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Showing 1-10 of 94 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 109 reviews
on August 22, 2011
I'm a Flight Test Engineer by trade. IF the GNS 5870 were a piece of equipment in an airliner cockpit, it would be considered non-certifiable per FAR 25.1301(d). Granted, it's NOT a piece of equipment in an airplane cockpit, but that's where a lot of people who buy this device (myself included) will try to use it. So buyer beware. When I purchased the device, the Bad Elf was all the rage and this really sounded like a better product. I read the reviews For and Against, including several anecdotal descriptions about a quirky power switch. Admittedly, I chuckled at the thought of some who idiot couldn't get shut his device off. The day I got the device, I had ZERO problems switching the device on and off. "Swipe On, Swipe Off" I couldn't believe people were having problems simply swiping their finger across the device. It seemed ridiculously easy. Call it beginner's luck because the next day after my first flight with the device I had a couple of "mis-swipes." OK, Nothing to be concerned about. I'm sure even the swiftest of finger swipers occasionally need to recalibrate their digits. ---- To digress for a second, in terms of Bluetooth/GPS performance, the until synched instantly with my iPad and to use it with Foreflight HD is a thing of beauty. It captured a signal quickly, tracked very well and I was wowed. ----My next flight with the device required a fuel stop. Parked at the pumps, I tried to turn it off and it wouldn't. 10 - 20 - 30 swipes of varying pressures and nada. I took a deep breath, shook out my hand and tried again with a very very light touch - and again - and again and again and still couldn't get it to shut off. Frustrated, I left the device on while I refueled and dined on my $100 hamburger. Returning to the plane, I swiped once more - just for the hell of it- and it magically went off. Of course, now I was getting ready to fly again and needed to turn it back on. It took me 30 finger swipes to coax it back on. The I flew home and had to turn it off again. Let's not go there. This frustrating sequence of events now describes every flight on which I attempt to use the GNS 5870. I've now got over 50 flight hours of use on the thing (and calluses on my fingertips).

This of course assumes that the unit is fully charged. As difficult as the unit is to turn off, I find that when stowed / transported inside a protective case itself in my flight bag, all it takes is a mosquito fart's worth of pressure to bump the switch, turn the device on and drain the battery just in time for my next flight in IMC.

I must admit, the next point of contention could be true of any bluetooth device. Using the supplied suction cup holder, I fixed the GNS 5870 to the upper windshield of a C-172 and while flying found that the device spat out some rather interesting EMI that caused my glareshield-mounted magnetic compass to oscillate 30 degrees in each direction. Relocating the GNS 5870 to a side window eliminates this problem.

Lastly, I've also been unable to acquire a GPS signal whatsoever while flying in the cockpit of transport category airplanes. This blocking of the GPS signal is generally attributed to these airplane's heated windshield wiring/circuitry. Interestingly enough, the makers of the XGPS150 bluetooth GPS receiver have issued a firmware update to correct this issue in their device. This coupled with their device using a revolutionary concept known as "The Simple On/Off Button" (something the GNS 5870 designers apparently have never heard of) are two reasons why I've just ordered an XGPS150 to replace my GNS 5870.
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on December 13, 2010
Like some, I bought the Wi-Fi only iPad because I specifically didn't want the 3G capability. But in hindsight, I did miss at least the GPS capability. So to make up for my "remorse", I ordered the external bluetooth GNS 5870. It pairs quickly with the iPad buetooth and locked on to 6 satellites (based on one app's notification) through a large upstairs window in about 2 or 3 minutes. It was a little faster I believe through my car windshield. And it stayed locked on even after walking briefly into a shopping mall with it in my shirt pocket. How accurate? Two iPad apps say accuracy is within 30 feet but this reading is through an apartment window. The accuracy of Wi-Fi only was reported as 213 feet. But the GNS 5870 works very well all by itself and thats why five stars. I would not rate it less just because the "touch and slide" on and off is slightly finicky and can be unexpectedly activated by certain movements within a coat pocket etc. Its very portable at 1 3/4 x 3 inches and has a nice rubberized body except for the 1/2 inch wide plastic touch strip. The total GNS 5870 cost at $160.00, means I'm paying about $30.00 more than the iPad 3G model would have cost.

