Fujitsu Siemens – Pocket LOOX N520 review

low cost but well designed GPS PDA
Photo of Fujitsu Siemens – Pocket LOOX N520
£346 (with NAVIGON), £269 (without NAVIGON)

There may be a PDA that has sleeker lines than the Fujitsu Siemens Pocket LOOX N520 but off-hand we are unable to think of one. It measures 71 x 116 x 14mm and much of the surface area is taken up with a 3.5-inch TFT colour screen which has a conventional resolution of 320 x 240 pixels.

The controls at the bottom of the screen are illuminated by a blue backlight, which makes them incredibly easy to find in the dark. The 146g weight is low, making this the sort of PDA that you would happily slip in your jacket pocket.

The rest of the specification consists of a 312MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor with 64MB RAM and 128MB ROM to give a total of 192MB. There’s also 802.11b/g wireless, GPS, an SD card slot and Windows Mobile 5. The Pocket LOOX N500 model has 64MB ROM and no wireless and costs about £50 less than the N520.

Neither model has Bluetooth, which is a bit of a surprise as we know that Bluetooth can be integrated in a Wi-Fi controller quite simply, so it may be that there is no space for a Bluetooth aerial inside the minimalist casing.

The Pocket LOOX N520 is supplied in a hefty box which contains a car mounting kit, a charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter, a protective cover, a charging cable, a synchronization cable and a retail package of NAVIGON MobileNavigator 5 on two DVDs. That’s a lot of kit for less than £350, and when you consider that the NAVIGON software accounts for £77 of the price, the PDA part of the package is incredibly cheap.

Installing the NAVIGON software takes a fair time as the USB 1.1 interface is relatively slow, but that pales into insignificance compared to the hassle of product activation which requires both a 37-digit Device ID and a 15-digit Serial code. This involves you toggling from letters to numbers and back again on the virtual keyboard.

Once you get past that stage you’ll find that the Pocket LOOX N520 is a pleasure to use, and the NAVIGON software is clear and straightforward.

There is no flip-up antenna for the GPS on the PDA so when you use the Fujitsu Siemens device in your car you may be wise to connect an external antenna to guarantee a decent signal. However, the SiRFStar III receiver helps here as it doesn’t require line-of-sight to the GPS satellites.

Company: Fujitsu Siemens

Contact: 01344 475125

We liked the Fujitsu Siemens Pocket LOOX N520, both as a PDA and as a GPS device. It's amazingly stylish and understated, so you don't feel as though you are using a 'bling bling' gadget but instead you have a business tool at your disposal. A cheap business tool, mind you, and one that is very good value indeed.