The iQue M5 is much more than just a GPS receiver, though. It can do anything a regular Pocket PC can do.
This handheld runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, so its 3.5-inch, 240-by-320-pixel display supports both portrait and landscape modes.
Under the hood, it sports a 416 MHz Intel XScale processor, putting it near the middle in processor speed. However, I ran Spb Benchmark on it and it did very, very well. Its Index score of 1849 is the highest I’ve seen.
Storage The iQue M5 has 64 MB of RAM. This is a decent amount for a Pocket PC, but it means you’ll almost certainly want to get an SD card to store your maps.
As I said, maps are fairly compact; still, you’re probably going to want to not take up your precious RAM with them. I’d strongly suggest you invest in a fairly good-sized SD card. This will let you easily carry around maps for whole states.
This handheld has a bit of other internal storage. It includes about 16 MB in what it calls “Safe Storage.” Files stored in here will survive a hard reset of the device. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to put maps in here. Still, you can back your device up in here if you don’t have too much stored on it, and at the very least it’s a good place to make copies of files you don’t want to lose.
Looks This is one of the better looking handhelds that has debuted in some time. It has an Art Deco feel to it that I really like.
Still, as a person who regularly carries around a handheld and a separate GPS receiver, having the two combined together is much smaller and more convenient.
Software In addition to all its GPS-related software, the iQue M5 comes with the standard suite of Pocket PC applications. This includes both Personal Information Management (PIM) software, as well as the Pocket Office applications and Windows Media Player Mobile.
One of the major uses for handhelds is to keep track of people’s calendars and address lists. The PIM applications that come with every Pocket PC handle this sort of information very well. Also, they can be synchronized with Outlook on your home or office PC so you don’t have to maintain several separate lists.
The Pocket Office applications let you edit Microsoft Word and Excel files. But be careful about these; they don’t support all the formatting the full desktop versions do and will remove from the file any formatting element they don’t support.
Windows Media Player 10 Mobile lets you play MP3s and video in the Windows Media format.
Garmin has added a nice touch to the iQue M5. Tapping on a small icon at the top of the screen brings up a window that displays information like battery status and the amount of free memory. This also gives a list of currently running programs, and you can close any of these from here.
Wireless Networking This device has built-in Bluetooth, allowing it to be used with a variety of peripherals, like keyboards and mice.
In addition, the iQue M5 can use a Bluetooth-enabled phone as a wireless modem, letting you check your email while on the road. This is an important feature for me, as I don’t like to be out of touch with my email while away from my computer. Thankfully, the M5 came through beautifully.
It doesn’t have Wi-Fi, but this can be added through a Wi-Fi SD card. It tried this myself numerous times with SanDisk’s Wi-Fi card and it worked beautifully. If you’re going to do this, I’d suggest you consider the Combo card that offers both Wi-Fi and 256 MB of storage, as that will give you a place to store your maps while also giving you Wi-Fi.
Once you have an Internet connection, you can use either the email application that comes with this handheld or the Pocket PC version of Internet Explorer.
Accessories The iQue M5 comes with a nice collection of accessories.
It includes one of my favorites, a flipcover. This gives the screen some much-needed protection without adding too much bulk. Because the antenna has to be able to flip out of the top, the flipcover’s hinge is at the bottom. This looks odd at first, but I got used to it quickly.
It also comes with a cradle that has been designed to hold the handheld even with the flipcover flipped around to the back.
As a device designed primarily to use in your car, its nice that Garmin went ahead and included a car cradle. Not only does this have a travel charger built into it, it has an external speaker, so you can hear spoken directions more easily.
Its stylus is a nice size, significantly larger than the tiny ones I’ve had to put up with on too many recent handhelds.
The iQue M5’s 1,250 mAh, swappable battery, gives it a decent battery life… until you turn the GPS unit on.
In general when I’m testing the battery life of a device, I prefer to not do what I call a torture test, in which the device is kept on continuously until the battery dies. This isn’t how handhelds are typically used.
However, GPS units are frequently kept on for hours at a time, so that’s how I tested this model.
I found that, with the GPS receiver on, this device lasted about 4 hours of continuous use. Unless you’re going on a pretty short trip, that’s not long enough.
Fortunately, Garmin included a car cradle with a charger built into it. Just plug the cradle into the cigarette lighter, and your iQue M5 is ready for a cross-country road trip.
I like the convenience of having the GPS receiver built right into the unit. I’m glad this device has Bluetooth, although I could wish for built-in Wi-Fi as well, especially on a handheld as expensive as this one.
And that brings up an important issue: price. The Garmin M5 has a suggested price of $750, which makes it one of the most expensive handhelds on the market. Even the best price shown by Shopper.com is over $550.
On the other hand, if you went out and got a standard handheld and added a GPS unit to it, you’d wind up paying something close to this, especially if you get one with a car cradle and charger. It really comes down to convenience. There’s no doubt you can save money by getting a separate Pocket PC and GPS unit, but you’ll have to put up with a bit of extra hassle when it comes time to get the two to communicate. You won’t have to worry about this with the M5.
A GPS unit is a wonderful thing to have, especially if you often drive around alone in places you are unfamiliar with. It can’t take the place of a person sitting next to you reading a map, but frequently that isn’t an option.
And I really like knowing that no matter what I do, I can’t get lost. If this is something that appeals to you, too, then the iQue M5 might be right for you.