Gpsmile 52 plus car navigation system



Keywords: gpsmile 52 plus car navigation system
Description: The GPSmile 52+ is a device that, on the surface, seems mediocre at best. The hardware itself is a gem, easily on a par with PNAs costing twice as much or more. There are no bells and whistles

The GPSmile 52+ is a device that, on the surface, seems mediocre at best. The hardware itself is a gem, easily on a par with PNAs costing twice as much or more. There are no bells and whistles (Bluetooth integration, subscription-based traffic updates, etc) but the machine includes the venerable SIRFstar III receiver, a battery that actually lives up to its advertised capacity, and just a solid, high-quality overall feel. What really handicaps this unit out-of-the-box is the provided Smart2Go map suite. The software itself isn't bad - directions are reasonably good (though GPS directions should NEVER be completely relied upon no matter how good or expensive the unit) and the information display on the map screen is nice and complete. However, the maps themselves are terribly lacking in detail and the street names, which are squeezed into each road illustration using a small font, are almost unreadable with the GPSmile attached to your windshield. Ditto that for the compass, now that I think about it. That nice, complete information display also blocks up much of the screen to the left of your position cursor so unless you zoom way out (which makes the street names even harder to read) you can barely tell what streets are to your left until you've already passed them. The software also takes an unusually long time to calculate routes and the zoom function is very annoying - far too many zoom levels and an over-sensitive slider are a recipe for frustration. Hardware issues are much less problematic. The screen looks a little washed-out when "light" colors are on the screen (can be worked around a bit by tinkering with the backlight setting), and the GPS cold-start acquisition time is a lie (I've waited 2+ mins to get a lock before), though this seems to be a common issue not at all limited to the GPSmile. That's about it - as I said earlier, this unit is surprisingly well-made considering its price. It's obvious that Holux can sell this so cheap because they paid bottom dollar for the GPS software rather than cutting corners on the device itself. They're also apparently saving money with their "tech support," which is possibly the worst ever. No response to several emails I sent regarding map updates, which you're supposed to get one year's worth of for free, though if you're smart you won't be needing them anyway (keep reading). So after using the GPSmile with the stock software for awhile, one starts to feel like they got what they paid for - i.e. one of the cheapest PNAs on the market. But then you stumble across GPSPassion Dot Com and learn how to unlock this unit and suddenly everything changes. By simply swapping a few files on the GPSmile's SD card, you can get into the guts of the device and have it behave like kind of a stripped-down PDA. This will enable you to try virtually any navigation program that's designed to run on a WinCE 4.2 device, of which there are probably about a dozen. Route66 and Destinator 6 seem to be popular choices, though my hands-down favorite has been iGo 2006 (which is essentially the same program that comes with Mio devices as well as a few others). So in sum, if you don't want to unlock the GPSmile then you're going to get what you pay for, but if you want to spend a few minutes and upgrade to quality navigation software like iGo or R66 then you'll suddenly find yourself with a quality PNA worth about twice the amount you paid for it. Wouldn't be surprised to see this device building somewhat of a cult following before long. Good luck and enjoy!

I appreciate everyone who writes a thoughtful review. Consumers need to stick together. At this time there is only one other review of this unit on Amazon. The other reviewer had some routing difficulties that are not unique to this device. These types of routing issues have been the subject of many comedy routines. It is almost a subplot in the Robin William's movie RV. Anyone who has used one of these car navigation units can identify with the comedy. I purchased my first portable moving map GPS, a Garmin 95AVD about fifteen years ago for our airplane. Since that time I have used several types of later generation units. Laptop based GPS software, and even moving map software that runs on my phone. While there are major differences between the units. everyone that I have ever used comes up with routes that must be overidden by the common sense portion of my brain. To me the software that comes on GPSmile seems about average. It is pretty easy to use, has tons of POIs (Points of Interest), the routing is not any worse than a lot of other units I have tried, it has a lot of information available on the main map page, and I actually like the slight British accent. I still admit however that I prefer some of the other mapping software. If one does a google search using the terms, "gpsmile 52 unlock", the first result that comes up today is a thread from the Gpspassion forum that tells exactly how easy it is to get to the WindowsCE operating system and install software that for me at least works better and easier. Every software package has it's own set of followers. Some actually prefer the Smart2go software that comes on the GPSmile. What you are buying here is a tiny windows computer with a sensitive GPS receiver and bright 3.5" touch screen display. Out of the box the unit has some pretty good versatillity. It also plays videos and music, and displays pictures and text files. But the thing to remember is that it is a computer and you can run what ever software you want. The software I added to the device is is just plain easier to use. It's so easy that after I demonstrated how it worked to my elderly mother. She wanted one. I purchased a second unit for my mother; she can sometimes get confused trying to find her way home. Once you add home to your favorite location list, it takes about three pushes on the touch screen menus to have the new software route you back home. It won over my wife also. This GPSmile not only has a beautiful screen, it plays video, music, and displays pictures right out of the box. With some tweaking it is capable of playing or displaying files of nearly any format. I am also adding other software. I love the device. Sometimes bigger is not better. The thing has a robust little suction cup mount that hold it in place just below our rear view mirror. The map is very readable but doesn't block your view. The thing is made in Taiwan and a reviewer on another site reported that they basically provide almost no customer support. I would ask however if anyone here has tried to call HP customer support lately? The last time I did I wasted several hours on the phone and finally had to figure the problem myself. It least with Holux I am not even tempted to try. I have one of their blue tooth GPS units also; I found the help to be almost non-existant.

