How to set up a PC for GPS navigation?
My first post.

I was surprised to see so much info on this topic.

I would like to have a PC that could do everything a smart phone can do.

I a looking to get a new computer around Christmas, as the one I am using to post this message is an old Dell Inspiron 1100.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi SoCalSooner,

Welcome to Laptop GPS World.

In another thread you mentioned:

Originally Posted by SoCalSooner
I would like to have as much Smart Phone capability as possible, but don't need to call someone.
Does it mean you don't need the phone function, you just require the portability of a small device? If that's the case, you may look into netbooks. These mini-latops are inexpensive, and they are becoming very popular. Many people around here use Acer Aspire One, but there are other models on the market, too.
I would be using the new netbook computer as my home computer for e-mails and the internet. Maybe some MS Word. Window XP SP3 would be fine, I'm using XP SP2 now.

On the road, I would like the functionally of some type of GPS street nav. to find businesses while on trips.
Marvin Hlavac
To add the GPS functionality to a netbook is fairly simple, install PC GPS software, and plug in an inexpensive USB GPS receiver, or use a Bluetooth GPS receiver, and you are set to go.
What would the difference be in functionally between the USB GPS receiver and the Bluetooth GPS receiver?
Ken in Regina
Originally Posted by SoCalSooner
What would the difference be in functionally between the USB GPS receiver and the Bluetooth GPS receiver?

The difference is that you need a cable to connect the USB receiver to the USB port on the computer. Bluetooth is a short-distance wireless connection so there is no cable needed for the connection to the computer.

Having said that, there are some other things to consider. These have nothing to do with the GPS functions. They are just the practical logistics of using the two different types.

You can toss the Bluetooth GPS receiver up on the dash in the best place to view the sky and receive satellite signals and use the netbook anywhere that is convenient in the vehicle. No cable between them to restrict where you might place one or the other.

With the USB GPS receiver you may have some restiction on placement of the receiver and/or the netbook due to the length of the cable. You can get USB extension cables but many USB GPS receivers don't like to work as well with a longer cable. If you are able to mount the netbook somewhere in or near your line of site as the vehicle operator, this may not be a real big issue because the USB GPS receiver on the dash should not be very far away.

The Bluetooth GPS receiver runs on a battery so you still need to be able to plug it in to charge it. On short trips this is not an issue. On longer trips where you will be driving for longer than the normal battery life you will probably end up with a power cable from the Bluetooth receiver to either the netbook or a 12V adapter in the vehicle. In that case, the whole cable issue is irrelevant because either device will need one.

If the netbook you buy does not have a Bluetooth radio built in, you will have to buy a Bluetooth USB dongle to use Bluetooth devices with the netbook.

Do not be fooled by the marketing phrase "Bluetooth ready". This does not mean the netbook has the necessary internal hardware to do Bluetooth. It simply means that it has the necessary software. That means nothing because any version of WinXP is "Bluetooth ready".

So if you want to avoid having to buy a Bluetooth USB dongle if you should decide to use a Bluetooth GPS receiver, you need to be sure you ask the right question about your new netbook. You need to ask very specifically if it can connect to a Bluetooth device without adding any additional hardware like a Bluetooth USB dongle. And be sure that if they lie to you you can take it back for a full refund as soon as you discover that it really can't do Bluetooth without adding a dongle. Get it written and signed on your bill, especially if you buy it at a big box store where the salespeople usually don't have a clue and change frequently.

If you are interested in doing Bluetooth without a dongle I can't emphasize that step enough. I have an Acer laptop that has a great big "Bluetooth ready" sticker on it. When I first tried to connect my Bluetooth GPS receiver I wasted many days trying to get it to work. I tried everything, including hours scouring the internet to discover what I was doing wrong. I finally found a little note buried in a FAQ on the Acer support site that described how to determine if your laptop was actually equipped to do Bluetooth. This was about the fourth time I searched their site and finally found the right combination of words to get this little factoid. Turns out my "Bluetooth ready" laptop doesn't have the necessary hardware.

I'm still pissed (can you tell?) at how much time I wasted because I didn't know the right question to ask the salesperson and the manufacturer took great pains to make it difficult to find the right answer when I finally figured out that maybe it was something in the laptop, not something I was doing wrong.

Bluetooth ready sound a lot like HD ready on Plasma and LCD TVs, or cable ready.

