Marbella Geomate 500s: Review


[REVIEW] Following the Marbella VR2 Roadcorder, here is the review of Marbella Geomate 500S. I purchased the Geomate 500s in a bundle deal with Marbella’s VR2 for S$199 at Comex 2015. Since my purchase, I can have consciously looking out for Geomate 500s prices in the malls and on the net. So far, S$199 and a free car camera is still the best deal I can find. Nice!

As at October 2015, Marbella has 6 variations of GPS and Geomate 500s is probably the most likeable one. It has the fastest processor and most RAM in Marbella line-up and matches all other models in the specifications department. The more expensive ones such as UNAV series has integrated car camera function, which of course is better off as a separate device, also the UNAV 7 has a bigger screen. I think 5 inch is a nice size for car GPS, 7 inch is not bad but I think it tend to block up too much space around your dashboard.

How It Works:
If there is one thing to note about car GPS, is that it really connects to the satellite and it will not connect in indoor carparks. You can still get directions from the GPS indoor in its loaded map but it could not detect your current location. Instead it uses your last known position to provide directions.

As I found out, it is great if you would switch on the GPS everytime you are in the road so when you happen to get into a indoor carpark and requires directions, at least it knows your approximate location.

For this, Geomate 500s has a “Navi” mode which you don’t have enter a destination so it works like a live mode where it just shows where you are driving along on the map. “Navi” mode is very useful because sometimes I merely know my way around but don’t remember the road names, so it is useful to show  the road I am travelling on so it improves my knowledge of our local roads. Other times, if I had a rough idea of my route, I would turn on the mode so I can check my location when I get closer to my destination.

Navigating Experience:
“Routing” mode is probably GPS is known for, you could enter your destination and the GPS will show the exact route to the destination. Notes on the function;
    • Reality Junction - Very useful; shows you a picture of the Expressway exit with an arrow to show you to exit or not
    • Lane Assist - Very useful; for example, closer to the Expressway exit, it would display the a number of arrows representing each lane and if in each lane you could exit or continue straight
    • ERP Calculation - Not very useful; somehow, knowing the ERP in advance is not the top agenda unless of course you are running low on cashcard balance. There is also a mode that avoids ERP charges
    • Speed Camera Alert - Not useful at all; it shows a speed camera alert at almost all traffic lights and it does not show up all speed check cameras as well.
    • Refine Search / 100% Postal Code Search – It’s really easy to find a location so far. Except when I was looking for Garden By The Bay, the system had it spelled as “G’den…” or something along that line.
    • Point of Interest – Unless I are in a foreign country,. So far have not use it at all.  
    • Mid-Point – In theory useful but I haven’t had a situation where I need it. 
    • Maps of 70 countries – Unlikely that I will need this function anytime in the future.
    • Quarterly Updates of Map – Really important to have for the longevity of the device. I have not update the maps out of the box and for the last 3 months that I had the device, so it didn’t manage to really guide me around two locations, Stadium Drive and Punggol Marina Country Club.
I was looking for a device that’s cheap and tells a newbie driver like me how to get from point A to point B and perhaps show where I am travelling on from time to time. I could have used my Android phone but GPS mode takes lots of battery juice.
While its my choice of a car GPS, there are much to be improved. The 5” TFT screen coupled with a single core 800mHz and 256MB ram are underwhelming considering today’s technology. Worst, 500s is running on a Windows CE from early 2000s. But the same can be said for the car GPS market.
In the end, Marbella Geomate 500s does its job well and has proven to be a useful device to have on occasions to look for locations and nearby carparks.

Features: Multimedia Player, Ebook (Reading *.txt file from GPS), FM Transmitter, Calendar, Unit converter, Calculator, Games, Picture Viewer

Bundled Accessories: Stylus, USB Cable, Car Charger, Windows Suction and AV-in Cable.

FREE Lifetime Map Updates* Yes
MFM (Quarterly Updates)
SLA (Update every 3 months)
FREE Bundled Maps Yes

Processor SiRF Altas VI 800mHz
RAM 256MB dual core RAM
Display 5.0" 480 x 272 pixels, WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
Storage Built-in: 4GB NAND flash and
External: Micro SD Card (Up to 16GB)
Connectivity Bluetooth, AV (Audio Video) input
Battery Rechargeable lithium-ion
USB 2.0, Mini USB
Dimensions 132 (L) x 9.99 (W) x 90 (H) mm, 155g
Working Humidity 10% ~ 80%
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