Garmin’s first GPS-enabled handheld, a Palm OS model, debuted back in 2003. Its first Pocket PC, the iQue M5 was released earlier this year.
While this device is more expensive than a typical GPS receiver, it offers something those other devices don’t have: a full-featured handheld.
Obviously, the most important feature of the M5 is its built-in GPS receiver.
The Global Positioning System is a collection of satellites in Earth orbit. Each one of these is constantly broadcasting a very precise time signal. A GPS receiver on the ground picks up these signals. Because radio waves don’t travel instantly from the satellite to the receiver, it’s possible to determine the distance between the two. When this is done with several satellites, the receiver’s position on the Earth can be determined quite accurately.
Maps Garmin includes its MapSource City Select CD with this handheld. This includes five million points of interest (POIs) and address information for all of the U.S. and Canada.
Naturally, you can’t put all of this on the M5 at once. That’s why the iQue M5 comes with software that lets you easily move move detailed street-level map data onto your handheld for just the areas you are interested in.
Maps are fairly compact; all of metro Atlanta and the northwest counties fit in about 12 MB.
The iQue M5 shows roads and highways, railways, lakes, rivers, and borders, and a small triangle that indicates your present location.
International versions of the iQue M5 feature appropriate basemaps, mapping software, and language support.
Getting Started The iQue M5’s GPS antenna is built into the back. Flipping this up sets it to looking for satellites and launches the GPS-related software.
This device is quite sensitive. It generally finds the satellites quickly, and I can even get connected while I’m inside my house.
Routing I found the iQue M5’s routing software fairly easy to use, once I got used to it.
You can quickly look up an address in its database and it will tell you how to get there from your present location.
It can also create a route to a POI, like a restaurant, hotel, or other business. This means that if you’re on the road, you can quickly get to the nearest gas station or McDonald’s.
You can also have it create a route to someone in the Pocket PC’s address book.
Of course, you don’t always know the address of a place you want to go to. Fortunately, the iQue M5 will let you look at a map to find where you’re going, tap the map to set a location, and a route to that point will automatically be created.
You have the option of this device showing you the fastest route or the shortest route. In my tests, I sometimes found that what the iQue M5 tells me is fastest route isn’t actually the fastest route. However, when I’m driving around in a strange city, any route that gets me where I want to go is good enough for me.
In Use Once you have your route, you can set off.
The iQue M5 gives you both visible and audible cues when a turn is coming up.
On the handheld’s screen is a map of your area with the route highlighted. When you get near a turn you are supposed to make, you are switched to a view of just the intersection and you are shown exactly what you need to do.
In addition, a pleasant female voice warns of you upcoming turns, and notifies you when you reach a turn. This means you don’t have to take your eyes off the road in order to follow the route. You can turn the voice cues off if you don’t want them.
If you miss a turn, don’t worry. A new route will be calculated for you in just a few seconds.