We know: Car Navigation Systems

What is a GPS or car navigation system?

A Global Positioning System, or GPS, tells you how to get from one destination to another when you're driving. Some come built into new cars, others can be mounted on the dash of a car, and still others are hand-held.

How do these systems work?

GPS devices generally use satellites to determine where you are and where you're going. You usually enter the address from where you're starting and the address where you're going.

A map of the route may print out on a display screen built into the car, or handheld device, and the GPS system often 'talks' to you, narrating the next turn on the map, and the distance to the next turn.

If you deviate from the proposed route along the way, the system can often re-figure the route for you. However, these systems are still not very good a routing you around traffic, although some manufacturers are working on developing that technology.

How do I input the addresses?

Using a keyboard like device or touch screen that often has short cuts for typing numbers and names.

Does the device have maps for the entire USA?

Yes, most systems have maps for the entire country. They may be slightly dated or not perfectly detailed, but the routing is generally very good.

How much does a GPS cost?

Built-in systems are generally the most expensive. These include the General Motors OnStar system that combines a navigation system with a cell phone system with personal on-call operators available for information and service. These can cost several thousand dollars.

The more expensive systems come with more features, such as larger screens, voice narration, scrolling maps and audible alerts to what's coming up next.

Less expensive, installed dashboard and hand-held systems are as much as 5 to 10 times less expensive than built-in GPS systems. These systems also have a range of features and can cost from $2000 to as little as $100.

Who makes these systems?

GPS manufacturers include: Garmin, Alpine, VDO Dayton, Magellan, TomTom, Navman, Hewlett-Packard and Cobra.

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