| The concept of transforming your PDA into a Global Positioning System (GPS) device isn't new; in fact, GPS add-on products have been available for several years. However, up till now, these GPS modules required the use of a CompactFlash slot or some sort of cabling configuration to connect to the handheld device, or they attached to the PDA via a sledlike apparatus. In most cases, the GPS units themselves were often bulky and unsightly, adding unwanted weight and girth to an otherwise sleekly designed PDA.
Now, thanks to Bluetooth wireless technology, you can easily turn your PDA into a fully functional handheld navigation system without using cables, sleds, or in some cases, an expansion slot. With a free expansion slot, you can carry maps (which are memory intensive) on a spacious storage card and not have to worry about consuming your handheld's internal memory. Bluetooth technology really pays off when using these devices as vehicle navigation aids. Wireless connectivity allows you to place the GPS receiver in a spot that has a clear view of the sky, while the PDA can be held or mounted for optimal screen visibility and easy access to menu screens.
In addition, each receiver comes with software that typically includes maps of the United States, a points-of-interest (POI) database, and features such as route recalculation. Some models, such as the Belkin GPS receiver, have advanced technology for better satellite reception. Other specs to be aware as you're shopping for the perfect travel companion are rated battery life and included accessories. The TeleType and the DeLorme receivers particularly shined in both categories. The three major PDA manufacturers--Dell, HP, and PalmOne--also each offer Bluetooth GPS receivers for their respective handhelds. Finally, don't forget to invest in a healthy-size memory card for carrying maps.
Ideally, your PDA will already have built-in Bluetooth capabilities, leaving the CompactFlash slot available to accept additional mapping data. This is important if you're planning a long-range trip and want street-level maps throughout your journey. However, if your PDA isn't Bluetooth ready, you can always purchase an adapter, such as Belkin's Bluetooth PDA and PC adapter combo card, which brings wireless connectivity to your PDA or notebook, but you'll sacrifice an expansion slot in the process. And as we mentioned before, you can find CompactFlash GPS add-ons or, alternatively, buy a handheld with a GPS receiver already built in, such as the Mitac Mio 168 or the Garmin iQue 3600.
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