Wednesday, December 01, 2004

HP Bluetooth GPS

As I may have mentioned, I'm a little bit of a GPS geek, and as such have been eagerly awaiting the chance to try out my HP Bluetooth GPS Receiver with my tablet. I've had great success using it in conjunction with my iPaq 4155, and wanted to see if it would work as well with my Motion M1300.

Pairing the GPS receiver to the tablet was extremely simple. I turned on the receiver, opened up My Bluetooth Places on the tablet, searched for devices in range, selected the receiver, paired it using the hard-coded PIN, discovered available services, and selected Properties of the Bluetooth Serial Port to determine that my machine would see the GPS receiver on COM8. Now that I type it, it sounds like a lot of steps, but it only took about 20 seconds.

Then I launched Microsoft Streets & Trips 2003, which is admittedly not the most recent version, but it's the one I have. I selected Tools>GPS>Configure GPS receiver and told it to look for GPS data coming from COM8. It worked flawlessly the first time.

With the GPS receiver on my dashboard and my tablet riding shotgun, I drove to work, periodically checking my position via the Track Position function. Everything worked as designed, but therein lies the problem. Streets & Trips is not designed to be an in-car navigation system. From the help file:

With a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver connected to your computer or Pocket PC, you can see your current location on the Streets & Trips or Pocket Streets map. When you have a GPS receiver installed, Streets & Trips and Pocket Streets checks for your location every 15 seconds and displays it on the map. You can choose to have the map always centered on your current location. Using the GPS Sensor, you can also view the latitude and longitude coordinates of your current location.
This is a far cry from the dynamic routing, turn-by-turn directions, voiec prompts, and once-a-second position updates you get from a program like Mapopolis. The comparison is unfair- the two pieces of software are designed to do different things. But what I want is an in-car navigation system for my tablet.

I'll probably find a use for Streets & Trips, but this isn't it. It's nice to know though that whatever software I find, my Bluetooth GPS receiver works perfectly with my tablet. I bought the HP model when it came out because it came with software for my iPaq. You can find much cheaper (and presumably just as good) models, like the Belkin model that periodically goes on sale for $149.