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Global Positioning Systems

Updated on June 3, 2010

Why get a Auto Navigation System?


Auto navigations systems aren't just for airport couriers, taxi drivers or people whose job keeps them on the road. These time-and-money-saving devices are great if you drive in a city, go on vacation, or have kids (or parents) to transport to their appointments. A navigation system in your car, truck or van can save you time, money and frustration.

You've probably run into construction zones, traffic jams or parades and wanted to find a different route but you didn't have a map. Or maybe you followed a detour, and things just don't look right so you backtrack. And it's a good thing too, because you didn't overlook the sign, the sign is missing. With an auto navigation system, you can see where you need to go. No more stopping and asking for directions only to become even more lost. Being lost isn't just inconvenient, it wastes your time and money. But that's not all. It can be dangerous.

If you've ever been lost in a city and ended up in a neighborhood with barred window and doors, you'll recognize that Oops feeling . . . it intensifies after dark. The landmarks you might have recognized during the day look totally different at night. It's reassuring to know you've got a navigation system installed

Kids and extra-curricular events go together, and you know how that can go. Kids misbehave and while you're keeping an eye on them with the rearview mirror, you miss your turn. Pretty soon nothing looks familiar. Where are you? You don't have a map. How do you get back on track, and what if something else goes wrong? It's a sinking feeling.

A navigation system is a wonderful tool to have. It adds an element of safety to your travels, you save time, money and wear on your vehicle. It's the perfect solution for the man who won't ask for directions and the woman who keeps asking him to.

Why You Should Own a Personal Navigation Device

An on-board navigation system is a wonderful tool to have in your vehicle, but if your car didn't come equipped with one, you may not be ready to spend the cash to install an after-market in-dash navigation system in each of your vehicles. The alternative is to buy a Personal Navigation Device (PND), also known as a Portable Navigation Device or Personal Navigation Assistant (PNA). These devices are similar to the on-board navigation system you'd see in a luxury vehicle.

The first PNDs that came out in the 1980s were clunky systems with small-area maps, but the new generation PND offers a variety of features that save time and money. Garmin, TomTom, Magellan are among the more recognized names, but there are quite a few others. Here are some of the benefits you'll get:

* Real-time traffic information keeps you up-to-date on traffic congestion and may be able to offer an alternate route.
* Turn-by-turn guidance to get you to your destination.
* Maps
* Visual display lets you see when your exit is near, reducing the chance of accidents and saving you time.
* Spoken driving instructions
* Displays Points of Interest, Restaurants, Hotels
* Gasoline Prices, Speed Cameras and more
* Many can be used as a handheld device
* Simple installation
* Low cost

The drawbacks? If you're running late, it's easy to walk out and leave it at home or in the office. As with any portable device, your PND could be stolen if you leave it inside your vehicle.

As with all technology service providers, different products afford different services, so you'll see differences between prices and service/member plans.

So, if you get lost more often than you'd like, you might want to get a Personal Navigation Device.

Garmin Foretrex

Hiker or Walker Personal Nav Systems

There are other Personal Navigation Devices designed for hikers and campers. 

They are small units that can vary from keyfob sized to the size of a cell phone. They are a bit more simplistic, but they can lead the user to different waypoints or destinations. If a hiker wants to leave camp and go on a walk, all they need to do is enter the location of the camp, then if they are ready to return to camp, they just tell the unit to go back to the point they set earlier. 

GPS units vary in quality, but many can tell the distance covered, your altitude and other information. 

What about buying a GPS?

GPS units are very useful devices if you travel anywhere, or if you live in a city that you don't know like the back of your hand.

There are many different types of units, from one's built into a car, there are aftermarket units that can plug into the car power supply or use their own batteries. You can also buy pocket GPS units that are more suited to walkers and hikers.

Another GPS that is becoming more common are GPS units built into cellphones. In fact, my latest cellphone has a better GPS system built in then my first car addon unit which cost over $600.00. Usually car add-on units do not have a subscription service for the actual use of the GPS satellites, but they may charge for map updates, traffic reports etc. Many cell phone based units do have a monthly subscription that is added to the cell plan.

Like almost any tech, GPS units have dropped in price since they came out. The first units could cost $1000.00 or more. Today for less than $300 you can buy a unit that can get you where you are going, can get you traffic reports, and construction updates.

Make sure when you buy a GPS that it has the ability to be updated. Every year new roads are built, and unless you can get the latest maps, in a few years your unit can be really outdated. Many outlet or surplus retailers sell GPS at a low price, but you will often find the units are several years outdated. If you are wanting to buy such a unit, make sure it can be updated and find out what the cost will be.


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    • rmhoskinson profile image


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Nice! We're on the road a lot. We print driving directions and take them with us, but they don't help with traffic jams, construction or finding an alternate route once we're lost. Even with driving directions, we still end up taking the "scenic" route so often that we joke about it. We need one of these!

      Thanks for the great Hub.


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