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GlobalSat's GV-370 GPS receiver is a bargain priced good entry level unit, with lots to like and little to dislike.

If you've been uncertain about GPS technology, this unit, at less than $200, might be a great way to carefully enter the market and see if you find the concept useful.

 
 
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GlobalSat GV370 GPS review

Recommended best value entry level unit
 

The GlobalSat GV-370 has a 3.5" screen - the same screen as the Via Michelin X-930, but with much better use of screen space.

The unit is easy to use and better than the Via Michelin unit in every respect.

Part of our series on GPS - additional articles to be published in coming weeks - see links on the right.

 

 

Sometimes available for less than $200 (currently as little as $170 on Amazon), the GlobalSat GV-370 is a bargain priced unit that works well.

Although there's nothing brilliantly special about it, with such a low price, and nothing startlingly bad to offset the generally positive impression we have of the unit, we recommend it as being the best value entry level unit unit currently on the market today (Aug 07).


The GlobalSat GV-370 - What You Get

The GV-370 comes in a nice box, with its attractive design slightly marred by the prominent spelling of the device as a 'Navagator' (rather than Navigator).  Elsewhere it refers to a 'Windsheild' mount (rather than Windshield).

Opening up the box shows a full kit of goodies inside.  In addition to the unit itself, there's a somewhat cumbersome two part windshield/dash suction mounting device, a car power adapter, a mains power adapter, a USB cable, and a DVD with a copy of the map data and some software drivers on it.

There's also an attractive 16 page color Quick Start guide, and notwithstanding the spelling errors on the box, the English is excellent and so too is the spelling.  A more complete 51 page manual is on the CD and/or can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website.

Map data is provided on a supplied 2GB SD card.

One minor omission (inasmuch as it is rarely included with GPS units) was some sort of a carrying case.  This would be useful if you were planning on traveling with the unit on a regular basis.  A carry pouch can be purchased from the manufacturer's website however, for the very reasonable cost of $10.

The unit has a one year warranty provided.

Using the Unit

Mounting the GV-370 was a fairly easy procedure, with the mounting bracket being able to twist and turn in most directions to ensure a good convenient and secure location was used for mounting the unit.

After inserting the SD card and turning it on, the unit quickly found sufficient satellites and started providing location data.

The unit I'd been testing the week before testing this one had a 7" screen (ie four times more screen area than this unit's 3.5" screen) and so I immediately noticed the smaller screen size, but when placing the unit alongside a Garmin Nuvi 680 with a 4.3" screen, the difference in size wasn't nearly as apparent.  I still prefer the 4.3" screen sized units, but to get this extra screen real-estate, you'll be paying two or three times more money, so for casual users and people on a budget, you might choose to stick with a 3.5" screen and keep the extra cash in your pocket.

The one implication of the smaller screen that is most noticeable (and unavoidable) is the smaller 'hot zones' for each of the touch controls on the screen.  If you have a big clumsy finger or thumb, and if the car should move slightly while you are reaching over to enter a selection, you might well end up making the wrong choice.  Recognizing this issue, the unit comes complete with a stylus that can be used to more precisely select choices.

Most of the time, making the wrong choice is no big deal - you simply return back to the previous screen, or backspace to correct the wrong letter entered.  But there's one time when you absolutely don't want to make the wrong choice, although the several times we did this were not due to us hitting the wrong space, but misunderstanding what the option meant.  This is when you go to the screen calibration routine - described simply as 'Screen' in the setup menu.

We'd thought this might give us options as to what data appeared on the screen, or brightness/contrast/color choices, or who knows what else.  Nope.  Choosing this option takes you directly to a screen calibration page with no way to cancel and return back, and you then have to exactly touch and hold on cross-hair marked locations five times to calibrate the screen.  If you're driving, this means your unit is stuck, useless, until you pull over to the side of the road and carefully do this while stationary.

