Garmin iQue 3600

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Earthmate GPS
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Garmin iQue 3600

If you've been looking for a reason to buy a new PDA, the iQue 3600 should do it. The iQue integrates a GPS receiver with a Palm OS PDA to make one of the most useful tools you can own. Its many functions will help you stay organized, on track, and guide you to any place you need to go.

The Garmin iQue 3600 comes in two versions, the standard, and for about $50 more, the "bundle". The bundle version includes an automotive mount with an integrated charger and speaker. If you plan on doing much navigating, it's worth the extra cost. The mount keeps the GPS antenna properly positioned and the speaker makes the voice directions easier to hear than with the iQue's built-in speaker.

So what can you do with the iQue 3600? Virtually anything that can be done with a computer. If it's not already built-in, some company probably makes the PDA hardware or Palm software, to do it. With it's built-in microphone you can record a song or a business memo. The 2.1" W x 3.2" H, screen is touch sensitive and at the bottom of the display you can write text notes. It's handy for jotting down an important phone number and note to yourself, or a spur-of-the-moment idea you don't want to forget. There are four application buttons to activate the Date Book, Address Book, To Do List, and Que Applications. These are the default settings and you can reassign the buttons to operate other programs. The built-in speaker lets you hear the song or memo you recorded or maybe some MP3s you downloaded. If you'd like to listen in private there's a headphone jack. And just so you stay on schedule, there's a timer alarm you can set.

Because the Garmin iQue 3600 uses the popular Palm 5.2.1 operating system, there are literally thousands of software products available from third-party software companies. The iQue has an expansion card slot that accepts either Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMedia Card (MMC) memory cards for adding software and removable memory. It has an infrared (IR) port to send and receive data to other Palm OS handhelds. Some people now exchange business cards this way. If you have a laptop or PC with an information manager program, you can synchronize ("HotSync") the data in one with the other. You connect the two either directly with the provided cable or by IR, or indirectly by a modem or network.

Unless you work all the time, the iQue 3600 can also be your mini entertainment center. In addition to playing MP3s, there are a slew of Palm games available, both free and commercial. There's also software available to transfer TV shows and movies or digital photos to memory cards and show them on the iQue. Or if you'd like something quieter, you can read an ebook using the free Palm Reader program. And with the iQue's backlighting, you're set to read anywhere.

No extra software is needed to make use of the GPS navigation features. The Garmin iQue 3600 comes with a basemap that is made for getting you from city to city or out to recreation areas. For guidance around town, included is a CD with Garmin's City Select map software. This gets you door-to-door directions for any street address you enter, or an address from your contact list, or a point of interest in the database. If you need the nearest ATM or gas station or whatever, you select from a general category in the point of interest database and it shows which one is closest. Up to 50 routes may be saved and reused for repeat trips.

The iQue 3600 knows your location because its built-in antenna flips up to receive GPS satellite signals and updates your position every second. It's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) capable which reduces basic GPS position errors to less than three meters. So it can sense if you get off track and will recalculate a new route from your present position. Or if you need to get around a traffic problem, there's a detour function to avoid the problem by creating an alternate route. Whatever route you take, the iQue gives you driving directions on the screen and by voice over the speaker. It includes such things as your direction, speed, time and distance to the next turn, and the name of the street.

Power for the Garmin iQue 3600 comes from a lithium-ion battery that runs for up to five hours before needing a recharge. It's recharged with either the included HotSync cradle, or the AC power adapter. There's also an external antenna provided for times when reception is difficult.