of the other two units, the Mitec MiO A701 PDA/Mobile/GPS which was released in August 2005 appears to be a good unit offering the best of just about all ‘tech worlds’ but I have been unable to source the unit here in Australia so am reluctant to write much further about this unit until I'm able to obtain reliable reviews, etc. There are a few reports going around the units audio volume is not that good when in places other than a quite room very with the volume control set to max… The price appears to be around the $800/900 AU mark.


The other unit, the E-TEN G500+ has just been released (August 2006) and is yet to become available here in OZ thought it appears it’ll be around $1100/1200 locally. An earlier model, the G500 has been onsale for some time and appears the only major difference is the G500+ has a 100% increase in memory plus some other general updates and is available with-in Australia selling for around the $1100 mark.


If you needed a small totally portable GPS navigator, Mobile phone using the GSM quad-band range, Bluetooth usage, digital camera, video recorder, voice recorder, use of the internet and a safety feature of sending a SMS message to a selected source of your current GPS lat/Lon and a pre-selected emergency message at the touch of a button. Plus of-course all the usual features that a PDA has to offer, damm this E-TEN G500+ unit has more bells and whistles than the Australian soccer teams official cheer squad at the world cup.


There is a downside to this unit and that is it comes with no mapping software for GPS operation. You have to purchase your choice separately and installed it and ‘hope’ it works OK.


Overall though, be it either of the Garmin iQue models or the ETEN G500+ if one can install via the memory card say, the MountainScope aviation moving map and terrain alert software plus the UBD street map software and just to thrown in a backup, the mapping software of Oziexplorer’s maps… geez, your going to need a co-pilot/navigator in the right seat full time! That's some back-up unit.


Cheers team...







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G'day 'Team',


A brief update on a comment I made in the PDA/GPS review post, I indicated the 3600 model was discontinued as per Garmin's US web site.


I also noted a day or so back their web site was also indicating the M5 model also discontinued too!


I contacted Garmin in the US about their web site and their indicating of the two models showing as discontinued and asked what was the situation.


Their reply was "The information shown in http://www.garmin.com is mainly for US market Currently, iQue M5 is still available in Australia market"


As they may no reference to the 3600 model one can only assume (and that’s always a bad assumption using the word assume ) the 3600 may be discontinued.


I also received information that the E-TEN G500+ will be at least one, possibly two months before it’ll be on the Australian market.


Cheers Team,



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G'day Rodger, how are you?


I have the Eten G500 and have been impressed with it for the last 4 months. I use Pocket FMS, Vito Navigator and have tried Ozi with it...all work flawlessly. I can only give it my highest recommendation.


If you want to know anything specific about it, just let me know.


All the best





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Hi Gav,


Your eten reads well! How much memory would be best for it? The concept is fantastic. Any other comments about it would be appreciated both pros and cons.


Great reviews too Rivers, thanks for the effort.




Gtblu gtblu



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This is all v'helpful info. - but can someone help me with this basic Q:


All I need is basic GPS functionality with built-in maps to assist in navigating around in my trike. I dont have a lot of room on my panel - but could fit a PDA sized device - either in 'portrait' or 'landscape' mounting position; but I dont need all the additional PDA / phone functionality...


Any ideas on the best value Garmin or equivalent??







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G'day GTblu, how are you?


I actually bought it in Macau (near Hong Kong) for about $900 AUD with a 1gig mini-sd card. I've tested ozi, destinator 5, pocketfms, vito navigator, Mapking and gpsmeter all running through Franson's gpsgate - two gps apps at the same time. I haven't had any problems with any programme and haven't even bothered updating the Rom to get AGPS, as I find the fixes pretty quick. If you need more info, check out this site which discusses the good and bad: http://www.eten-users.net/forum20


All the best




PS: a 1 gid mini-sd card does me fine for space - probably even enough for a a fair few AUSLIG maps



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Another one to look at is the Asus A636 PDA. This is a brillant unit with inbuilt GPS and runs Pocket FMS. I use it for in car navigation and then plug it into the aircraft socket for air navigation. I got mine for under $600 so it is a very good option and worth looking at.



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How the GPS works


The aircraft knows where it is at all times. It knows this because it knows where it isn't. By subtracting where it is from where it isn't, or where it isn't from where it is (whichever is the greater), it obtains a difference, or deviation.


The Inertial Guidance System uses deviations to generate error signal commands which instruct the aircraft to move from a position where it is to a position where it isn't, arriving at a position where it wasn't, or now is. Consequently, the position where it is, is now the position where it wasn't; thus, it follows logically that the position where it was is the position where it isn't.


In the event that the position where the aircraft now is, is not the position where it wasn't, the Inertial Guidance System has acquired a variation. Variations are caused by external factors, the discussions of which are beyond the scope of this report.


A variation is the difference between where the aircraft is and where the aircraft wasn't. If the variation is considered to be a factor of significant magnitude, a correction may be applied by the use of the autopilot system. However, use of this correction requires that the aircraft now knows where it was because the variation has modified some of the information which the aircraft has, so it is sure where it isn't.


Nevertheless, the aircraft is sure where it isn't (within reason) and it knows where it was. It now subtracts where it should be from where it isn't, where it ought to be from where it wasn't (or vice versa) and intergrates the difference with the product of where it shouldn't be and where it was; thus obtaining the difference between its deviation and its variation, which is variable constant called "error".



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Thanks Turtle, that makes it all so clear now. That is, it's clear I wasn't confused (where I was) before now becoming confused, which means that I now am confused more than before (where I am). So, in order to clear up my confusion (where I should be) I will read your report once more (where I shouldn't be) but chances are I'll be still confused tomorrow (which is where I am most times)smiley17.gif.


Paul PaulN



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