Different Types of Auto Navigation Systems

It is true that auto navigation systems installed by automakers look completely natural and integrated into the features of the vehicles we purchase. For that reason alone, many people opt to pay several times over what the system would have cost to have installed by someone other than the maker of the automobile. It is truly amazing how much of an impact aesthetics makes when it comes to purchasing your next dream car, or even your first dream car. The thing is, that even if the system doesn’t seem to flow with the look of your car, there are very valid reasons for getting one in the first place and the safety and security that they provide travelers is very well worth the sacrifice of a few aesthetic features.

It isn’t exactly necessary, however, to completely sacrifice aesthetics in order to have the safety and security that auto navigation systems provide. As a matter of fact, some of the most popular brands of these systems are actually installed to the car by use of suction cups rather than cutting into the dashboard or removing the ever so important stereo from your car, truck, or SUV. Keeping price conscious consumers in mind, manufacturers are offering many options well under the $500 benchmark while also affording consumers the luxury (or lower price, however you decide to call it) of installing these devices themselves.

It is important to remember that not all GPS (global positioning satellite) devices are meant to assist in auto navigation and make your purchase according to your specific needs. When shopping for one of these devices it would be comparing apples to oranges to compare a tool that is widely used for activities such as geo caching, hiking, biking, or boating. Each of these will bring in different price tags while offering greatly varied features. You need a device that is meant for mapping directions if you plan to use your device or system for driving.

I try to keep pointing out the fact that not all GPS or auto navigation systems are created equal this is very important to remember. You run the risk of purchasing the wrong system without proper planning and thus having a bad overall experience. Even among systems designed specifically for the automobile that offer mapping and navigation assistance there are different types that will appeal to different needs and uses. There are three types of auto navigation systems. Those three types of systems include: Navigation systems that are designed to stand alone, handheld systems that suit multiple purposes, and systems that are designed to work with laptops, PCs, pocket PCs, and PDA systems.

Each of the types of auto navigation systems and devices offers different benefits and drawbacks. It is ultimately up to you to decide which will suit your needs most. The stand-alone systems are often the most popular choice and are excellent for those who need driving directions and nothing more. They offer a steady power supply, turn by turn direction (in many cases), the security of being there at all times (no worry about whether or not you remembered to actually bring it along), and verbal directions along with landmarks that should let you know you are on the right path. There is a reason that these are the most popular.

For those who want to take their navigational tools off road on occasion other devices might be much better suited to your needs. Handheld devices often require additional software in order to work well with door-to-door types of directions or regular driving directions, however, they offer portability for those who wish to go biking, hiking, or kayaking and need the confidence that directions and navigational tools can provide. For those who have laptops or PDAs, the software that is available for these provide an excellent service when it comes to navigation both on and off roads and the beaten path. The cost is offset greatly if you already own your laptop or PDA and well worth a little extra investment, particularly if you will use this particular tool on a regular basis.

As I’ve said before, there is no perfect navigational solution for everyone, but there are quite a few that are nearly perfect for all who will dare to use them.

Choose a User Friendly Auto Navigation System

With so many options on the market when it comes to auto navigation systems how do you choose the one that will best suit your needs? This question may seem very simplistic; unfortunately the answer is not nearly as simple as the question. There are many things to consider when selecting a personal navigation system not the least of which is what purpose you will be using the system to achieve.

Many people consider auto navigation systems for their automobiles and no other purpose. The truth is that these devices can have many very practical uses in your every day life. If you are a person who spends a lot of time outdoors, you might find that a handheld GPS device with mapping capabilities is better suited to your personality and your needs than a stand-alone type of auto navigation system. The reason being that these devices can not only be used for turn-by-turn driving directions but also for off road travels, geocaching, boating, hiking, biking, and mountain climbing among many other popular activities. Handheld devices are perfect because they can be easily removed from your vehicle and taken along with you. The portability makes them perfect companions for just about any activity in which you choose to participate.

