Nokia Wireless GPS Module LD-3W Review

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Last Updated : 02 July 2012

Here's my review of the Nokia LD-3W and its associated Nokia  and other related software.  You need the GPS module to use the software and vice versa.

Part 1 - Actual review (This page)
Part 2 - LD-3W Software installation and instructions
Part 3 - Google Maps and Nokia Maps etc... screenshots

GPS Navigation gadgets are my latest 'objects of my affection'.

Whilst shopping and completely out of interest I found a Nokia LD-3W at a bargain price! Full name: Nokia Wireless GPS Module LD-3W (HYP)

It's a small GPS receiver that connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to any other device that has software that can interpret GPS information.  In this case I used my Nokia E61i mobile phone.

Since there is no information or real reviews on how this actually works I naturally decided to write this review. Note that I rarely write up stuff like this anymore because people just my copy work without proper credit.

The LD-3W is an understated bit of equipment.  Looks like remote door controller without a big button. A closer look at the construction reviews a art decor like motif under a semi transparent plastic cover - surprising.  Underneath there's a rubber like washer that provides some sort of grip on dash board surfaces.  The top of the module there are 3 LEDs indicating standby, charging, Bluetooth, and GPS.  It is a well made little thing.

The GPS module doesn't actually do anything except receives data from GPS satellites and transmits that data to your mobile phone (or whatever else) which is where the software does the rest of the work.

There are a few more surprising things about the module.  For a start the specs don't tell you how powerful this unit is.  Most GPS units require that you place it on the dash board or some where it can see the sky.  The LD-3W does not!

Hard to believe but the LD-3W actually works very well indoors.  Through wooden venetians inside the house and a covered car port, in the office quite a few meters from the window, under bridges the LD-3W (HYP) was able to pull in some serious reception.  The TomTom by comparison couldn't do any of that.  I was most impressed with the Nokia.

I must stress that you install GPS software on your mobile phone or PC in order to use the module.  See this page on the software installation instructions.

Once all the software has been installed you can go about testing the accuracy of the module.  This review is therefore not just about the LD-3W but the Nokia navigation software suite and other and partly the mobile phone itself.

For the review I paired my Nokia E61i to the LD-3W over a Bluetooth connection with appropriate software installed.  Note that I haven't written a review on the E61i...maybe later...needless to say I love the phone and it works very well indeed. The GPS module can be treated like mobile phone too.  Turn it on and leave it on standby (LED flashing green) and that's all you have to do.  Turn on the Bluetooth option on your phone and go through the paring process.  Same process as those wireless headsets you see the Trekkies and business crowd stuck in their ear.

When you run GPS software in my case Nokia Maps or the Nokia Navigator application that came with the phone the GPS module will light up and start sending data you can actually use.

The Nokia Maps application (review) is a stand alone navigation program.  However it requires the Nokia Map Loader application to load the various maps to your phone.  You can see where you are on a map and street names landmarks and so forth. This program must be installed on your PC!

The Map Loader allows you to download maps for all major continents with their appropriate landmarks, gas stations, restaurants and the like.  The maps I downloaded came with English street names even for places such as Japan.  You can download all the maps if you want but it does take a lot of memory.  (See the installation and instructions page and pictures for more details.)  As you probably know map data usually costs a bit of cash especially if you have a TomTom but Nokia have an alternate charging or cost recovery system.

The Nokia Maps application works for free - you only need to pay a small subscription charge if you want it to tell you how to get to a particular location.  It uses data downloads from the network so you also have to pay for the data charge as well. I turned of the data feature as I didn't want to pay or need to use it.  Naturally this is why the maps data is free.  I would only use the service in an emergency.

So I played around with the Nokia Maps program looking up addresses and landmarks and went for drive to see how it all worked.  The experienced was mixed...  Yes the positioning was spot on but it has limited navigation functionality.  I wanted details like map zooming in and out, current speed, average speed, distance which is didn't have.  (You have to run the other programs to get these details) More annoying was the lack of information on short cut keys.  It did have a nice 3D view (with clouds) which is nice.  However another annoying aspect was that it didn't rotate the map to point in the direction I was heading.  It defaulted to pointing North.

Thankfully Nokia provides some standard GPS software that comes with some Nokia phones it's called simply called Navigator, Position and Landmarks.  Check out the screen shoots link.

Navigator program has the following options:
Navigation: Simple compass with addition features to set a GPS co-ordinates of a location you want to get to or location you previously input.  No maps just Orienteering type information. Ie. for bush walking, fishing or flying.
Position: Tells you where your are based on Lat. Long. Altitude.  Also displays the level of accuracy in the readings.  Bonus of having a current speed readout.
Trip Distance: Tells you the distance travelled, trip time, total time, Average speed, Max speed, Odometer distance.

Position program is a service that tells you presumably up to date information about where you are.  Presumably this is a subscription based I didn't use it.

Landmarks program is a short cut to the Navigator program but only allows to edit landmarks and location you've set.

Hint: If your bush walking or on a trek with no mobile coverage just put the phone into flight mode to extend battery life and leave the unit on standby.  Turn on Bluetooth only when you need to!

Conclusion

The LD-3W is a great piece of equipment excellent GPS receiver.  Battery life is an impressive (claimed) 7 days or more on stand by and 22 hours in use. I have so far got 9 days on standby!  It pulls in GPS signals in places that will surprise those with normal navigation systems.  I'm quite sure it will work with other GPS programs and not just Nokia branded.

That said as a package of Nokia phone and GPS module it is only let down by the Nokia Maps application.  Nokia needs to work on functionality if it is going to get more subscribers. The standard GPS software that came with the phone was far more interesting to use.

Total cost was under $100 not including the phone excluding phone data charges so it's cheaper than a normal GPS like the TomTom.

Update! Since writing the review Goggle has released a new version of the Google Maps Application which not only shows Satellite images but Road Maps as well!  See the review I will be putting up shortly.

Update! LD-3W works on a Windows Mobile 6 PDA. In order to get the LD-3W to work on a Windows Mobile 6 based PDA is to use the following settings.  (After much trial and error): 

- Install the free Google Maps program then:
- Go to the External GPS Icon in the settings menu and select GPD1 as the GPS Program Port. 
- Then select COM6 as the GPS hardware port.
- Then set the Baud rate to 4800. 
- Tick the Manage GPS automatically tick box.
- Close all running programs or a soft reset to make sure there are no extra programs running.
- Turn on the LD-3W.
- Go to Settings HP IPAQ Wireless option: 
- Connect to a WLAN if available.
- Go to Bluetooth Connections and find the GPS unit.
- Double click the icon to make it an active connection.
- Run Google Maps.
- Go to Menu and select Use GPS.
- It should detect it straight away and connect it will also ask you whether to select the LD-3W as the default GPS receiver.

That's it everything should work perfectly.

Please check out the Part 3 for more information.

Part 2 - LD-3W Software installation and instructions
Part 3 - Google Maps and Nokia Maps etc... screenshots
 

 




 




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