Garmin Receiver Brings GPS to Smart Phones

Small device offers a way around handsets without--or with crippled--mapping.

Garmin GPS 10x
Garmin GPS 10x

There is an answer to Verizon's irritating ways. The carrier crippled the mapping function on my BlackBerry while leaving the maps program on the device. That was just to tease me, I guess.

Garmin has a GPS receiver that works with the BlackBerry, or many other smart phones. The Garmin GPS 10x receiver costs about $100 and brings the BlackBerry Maps program to life. The BlackBerry maps offer more basic navigation compared with a low-end, dedicated GPS device. It doesn't let you pan the map, for example, by using your finger on the touch-screen. But it can find where you are and plot a route to a destination. It can also map a nearby gas station, hotel, or other business.

All of this needs a live wireless connection and a data plan from the carrier. The BlackBerry is updating your location maps and answering queries about local points of interest over the cell connection.

The GPS receiver, smaller than a bundle of credit cards, connects to the BlackBerry via a wireless Bluetooth connection. It works well, though I did find myself having to reset the connection at times. It's a little cumbersome having a separate GPS receiver, but you can position it closer to a window for better satellite reception while keeping the maps themselves in hand. Still, it'd be best if Verizon would just turn on the GPS built into my BlackBerry.