Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Sony Ericsson HGE-100
- Simple to use, excellent concept, good sound quality, Tracker application an ideal fitness companion
- Only works with certain Sony Ericsson phones, Wayfinder requires a fee for full use, user experience isn't the best on a small display
If you want a fully fledged GPS navigator, you are best off purchasing either a portable in-car unit or a handheld device with a larger screen. If you want to track your fitness data, then the HGE-100 may be worth a look.
The GPS navigation market continues to grow and Sony Ericsson has seen fit to delve into this popular category with the release of the HGE-100 ” a simple add on that turns most Sony Ericsson phones into a personal navigation system.
According to Sony Ericsson, the HGE-100 is the first personal GPS navigator to be built into a portable hands-free device, so it's certainly an interesting concept. The device looks much like a regular media headset, but it's the GPS function that is appealing. The HGE-100 gives you spoken directions through the stereo headset, or written directions on the phone display. Depending on what handset you own and the quality and size of the display, this feature may or may not be useful. We tested the HGE-100 on the Sony Ericsson W890i which has a rather small display for text-based directions. Unfortunately, the device only works on Sony Ericsson phone models, and not all are compatible. Check the Sony Ericsson Web site for further details.
Simply plugging in the HGE-100 and switching to GPS mode gives turns your phone into a device capable of receiving GPS satellite signals. Before you can use the GPS applications, you will need to install them. The first time you plug in the HGE-100 you will receive a prompt to download three applications — Tracker, GPS Location and Wayfinder. Unless your handset has Wi-Fi, these applications will be downloaded over the air using your phone's network connection, so be sure to check data charges with your carrier before proceeding — as these can be quite expensive.
The three applications are fairly straightforward and simple to use. Tracker is a fitness program that allows you to keep track of your speed, the distance travlled, route taken, and energy consumption during a training or workout session. Entering details such as your height, weight, year of birth and gender provides the program with information to calculate how much energy you have consumed, in addition to the time of your session, the pace and the distance. The program also displays the route you have taken. It's a nifty option to have in your pocket if you regularly train.
GPS location is the second application available for download and it is a simple application that provides information about visible satellites and your current position in terms of latitude and longitude. You can also view your current speed.
Finally, Wayfinder is an application that lets you navigate various routes, view your current location on a global map and it provides you with audio directions. You can use it to navigate on foot, by bicycle, in a car or even on public transport and you can search for your destination by the address, a company name or a POIs (Points of Interest). Unfortunately it's only a trial version of Wayfinder. A full upgrade to a lifetime navigation subscription costs 89 Euros. Although that doesn't seem too harsh considering it's a lifetime membership, we feel that the program itself doesn't have much to offer when compared to its competitors. In particular its search function is quite cumbersome — when looking for an address or particular place — and the map detail is quite poor.
As a media headset, the HGE-100 is above average in terms of performance, but not outstanding. Its five-way navigational pad for media control includes play/pause, previous/next and volume up/down and it features a stylish chrome finish and is comfortable to use. Sound quality from the ear buds is reasonable, with good bass levels and minimal distortion.
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