Review Snapshot

Great value. Adaptable to different computers and operating systems. USB operation. Fast lock on to satellites


Some issues with Window 7 operating system. Waterproof only to a degree.


An amazing little gadget with thousands of applications.

Reviewed by:
Jackie Gay : A published novelist, editor and university teacher, Jackie has recently moved t...Member Reputation 177 • 198 active Krits
GlobatSat BU-353 USB GPS receiver from GlobalSat
GlobalSat BU 353 USB GPS Review
Jackie Gay rates this 4.5/5
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GlobatSat BU-353 USB GPS receiver detailed information
Product Details at Amazon ™

REVIEW: GlobalSat BU-353 USB GPS (Waterproof)

Most of us live in a world full of gadgets these days, many of which we take for granted.

But occasionally I come across something that is so amazing in its capacities that it is truly striking.

The GlobalSat BU-353 Waterproof USB GPS Receiver is one such device.

For only $28.71 you get a GPS receiver which can be plugged into your laptop or tablet (both Windows and Mac) and used with almost any mapping software to give you accurate details of your location, or the location of anything you might be trying to find.

Some of the features (and they are many) are: a built-in supercap for rapid acquisition of satellites; a roof magnet, an easy to use USB interface and a built-in GPS antenna.

Suitable for use in vehicle, marine and aviation navigation, there are also hundreds of commercial and community applications such as locating water, gas and electricity hardware (for servicing) and use by salespeople, servicing companies, fire trucks, the police, public transit and much more.

The BU-353 is water resistant and comes with 60" of cable so you can place it anywhere in the vehicle that is convenient. No need for batteries or external power source. Magnetic mounting for use on the roof of your car, with 'extremely high sensitivity, lower power usage and more rapid time-to-fix.'

And it even works in areas with weak signal tracking such as in cities surrounded by tall buildings or in mountainous areas.

'One of the most sensitive and accurate GPS receivers on the market today,' said the manufacturers. And it seems that this award winning product lives up to the claims.

I found satisfied customer reviews from all corners of the World.

'This GPS is awesome!' said a liveaboard sailor. 'I use navigation software to plan my passages and have been frustrated trying to use my handheld GPS with my laptop. I couldn't be happier with this new GPS. Awesome performance. I have tried several systems and this unit outperforms them.'

'I purchased this to use with my laptop for Marine Navigation. The USB installed seamlessly on Windows 7 and works great with Google Earth and OpenCPN. It accurately tracks my location at sea, provides wind, tide, current information and locks onto satellites very quickly, I couldn't be happier. If you're looking for a strong little GPS receiver this is the ticket.'

So ten out of ten for on the water performance. What about on the roads?

'I am a over-the-road truck driver and my blue-tooth gps unit started going out on me so I looked around for a replacement. I liked the idea of a usb unit as I had already tried the blue-tooth versions and the batteries just don't last well. I have driven all around the country and still had gps lock even in places where the road was next to a mountain cut-out on both sides. I would recommend this unit to anyone.'

Pretty good, then. And the fast acquisition of this device is a feature frequently commented upon.

'This is the fastest lock GPS device I have used,' said one customer, 'and I have used about a dozen.'

'I'm delighted,' said another. 'Two of my brothers have already ordered one each as a result of seeing mine in operation. We use them for navigating (using google earth on a netbook) in the B.C. "outback", where there are literally thousands of 'uncharted' forestry access roads.'

Sounds like fun!

And the commercial guys are using this product too:

'We utilize our laptops with this gps dongle, this allows us to get new employees up to speed quickly on where our valves and hydrants are,' said one company.

And given that there are hundreds of differently configured PCs out there running different software, the GlobalSat BU-353 copes very well with various operating systems.

'Excellent performing basic GPS receiver for use with computer,' said one reviewer. 'Started up and ran perfectly on four different PCs ranging from an Acer Netbook to a Dell Pentium 4 tower.'

There were some reports of compatibility issues with Windows 7. 

'The driver software included with this GPS reciever is unstable when using Windows 7,' said one customer.

Another fixed the issue relatively easily - 'solution: install the old drivers for Windows XP,' he advised - but you should be aware of this issue before purchasing.

And there are a few set up issues to consider too, such as adjusting the properties of your USB ports.

One customer found that this GPS didn't work well initially with Delorme prducts (eg Delorme's Street Atlas 2008), although, 'Now that the programs recognize it I can drive around and it tracks very well on my screen,' he says.

And others cautioned that the advertised 'waterproof' feature is not bomb-proof. 'I mounted the receiver on my trunk lid and it worked well... until it rained,' said one customer. 'Within 3 minutes after the steady rain started, it quit working. After drying it off, and putting it in the back window (inside the car) it did resume working after about a half hour or so.'

So maybe better to mount it inside your car if it's pouring...

But for the price and adaptability, this is a 'cracking gadget, extremely sensitive and relatively easy to set up,' said one happy buyer. 'As I sit in my lounge typing this with the GPS mouse connected I can see that it has a 'fix' with no less than 8 satellites ...'

In the words of one customer: 'By far the best value USB GPS receiver on the market and have no hesitation in recommending it.'

Go explore!
Date Reviewed: April 16, 2012, 10:49 am
Reviewed by Jackie Gay
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