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Over the past years the cost of installing a GPS car navigation system
has declined. Today, more and more people are taking advantage of
the low prices and many applications the car GPS devices have to
offer and add GPS devices to their cars.
With a GPS car navigation system you know where you are, and you
can easily reach a desired location. You can plan a trip and keep
track of where you are at every given moment. Manufacturers such
as Garmin and TomTom have combined GPS signals with existing
data and map information for complex mathematical algorithms to
create systems that can be used for navigation on the roads and
highways. These car navigation systems can be installed in any car
in minutes, enabling you to use them to plan trips, and prevent you
from getting lost on the roads. By being combined with other data,
such as trafficking new wires, GPS car navigation systems can
warn drivers about traffic congestion and provide alternate routes
in real time.
There is a huge number of car navigation systems, designed to meet
the versatile needs of today's drivers. From basic models, through
the expensive and highly accurate systems, to the professional units
which can handle large amounts of data.
Some PDA GPS models can be used in cars and an increasing number
of cellular phones have GPS as a standard feature. On the whole,
although these devices have GPS built, it is not the same level as a
built-in system, and while it can help you know where you are, it will
not provide accurate enough data for planning routes.
In-car GPS navigation systems are marvellous pieces of technology,
going far beyond the simple but fundamentally useful ability to give
accurate directions to a destination. Many high-end systems for car
navigation GPS include a wide range of features to make travel as
easy and convenient as possible. The latest units are designed to
guide you safely around backed-up traffic and accident sites, tell you
where the nearest coffee shop is, and even act as a Bluetooth
hands-free kit for your mobile phone.
When you buy a GPS device for your car it would be wise to take a
few things in consideration. For example, the user interface. A large
safety and convenience feature is how easy the unit is to interact
with. Many new higher end products such as the Garmin 2720 have
text-to-speech ability. Check that the voice used is not irritating, and
whether there are options of voice personalities. It's amazing how
many users turn audible alerts off because of an irritating voice tone.
Most in-car navigation systems operate using a combination of DVD
maps and GPS updates. Earlier models contained only a CD drive,
and this may have been the reason behind the poor resolution maps.
With todays models sporting a much improved DVD drive, the maps
are of high-resolution.
As for portability, some models of car navigation systems are
designed to fit neatly into the dash. Others are dash mounted with
permanent fittings, whilst others fit snugly into cradles, which
provide for out of vehicle use. This is especially useful for off-road
vehicle users. For those navigation systems that are portable, check
how they connect to both the car and the car AV and power systems.
Look for good quality cradles and output jacks to plug neatly into
CD/DVD receivers rather than suction cups and ugly wires that plug
into the cigarette lighter.
Better still, portable Bluetooth GPS receivers are available and may
also extend the option to using a PDA navigation program to give
even more functional flexibility. With a little bit of bolt and tackle the
PDA is easily adapted to become the vehicle's GPS receiver using a
hot-pluggable slot in the dash, that serves a bit like a server hard
drive to automatically connect with the PDA.
When you buy a new GPS unit for your car, check its system
* Ease of inputing destination and enroute waypoint address
* The number of locations that can be stored for future re-use
* State the car must be in to enter data
* Cancelling and beginning another route
* Ability to transfer data using a phone call to your cellphone when
leaving the car
Most production vehicle systems require the car to be stationary to
enter new destination addresses. This is a good driver-safety feature
but is frustrating if one has passengers capable of acting as
navigator programmers. Others will allow en-route programming
once the Indemnity Statement has been accepted. Portable systems
do not have this lock system.
The different car GPS systems have different alerting functions.
Check these alerts and see if they fit your needs. For example, car
start alert which sometimes uses an annoying screen that pops up
whenever the car is started to remind the driver that using any part
of this car's onscreen interface while driving is dangerous. Enroute
alerts that include intersection turning points, points of interest,
nearest category locations and so on. Also, traffic alerts with build
ups or delays en-route, mapping an alternate route to avoid delays
and rush hour traffic.
Program updates are essential, though they might be expensive.
Fortunately, forward thinking manufacturers such as Magellan
provide system updates by attaching the system to a computer with
a DVD drive and uploading the software.
The search features of your car's GPS system are very important as
well. Things like points of interest, standard types of locations such
ATM, gas station, hardware store, etc which are programmed into the
system and can be displayed as an option. Breadcrumb paths -
marking paths previously travelled when the street is not on the
map. In maps of large cities, some suburban subdivisions and smaller
roads are not on the map, so when you drive onto an un-chartered
street, the map places dots along the path to indicate where the
road would have been displayed, if included.
If you have multiple users and uses for your navigation system,
having the ability to set user preferences is very useful. The Magellan
portable navigation system has the ability to set preferences for 3
separate users and is extremely useful when travelling away from
home. Pack it in the bag and plug into the rental car.
Overall, car navigation systems offer a range of individual features
so it pays to compare closely and align with your particular needs.