None of my views would matter though, if the GNS 5870 cannot work with the few iPad mapping, navigation, and GPS apps that are compatible with the Wi-Fi only iPad. So I discuss these apps not as an endorsement, but just to show that the GNS 5870 does work well without Wi-Fi and with no extra expense of a 3G data plan. It should be noted however, that this does not replace the usefulness or maybe the overall accuracy of the iPad 3G, as the iPad 3G has three modes of triangulation: Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS, which provide navigation assistance when some of the modes like satellite are not available. My uses however, may be in areas of no Wi-Fi and no cell towers. In this case, my Wi-Fi only IPad with the GNS 5870 will probably be as useful as the 3G model.

That said, I have tried all the following apps riding in my car with the GNS 5870 resting on the dash. The device tracks fine with the following apps that store map data internally in the iPad: Topo Maps, MotionX GPS HD and the iPhone app Navigon MyRegion. It also works fine with the iPad Google Maps but only in "classic" and "terrain" views. This is because Google's map base is not stored internally in the iPad and must be first accessed on the fly through Wi-Fi. The "satellite" and "hybrid" views are too large I believe to be cached in the app itself. For the same reasons, the GNS 5870 does not play well with Google Earth because the app does not store large data fields internally. But smaller, less memory intensive map areas and routes in Google Maps ("classic" and "terrain") can be cached and used later using only the GNS 5870. These are erased from the cache however after any changes are made. The GNS 5870 works and tracks with the app Big World although this app also uses the Google Maps data base and I'm not sure how much of that map base is stored internally.

But if you are having Wi-Fi only iPad "buyers remorse", and you still want GPS, this is one excellent way to go. And if I get lost 30 feet from where I want to go then I'm in big trouble anyway.
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on July 26, 2011
This was used in a aviation environment and had numerous issues. The power switch is the worst feature of this GPS and only works about half the time. Sometimes it won't come on, other times it won't shut off and runs the battery dead. Occasionally it comes on all by itself in your pocket or storage case when it senses any kind of motion. I was able to deal with the power switch for the last several months by constantly charging it. Today however, it locked up completely for about the 6th time. There is an internal reset switch which requires insertion of a paper clip from the side access hole. It completely broke the switch when when I inserted the paperclip rendering the GPS worthless. Hopefully the manufacture can rectify these issues with a new model soon. The technology seems fine; it just needs real and accessible switches for power on/off and reset.
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on April 16, 2011
I don't have the swipe-on/swipe-off problem other folks have in this forum. That feature seems to work fine. What I am disappointed in is its basic specs. I should have been a bit more suspicious when basic stats such as accuracy and refresh rate are impossible to find on the GNS web site. Upon receiving the unit, I can confirm the following:

It uses an older version MediaTek chipset.
As a result, its accuracy is no better than the internal GPS on the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. In fact, in general, if the GNS 5870 is showing a horizontal accuracy of 10 meters and a vertical accuracy of 10 meters (10/10), then the internal GPS of the iPhone 4 will typically show 5/10. iPad 2 was a little closer, sometimes beating the GNS, most of the time matching it. This was tested using GPS-Status app from the app store.
Its refresh rate is only 1hz and is not configurable.

I would have expected a unit such as this to have much better accuracy than the internal chipsets, and for it to not have at least a 5 hz refresh rate is pretty lame.