The data that is presented on the main mapping screen is helpful, appropriate, and easy to understand.  And, very sensibly, much of the data is semi-transparent so you can still see some details of the map that would otherwise be obscured by the data overlays.  This is a great way of getting maximum possible use out of the limited screen size, and is much better than the inferior-in-all-respects but similarly sized and priced Via Michelin X930.

The unit doesn't have quite as much zoom flexibility as the Nuvi does.  The Nuvi zooms from 120' to 800 miles (per measured unit of screen) in 23 steps, with each step being about one and a half times the previous scale.  The GV-370 zooms from 100' to 10 miles in 9 steps, with each step being twice as big a scale (or slightly more) than the preceding scale.  To compare apples with apples, the Garmin Nuvi unit takes 15 steps to go from 120 ft to 12 miles, the GV-370 takes 9 steps to go from 100 ft to 10 miles.

While there's little use to being able to zoom out as far as 800 miles, a 10 mile limitation is sometimes too restrictive, especially if you're doing a long across-country drive on the freeway, and with the smaller screen, the ability to more carefully fine tune the zoom levels might be helpful.

The screen colors weren't as bright on the GV-370 as on the Nuvi 680 - they were more pastel, making it easier for them to wash out in bright sunlight.  The GV-370 also showed less differentiation between private roads and alleyways, minor roads, and major roads than did the Garmin 680 - all three categories of road were often shown identically on the GV-370, but were all shown differently on the Garmin, making it easier to get a quick 'snapshot' view of where you were and which roads were important and worth looking out for.

The unit doesn't handle automatically powering off at all well.  Other units will switch on and off automatically as/when power is applied to the unit and taken away (ie caused by the ignition key going on or off), and some units are clever enough as to power down if there's been no movement for some minutes.  But this unit doesn't power on/off in synch with power to the unit, and if you set its auto-power off feature, it will power off after the specified period of time, whether the unit is in a moving vehicle or not, and whether the unit is actively navigating you to a destination or not.  Someone just didn't even start to think this issue all the way through.

But, casting these niggles to one side, and viewing the unit through the lens of its remarkably low street price, the key impression is of a very good entry level unit with at least as much functionality as other units costing up to twice as much money, and a generally sensible and easily understood layout of menu screens and controls.  Sure, there's no Bluetooth, and it doesn't pronounce road names, but if these features are important to you, be prepared to pay substantially more money.

The Bottom Line

This is an excellent 'good all rounder' with few flaws and a lot to like.  Easy to use, and very well priced, we rate it as a 'Best Buy' and the best value unit currently available in the entry level, 3.5" screen category.

Great for people seeking a first time low cost GPS, or for people wanting a second GPS, eg to take with them when traveling elsewhere in the US and hiring rental cars.

Feature Analysis
 

Feature

Test Unit

Model

GlobalSat GV-370

Price

Shown as available for $359.99 on the manufacturer's website.

Available for $315 through Amazon, and (still as a new unit) for under $200 if you choose their 'used and new' option - currently it is an amazing bargain at only $170.

Review Date/Details

August 2007.

It came with firmware version E-PPC-0D-0702261, which amazingly proved to be the current firmware version available from the manufacturer's website.

The unit reported it was using IntelliNav version 1.00.07, with copyright dates through 2006, and Navteq mapping data showing a copyright date of 2005.  GlobalSat said that although it shows a 2005 copyright, in actual fact the map data was updated in 2006.

Warranty

One year.

Support

Through GlobalSat's website or via their toll free support - (888)323-8730, 8am - 5pm Pacific time, Monday - Friday.

It was quick and easy to get through to a representative, who seemed to be locally based in California where the company has its US office.  He was friendly but not particularly knowledgeable (but this may be due to the company not providing him with answers to questions such as upgrade policies).

Inclusions

The unit comes with a complete package of just about everything you're likely to need :

  • The unit itself

  • Windshield or dash mounting adapter

  • Car power supply

  • USB cable

  • AC charger

  • Quick reference guide

  • DVD with map data and related software

  • 2 GB SD card with map data preloaded

Runs out of the box

As soon as you've plugged the SD card into the unit, it is ready to go.

