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Reviews

Haicom HI-406BT Bluetooth GPS Receiver

By Legacy January 5, 2006, 12:00 am

One of the more interesting and fun accessories for a Pocket PC is a GPS receiver: for around $100 you can increase the usability of your device drastically. Haicom has just introduced a new Bluetooth GPS receiver, the HI-406BT, as follow up to the HI-405BT. Is it worth a look or are the changes as trivial as the name change? Read on for more!

Specs

  • GPS
    • SiRF Starr III Chipset
    • Supports 20-channel
    • 1575.42MHz Frequency
    • Hot start of 1 sec, warm start of 38 sec, cold start of 42 sec
    • Hot sensitivity of 17dBHz, warm sensitivity of 23dBHz, cold sensitivity of 30dBHz
    • 1598dBm Tracking Sensitivity
    • 10 meters 2D RMS Position Accuracy
    • Maximum Altitude of 18,000 meters
    • Maximum Velocity of 515 m/sec
  • Bluetooth (standard)
    • Bluetooth v1.1 Class 2
    • 2400MHz — 2483.5MHz frequency
    • 1600 hops/sec with 1MHz channel space
  • Electrical
    • 5 +/- 5%V DC
    • 0.4W @ 3.3V DC
    • 8 hour battery life (1000mAh Li-Ion battery)
  • Environment
    • Operating Temperature of -10 C to 55 C
    • Storage Temperature of -20 C to 65 C
    • Relative Humidity of 5% to 95%, non-condensing
POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

GPS receivers vary in what's included, some come with mounts and others come with virtually nothing. There's no mention of included accessories on the box itself, so you'll have to open it to find out.

Contents of the box laid out. Included is the Bluetooth GPS receiver, a 3.7V 1000mAh battery, Mini1394 to USB cable (for charging), auto adaptor with female USB plug (for charging), carrying pouch, users manual and a mini CD.

Product Features

The accessories are a bit different than what I was expecting, honestly. First off there is no mention of what is on the CD or even when to us it, not a single mention of its existence other than the fact it's in the box. The next oddity is the omission of any sort of wall charging adaptor, it's apparently an optional accessory that can be purchased, also available is an external antenna and a Mini1394 to PS2 cable (yes PS2). This isn't a terribly large ordeal as you can just charge it with the USB cable, but it should be included.

Looking at the device head on. The left LED will blink blue while searching for a device, stay a solid blue when connected, or stay red when the battery is low. The right LED will stay amber when the device is charging, stay green while searching for satellites, or flash green once it has acquired its position. The lights are bright enough to see but not to the point of being distracting.

The power switch is located on the right side.

Continuing our rotation we arrive at the back. On the left is the Mini1394 port used for charging or data out and on the right is the external antenna jack.

On the left side, there is a rubber part there for some reason but it doesn't do anything that I'm aware of, I read the manual front to back.

Flipping it over we can see the bottom to access the battery cover and the feet. You'll note I've lost one of the rubber feet, there isn't anything to keep them there so they come off very easily. In the picture you'll also notice what looks to be a place to attach some type of lanyard but again there is no mention of this.

Here you can see one of the feet getting ready to come off, just push it back in or look for it on the ground in a minute.

The top is very reflective. It's a barely opaque plastic to adorn the top. Almost looks like a very large gem, doesn't it?

The auto adaptor is larger than the device itself. All the connections fit very snugly.

The battery is smaller than I thought but nothing disappointing. 1000mAh will deliver about 8 hours of use, which is somewhat common in GPS receivers. As stated there is no information on what the mini CD has, turns out it has some GPS information software for the Pocket PC and the product manual in PDF format. It's not bad, it does what it should but if you have any GPS Software already like Arkon's MobiNavigator then you have the information there already. The final accessory is the weak carrying pouch. The quality of it isn't bad but for the longest time I was convinced it was too small, I couldn't get it into the pouch. Turns out it just takes a lot of effort and will result in one of the rubber feet popping off nearly every time. I'd much rather have had an AC wall adaptor.

You can see how tightly the pouch grips the device as you slide it in and out.

Despite some build quality and some less than exceptional accessories the actual GPS receiver works very well, which is what matters. In comparison with the HI-405BT the specs are nearly identical. The accuracy is improved from 15m to 10m as are the start times. The downside is a loss of battery size, from 1600mAh down to 1000mAh, and the AC wall adaptor becoming an optional accessory. Eight hours is still plenty of time though and most likely you'll have it plugged in though.

I also own a Dell Bluetooth GPS receiver and the Haicom receiver actually proved stronger in every event. Not only did it acquire more satellite signals it was also faster in establishing a 3D status (at least 4 satellites reporting) than the Dell. The Dell version was quicker to establish a connection in most cases, but 4 or more satellites is what counts here. Below is a comparison, to note these screenshots were from when I was inside so the altitude and speed are a bit whacky.

Dell Bluetooth GPS receiver. 5 out of 6 satellites established. 20, 24, 07, 04, and 02 are connected with 28 not reporting back

Haicom HI-406BT. 7 out of 11 satellites established. It managed to get to get all 6 the Dell found and picked up 17 as well and located 4 more.

Despite some build quality and some less than exceptional accessories the actual GPS receiver works very well, which is what matters. In comparison with the HI-405BT the specs are nearly identical. The accuracy is improved from 15m to 10m as are the start times. The downside is a loss of battery size, from 1600mAh down to 1000mAh, and the AC wall adaptor becoming an optional accessory. Eight hours is still plenty of time though and most likely you'll have it plugged in though.

I also own a Dell Bluetooth GPS receiver and the Haicom receiver actually proved stronger in every event. Not only did it acquire more satellite signals it was also faster in establishing a 3D status (at least 4 satellites reporting) than the Dell. The Dell version was quicker to establish a connection in most cases, but 4 or more satellites is what counts here. Below is a comparison, to note these screenshots were from when I was inside so the altitude and speed are a bit whacky.

Dell Bluetooth GPS receiver. 5 out of 6 satellites established. 20, 24, 07, 04, and 02 are connected with 28 not reporting back

Haicom HI-406BT. 7 out of 11 satellites established. It managed to get to get all 6 the Dell found and picked up 17 as well and located 4 more.

Help & Support

The manual is lacking in information, there is no mention of the mini CD's purpose and there is no section for troubleshooting at all. There are also some English errors in the manual.

Bugs & Wishes

I have a few gripes with this receiver. First, one of the rubber feet came off during testing. With only three, the unit slides around my dashboard a bit more. Second, the manual could be more descriptive and have some troubleshooting info. Lastly, there is no wall charger included in this kit, although any USB charger will do.

Purchasing

Haicom's HI-406BT can be purchased at buyGPSnow for $99.95 or from Semsons & Co for $98.99 (each comes with a free Arkon mount). Accessories can be purchased at a variety of places, including the two listed above.

Pros

  • Great signal strength
  • Quick start times
  • antenna and PS2 adaptor

Cons

  • The feet pop off too easily
  • The manual doesn't cover everything
  • The included pouch is too small
  • Wall charger isn't included

Overall Impressions

I have to say that initially I wasn't very thrilled to play with this device, it looks a little cheap and the accessories are lacking. After actually using it though I can now say I'm very pleased. Earlier this year Tim Adams took a look at Haicom's HI-405BT GPS receiver, and this is a good follow up. While the improvements might not be monumental they are noticeable, it also looks a lot better in my opinion. I'm eager to see their next offering. Overall I'm very pleased with the device performance, the only changes I'd make are some better accessories and about 4 drops of glue to hold the rubber feet on :).

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