This article provides information on the working of GPS technology and also how to choose a good navigation system for a car. Also mentioned are some of its leading brands in the market.
GPS stands for global positioning system, and devices using the technology look like a tiny television screen. This system consists of a small unit with a screen, that displays the shortest route to reach the desired destination. It guides you throughout the journey, by informing you in advance, where to take a turn, which lane to follow, whether you are exceeding the speed limit, etc. GPS navigation helps to save fuel, time, and energy.
How Do GPS Devices Work
Twenty four satellites positioned in the Earth’s orbit send signals, which are caught by a receiver in the GPS devices to guide you accordingly. With the help of these signals, the unit determines their direction and speed. If you take a wrong turn, it simply re-calculates and again tells you where to turn. These devices come with detailed maps of regions, depending on your location.
You can select the voice (male/female) and the language. Names of roads and approaching turns are spoken, while guiding you through known as well as unknown areas. You are supposed to update the maps annually, while some brands offer free updates.
Few of these devices accept your suggestions (as traffic signs change often) and modify the maps accordingly, after checking the changes suggested. Some of the latest models provide live traffic information, and in case of traffic jams, suggest an alternative shortest route.
Some manufacturers use Tele Atlas data, while some use NAVTEQ mapping data, so the accuracy of information may vary slightly according to the company. Few high-end models provide information regarding mileage and expenses. This technology works as your personal assistant and informs you about local police stations, nearest fuel stations, fire services, restaurants, and hospitals in case of any emergency.
GPS devices for cars are easy to set-up and use. Installation of these units ensures stress-free driving, as you are less disturbed and more in control. Sometimes, the satellite signals are not received due to obstructions, and in such cases, you may lose your position. You are expected to check all these aspects before buying a new navigation device.
Buying a New GPS
History of GPS informs us that it was originally designed for military use. During 1980s, common people also started using it for navigation. New devices are very different from the old ones. You get a 2D position if you receive signals from at least three satellites, and a 3D position if you get signals from four or more satellites. TomTom, Garmin, and Magellan are the three leading companies in this market. Garmin Nuvi models are popular in the U.S., while TomTom models are popular in Europe. Mio, Nextar, Papago, and Navman are also some of the leading brands.
Here is a small list of features which come in the latest units: wider screen, anti-glare screens, 2D and 3D views, touchscreen displays, travel alarms, mounting options (dashboard or windshield), currency converters, Bluetooth, MP3 player, audio book player, picture album, lane assistance, spoken street names, real-time traffic reports, POI (point of interest), reversing camera, USB ports, information essential for tourists, maps of various countries, etc. Choosing the best devices for cars is really a tough job.
According to the reviews, all the top 3 company models mentioned above are very good. Purchasing a model, mainly depends upon your own requirements and its price. Some of the cheap navigation systems for cars are also good, but they come with fewer features. Various companies are launching new mobile phone handsets and new cars, with built-in navigation units.