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Product Review – Pharos Traveler GPS 525 Personal Navigation Device

Tuesday, March 14th 2006
Classified Ads:
_Vendor
Pharos Science and Applications
411 Amapola Avenue
Torrance, CA 90501-1478
Phone 310-212-7088
FAX 310-320-1808
www.PharosGPS.com

Introduction
(Click for larger image)
For the past month, I have been using the Pharos Traveler GPS 525 personal navigation PDA. It has been to Nashville, Auburn University (Alabama) twice, Georgia Tech (Atlanta), Ft. Steward (Georgia) and various other places around central Georgia. My initial impression of navigation systems in vehicles, prior to this review, was that they were probably a “nice to have.” Frankly, I have to admit that
at first I questioned the validity of actually owning one.

My month with the Pharos has taught me that these devices can take a lot of the heartburn out of traveling and even navigating in your own backyard. The Pharos has made me a believer in these devices.

This device is targeted to the traveling professional who needs a versatile PDA for mobile email, Web access, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in, Skype for the Internet telephone, plus integrated navigation. If I had a Bluetooth or an infrared keyboard, I would have been able to experience even more versatility with this product, as I could have written this review on the device itself - while traveling.

How it Works

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The Pharos Traveler GPS 525 is a full functioning PDA, with Windows Mobile 5.0 O/S, Pocket Word and Excel, and connects to your home computer or laptop via USB. The maps come on four CDs (for the U.S. market) and can be written directly to the device or to an SD memory chip via a USB adapter (supplied). Because the GPS receiver is built-in, the SD memory slot is available for map files, backups, additional storage, games, etc.


There are two types of map files relative to the level of detail. There are highway files that cover large geographies and there are area files that cover a more concentrated geography. For example, concentrated files would be GA_Atlanta or GA_Macon_Columbus or even NC_Raleigh_Fayetteville. The loading process I used was to select the area to which I was traveling and then the related highway file (Hwy_GA, for example). Setting the destination in an area file and then starting the trip with a highway file works well, as the product automatically loads the next file relative to your location.


You set the destination (geocode it or find the nearest intersection - it helps you with type-ahead and highlighting the most logical next letters on the on-screen keyboard). The GPS receiver knows where you are and can set your point of origin. You have the option of routing based on shortest distance or quickest route. It gives you turn-by-turn voice instructions, with the voice telling you when you are approaching a turn or navigation point such as a highway intersection. There are also map view choices. Views include landscape, 2- or 3-D bird’s eye views and a zoom window, which can help you navigate that cloverleaf off-ramp. Of course, you can have multiple stops on a route.

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When you turn too early or late, and you will, it automatically updates the route, showing you how to get back to the original route or, if you continue, it creates a new route accommodating your misstep. It can do this for walking routes, too.



The Smart Navigator function helps with maps, traffic conditions and points of interest (gas stations, restaurants, airports, etc.). Smart Navigator lets you download destination area maps and information, just in case you forgot to bring the destination CD with you.

Using the concentrated geography maps (GA_Macon_Columbus), I easily found the Wendy’s near my house.

Product Specs
  • Platform: Personal Digital Assistant with embedded GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth using Microsoft Windows Mobile version 5.0 operating system
  • Dimensions: 4.3 (H) x 2.3 (W) x 0.7 (D)
  • Weight: 4.4 ounces w/ battery
  • Device-to-Device Connectivity
    • Infrared IrDA SIR
    • Bluetooth v1.2
    • Wi-Fi 802.11b with 64 &128-bit WEP standard data encryption
  • Processor: Samsung S3C2443X 300Mhz
  • Memory : 128MB embedded Flash ROM; 64MB embedded SDRAM
  • GPS (built-in the PDA)
    • Acquisition time
      • Hot start: 8 seconds, typical TTFF (time to first fix)
      • Warm start: 60 seconds, typical TTFF
      • Cold start: 120 seconds, typical TTFF
  • Power: Battery - Removable rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, 1,100mAH
    • GPS mode: > 5 hrs
    • Standby time: > 200 hrs
    • WMV playback: 8 hrs (audio file)
    • WMA playback: 12 hrs
    • Battery recharge time: < 4 hrs
  • AC Adapter
    • AC input: 100~240V, 50/60Hz
    • AC output: 5V/ 1A
  • Standard (in the box, in addition to Pharos Map CDs)
    • AC adapter with miniUSB plug
    • Battery
    • Car charger
    • Windshield bracket mount
    • Headset
    • Sync. Cable (miniUSB/ USB)
    • User Manual, Quick Start Guide, and Getting Started CD
Testimonial
I had an experience using the Pharos that, while not earth shattering, demonstrates the product’s role in “navigation heartburn avoidance.” One Friday night, I took my son to a “Sweet 16” birthday party in Ivey, Georgia (pop. 1,100). It was a dark night in rural Georgia – a good scenario for getting lost – but the Pharos got us there without a hitch. No squinting at street signs in the pitch black, no asking the guy in the gas station for directions, no trying to read a map with a flashlight; we just drove there, without incident.

Summary

If you need a PDA, it seems ludicrous to buy one that doesn’t navigate. Mobile email is cool, so is browsing the Web in the hotel lobby, but as I believe Laozi said, “A trip of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In business, knowing where you are going is critical to getting there and missteps can be very career-limiting. Sooner or later we all need a little help with navigation. Check out the Pharos Traveler GPS 525 on some dark night in rural Georgia, or some place similar - you will be glad you did. The Pharos Traveler GPS 525 is available for $486.74 (this price includes a $50 mail in rebate).

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