Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bluetooth GPS and PDA Explained

By: Rainer Cassell

Have you ever tried to find your way across town (or across the country) using an old-fashioned road map? The only thing trickier than deciphering the directions, is figuring out how to re-fold the map! Today's travelers are finding it much easier to find their way with GPS receivers, PDA devices and Bluetooth technology.

Since GPS devices hit the market a few years ago, traditional navigation devices and roadmaps have been left in the dust. Travelers these days can glance at a GPS screen right in the car, and get clear directions on where to go and how to get there.

A GPS receiver is a small electronic device that can actually calculate your precise location on earth. The GPS is able to decode signals sent from satellites in outer space, and use those signals to tell you where you are at any given time. When combined with specialized software and electronics, the GPS is able to pinpoint an exact location on a map, and give you instructions on how to get there. This fascinating technology becomes even more incredible when you discover that it can be had for a relatively small price.

For increased convenience and usefulness, GPS receivers are often paired with other mobile devices. The PDA is one of the most popular mobile products used for this purpose. With a colored screen that can clearly display maps, and some hard drive space for map storage, PDAs are wonderful partners to GPS receivers. Consider the small size and light weight of a PDA as compared to other options like notebook and laptop computers, and it's easy to see why PDAs have become the first choice of modern navigators.

There is sometimes a problem with the integration of GPS receivers with PDAs. Connection between the two units is usually made using either conventional USB wires, or a CompactFlash (CF) CARD. The size of the GPS and PDA units together, and added to the added bulk of the CF card, can create a cumbersome traveler's tool. On the other hand, using USB wires is inconvenient and limits the overall usability of the navigation device. Many people, therefore, are turning to Bluetooth technology as the perfect traveler's companion.

Bluetooth to the Rescue
Bluetooth wireless technology has become the open standard for wireless communication. Using Bluetooth technology, two electronic devices are able to communicate with each other, sending a receiving signals and transferring data, from up to ten meters away. The beauty of this technology is that the information is transmitted completely wire-free.

Bluetooth GPS Receivers
A Bluetooth GPS receiver is a device that uses wireless Bluetooth technology or Bluetooth electronics to transmit GPS data to a second mobile device that is capable of handling the same technology. In other words, a Bluetooth GPS receiver can only send data to a PDA that is also enabled with built-in Bluetooth capabilities.

In addition to the ease and convenience of avoiding bulky CompactFlash cards and messy wires, there are other benefits to using Bluetooth technology with your GPS/PDA combination:

Wireless Connection
Many drivers prefer to have the GPS mounted securely positioned, while keeping the PDA where it can be clearly viewed. Bluetooth allows this wire-free convenience. You are able to position your Bluetooth GPS receiver in a spot where it can clearly pick up signals from the sky, while your PDA is mounted on the dashboard in front of you. There are no wires to hamper your driving or obstruct your view.

CompactFlash Slot Space
If you are using Bluetooth technology to transmit data, you'll have no need to plug in a CompactFlash card. The empty CF slot, therefore, can be used as a storage space for software or maps to further optimize the results of your GPS.

Many travelers are able to get even greater benefits from their GPS receivers. Some units come with handy companion features like pre-stored maps, route re-calculation (perfect in the case of road detours) and POI (points of interest) databases that show you popular tourist attractions en route.

So, whether your travels are taking you to the next neighborhood or another country, don't leave home without your GPS and PDA bundled with Bluetooth technology.

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