Friday, August 1, 2008

Nokia E66 GPS review

The E66 is Nokia's first E-series slider to be endowed with a built-in GPS receiver and can be assisted via the downloading of ephemeris data to help with speed. It took it about 70 seconds to get a fix from cold boot and it wouldn't work indoors unlike our Navman B10. You can read more about the Nokia E66's GPS performance from this dedicated article, but as far as GPS performance is concern the B10 Bluetooth receiver provided better performance overall. The advantage of having it integrated is you do not have to worry about carrying multiple devices during none-crucial trips to towns. It works with Nokia Maps 2.0 and Viewranger, as well as my friend's copy of Garmin XT (the application sucks though).

Applications tested that worked with the E66 are the built-in Nokia Maps 2, Viewranger (the latest version works), MGMaps (freeware - great app) and Garmin XT (the application sucks though).

I found the amount of the time to get fix from cold boot to be about on par with most devices with built-in GPS receiver, in that not so great but acceptable. Without resorting to A-GPS, the receiver took around two minutes to get a fix under a cloudy day (it has been cloudy the whole time so don't blame me for not testing it under the sun). Once a fix is gained it retains to the fix pretty well. I am not sure how many channels the receiver supports, but it is less than a dedicated external receiver like the B10 (which features 20-channel support).

Blue line: Navman B10; Red line: Nokia E66

To compare the accuracy between the B10 and Nokia E66, I used Viewranger to record the tracks I took home a couple of day ago while leaving both the B10 and E66 in my rucksack. According to the GPX files I analysed later I found that the track recorded via the B10 tended to be more accurate than the E66's recorded track. As you can see above the B10 (blue line) recorded the correct path I took when crossing the A411 where as the red was wildly inaccurate. Having said that the B10 isn't most accurate receiver, but hei it retails for only £20...

The screenshot above demonstrates the Nokia E66 (left) and Navman B10 (via E51)'s accuracy according to Nokia's built-in GPS Data application, based on both receivers situated around 2 feet from the window of our apartment. Despite being in door the B10's accuracy was around 11 metre, but the same application reported the E66 as having an accuracy to within 40 metre. Even then it reported a speed of 5 km/h despite it sitting pretty on a table. As far as accuracy is concern, the E66's unknown GPS receiver chipset (some are saying it is the same one that powers the N95) is behind the B10's SiRFstarIII chipset.

I do not drive so I won't comment about the E66's performance when it comes to providing turn by turn directions using programs like Nokia Maps or Tom Tom. As far as trekking is concern, if you do not need super accurate performance then I see no problem with using the E66 as your navigational platform, as long as you can dismiss its margin of error. As for using it as an everyday none-critical receiver, I see having one built-in as a no-brainer. The built-in receiver is a blessing and I find it handy walking around the back streets of London trying to find that one obscure store.


Carlos said...


very nice review, as I'm considering buying the E66 and was very interested in its GPS performance.

One question.. Did you test GPD with the E66 open or closed? If you tested both positions, did you see any difference in GPS performance between the two ?

I ask, because it's a known fact that N95 GPS performs much better when it's open (due to antenna placement)

Jon said...

That's a good question. I tend to use it opened, but whenever I leave it in my pocket or bag it is left closed. It was a long time ago, but I seriously believe that it was left closed when I recorded the track. The test from my flat was based on an opened E66. I remember this as I require access to the keypad to take screenshots.

I am sorry I can't redo the test as the E66 was a loaner and I've returned it.

Carlos said...

Thanks Jon. I found a review on allaboutsymbian and it seems it's definitely located on top:

Quote from the review:

"GPS reception is good, the aerial is at the top of the device (better than N95 classic)"

Currently I've a 5500 that I use for running and biking with a bluetooth GPS and I would like to give the E66 the same use.

The Camera Fanatic said...

Great blog.

I own both the Nuvi 660 and the 760, I'm writing this review for people having trouble deciding between the two as the price difference between the two products at the time of this review is about 100 dollars. I'm not going to focus on the feature differences, as that information can be easily obtained from specifications and online reviews. The 660 was a fine product back in 2005-2006, but the new 760 outdoes the 660 in practically everything, but there are some key usability fixes that make the 760 a better buy for the frequent user.

1. 760 has much better fonts for street names than the 660. This may seem like a trivial update to some, but the 760's fonts greatly improve visibility. The 660 uses all capitalized text for street names on the map, and the font is incredibly cartoonish and unaligned, something like the scribbling Comic Sans font on the PC. The 760 uses your standard Verdana-like font with street names in capitalized and lowercase letters. The fonts on the 760 are smaller, cleaner and surprisingly much easier to read while driving. The maps end up looking professional, and not some cartoony children's video game.

2. 760 has better rendering in 3D map mode than the 660. In the 660 when you are zoomed in under 3D map mode, the roads close to your car are displayed incredibly large, so large that they run into other roads, making the zoom function essentially kind of useless for dense roads. The 760 does not oversize your roads just because you zoomed in to view smaller roads in detail. This fix is very nice for those who drive in places with dense roadways, like New York City.

3. No antenna on the 760 makes hooking up your Nuvi to the cradle one step easier. On the 660 you need to flip up the antenna before attaching the cradle. For people who park their cars on the street overnight, removing the GPS from the cradle for storage in the console or glove compartment is a must, and it's a lot easier hooking up the 760 to the cradle than the 660. It's hard to aim the 660 to its cradle in the dark as you have to align both the bottom edge and the charge port under the antenna. In the 760, the charge port is directly on the bottom of the unit; you can attach it to the cradle with one hand in the dark easily on the 760.

4. It takes the 660 a good 45 seconds on average (sometimes longer than 2 minutes) after boot up to locate the satellite on a cold start. If you have firmware 2.6 installed on the 760, the satellite acquisition time after boot up is between 10-20 seconds. After the firmware update, my 760 also holds a stronger lock to the satellites than my 660, I can get satellite lock inside my house with the 760, whereas I can't get a lock with my 660 (adjusting the antenna does very little).

5. The ability to set multiple ad hoc viapoints on the 760 means it's a lot easier creating alternate routes (very handy to avoid a specific interstate or a high traffic road). Whereas the 660 gives you just one viapoint.

UPDATE: This GPS is currently on sale at Amazon… now is your chance to buy one, if you haven’t already. You can find the product page here:

manglews said...
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