It is a strange fact that many purchasers of new cars are ready to pay several times the true value of a satellite navigation system in order to have it fitted by the maker. It is true that the car’s manufacturer usually does an excellent job of installing the device, but then you are paying a premium for it.
If you bought the sat nav unit independently and had it installed by a third party, you would buy it for a third or a quarter of the rate. Still, it is part of the idea of buying a new car to have all the latest apparatus built in to it. Satellite navigation, popularly called sat nav, is a real boon, if you buy a system that is up-to-date and that is regularly updated.
It is not necessary to have the sat nav fitted in the car factory in order to have it installed well. Many third party installers are quite capable of making a good job of it too without having to have your radio/CD player removed.
Many auto navigation systems are attached to the dashboard by means of rubber suction cups in any case. Buying a sat nav device that does not have to have holes cut for it will also keep the cost to a minimum without having to sacrifice quality or safety.
An important issue to remember is that there are many kinds of GPS systems, each with rather specific applications. GPS for an ocean-going yacht does not need road maps, whereas GPS for a bicycle may not give sufficient advanced warning for the speed of a car.
Even if you purchase a GPS sat nav device for a road vehicle, there are different varieties. The three basic kinds are: stand-alone, such as you see fitted at the car factory; hand-held and systems that are meant to be used with a laptop computer or similar device.
The stand-alone systems are the most popular, because they have certain advantages: they are made for the job of getting you from A to B via C, D and E, if required; they hold a database of landmarks which will help you know that you are on the right road; a voice will give you directions so that yo do not have to keep referring to the screen and it will memorize and integrate previous routes.
Hand-held sat nav systems work, but require more thought and sometimes additional software to be provided by the user. The screen is usually too small to be of much use and some only provide voice directions. Others only provide pictorial directions. However, they are better than nothing if you are walking or cycling in unknown terrain.
Laptops and PDA’s offer an excellent service, particularly if you already had the apparatus for other reasons such as office work.
So, it is not just a question of picking up a cheap sat nav system and thinking that they are all the same, you have to see it running so that you can weigh up whether it is going to be of any benefit to you in your circumstances.