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list($289.99)
1. GeoDiscovery Geode GPS Springboard

1. GeoDiscovery Geode GPS Springboard Module For Handspring Visor
list price: $289.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B00004ZB7T
Catlog: CE
Manufacturer: GeoDiscovery
Sales Rank: 29115
Average Customer Review: 2.35 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com Review

Handheld GPS receivers are growing in popularity as the hardware shrinks and the accuracy grows. Handspring Visor owners can slap a GPS module into their palmtop and find their location on their onscreen maps. GeoDiscovery's curvaceous and translucent Geode module offers some nifty design features to keep you from getting lost, but you'll first have to find the money to bring this device home.

A great extra that helps offset the price is the two MultiMediaCard (MMC) slots. MMCs can hold up to 64 MB of additional storage space each, enabling you to store detailed maps and information about almost everywhere you're planning to go. Unfortunately, the MMC slots aren't currently supported, although GeoDiscovery hopes to have them functional within a couple of months. As with other enhancements, this support would require only a simple flash upgrade for the software.

The GeoDiscovery Web site has an excellent map-finder tool, with detailed maps of cities and highways for all 50 states. Just download the file, synchronize with your Visor, and the maps are usable by the Geode. There are also downloadable guides, such as the National Park series for $4.99 each, with details like park hours, ranger station locations, and other pertinent content.

After loading our Visor with appropriate maps, we headed out for a weekend camping trip. The first time we used the Geode, we had to calibrate the compass by turning around slowly. It took a while for the calibration to take, as well as for us to get our first satellite lock. But after that initial setup, we were able to get and hold a lock in less than a minute (rather typical for GPS receivers). We did have trouble maintaining a connection while in our car, but by holding the Geode closer to a window the connection stayed up more consistently.

Because the Geode uses the new Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), it can provide extremely accurate location readings--within three meters--and we noticed this during our tests. The tiny roads that led to our campsite were displayed on the Geode, with our location on the map coinciding exactly with a slight bend in the road.

One of our main complaints about the Geode is the lack of street labeling. You have to click on a road or highway to see its name, which can make it difficult to use for navigation. On slower Visors, it can also take several seconds for the map to redraw when you're zooming in or out.

Another caveat is the price--it's more expensive than some standalone GPS receivers. But if you're into lots of map storage, the MMC memory slots may make the Geode worth the extra cost when they come online. --J. Curtis

Pros:

  • Memory expansion slots
  • WAAS support
  • Lots of free maps to download

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Streets aren't labeled until clicked
... Read more

Features

  • Incorporates a GPS receiver, a digital compass, and 2 memory expansion slots
  • 12-channel GPS receiver
  • Features SiRF's FoliageLock technology for reliable signal sensitivity
  • Incorporates Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) for accuracy
  • Compatible with Handspring Visor

Reviews (37)

3-0 out of 5 stars Geode has not grown as promised
I already posted review for this(see "Any Problems Due to Old Visors!" March 16, 2001 by an electronics fan from Boston). In it I gave the Geode five stars and addressed some of the problems for which the Geode was being blamed which were really Visor and Visor Deluxe Problems (i.e. RF shielding). Sadly, I now have to go back on my old review in light of recent events. My Geode still works great but as of mid-May Geodiscovery has gone into a near death state. The company may or may not return to operation. As a result the improvements on the Geode have ceased still without MMC card support, reduced power consumption, color maps (for Handspring Prism), NMEA compatability or future firmware upgrades. Thus the parts of my previous review that lauded the Geode's extensibility must now be rescinded since it is a fair bet that no future improvements to the module will be made [unless it goes open source :)]. In light of this I recommend the Magellan GPS Companion for Handspring Visor. Magellan and Garmin (which makes the handheld eTrex) are established companies that won't be going away anytime soon. At this time it represents the best solution for a GPS springboard module. Geodiscovery had a lot of promise but they tried to rebuild the wheel from scratch and failed. Well I'm gonna try and hack my Geode now since the upgrades aren't gonna happen by themselves.

3-0 out of 5 stars Had a lot of promise... business went bankrupt early
The Geode had a lot of promise. Unluckily, GeoDiscovery went out of business before it those promises could be fulfilled. I do extend a lot of credit to the developer team who helped pull together as much as possible as GeoDiscovery was laying them off to help out the user community. Many of the developers continued to answer questions and work with users LONG after their paychecks stopped.

But... sadly that was 2 years ago. GeoDiscovery is now defunct, their website gone and no support to be found.

The Geode community did pull together and compile an archive of all the software that was available before GeoDiscovery's website died. I maintain the archive... which is available at davoice.net. The archive is about 1.2 gig in size, so no one in their right mind has been willing to host it online. So for the forseeable future, it's only available by mail on CD.

On the davoice.net site, there is also a relatively inactive forum for Geode users. I do try to answer the odd question that arises every so often.

Basically for all hardware except that which shipped directly from GeoDiscovery as they were shutting the doors, the best firmware is version 1.3. For the last hardware revision, 1.4beta works fairly well. Either way, the MMC slots never worked and NMEA connection was non-existant in 1.3 and flakey at best in 1.4beta.

Blessings,
Daniel

4-0 out of 5 stars Geode GPS Module
An excellent and useful module for the Handspring PDA. I enjoyed it while the company supported the product with their map database software. I cannot find the company to get updated software (Madison River Technologies). I do not believe that the module is available. The company either does not exist anymore or they are not making the module or supporting software. I see no point in tryimg to locate this product much less trying to purchase it.

1-0 out of 5 stars the worst customer support imaginable
REad the reviews here (which I didn't) It has poor performance, and it does not comply to NEMA data, so don't bother trying to import your waypoints into a database. Besides, If you do buy it, don't every plan on hearing from customer service. I've been trying 6 months for a return, including trying to call and fax, and nothing. AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS.

2-0 out of 5 stars Geodiscovery is practically out of business
The Geode has high accuracy because it uses WAAS. But release 1.3 (the latest release) draws maps slowly, does not support color and does not use the industry standard NMEA interface (necessary to use the Geode with mapping software not made by Geodiscovery).

Release 1.4 is just a beta and it greatly improves drawing speed and does support color. But the NMEA interface rarely works and this prevents use of the Geode with 3rd party mapping software.

Also, the battery life is poor -- only about 3 hours -- and the MMC slots do not work.

Perhaps what is worst is that Geodiscovery support is not functional at all. They do not return phone calls or emails. So if you have a problem, you are out of luck.

I think that the Magellan Companion ($150) is the best bet right now. It does not use WAAS. However, if you really want the 2-3 meter accuracy, you can get the Sky Golf GPS (looks a lot like the Companion and costs $400) which does use WAAS. ... Read more


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