On the plus side, its Bluetooth pairing is quite fast and reliable. As a result, I could recommend this product as a backfill for non-GPS iPods and iPads, as well as older GPS-enabled models. I cannot recommend it as a more accurate replacement for internal chipsets on the latest models of iPhones and iPads.
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on May 30, 2011
I bought this to add GPS functionality to my iPad 2. I would use it to assist with in flight navigation. I noticed that it would turn itself on, and that I could never turn it off. Finally, I had problems with it getting Bluetooth connection to the iPad. I got so frustrated I took it apart to try and figure out what was going on. Basically, what I found was the touch sensor is poorly designed and will short out the Bluetooth LED thus loosing its connection to the iPad. The only way that I could get this unit to operate is to take out the metal pads used for the touch sensors and turn it on and off using wall/car power, and by turning off the Bluetooth on the iPad. This IMO is less than ideal. I am currently looking into another solution to get better reliability and ease of use.
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on March 20, 2011
I'll make it brief- I use this in-flight with an iPad and ForeFlight. It works. One of the annoying things is that I don't know the state of the battery at any given point. Wouldn't it have been useful to have a battery meter? And the complaints about the finger slide on/off are pretty much correct- it's a temperamental interface that works... sometimes. A little better UI design would have made this a great 5 start product. As it stands, it works, but you have to be concerned not only about the iPad battery but the GPS battery too, which makes it a bit of a pain.

Update 4/14/2011 - I now can officially say I HATE this device. I can't ever turn it off when I don't want it to be on, and many times I find it on in my bag or pocket. When I really need it, I don't know the state of the battery. Ugh, I wish I didn't buy this unit!

Update 9/14/2011 - as of today, it finally won't even turn on anymore. It let me down right in the middle of an approach in the rain. Lucky it was just a backup to a REAL GPS. The company has the most draconian non-service policies you can imagine. This thing is a complete waste of money.
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on October 12, 2010
I purchased this GPS for my WiFi Apple iPad and even though my emails said the expected delivery day would be more then a month ahead of my order date, I recieved it within a few days (it took some time to get to the US from Germany). The initial setup with my iPad worked flawlessly and I was able to pickup an extremely accurate GPS signal lock within seconds using the Maps app that shipped with the iPad. I was very impressed ... Until I couldn't shut the unit off. It worked a couple of times turning on and off, but now I am unable to just swipe my finger across the touch sensor to shut it off. Without a real switch, I'm stuck waiting for a reply from their email team as to what I should do to resolve the problem.

Otherwise it works great. I have tested it using the Maps app, Google Earth, and WiFiFoFum (yes, I snagged this lovely app from the app store when it was still available, no jailbreak here ;). I'd rank it a 5 star if the switch would still be working after less then a day of testing it.
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on May 8, 2012
I bought this as an iPad companion and to supply GPS information for the ForeFlight app. I normally fly between FL200 and FL270 so GPS signal should not be a problem. Based on the reception icon on the device it appears to receive and track GPS signals quickly and without loss -- if the GPS indicator is to be believed. However, the bluetooth function seems a bit problematic. Passing the GPS signal to the iPad is less than certain as bluetooth appears to be connected but ForeFlight (and other GPS enabled apps) do not always show as having received positional data. Cycling the on/off on the GPS will fix this for a while but the signal will again be lost and not reaquired on the various apps. Since more than one app shows the problem I am inclined to believe the problem is with the GPS or the bluetooth interface.

The lack of consistent reliability is a major con.

Pro: light, portable, long battery life

Con: inconsistent interface with iPad

I would like to be able to write my name on it, needs a space for a label.
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on September 7, 2013
For me, this unit has been rock-solid for both syncing with GPS receivers and bluetooth to an iPad. However, the malfunctioning on/off switch overwhelmingly overrides any positives. If you pull the unit out of your bag, and it's dead due to a depleted battery, the GPS and bluetooth don't work, and it makes this device completely unreliable -- usually when you need it most.

I suspect the touch sensor problem may be heat related as it seems to malfunction more often when the temperatures are warm (like when you've attached the device to your windshield). Regardless, this device was "over engineered" with a too-complicated on/off switch that was inadequately tested for real-life conditions.
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on April 11, 2011
This unit worked very well when it worked. The touch sensor does not work well for turning the unit on and especially off. We have tried everything to get it to work better, but there is no consistency in the switch.
The unit will shut off if it gets too hot. It is black and most pilots would place it on the glare shield. We found that it overheated in about 15 mintues in cool weather. The manufacturer recommends wrapping it in white paper. We found the glare shield can still cause it to overheat. A well ventillated area would work best.
When the unit works, it is a great tool. The iPad can be most anyplace in the cabin and work. We use it in a Citation, and the unit worked when the iPad was passed to the back seats.
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