A simple straightforward operating system makes the unit almost intuitive in use, so there's very little learning curve needed to start using it productively.

Size

The unit measures 4.2" x 3.3" x 1.0".

Weight

The unit by itself weighs 6.7oz.  The unit complete with screen mounting hardware and power cable weighs 13.8 oz.

As such, the unit is well suited to pack and take with you when traveling.  It is neither particularly bulky nor heavy.

Mounting Accessories

The unit comes with a two piece suction cup mounting accessory to mount on the dash.  A cradle clips into the suction mount, and the unit then clips into the cradle.

The cradle held the unit fairly loosely.  It was easy to take the unit in and out of the cradle.

The suction cup mount was easy to affix to the windshield and provided a positive strong mounting point.

GlobalSat also sell a vent mount adapter that allows you to situate the unit on an air vent.  In some ways this is a preferable mounting method (and essential in states that outlaw windshield mounting) because it makes the unit less obvious to casual prowlers looking for cars to break into.

Extra windshield mounts can be purchased for $16 and vent mounts for $15 on their website.  Note that you'd also have to buy an extra cradle too if you were wanting to conveniently swap the unit between two different mounts (ie in two different cars), these are $7 each.

Screen Size

3.5" diagonal screen

2.1" x 2.8" =  3:4 aspect ratio

Screen Pixels

240 x 320 pixels.

114 pixels/inch vertically

114 pixels/inch horizontally

This is a good pixel resolution - better than most computer screens, but not quite as good as the Nuvi 680.

Screen Colors

65,536 (16 bit)

Screen Visibility

The screen is only moderately clear and easy to read.  It doesn't use strong colors - instead it uses light colors, and so the lack of color contrast makes it easy for the screen to be washed out in bright light.

Good pixel density makes for a sharp image.

Screen Backlighting

Yes, six levels offered.

Day/Night Mode

You can choose between having the unit automatically switch between day and night (time of day dependent) or you can manually switch it over as you wish.

Night colors are darker and deeper.  Reducing the brightness is often helpful at night, too.

Controls

In addition to the touch screen, the unit has five buttons on its front, a scroll wheel/rocker on the side and a master On/Off switch on the back.

Two of the buttons on the front are somewhat unnecessary - they are zoom in/out buttons, which are duplicated on the map screen, and the mute button is also duplicated on the map screen, but not elsewhere, and so adds very limited extra value.

One of the other buttons is a 'home page' button that takes you to the main menu screen from anywhere, and the other is a power button.

The scroll wheel on the side is for adjusting the volume.

Interactive help files available

No

Limited functionality when moving

No

Graphics processor speed

Excellent

GPS Receiver

SiRF Star III

Max number of satellites simultaneously tracked

Up to 20

WAAS enhanced

Yes

Dead reckoning capability

No

Satellite display

Yes, two different ways.

The color of the car cursor changes based on the number of satellites being tracked.  Green indicates four or more satellites, yellow means three, red means one or two, and gray means no satellites.

You can also access a satellite status page that gives information on how many satellites are being received, plus your latitude, longitude, altitude, speed, and time.

Accuracy calculation

No

Can the unit show you your current latitude and longitude and compass heading

Yes, the GPS info screen shows latitude, longitude, altitude, speed, number of satellites and satellite based time (ie very accurate).

Compass heading is not shown, although the map screens do include a north pointer.

Can the unit show you your current altitude

Yes, it shows altitude in feet on the satellite information page.

Can the unit show you the exact time

Yes

External antenna capability

Yes.  The unit uses an MMCX type connector.

CPU processor speed

Samsung S23C2410 266 MHz.  Uses Windows CE.NET 4.2 Core OS.  Has 64MB of NAND flash and 64MB of SDRAM.

The processor is lightning fast for route recalculations, faster even than the Garmin Nuvi 680.

Trip Computer functions

None

Battery Type

Lithium Ion, 1400 mAh capacity.

