Automotive Tech Guide

Holux GPSmile 53CL review

First Looks: Holux GPSmile 53CL

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Brings Out the Smile in You

Brings Out the Smile in You

You just forked out an incredible amount of money for that shiny new car of yours and one of the first additions you are thinking of putting in your car is a GPS unit. You're thinking a good GPS unit will go a long way in helping you save traveling time and fuel, but you have absolutely no idea where and what to look out for. To compound your purchase quandary even more is the concern of budget after having spent a considerable amount of money on deposit and downpayment. Affordable GPS units are the only ones you can look at.

Good Affordable

Now, cheap GPS units are a dime a dozen, but to find one that sells on a low-price proposition without a hefty penalty on features and software upgradeability is not easy. For a GPS device, software upgradeability is vitally important, especially in sprawling cities such as Singapore where roads are frequently altered and added to ease traffic conditions and to cater to development projects. It's a good thing then that we recently tested the Holux GPSmile 53CL car navigation system, because there is a good chance you will end up buying one - if not at least give it a strong consideration.

For its price of SGD$499, the Holux GPSmile 53CL is expectedly compact, but its screen, which measures 3.5 inches across diagonally, is decently sized such that you do not need to strain your eyes to make sense of things. As long as the unit is not mounted ridiculously far away from where you sit, you should have no problem reading map illustrations, road names and directional prompts off the screen. There's also no need for you to worry about the volume of the integrated speaker either. Unless you're the sort who drives with either the windows down or with your sound system at insane decibels, audio alerts and instructions from the Holux will be audible to you.

Ready to Use

Powering the navigation software in our test unit was MapKing! 2007 (Build 0817), which in this part of the world, represents simplicity and ease of use as it's widely used here.

Together with the built-in Mediatek MT3318 GPS chipset, the Holux GPSmile 53CL did not take long to acquire GPS signals and was reliable in guiding us to our destinations. A fairly fast 400MHz Samsung processor and sensitive touchscreen ensured that we did not experience undesirable lag from both the navigation software and supplementary applications such as the MP3 player, photo browser and eBook reader that read off SD cards that you may insert into the onboard SD card slot. Brightness of the screen and default speaker volume are both adjustable, but strangely enough, the MP3 player does not allow you to move forward within tracks; it's either to the next or previous music file.

Since it's essentially a Pocket PC, it can also be used to synchronize files and new maps can be used either by saving them into the SD card directly or through Holux GPSmile 53CL's SD card slot that is a card reader when connected to a PC via mini-USB cable.

Quick Setup

Given that it only weighs about 170 grams, there is no need for an elaborate mounting bracket to get the whole system up and running, and there's certainly no need for you to engage a professional for installation. What you get is a simple suction arm that is ended with a holder to let you mount the Holux within sight and reach. It might not look much but it was more than up to the task of keeping it pointed at us when we were out on the roads for trial runs. Its compact size and two chargers for power via wall plugs and car socket make it easy for drivers to chuck it into glove compartments for safekeeping and for convenient portability.


So there you have it, the Holux GPSmile 53CL is wallet friendly, software upgradeable (at least it is so for maps), compact and portable, responsive, and boasts music and photo support. Budget hunters who are considering to get an affordable GPS navigation system will have one more fine selection to choose from.