On so many levels the Holux GPSmile 52 Plus looks like a winner. First is the stunningly low price. Second is all of the quality hardware. A nice 3.5 color touch screen, the wonderful SIFR III GPS chipset and a new speedy 400 MHz CPU. The sleek device even sports a hidden antenna and a battery that is reported (on the box) to last up to 10 hours. An initial look at the software suggests that it is not a slouch here either. The GPSmile 52 Plus can also be your media center with the ability to play MP3, video and even display e-books. You can customize your routes in many ways and even route multiple destinations in a single trip. Wow, this sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong! This is why I would not recommend this GPS unit: The unit clearly was designed for a British market. Although, the accent sounds interesting the actual language can be confusing. For instance, instead of saying "Turn right" it will say, "Next opportunity turn right." It also gives distances in yards while all other GPS units I have used give distance in feet. OK, so you saying the above is no big deal, how about this. The unit has a very strong tendency to stick to the street. When you are "off road" like in a parking lot, the unit will tell you that you are actually on the street closest to you. Sometimes these streets aren't even accessible to your vehicle leading to all sorts of confusion as the GPSmile 52 Plus will then calculate a new route based on this information and it will start to issue command like: "Turn left in 75 yards and then left." This is extremely confusing. Most other GPS units will say something like "off road" or "please proceed to the route." OK, if this doesn't bother you, how about this? The following three "experimental routes" were run. Route One. From an office building to my home, about 14 miles. The unit had been set on my regular route choice (fastest). First, it thought I was on the street instead of a parking lot and so the initial directions left out the first turn of the trip. The computer wanted to take me to the toll way (reasonable) which normally would be the fastest route. I chose to take some major streets instead as it was rush hour. Other GPS units might try to get you back to the toll way once but then recalculate the route according to the new directions. However, the Holux started to issue demands "Make a U turn" (mostly illegal where I live) and repeated it every single block for about 4 miles. I then stopped the car and cleared out the destination and asked it to recalculate. The Holux wanted me to back-track to the toll way. Here again it continually gave the command "Make a U turn in XXX yards" over and over again until I had gone about 2/3rds the way home and had passed the toll way. It was one of the most aggravating driving experiences that I can remember. I have used other GPS units in this same maneuver without any problems. Route Two. From the same office building I routed to my office about 6 miles away. This would not involve a toll way so I was sure that the GPSmile would get it. It correctly routed my trip. I made the last turn with my office about 2 miles down the street on the left. All of a sudden the Holux started to issue "in XXX yards, turn around." It did this several time which totally confused me. It was only when I reached my office that I realize that the unit wanted me to go a block past my office and make a U turn in an intersection so I would eventually be on the side of the street where my office was. This would have been an illegal and dangerous maneuver. Instead, I pulled into the parking lot at which point the GPSmile recalculated a route that ran me through several miles of residential streets. This was despite the fact that I was at the destination. What would most other units do? They would say something like, "Destination on the left." Route Three. From my office to my home, around 6 miles. I was in the middle of my large office parking lot so the unit didn't stick me on a street. However, when it calculated my route it placed me on the inaccessible residential court to the north of my office building. If I took the instructions seriously the unit would have had me drive up an embankment, through a fence and into a backyard. Then trough a house to reach the cul-de-sac. Not only useless, but dangerous direction. The GPSmile 52 Plus did not make me smile. There are may cheap GPS unit available that do work. Avoid this one.




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