Many newer models of cars, trucks, and SUVs are coming equipped with in dash auto navigation systems. Don’t for a second think you aren’t paying for these glorious goodies. In fact, the chances are that you are paying quite the premium price for these lovely features and aren’t even aware. The worst thing though is that if you are financing the cost of your car you are also financing the cost of your navigation system. If at all possible avoid getting into this situation unless you are particular enamored of the look of the in dash systems as they really offer no better coverage than you can find in many stand alone systems that you can easily install and cost significantly less. The thing to remember about these systems is that they are only good as long as you are in your car for the most part. You may find some that can last so many hours away from a power source (if you have a system that you’ve installed yourself rather than a factory installed system) but most of them aren’t going to offer the greatest features for activities such as geocaching or fishing.

Before you buy, seriously consider and have in mind the activities for which you will use your device. Don’t buy a device that charges for features that you aren’t likely to use and avoid at all cost an interface that isn’t easy to use. Remember you will be using this while on the road most of the time and you want a system that won’t require a concentrated effort in order to operate. We have quite enough distractions to deal with while on the road without adding a difficult to operate auto navigation system.

Auto navigation systems are great to have when you need them and even at times when they simply come in handy though you could have survived without them. For me the security of knowing that I will never be truly lost again is well worth the investment I have made in mine, I honestly believe you will feel the same way about your system once you decide which one is best for you.

Auto Navigation Systems that use Laptops or PDAs

You may or may not be aware of the many options on today’s market when it comes to auto navigation systems. Take my word for it there are now more options than ever before with new options appearing daily. Among the many options that are available for those of you who are interested in obtaining equipment that will assist you in finding your way on long and short trips there are options that can be used along with your laptop or PDA devices. If you currently own and use on a regular basis a laptop or PDA the software or other devices and receivers that are required in order to utilize your laptop as a GPS device aren’t nearly as expensive as purchasing a stand alone auto navigation system.

In fact, as far as money savers go, this is a great way to save money on your purchase and receive the same great benefits that some of the top of the line auto navigation systems has to offer. You will find these types of devices that are geared towards as many different budgets as the actual stand alone systems. Some of the more popular of these tools include the following:

1) US Global Sat BU-353 USB port GPS Receiver. This nifty device costs less than $100 and allows you to turn your laptop or pc into a GPS. This is a great feature for finding directions and attaches to your laptop through the USB port.

2) DeLorme Earthmate LT-20 GPS. This is also a little less than $100 and gives your laptop fully functional navigation features. This not only works with laptops but also with Palm OS. You will experience rapid satellite acquisition and you have the Street Atlas software to guide you towards your destination. The software is included with the Earthmate. This software will even recalculate your directions should you miss a turn along the way. For the price, I highly recommend this if you have a PDA or laptop already.

3) DeLorme Earthmate Blue Logger Bluetooth Wireless GPS. This is another nifty tool by DeLorme. This device will allow you to receive a real time image of your location but requires an unobstructed view of the sky in order to accurately record its current position. This device also works with Street Atlas software in order to assist you in charting your course and giving proper driving directions.

4) Tom Tom Navigator 6 Bluetooth. If you are looking for feature rich navigation then this is certainly the tool for you. This is useful with laptops and Palm systems. Not only will you find mapping technology that is quite superior but you will also find useful things such as parking garages, fueling stations, and restaurants along the way.

You will notice a great variety of prices and features with these devices. The important thing to remember is that you want the same or better features for less with this type of equipment since you are providing either the laptop or the PDA. If you already have the laptop or PDA you should be able to save a tremendous amount of money over the costs of purchasing a stand-alone auto navigation system. If you aren’t getting an incredible bargain you might want to debate whether or not the system you opt for really is the best system for you.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is the fact that your laptop or PDA can become an important tool in keeping you on the right track when traveling. You may be one of the lucky few who has never gotten lost while traveling (or one of those who refuses to believe they are lost) however, if you aren’t then perhaps it is time to seriously invest in either software, equipment, or devices that can help you find your way whenever you are lost. Laptop and PDA equipment offer great alternatives for those who need navigational assistance but need to remain within a strict budget.