Why You need a Navigation System

We’ve all heard the jokes about men not asking for directions, but the bottom line is that we all get lost once in a while. Most consumers are aware that navigation systems are available, but don’t truly appreciate the benefits of these high-tech gadgets.

There are a few different usage strategies, several major manufacturers, and many different choices. Here are some of the capabilities available to improve your driving experience.

Global Positioning Satellite (GPS): Your vehicle communicates with satellites orbiting Earth. These satellites send positioning information back to your navigation system, allowing it to place you on a computerized map displayed on your system’s screen. You may still get lost sometimes, but you will always know where you are.

Navigation: This feature helps you get where you want to go. The system will guide the user to their inputted destination utilizing the displayed map, as well as audible cues (including voice commands to turn right, left, etc.). Some systems allow you to speak your destination (voice recognition); others have touch screens or keyboards; still others utilize joy sticks. Many consumers prefer the ease and speed of touch screens.

Multiple Routes and Rerouting: Allows you to choose from several alternative routes to your destination. The system will also recalculate your route if you make a wrong turn. This feature is greatly enhanced when the system is equipped with real-time traffic monitoring.

Points of Interest (POI): Your system knows a lot of great places, including gas stations; ATMs; restaurants; stores; sites and amusement parks; airports; hospitals, etc. Why run out of gas, when your navigation system can guide you to the closest station?

Bluetooth: Allows drivers to use their (Bluetooth equipped) wireless telephone hands free by acting as a speakerphone. This is an important feature considering the new law effective July 1, 2008; prohibiting drivers from using hand-held cell phones.

MP3 Player: Facilitates playing music and other files from an outside source, such as an iPod.

Many new automobiles offer optional navigation systems. These built-in units are aesthetically pleasing and work in concert with other systems within the vehicle. Another major advantage is the vehicle’s comprehensive warranty, typically covering the system for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Warranties for aftermarket navigation systems are typically only one year, however many systems offer benefits worth consideration. Factory systems cannot be added to vehicles not originally equipped. Factory units can update map data, but not technology.

Garmin, TomTom and Magellan produce popular aftermarket navigation systems. Some of them will fit into your dash; some are mounted to dash or windshield; some offer true portability for use in multiple vehicles.

Aftermarket navs are priced from a couple hundred to $1,000, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. Their smaller initial investment allows drivers to upgrade to better models as technology improves. Additionally, consumers can choose from many different models offering diverse features.

Navigation systems decrease wasted time, wasted gas, aggravation and unsafe driving behavior. They are also a great way to add new technologies to your vehicle, such as Bluetooth and MP3 play. Someday, every car will come equipped with navigation. You can get one today—why are you waiting?

Author’s Note: I am a man who never asks for directions—I simply press an icon of a house, and my nav guides me home, day or night.


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