Reviewing palmOne GPS Solution Zire 72 Edition (part 1)

by Volker Weber

I am posting this in english to solicit feedback from you. Do not feel obliged to write in english. German is just as fine with me. I just want to make sure that I can be understood by as many people as possible

As many of you read yesterday, I have received a new navigation system in the morning, and I am stumped. I have never seen anything so bad. At least that is my first impression and I need you to show me the light. ;-) [Update: My initial verdict changed substantially later and you need to read the whole review.]

First things first. What is in the package?

- palmOne Zire 72
- GlobalSat BT-308 Bluetooth GPS Receiver with Kirrio branding
- 256 MB SD card with MapSonic 2.0 and german map
- a CD with maps and software
- lots of stuff to mount the gear inside your car

After unpacking the system, losing the memory card (and finding it) I charged both the receiver and the Zire until they could take no more. Thanks, Scotty.

The Zire is a neat machine for a basic PDA with some multimedia capabilities including the best camera in all of palmOne's machines. The GPS receiver is on the ugly side, but it has a nice on/off switch, which I miss in the TomTom receiver. The windshield mount is of the cheap fake metal plastic kind. That was the nice part. Insert the card. Switch on the GPS receiver and let the drama begin.

MapSonic comes up with a tiny font and asks for some setup information. I select "Bluetooth GPS" and it dumps me into the system configuration to select a Bluetooth device. I fiddle with it for half an hour and I can not get it to work at all. I don't get to see the software because it asks me every 3 seconds to select a BT device. No matter what I do, 3 seconds later I get the same old question.

OK, let's see whether the hardware is broken. Restart. Go to BT. Pair the receiver. Needs a key. Try 0000. Does not work. Look through the quickstart guide. Not in there. Check the website. 2003. A-ha.

Go back to BT, pair the receiver. Looks like it is working. Restart MapSonic. Every 3 seconds the same old question. Patience wearing thin. Do we have a software problem? Yank out the card. Insert TomTom.

TomTom 4.4 starts, asks for language, receiver, shows its introduction and then we are in business. It sees the receiver and we have a go. Works just as nicely as on the Tungsten T3. Now we have established that the hardware is working and TomTom likes the setup.

Back to MacSonic. I start to hate this thing. Must control fist of death. Thanks, Alice. To cut a long story short. After maybe 20 attempts I get it to see the receiver. This is where the real problems start.

First of all, everything in the screen is tiny. You have to hold the device in hand if you want to do anything but switch from 2D display to 3D or from night to day. All the options, selection of destinations they all require you to hold the device and get out the stylus. I try to select an address from the address book and the list is all mixed up. I ask it to sort by last name and the software traps. Reboot. Every time the software chooses to lose the connection to the GPS receiver it does not shut up and try later. No, it gives me that old dialog I got to see every three seconds. Come on, what are the chances that I switch GPS receivers every couple of minutes. I am busy driving. Why not try again a few seconds later?

Now is your turn. What am I missing. Am I doing anything wrong?

[continued in part two]


I bought a TomTom Go nav system for my car last week. This thing rocks. it is simply the best GPS navigation system I have ever used. When I want to go somewhere I simply pop it on the powered mount, and press the button, thats it. I know this doesnt help Volker :( but I thought I should mention it as one of the options that are around.

Andy, 2004-10-08

Andy, I know that TomTom Go indeed rocks. But we are looking at something different here. Less expensive and doubles as a PDA.

Volker Weber, 2004-10-08

What I'd do in that situation: write to the company and ask whether they really want that I write a review about their product or whether they'd prefer to fix it first.

Stefan Rubner, 2004-10-08

I am currently evaluating Route 66 on Symbian (, and this is simply the best I've seen so far. No more fiddling for the PDA in the bag, the phone is in my hand already. So the only extra thing to carry is the GPS receiver, which usually waits for me in the card. Also saves me another charger.

The Treo 650 will offer that on PalmOS soon. The combination of navigation with phone features has just so much potential that I can't see PDA only solutions survive at all.

Frank Koehntopp, 2004-10-08

Edit: s/card/car/

Frank Koehntopp, 2004-10-08

Does anybody know whether the TomTom SOFTWARE will work with the KIRRIO BT receiver if both used with a Palm Zire 72? I love the Zire but the Viamichelin software that the Kirrio uses doesn't allow input of Post Codes, a much faster method of specifying an arrival point.



Simon Colquhoun, 2005-01-31

I have used Palm handhelds for some years and I think they are wonderful if one mapping system does not suit you then try mapopolis, or tom tom, fugawi (no routing) or via michelin
The downside is the size of the handheld screen as if you try and mapread and drive it is a problem but if you navigate then these are lovely. So much so I found this site because I am buying a second system as we have two vehicles and am Fed up with swapping the Palm from one to another. Route 66 which is lovely software has just releaed their 2005 Software on Windows platform and has a Palm transfer facility for the maps.
Mapopolis will accept UK Postcodes and is my method of choice of finding destinations so try a download from mapopolis
mike a

Michael Ayland, 2005-02-27

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