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Reviews

QSTARZ BT-818 eXtreme Bluetooth GPS Receiver

By Legacy June 27, 2008, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

Billed as "the world's most powerful Bluetooth GPS receiver," the QSTARZ BT-818 eXtreme adds to the popular line of QSTARZ Bluetooth GPS products. How does it stack up as "the world's most powerful" receiver? Does the BT-Q818 eXtreme warrant an upgrade from your current receiver? Read on to find out!

WHAT'S HOT

Here are the key features of this GPS receiver:

  • 51 channel MTK chipset

  • Dual Bluetooth/USB interface

  • User configurable update rates

  • Auto on/off capability

  • WAAS, EGNOS, MSAS support

SETUP

The BT-Q818 eXtreme (BT-Q818EX) GPS comes with a USB cable, car charger, wall charger, manual, software CD, and battery.

Setup is straight-forward. The GPS should be plugged into a USB port, car power adapter or wall adapter for charging. Though the battery had some initial charge out of the box, it reached a full charge in a few hours. The battery indicator light on the top of the unit glows green during charging and begins to flash when fully charged. An upgrade from earlier QSTARZ units I have used, the battery now has a plastic tab to assist in removal.

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The software CD can be used to install a Windows USB driver for communicating with the GPS and a GPSview application for configuring the device. You will need to use the Windows Device Manager to determine which serial port has been assigned to the GPS before using the GPSview software.

Setup on a phone or PDA will vary depending on the device, but should follow the typical procedure used for configuring any Bluetooth device. The GPS is identified as "iBT-GPS" and uses the usual '0000' Bluetooth passkey.

The BT-Q818EX does not install navigation or tracking software, so you will need to purchase that separately or use one of the free software applications available on the internet, such as Google Maps for Mobile or Windows Live Search.

Like most of QSTARZ's Bluetooth GPS devices, the BT-Q818EX is about the size of a small cell phone making it convenient to carry in a pocket or purse.

Three LEDs on the top of the device indicate signal fix (yellow), Bluetooth status (blue), and battery status (green). A USB port on the right side of the device is used for charging the Li-ion battery. A 3-position slide switch on the left side turns the device on and off. The USB position is used when connected to a PC to communicate with the GPSview software or other tracking application.

The GPSview software does not provide any useful information for tracking or navigation purposes, but it will allow you to see detailed satellite information or raw NMEA data. It is also possible to adjust the GPS update rate from the default 1 Hz to 5 Hz. QSTARZ markets this feature for sporting applications or other situations where faster position updates are required. (This is what makes the GPS "eXtreme".)

The information found in GPSview would probably be most useful if you were having trouble acquiring a GPS signal or suspected there were problems with the GPS unit. If you were having trouble, you could at least confirm the GPS was working and narrow down problems to a Bluetooth connection or other problems with navigation or tracking software.

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