Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Use your Nokia N95 as a Bluetooth GPS receiver and modem for your N800

I was sent a Nokia N800 to evaluate as part of the Nokia Nseries Blogger Relations program and have used it off and on for a couple of months, but after updating the device to the latest OS 2008 and preparing for CES I discovered the real power of the device. I am actually putting together an extended article on the N800 that should go live early next week. I also found the N95-1 to be such a compelling device that I recently purchased a Nokia N95-3 from to take advantage of the HSDPA speeds here in the U.S. As I was messing around with both devices tonight I discovered something that just lightened my gear bag load and that you may find useful as you hit the road with a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet and a Nokia N95.

The N800 with OS 2008 is similar in specs to the N810, except the N810 has an integrated GPS radio, slide-down keyboard, and a single Secure Digital slot with 2GB of onboard memory. The N800 has two integrated Secure Digital slots and I just recently added two 8GB SD cards for a total external storage capacity of 16GB as I attempt to turn the N800 into my mobile media and workhorse device. You can find the N800 for as low as US$228 online while the N810 is still priced at about US$400+. So there are a couple of compelling reasons (higher external storage capacity and lower price) why you may still want to pick up a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet.

If you also own a Nokia N95 (version 1 (EDGE data in U.S.) or version 3 (HSDPA data in U.S.)) then you can add GPS navigation to the N800 through Bluetooth connectivity. Simply download and install the Symarctic ExtGPS beta application on your Nokia N95. This will actually work with the Nokia E90 or 6110 devices too as they have integrated GPS receivers, but I don’t have them to test the application. Symarctic ExtGPS is primarily designed for you to use a Windows, Mac, or Linux PC with your S60 device as the external GPS receiver. But, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it with the Nokia N800 as well. However, besides just pairing via Bluetooth for the GPS receiver I also needed to pair the two in order to use the Nokia N95-3 as a wireless data modem for the N800 to dynamically download maps as I drove around. I wasn’t quite sure if the dual Bluetooth connections would work and at first it did not until I connected in the right order.

To get this working with your N800 and N95, simply launch Symarctic ExtGPS on your Nokia N95 after making sure that the Bluetooth radio is on for both the N95/S60 device and N800. Then launch Maemo Mapper on your Nokia N800 (comes preloaded with the OS 2008 build). As you can see in my video, I already had the settings established and Maemo Mapper found my N95-3 GPS within a second or two. The first time you setup Maemo Mapper, go to Settings and in the GPS tab select Scan over on the right side to scan for your S60 device. Select your device and then tap on OK to save the setting. Then go back to the menu and select GPS>Enable GPS to make the connection to your S60 device. That’s it for the GPS part, now you will need a data connection to download maps as you drive or travel around.Tap on the connectivity settings icon and choose Select Connection. Tap on the connection you have for your N95/S60 device and select Connect. You should now have both a GPS and wireless data connection going to from your Nokia N800 to your N95/S60 device. It really is quite simple and yet quite powerful.I did find that it does take some time to download the satellite and hybrid maps in Maemo Mapper so you may want to even preload maps before traveling and use the wireless data connection for email or surfing (only done by your passenger) while using the GPS. BTW, you have a decent selection of map formats in Maemo Mapper, such as Google street/satellite/hybrid and Virtual Earth street/satellite/hybrid.

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