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Car GPS comparison Reviews

written by: Debasis Das•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 8/31/2009

Car GPS for navigation today are portable yet very powerful GPS devices. Typical weight is in the 6 to 7 oz range. 4.3" color touch screen is common. Map background, spoken direction turn by turn also is common. 3D maps, speech recognition, advance lane warning are some costly premium features.

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    Introduction

    Products available under this category - the car based GPS navigation tools - are large. One of the most comprehensive reviews of this product is at CNET. There are at least 50 manufacturers listed in their survey. Just the top five manufacturers have 249 products that have been reviewed here. This article attempts to look at summarized results, common features, price ranges and any significant trends visible. Here’s one review that talks about top 5 devices. It is as recent as Apr 2009.

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    Top Manufacturers

    The top five manufacturers are Garmin, Tom Tom, Magellan Corp, Nextar and Pharos Science and applications, Inc. They represented 105, 52, 49, 24 and 19 products reviews done by CNET at one time or other respectively. However some are actually variations on a product, so the actual count is lower. It does give you a sense of the variety of products a manufacturer may have. Top 50 producers included a large variety of electronics manufacturers. ALK Technologies, Bushnell Corporation, Dash Navigation Inc., Fine Digital, Holux, Initial Technologies, Inc., Navman USA, Inc., Netropa Corporation, Rand MacNally, TekNav Inc., TravRoute Software, ViaMichelin and XO Vision each had just one product each that were reviewed. The score of the top manufactures has been mentioned already above. Kenwood, the company we normally associate with car entertainment systems, represented 7 products. Sony and Sanyo, known for their digital entertainment products, had 9 and 5 products respectively. Mitac Industrial corporation also would not have normally been associated with GPS/navigation products. What this diversity signifies is that this is a popular and lucrative product segment attracting as diverse a range of manufacturers as represented in the survey.

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    Price Range

    Most products are priced in the $100(including less than $100) to $200 range, and this range is the most crowded. These have most of the features that you’d typically need. There are a fairly large number of products available in the $200 to $500 range and this band can be considered the premium range. There are a few products in the $500 to $950 range, if you are looking for something truly high end.

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    The Top Five Devices

    These top five devices have been rated so by the editor’s of CNET. These are Garmin Nuvi 880($649.95), Navignon 2200T($339.95), Magellan Maestro(price not available), Mio 520 Navigation Receiver($249.95), Tom Tom ONE 125($98 to $151). What that means is that for $250 to $350 you could get a very good receiver to take you from place to place. We shall now take a look at the features of these devices to find out what to expect at this level. We shall also look at additional features that make the top device cost nearly $650.

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    Good GPS Car Navigation Features

    We’ll look at the devices in reverse order so that one can discern the pattern of additional features that attracts higher prices of the better ranked devices.

    Tom Tom ONE 125 : A simple device with good design. It has a 3.5” display, WVGA touch screen, on-screen keyboard for address entry, spoken driving directions, windshield or dash mount. Weighs only around 6 oz.

    Mio 520: a thin design, 4.3” touch screen; on-screen keyboard address entry, spoken driving directions, windshield and dash mount. Text to speech capability, blue tooth hands free dialing and multimedia features extension. Weighs 6.7 oz.

    Magellan Maestro: 4.3” touch screen, one touch destination entry, on screen keyboard, spoken driving directions, text to speech capability, spoken street names, windshield or dash mount, Bluetooth, multimedia features, preloaded maps and a large base of points of interest or POI. Realtime traffic update. Weighs 7.4 oz.

    Garmin Nuvi 880: 4.3” touch screen, on-screen keyboard, spoken driving directions, street names, windshield or dash mount, Bluetooth, multimedia features, maps with 2D and 3D views( 3D gives a better visualization of landmarks and street crossings), large POIs, Weighs 6.2 oz. The premium feature is that it recognizes voice and you can give it the destination addresses (multi destination trip capable) by speaking to it.