I think I would perfer the Bluetooth GPS as I see the passenger using it as we drive.
Ken in Regina
You mentioned that you want as many Smartphone features as possible without the Smartphone.

Except for phone calls, Smartphones are just computers in a really tiny package, with a screen that's too small and a keyboard that is unusable (my personal opinion, of course). What Smartphone functions do you really want to have (besides the navigation stuff we're already talking about)?

Internet browsing & e-mailing. Am I leaving something out?
Ken in Regina
Originally Posted by SoCalSooner
Internet browsing & e-mailing. Am I leaving something out?
If you compare that list to all the junk my daughter and son-in-law have on theirs, I'd say you're leaving out most of it. :rofl"

Seriously, most smartphone and PDA users make a lot of use of the addressbook/contacts, datebook/calendar and memopad applications. Many also use them as MP3 players, cameras, photo albums, e-book readers and game machines. As the screens have improved and storage capacities have increased, many are using them as video players, too.

But now that I think about it, it really doesn't matter. It's just a PC. You put on it whatever you want. If you've been messing with these things since the late Seventies or early Eighties as I have, you already know that the stuff that comes with the operating system will do all the standard things ... web browser and email client, play tunes, view family photos. Even play DVDs if you get the latest version of Media Player and download the right audio codec for it. The netbook will be a rather awkward camera but some of them do come with a built-in web camera.

The netbooks all come with built-in WiFi and internal ethernet card so you can connect to the internet most places. I always carry an ethernet cable for that occasional hotel room where they don't have wifi. In fact I usually use the cable even if they do have wifi because it's more secure and way more reliable if you're in a room far from the nearest access point.

If you really need internet connectivity on the go you have already figured out that you need a cellular data service and some sort of USB dongle to connect to it.

If you want more features than the Windows built-ins, there are hundreds of free or cheap alternatives that you can load. It's likely that you've already taken care of that on your current computer anyway.

I don't bother with the email client on my laptop. It's not even set up. I have GMail and Yahoo.ca accounts and my ISP also has a webmail interface if I'm desperate enough to use it (it's really awful). I have my Yahoo mail account set up to grab any new mail directly from my ISP account when I'm on the road, so I can normally avoid having to use their webmail interface.

So, with WinXP on a netbook and an internet connection you'll have that extensive list of requirements of yours pretty much covered.

I just talked to the guy across the street who has an HTC smartphone and he showed me again all the features he has. One was speech recognition.

I am think that Bluetooth GPS would be nice, since the passenger will be using the computer and that DeLORME has a GPS device and street maps.
Delorme does not offer a Bluetooth GPS. However, Bluetooth GPS receivers will work with the Delorme Street Atlas 2009 product. The only mapping product you can purchase that includes a Bluetooth GPS receiver is Garmin Mobile PC with the GPS10x.

The real issue is does the laptop you are considering include Bluetooth. Otherwise you would also need a USB Bluetooth adapter.

Marvin Hlavac
...and if the netbook doesn't have Bluetooth built in, for about $10 I've seen very tiny USB Bluetooth adapters that you will barely notice when plugged into a USB port.
I am a few months away from buying anything, may get it for Christmas. Maybe by then I might have some idea what I am doing.
ken in regina,

i noticed too your acer bt-ready laptop.
i had the same problem some time ago with my fathers acer laptop a 3xxx series i think. i also spent hours trying to figure out if there was a problem with drivers and why it couldn't detect the bt device....

Any way, you don't even need a usb dongle. you can easily install an internal usb module yourself.it;s all there, the connector, the space to put it. why acer wouldn't put that extra $5 worth equipment i don't know,but it pissed me off.

i did some searching at the time and found on ebay bt modules.the store i purchased even mentioned with which laptop was compatible and had some how to guides..
i bought it ($10 or less, don;t really remember), opened up the laptop and just plugged it to its designed position on the mobo.it's actually easier than it sounds ( is read anyway). no soldering, or tricks to connect it and place it in the tight compartment of a laptop.
and then it all worked perfectly, even the blue led indicator.

here's a link to show what it's about.then start googling


pm me if you want any further help,
hope i helped,

Site:   Home,   Search
General forums:   Software,   Hardware
Focused forums:   ALK,   DeLorme,   Garmin,   iGuidance,   MapFactor,   Microsoft,   Navmii,   Odyssey Navigator
laptopgpsworld.com About