Battery Life

The manufacturer says the battery is good for 2.5 hours.

I've used the unit on battery for over 2.5 hours and still had one of the three power bars in the battery power meter remaining after this usage (with the screen set to moderately bright), so this is a delightful example of a conservative rather than unfairly optimistic battery life specification.

Power Input

The unit is powered either from its built in rechargeable battery or from an external power source, which feeds power through the unit's USB port.

The unit comes complete with a mains power adapter, a car power adapter, and a USB cable to connect to, eg, a computer.

The unit therefore has maximum flexibility in terms of power sources (plus a long life battery) with you not needing to buy anything extra to derive full benefit from its standard simple USB power input.  Well done, GlobalSat.

Auto Power On/Off

No.  And when you do power the unit back on, you have to then move from the 'main' screen to the map screen.

 

Mapping

Map provider

Navteq

Countries provided

US, Canada, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Update policy, frequency and cost

They were unable to tell me what their update policy, frequency, or cost would be.

Other countries also available

Yes.  In theory they also offer a European SD card, but were unable to tell me how much it sells for.

How is map data loaded into the GPS receiver

Map data is loaded from the SD card, nothing is stored in the unit itself.

Can the entire US be loaded into the unit

Yes.  The supplied 2GB SD card holds all of the US and Canada.

Speaks Directions

Yes

Speaks Street Names

No.  It will speak some numbered highways, but not street names.

Languages spoken

The system can display prompts in 8 different languages.

It can speak directions in 3 different languages - English, French and Spanish.  The English language option is English accented English with a female voice.

2D/3D

Yes, you can choose between these options.

Can you choose between North up or Direction of Travel up

Yes

Split screen mode

No

Map Scale Shown

Yes

There is no auto-zoom feature.

Number of POIs provided

They say 'more than a million' points of interest, but were unable to be more specific.

Number of user POIs that can be added

You can't add extra POI information.  If you wish to add extra information, this has to be in the form of favorites.

POI information includes phone number

Yes

POI proximity alert

No

Speed limit warner

Yes - you can enter a speed for it to sound an alert tone, or set it to 'Auto' (and it then alerts you for speeds depending on road type - but these speeds aren't necessarily the same as the posted speeds, making it a fairly useless feature).

The speed alert feature can also be completely disabled.

Does it show both miles and kilometers

Yes

 

Route Planning

How to enter addresses and other data

The touch screen displays an ABCD style keyboard.

As you type in a name, it displays a list of matching results which you can then choose from, rather than type in the full name.

It is actually a nice and helpful interface for data entry.

Can you build a multi-stop journey with waypoints

Yes

Will it solve the 'traveling salesman' puzzle

No

Can you program assumed speeds for different road types, and if so, how many different road types?

No.

The unit's default settings are not very accurate and while it shows ETA data, it is not something you can realistically rely on.

Can you choose different settings for different types of vehicles

No

Can you program preferences for road/route types

Yes, you can choose to include or exclude ferries, toll roads and carpool lanes, and can also select a reduced amount of turns or normal turns.

Does the unit present you with multiple route choices to choose from

No

Can you choose between fastest/quickest and shortest route options

Yes, you can program in a choice for quickest, major roads preferred, shortest, or local route preferred.

Will it show breadcrumb trails?

No

 

Extra Features

Bluetooth

No

Export data to laptop

Although it has a USB port, data can not be imported or exported.  The USB port seems to be mainly for power supply purposes.

Can it play MP3 or other digital audio

Yes, it can play mp3 audio files.

Can it play MP4 or other digital video

Yes, it can show mpg format video.

Can it display pictures

Yes - in jpg format.

Integrated with real time traffic reporting

No

Integrated with other location services

No

Other features

The unit comes with a stylus to make it easier to tap in data on the small touch screen.

 

Read more in the GPS articles series

See the links at the top right of the page to visit other articles in our GPS series.

 

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Originally published 31 August 2007, last update 02 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 

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