Monday, December 04, 2006

In Car Navigation

I, like my father before me, had to walk to school. Uphill both ways and in the snow. That all changed when I bought my first car, now I was driving uphill both ways in the snow. And when I get lost driving, I had to read the map. I got good at it too, and after years of practice I could even fold it back up. So, when my sister moved from Maryland to Orlando, do you think she bought a Florida map? Nope, she got her one of them there fancy GPS things.

GPS stands for Global Position System. It is a satellite navigation system that can tell you exactly (just about) where you are on the earth. In the beginning, it gave you your latitude and longitude. But now, they have built in maps, so it can tell you what road you are on. There are lots of different GPS units; I am going to focus on the in car plug and play navigation units for your car in this article. By plug and play, I mean there is no permanent installation. Just stick it to the dash or windshield and plug into the cigarette lighter.

I could spend the next couple of paragraphs outlining the features of these navigation systems, but Crutchfield already has a great guide to the plug and play navigation systems, which and be found here…

They also have a little demo of a unit,

I also highly recommend Crutchfield as a place to buy. Their prices maybe a little higher, but they provide great customer service.

Let’s say you are like me and have no problems reading a map, what good will a GPS do? The big selling point for me is the voice navigation. Pretend you’ve read the map and you know what road you are looking for, but you are unfamiliar with the area. It is nighttime and it just started raining and no matter how hard you squint, you just can see the road sign until you’re at the road. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a voice telling you your road is the next right turn? No map does that.

I personally use Garmin GPS units, and is the company I recommend. I have no affiliation with Garmin. My family has purchased two Garmin Units, specifically the Garmin StreetPilot c330. They are retailing for $299.99 on (at the time of this writing, there are out of stock at Crutchfield). My family bought the c330 because of the easy of use. One unit went to my not-so-tech-savvy mom and not-so-tech-savvy sister. My dad’s care came with one built in and, remember, I can read maps. Arik Hesseldahl, of Forbes, also agrees in his article, “The Easiest Car Navigation System”. The c330 also has a 4.5 starts out of 5 on, and this is out of 262 reviews.

I have also read good things about the Garmin StreetPilot i5. Specifically, from an educational blog I read, This unit is retailing for $279.99 on and also has 4.5 stars with 192 reviews. I have no personal experience with us unit, but would be one I personal would consider buying.

I have heard negative things about one unit; the Tom Tom. You may have seen the [annoying] commercials for these units; they are making a big holiday push. This was according to the person installing our two GPS units; my family prefers to have the power cords hidden behind the dash. He has observed, the Tom Tom being the most serviced and returned in car navigation unit. However, your mileage may vary.

If you decide to go a different route, do a little research. I would Google “in car navigation units” and check out Crutchfield and the reviews at Amazon. You can also see the links in this article and some that were not mentioned at my site with the tag “gpsreview”.

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