Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pros and Cons of PDA-based GPS Receivers

Since I’m running my first review of a PDA-based GPS receiver today, I thought I would briefly cover the advantages and disadvantages of these units, compared to traditional handheld GPS receivers:


  • Ability to display raster maps.
  • Can perform more functions (word processor, datebook, MP3 player, Bluetooth, etc.).
  • Larger screen.


  • More fragile than most handheld GPS receivers, which are "ruggedized." This is primarily due to the touch screen.
  • Shorter battery life than most handheld GPS receivers.

The bottom line is that these can be a good solution for automotive navigation or paperless geocaching, but they aren’t a good choice for backcountry navigation.

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Andrew Greenhalgh says:

    Setting out on the Tahoe Rim Trail in couple of week s with a brand new SiiRF III enabled MITAC MIO A701. I agree with your trade off commentary above but I want to carry one device with me that is GPS, phone and map. I am avoiding the major power issue by carrying 3 batteries (much lighter than 2 full devices).
    Question though – I have downloaded a bunch of 24K Topo maps to the device using TOPO! on the PC and Pocket TOPO! on the PPC Mio device. The maps download and view fine but none of the waypoints that I can see in the PC TOPO! application are visible within Pocket TOPO! on the MIO device.
    Any thoughts why ?

  2. Andrew,
    Sorry, I haven’t used Pocket TOPO! You might find users at
    A search for “Pocket TOPO” (in quotes) turns up a number of threads. Strange as it seems, it may be that Pocket TOPO doesn’t allow transfer of waypoints. OziExplorer and OziCE is an alternative, but involves more work downloading maps.
    I’ll be on the TRT next week BTW. The wife and I are biking multiple trails in the area, including TRT from Tahoe Meadows to (and including) the Flume.

  3. Check about Pen reader Touch. It would really be a great combination with PDAs.

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