|Mobile Crossing WayPoint 200
GPS is coming on fast and furious not only in car
tech but also in the handheld market. PDAs with navigation
features are sprouting up across the board, from the Garmin iQue
M5 to the Mio 168RS to the Navman PiN, and now the Mobile
Crossing WayPoint 200. Unlike with other PDAs, the WayPoint's
GPS antenna isn't built into the device; instead, a Bluetooth
GPS receiver and a CompactFlash Bluetooth card are included. It
makes for a bit of a cumbersome setup, especially with the
myriad accessories and wires that come with the PDA. That said,
we were impressed by the WayPoint 200's solid performance and
accuracy as a navigation device--it's a pretty respectable PDA.
We just wish it weren't so expensive ($750). Plus, if you want
to travel beyond your home region, you have to pony up even more
cash to download additional maps.
With its midnight-blue and black color scheme, the Mobile
Crossing WayPoint 200's design looks better suited for the great
outdoors than the boardroom. To complete its rugged look, it
sports a sturdy aluminum casing and a rubberized back and bottom
edge for easy gripping. The company markets the device as a
navigation handheld first and a Pocket PC second, so the design
makes perfect sense. The WayPoint 200 is easily pocketable and
relatively light at 5.3 by 3.1 by 0.6 inches and 6.2 ounces.
The main attraction is the 3.5-inch TFT display, which shows off
65,535 colors and a 320x240-pixel resolution. Sounds like any
other PDA, right? True, except it features smart technology that
improves day brightness when the device is docked and powered by
the vehicle mount. Plus, the WayPoint automatically readjusts
the color scheme of maps, depending on whether it's day or
night. In our tests, the WayPoint impressed us with these
capabilities, and we had no problems seeing what was on the
screen in direct sunlight, which is a common problem with PDAs
and GPS devices. However, we weren't impressed by the fact that
the display had a tendency to hold a lot of smudges and
fingerprints, so keep a screen chamois nearby.
Depending on what mode you are in (Pocket PC or GPS), you'll
find four shortcut keys that launch 12 different functions below
the screen. In Pocket PC mode, you can access your calendar,
contacts, tasks, and the WayPoint mapping program. When you are
in WayPoint mode and using the GPS functions, the shortcut keys
will open your favorite destinations, detour rerouting, display
information (that is, speed and location), and access to the
TrafficWatch and weather programs. Alternatively, by holding
down these buttons, you can set your current location as a
favorite, display the nearest seven points of interest (POI),
call up an upcoming turn, and access traffic and weather
options, respectively. There is a four-way toggle beneath the
shortcut keys but, unfortunately, no center Select button.
Completing the front of the device are three small battery,
alert, and signal LEDs at the top, as well as the power button.
On the left side of the WayPoint 200, there is a voice-record
button, a reset hole, and a jog dial. The dial is particularly
handy, since you can use it to navigate the menus, and unlike
the toggle on the front, it functions as an OK key when pressed.
In addition, you can use it to zoom in and out of maps.
Finishing out the design components are a standard headphone
jack, dual expansion slots (CompactFlash and SD/MMC), an
infrared port, a stylus holder on the top, and a
user-replaceable battery on the back.
Mobile Crossing was generous with the accessories included in
the box. You get a Bluetooth GPS receiver, a Bluetooth
CompactFlash card, a desktop cradle, a vehicle mount, a power
adapter, a USB cable, and a car charger. Strangely absent was a
protective case. We must also warn you that when you first
unpack the contents of the package, you may be overwhelmed by
the mess of wires, and it can be confusing to determine what
connects to what. In fact, reading the quick-start guide may
bring back bad memories of when you tried to assemble your kid's
tricycle for Christmas.
Mobile Crossing markets its WayPoint 200 as a
"personal navigation system that also happens to be a fully
Windows Mobile-compatible handheld," so the emphasis is on GPS.
That said, the WayPoint 200 is a respectable Pocket PC. Powered
by a 400MHz Intel PXA260 XScale processor, the handheld comes
equipped with Windows Mobile 2003, 32MB of flash ROM, and 64MB
of RAM. You get the usual programs, including Pocket Word and
Excel, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft
Reader, plus a couple of extra utilities, such as Gizmo Backup
The real stars, of course, are the navigation
features. Unlike with other PDA/GPS devices we've seen, you
don't get a software CD with maps of the United States. Instead,
Mobile Crossing delivers your WayPoint 200 with integrated maps
of your home region, as indicated at the point of purchase, so
there's no need for transferring maps. And if your travels take
you beyond your home area, you can purchase more regional maps
from the company's Web site. Although it was convenient to be
able to use the device right out of the box, we weren't thrilled
with the fact that we'd have to spend more money for additional
maps ($19.95 for the second region, $9.95 for any additional
maps), especially when the handheld already costs so much.
You get all the standard functionality: text
and voice-guide directions (see Performance); automatic
rerouting; and a wide-ranging POI database that includes gas
stations, ATMs, campgrounds, sports stadiums, wineries, and
more. You can create directions by address, intersection,
favorites, and your contacts list, as well as avoid certain
routes, such as toll roads and areas of construction.
All those features are standard fare in
today's PDA/GPS combos, but the WayPoint 200 kicks it up a notch
by including a one-year subscription to its TrafficWatch and
WeatherUnderground services, which costs $69 per year after the
complimentary period is up. With these services, you can get
real-time traffic and weather information, but you'll need to be
connected to the Web to download data. The other catch is the
traffic service is available in only a limited number of cities,
including Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and Minneapolis.
Overall, from a performance perspective, the Mobile Crossing
WayPoint 200 makes a good navigation device, first and foremost.
On top of that, it can be a good, basic PDA, as long as you
don't expect a lot of entertainment out of it. The WayPoint 200
performed slightly below our expectations in CNET Labs' tests,
scoring about 10 percent less in Spb Benchmark tests overall
than other Pocket PCs with the same processor speed. Formal
tests aside, the WayPoint 200 didn't lag in real-world use--all
applications opened up quickly, and the device offers very good
The WayPoint 200 also has excellent battery life. In our drain
test, where we let the device play a looped video clip with the
brightness and sound set to High level, the WayPoint lasted more
than 9 hours. And since our test is designed to drain the
battery as soon as possible, you can expect two or even three
times the battery life from a single charge with casual use.
We took the WayPoint 200 for a test-drive in the San Francisco
area, and on the whole, the news is good. Using the included
CompactFlash Bluetooth card, the device had no problem locating
and pairing with the Bluetooth GPS receiver. The device locked
on to the required satellites within 45 seconds from a cold
start and 30 seconds or less on subsequent tries--overall, we
were truly impressed by the strength of the receiver. We never
lost a signal, even as we drove through a downtown area heavily
populated by skyscrapers, but it wasn't powerful enough to
survive a trip through a tunnel.
The Mobile Crossing WayPoint 200's accuracy was flawless in
locating our position, and voice-guided directions were spot-on
as well. It should be noted that the WayPoint 200 doesn't use
the usual computerized-sounding text-to-speech directions;
instead, it uses the voice of Jean Fox. While she sounds
pleasant enough, we swore we sensed a tone of urgency when we
missed our turn. Couple that with all the various alerts that
sound off when you veer off track, and it becomes a bit
unnerving. After a few tweaks in the Settings menu to mute some
of the alarms, however, we were on track to a more peaceful