GPS Navigation Systems and Features

GPS devices have become one of the most sought after consumer electronics, and why wouldn't they be? These helpful electronics ensure that you don't get lost and can save time (and money with today's gas prices). There are two main GPS navigation system types, and each of them have plenty of amazing features.


Installed GPS Devices

The benefit of purchasing an in-dash GPS navigation product is that it usually doubles as a complete multimedia solution - providing users with a single control center for all entertainment sources and features (e.g., iPod, satellite radio tuner, DVD player, etc). Remember, the less you bring into the vehicle the better.

Pioneer’s AVIC-Z1 is the lone GPS navigation system to claim voice-recognition technology, as it allows users to audibly enter destinations. While CEA doesn’t recommend entering destinations while driving, the AVIC-Z1 certainly makes this practice less distracting. Other features include real-time traffic, text-to-speech and better routing.

Portable GPS Devices

Utilizing a suction-cup window or on-dash mount, portable GPS navigation devices are convenient since that can be shuttled from vehicle to vehicle - including a rental car. These devices offer many of the same features in-dash units offer, except for the control of other entertainment sources inside the vehicle. However, there are units that offer music, video and photo storage and playback. While most come ready-to-go right out of the box, there are some that require the addition of an external antenna.


Mapping & Routing

What’s great about GPS navigation products is they are extremely easy to use. You can navigate either by entering an address or an intersection. Most units also offer a list of preprogrammed destination points, which is very helpful when traveling through unfamiliar cities.

Most portable and installed GPS navigation devices offer both point-to-point visual mapping and turn-by-turn voice guidance. Another key feature is automatic rerouting, which helps the driver get back on track if they miss a turn. Several manufacturers also augment their mapping screens with distance-to-next-turn indicators, pop-up turn arrows, and by displaying the street name of the next turn.

One of the newest, most impressive features is text-to-speech, but only a few companies are offering this. These devices call out actual street names rather than just stating distances to the next turn during route guidance. Those who have used navigation devices before understand how convenient this feature is, as it eliminates the need to check the mapping display to confirm voice prompts. Some devices also offer better routing, as they actually can learn your preferred routes. This is a very useful feature, as the unit will consider a preferred route when rerouting the driver around traffic.

Real-Time Traffic

Providing real-time-traffic information is the wave of the future as manufacturers look to get drivers around the biggest headache: traffic congestion. Some devices will even scan other routes for you and alert you that there’s a better, less congested alternative the driver can take. Currently, there are two main services these devices are drawing traffic information from: XM or SIRIUS traffic services, or by Radio Data Services (RDS). Learn more about the benefits of real-time traffic.