Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting over SiRFstar III

SiRFstar IIIThe most common handheld GPS question I get these days is about chipsets. People agonize about buying a unit without the SiRFstar III chip, partly because GPS enthusiasts like me have long sung its praises. So it’s time to set the record straight, or at the very least give you my opinion on the newer chipsets being used in current GPS receivers.

First some background — up until couple of years ago, the SiRFstar III chipset was the gold standard for GPS receivers. Before this chip, reception in mountainous terrain and in other challenging conditions was often hit or miss. Manufacturers had to use the SiRFstar III or risk being ignored by the market. Then a patent dispute with Broadcom was settled, and not in SiRF’s favor either. Manufacturers began looking for high-sensitivity chipset alternatives, usually turning to MediaTek or STMicroelectronics.

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