GPS, navigation and accessories

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GPS, navigation and accessories

What is GPS Navigation?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. A GPS receiver uses satellites to pinpoint location and can be accurate to the nearest 10 metres or better.

What about smartphone GPS?

Thanks to our smartphones, most of us have access to a free smartphone GPS such as Apple Maps or Google Maps and there are myriad other versions as well like Waze, CoPilot GPS or inRoute. When it comes to core navigation functionality, GPS apps can perform just as well as a traditional unit. However, the downside is that they often chew data and battery, and (depending on your network) can be prone to dropout. For these reasons, many people prefer a dedicated GPS unit in their car.

What’s the difference between portable or integrated GPS units?

Portable units sit in a cradle that can be attached to the dashboard or windscreen, many will have a battery life and also charging options via USB. They are easily installed and can be moved from car to car, which allows a larger degree of freedom. While integrated systems are built into the car itself and are connected to the car’s electronics.

Types of GPS:

  • In-car GPS: in-car GPS units are a combination of a GPS receiver and a computer that includes street maps. This then determines your position and not only shows you your location on a map, but can constantly track your location and provide specific instructions on how to get from point a to point b. If possible, look for a GPS that offers live traffic updates, voice prompts and lane guidance, which all allow you to focus on the road, not your dashboard.
  • Hybrid GPS and Dash camera: these types of devices combine an in-car unit with a dash camera – saving space and providing a solution for both needs. Just as a note, similar to a single lens dash cam, a hybrid doesn’t often provide the capacity to record both the front and back of your car.

GPS navigation system features:

  • Screen size and display: screen size will certainly affect the price point of your GPS system, with larger devices generally costing more. A 5-inch screen is standard, however there are more compact models that may suit your needs better. A key thing to consider is resolution – buy the best resolution you can afford as low-resolution images can be difficult to read and interpret.
  • Traffic: some GPS units can display up-to-the-minute traffic data, which alerts you to traffic issues and can help you to manoeuvre around them.
  • Lane assist: this feature shows an infographic when you are approaching and exit or interchange with multiple lanes. This can be unbelievably useful when you are driving in an unfamiliar area and very sensible considering you are most likely to be using a GPS when you are in a new place.
  • Voice input: this feature provides you the ability to set your route and make alterations with voice commands – like Siri or Alexa for your GPS.
  • Points of interest: this is a cool feature, especially when on a road trip! It can help you locate petrol stations, hotels, restaurants, parks, local businesses and other landmarks.
  • Map updates: some GPS systems offer free map updates forever, which will cover new roads, permanent road closures, routes and points of access.

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