Not all of our shiny gadgets these days are blessed with a built-in GPS unit, which would be convenient considering they can run navigation apps. Dual Electronics solves this problem with their XGPS150 Bluetooth GPS Receiver. This device works for the Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch as well as Android, Windows, or Blackberry Smartphones and Tablets. While the XGPS150 helps take the battery strain off the devices with already built-in GPS units, it’s most practical for the WiFi-only devices which don’t have one built in.
What’s in the Box
-XGPS150 Bluetooth GPS Receiver
-12V Car Charger
-Mini-USB Charging Cable
-Non-Slip Pad for Car or Boat
-Adjustable Strap to attach to backpack or to use as an armband
The Dual Electronics XGPS150 is a little 2.25″ x 2.25″ square that is 3/4″ thick. It’s a little smaller than a tin of mints. It’s all black with a slot for a strap on the bottom and a large raised red circle on the top. The red circle, which takes up almost the entire face consists of the power button (bottom), and three status lights: battery, bluetooth, and GPS. On the side of the device there’s a cover, which when removed reveals the mini-USB port and a mode switch. The mode switch is used to switch the compatibility from an iOS device to any other device (Android, Windows, Blackberry). To be honest, the XGPS looks a little suspicious to hold; it’s a small palm-sized device with large red button on the top… Let’s just say I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking it out on an airplane.
The setup for the Dual Electronics XGPS is designed to be easy. There is just one button on the device, the power switch. After a short hold, the device turns on and status lights illuminate. There is a battery indicator that will change from green to red if it needs to be charged. There is a Bluetooth status indicator which indicates whether you’re connected or negotiating a connection with a device.
To pair XGPS150 with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch you simply turn on the XGPS, go into settings-general-bluetooth on your iOS device, and connect to XGPS150-XXXX. For use with other devices you need to move the mode switch to the left and connect via bluetooth. Once connected, you’re technically good to go. If the GPS LED is solid green then you’re locked on to a location, if it’s blinking then it’s still searching for satellites. The XGPS150 will always remember the last device it paired to.
The XGPS works with signals from GPS satellites in the sky to determine your location wherever you are in the world. It communicates with your device via bluetooth and the Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP); this means no wires required. After getting through the quick setup, the XGPS150 receiver will work with most apps that require GPS. It has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 8.5 hours. There is an iOS app by Dual Electronics called the GPS Status Tool which connects to the XGPS150. With the app, you will see the connection status, your location or whether the device is still trying to figure it out, how many satellites the GPS sees and the signal strength of each, and the battery level.
The XGPS150 can last for at least 8.5 hours of use and recharges in 2.5 hours. It’s supposed to acquire a location in under 30 seconds even on a cold start. Position updates are supposed to happen at least once a second. Accuracy is supposed to be within 2.5 meters and it supports a maximum speed of 1150 MPH(nice!) and maximum altitude of 59,000 ft. The bluetooth range is 10 meters (33 ft). The firmware is (apparently) upgradeable through the USB port.
Unfortunately, the XGPS150 relies on a compatible bluetooth device, it cannot be used standalone as a GPS tracker. This means you can’t use it to track your stolen car. The Dual Electronics XGPS150 seems to work best with a clear view of the sky and no movement. In these conditions it will take about a minute to lock on to a location. The Navigon Maps app worked perfectly to navigate me around Connecticut on my WiFi iPad. My location updated quickly and accurately enough to make precise turn-by-turn prompts. The rubber holster works perfectly in the car.
I had a very difficult time pinpointing a location indoors, most spots in New York City, and on a moving above-ground train. Sometimes the XGPS150 wouldn’t pinpoint my location unless I initiated it by opening the GPS Status Tool. Currently there are about 15 people on Amazon who gave the XGPS150 stellar reviews (4.5 star average), raving about solid performance in the car, on foot, on planes, and on boats. This made me question if I have a faulty review unit, as I should have been able to zero in on a location in under a minute on the streets of Manhattan, even with tall skyscrapers. I can imagine I would have the same unfavorable results camping in a wilderness full of tall trees.
On WiFi-only devices the XGPS150 works with Google Maps, but not ideally, as internet is required to download the maps. This means you can locate yourself in a zoomed out state, but zooming in to a more precise view requires internet. Dual Electronics provides a list of navigation apps that are known to work with XGPS150 (http://www.xgps150.dualav.com/pdf/apps.pdf). Luckily there are a handful of inexpensive Navigation apps on the market these days.
The Dual Electronics did not have a noticeable effect on my iPhone or iPad battery. The XGPS150 battery has lasted me a couple of weeks while habitually testing out the accuracy. The 8.5+ hour battery life seems to be accurate, it will standby in on-mode for even longer. When locked onto a location, location updates happen once per second.
The Dual Electronics XGPS150 is a bluetooth GPS compatible with a variety of smart phones, media players, and tablets. It provides benefits over built-in GPS’s including more accurate location and less strain on battery power. If you’re purchasing it for a device that does not have 3G, then you’ll need to confirm that you are using an app which has local (downloaded) maps and supports the XGPS150. With a clear view of the sky the XGPS150 works exactly as it should, unfortunately we had issues with the product outside of this type of setting (indoors and in the midst of skyscrapers). The XGPS150 by Dual Electronics can be purchased on Amazon for just under $100.
The Good: Works well with Navigation Apps, Comes with Adjustable Strap and Non-Slip Pad, Good Battery, Mini-USB Charger, Compatible with all popular phones and tablets, Good Location Refresh Rate, Easy Setup
The Bad: Flaky, Doesn’t work well without perfect view of sky, No Included Navigation App, Have to Hold Awkward Button to turn On/Off, No Real iPad App