Uniden GPS301 Review

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Last Updated : 02 July 2012

After much discussion over the issue of speed, responsibility, cameras and government and all the contentious stuff I thought a nice new review on some useful hardware is in order.  There are no reviews that are like the ones I do (I guess you worked that out already - toot toot)  so here it is a proper review of the Uniden GPS301 Global Road Safety Warning System and discussion on various GPS navigation features.

So what is the GPS301 ?  Well, for those unfamiliar with Uniden its a company that mainly makes radio transceivers. Although the brand it not known for premium quality products,  it's primary market is the average consumer which means price competitive technology.  Not bagging the company just saying that it produces for the consumer rather than the specialist. The GPS301 is of course the model name.

The Uniden GPS301 is (Note I shouldn't really use the term GPS301 as other equipment from other manufacturers use the same code)  essentially a road hazard warning, accurate current speed, over speed alert, and basic GPS navigation system.  For the price range of $188 - 288 (AUS) at your local electronics store it is a bargain for what it does.  Update for 2008 shows that it's RRP is now $99. 

It's claim to fame is that it can warn drivers and riders of high accident areas, red light and fixed speed cameras.  It of course has other functions which are truly useful, in fact its pretty good value for what it does which is a bonus.  I have divided the following review into various sections. 

GPS

The technology the 301 uses to work all this out is by GPS (Global Positioning System) which is as most know is via satellite.

The 301 is the size of an average radar detector so it can fit almost anywhere.  However there is a catch.  Since it uses satellites for locating hazards you must place the unit where it can scan the skies.  Ie. mounted on the dashboard or windshield of the car or on the Hayabusa it would fit nicely on top of the instrument pod.  Note it won't work indoors, tunnels etc.. for obvious reasons. 

The unit doesn't have a a port to plug in an extension cord for the satellite 'dish' either, which is not unexpected for the price.  But it would have been nice.

You can mark up to 500 of you own way points indicating the type of location eg. red or speed cameras maybe your mate's house etc...  This is quite handy to mark locations where mobile speed cameras regularly operate as a reminder to yourself.

Speed

The GPS301 calculates the variety of speed stats.  If in a car it will tell you how fast you are actually going with much better accuracy than the car or bike speedometers.  Riders looking for solutions to your inaccurate speedo take note.  For example I knew my car had a pretty accurate speedo and the GPS confirmed that opinion - it proved that my speedo was 1 - 2 ks higher than what it was actually reading and spot on when traveling under 60 kph.  Another car however was at least 5 kph under what the speedo was reading.  This was no surprise as I had suspected that this other car had a low reading speedo for a while now.  Nevertheless it was nice for a piece of hardware to confirm this and it obvious superior accuracy.

Speed Stats

The unit tells you in real time your current speed, average speed between 2 way points and maximum speed you achieved.  It also has an over speed alert.  Note that there is a 1 or 2 second delay for updates which is fair enough considering the price for the 301. 

Other features which the unit has includes an over speed alert - which is good, unfortunately like every single GPS and trip computer it requires you to change the setting if you want another speed.  Again its a cheap unit so perfectly OK.  But if you shelled out $thousands for a proper GPS that doesn't automatically update the over speed alert then you have every right to feel ripped off.

So when not warning of hazards it operates as an accurate trip computer without the fuel statistics.

Direction

The GPS301 also tells you the compass heading.  It uses the N,S,E,W,NE etc... codes.  This function is handy if you're into this sort of thing. To me it just looks nice to have.

It also allows you to calculate travelling times between way points which you can enter in.

Cameras

The GPS301 detects or rather warns of fixed red and speed cameras.  However you must download the latest version of the location file over the internet before this function will work properly.  The updating of the file is very easy and obviously worth while.  The download and updates are free.  They can be found on the official website.

It will not detect mobile cameras which is fair enough, since in Australia the government has banned them to show that speed camera enforcement is a revenue collection exercise rather than protecting the safety of its constituents.  Evidence in simple terms, 9 out of 10 black spots reported by the 301 where accidents regularly occur do not have cameras. 10 out of 10 straight and open stretches of roads had cameras.  The only time accidents statistics for these camera-ed areas could be high is during peak hour where the road is congested.  And lets face it excessive speed is not a factor but I guess they could argue that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then they can convince you of anything.

The unit has staged warning on the screen or audio alerts and the approximate direction and distance away which the camera is located.

Accuracy

The 301 is pretty spot on. It detected and warned of all fixed red and speed cameras I tried.  It also warned of all high accident areas or black spots which I also assessed and agreed with.  Thus the hardware and database are up to date.

It didn't warn about school zones or the newer differential speed cameras - but you should be looking out for those signs anyway. 

Etc...

The display is by red LEDs so you can see the info at night.
The warning buzzer is quite loud and you can hear it through your helmet at legal speeds.
There are lots of other functions such as saving special locations eg. new cameras.
It actually looks quite nice above the speedo.
Don't think its water proof though.
You have to download the latest fixed camera and black spot database from the internet.

Comparison with proper GPS systems

No comparison really this unit can't guide you street by street to a specific location eg street address but it directs you via co-ordinates to various pre-determined towns, cities and suburbs, warns of hazards that a proper GPS system should but usually doesn't.  The price differential between proper GPS and the 301 means that it is better value if you don't want street mapping.

I'm not sure how many satellites it uses to determine its data but I doubt it'll be more than 4.

Comparison with the Road Angel System

The Road Angel units do the same job as the 301.  Which was first with the idea I don't know.  Since I haven't tried one (Road Angel) I can't really say whether it is better or worse than the 301.  Whether both units have the same internals or manufactured by the same company is again unknown to me.

Based on promotional material it should be better because you have to pay for the updates for the database... It also claims warnings of school zones and country town speed warnings and a few others.

There is a catch, the Road Angel unit is A$499 for the base model and A$999 for the top of the range and a subscription starting from A$69 after 6 months. Personally I think the units are overpriced since the company uses a paid subscription model.

So the choice is yours.

Conclusion

In the end give this thing a very high rating - close to a must have accessory.  Price for feature especially compared to 'proper' GPS system it's a no brainer you won't regret buying this thing - if you want one.  It does work.

A fixed red light and speed camera warning system doesn't really come into play on familiar roads but when you're on holidays or driving around on unfamiliar roads and states its a fantastic idea.  (I love the black spot warnings.)  However it does have other useful functions for regular routes like more accurate speed reading, compass directions, distances etc...

If you're on a motorbike - you probably realize that the motorcycle speedos aren't the most accurate thing on the bike.  So this is the cheapest method of measuring how fast you are actually going with reasonably accuracy.

Also if you want to ad a bit of bling to your bike, it's 2008 price is $99 so what are you waiting for.

The improvements I would suggest are either offer a proper voice for warnings and or even cheaper price.  Due to the number of positive reviews I've made I wish I could say something bad about it but taking all factors into account I can't - so there.  I bought this with my own money too so I feel very happy I wasn't ripped off.

Let's see if governments ban this type of warning system because it is a threat to the revenue base rather than seeing it as a tool to decrease the road toll and improving driver awareness.  Let's see what sort of rubbish they can spin.

 




 




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