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What Type of Navigation System is Ideal?

What type of navigation system is ideal for you – Portable/Hand-Held, In-Vehicle, or Cellular Phone with GPS? AutoPacific’s VehicleVoice asked its panel members that question in May 2007. Respondents were equally split into 3 groups: those that own a navigation system, those that are currently shopping for one, and those that have no interest in owning one. Respondents are somewhat split on the type of navigation system they want. Over half prefer a portable/hand-held model and 4 in 10 want a system integrated into their vehicle. This is similar to current ownership, but skewed more toward the portable/hand-held versions.

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Type of Navigation System Ownership Preferrence
Portable/Hand-Held = 54%
In-vehicle = 42%
Cell phone = 4%
Type of Navigation System Owned
Portable/Hand-held = 53%
In-vehicle = 49%
Cell phone = 12%
Advantages of a portable navigation system are the ability to move from vehicle to vehicle and use in other situations such as camping, hiking, and biking. Also, the cost of a portable navigation system is significantly lower than an In-Vehicle navigation system (by at least $1,000). A system that accepts a cellular phone GPS or portable version to display on the vehicle’s in-dash monitor would be ideal (similar to Bluetooth compatibility with cellular phones). This way a navigation system owner has the best of both worlds.
Costs of in-vehicle systems significantly higher than portable/hand-held and cellular phones with GPS; more than a $1,000 difference.
EDITOR’S NOTE I have both a portable Garmin NAV system and one in my vehicle (Mercedes system). My portable is touch screen and I love it. The Mercedes uses a toggle button that I want to pull off and throw out the window when I am trying to enter an address. An interesting point is that the 2004 Mercedes NAV buttons are better than in my 2007 model. I am 100% behind the touch screen version.


What would be the best way to receive instructions? Panel members prefer to have both a display screen with a map and voice directions combined. This is the method that most systems employ.
How to get directions?
Voice and display equal = 75%
Mainly display = 18%
Mainly voice = 4%
Display only = 3%
Voice only = 0%
Why would you not want a navigation system? Cost of the navigation system is the number one reason for not purchasing one. Other reasons center on not having a need for the system – they can find their way around.
Reasons for Not Owning a Navigation System
Too expensive = 51%
Maps are all I need = 42%
Know where I’m going = 34%
Can’t recover cost = 19%
Haven’t found the right one = 15%
Overall ownership of navigation systems will continue to increase. The race is on now for the one with the best design and features.
EDITOR’S COMMENT: Having considerable experience with in-vehicle and portable navigation systems, I can see advantages for both. One of the major issues with in-vehicle systems has been the upgrade path for technology and mapping. As technology improves more quickly than vehicles are developed, there is concern that an in-vehicle system will be totally out-of-date in a short period of time. While software and map updates are available for a fee, they are not cheap. Hardware and firmware upgrades are practically non-existent. With a portable system, a system that seems to be getting more awareness and consideration, the out-of-pocket expense is not so great and upgrades may be more readily available. Is the time of the great transition coming or are the in-vehicle systems going to remain hardwired?

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