Auto Navigation Systems Offer Unparalleled Assistance In this day and age of personal assistants, personal shoppers, personal chefs, and all too personal personals it only makes sense that now we have what is jokingly (in many cases) referred to as a personal navigator. Many newer cars, particularly luxury models, are beginning to offer auto navigation systems to drivers as incentives to purchase or as part of luxury packages and upgrades. The idea of that little extra security and luxury is quite appealing to many drivers, especially those of us who could get lost in the mall parking lot if exits weren't clearly marked. The truth of the matter is that even if you elect not to pay the premium upgrade costs that car makers are adding to the price tag for the luxury of those devices it is quite possible to have the protection and peace of mind that auto navigation systems afford drivers on even the most meager of driving budgets. Facts are facts and getting lost costs time and money while stopping to ask for directions is a risk in and of itself. If you spend a lot of time on the road you really can't afford not to have some sort of navigational device to assist you in getting safely and securely to your next destination. If the fact that you can purchase these devices rather inexpensively isn't enticing enough for you, I should add that most are quite simple to install yourself. Many of them require nothing more than the ability to stick a suction cup to your windshield and plug an adapter into a cigarette lighter. I did mention that installation was simple didn't I? For those who would rather have a more elegant look in their automobiles you are perfectly free to pay a lot more for an in dash system and installation by professionals. You can occasionally get a good deal on installation if you purchase an auto navigation system from certain retailers. You should keep in mind however, that in dash systems tend to cost a great deal more than those you install yourself and you can't take them with you when you sell or trade the car. For these kinds of systems you need to consider the value to you verses the value improvement to your vehicle. Will the in dash system raise the value of your car when you are ready to trade in your car or will it make no real difference in the value of you car? If the answer to that is no, then it may be a poor decision from a financial point of view. However, if having a system that isn't part of the dash will lower your perceived value of your automobile then it is a worthy investment. Ultimately, you are the only one that can determine whether this is worth the price and the investment. If you decide not to go with an in dash auto navigation system you might be delighted to know that there are a world of options available to you. Not only do you have the stand-alone navigation systems that are already loaded with all the data and information necessary to operate but you may also choose software and hardware that can be added to your PDA or laptop as well as handheld navigational units that can be upgraded to operate as mapping units in addition to basic GPS units. When all is said and done you must decide which type of auto navigation system you want for your car and your lifestyle. Decide what your actual navigation assistance needs are and choose the device and assistance that is best for your family. If you've ever been hopelessly and utterly lost I believe you will agree that there really is no price too great to pay in order to never experience that feeling again. I know I am perfectly willing to pay top price for my personal navigation assistant, though I will continue to search for the best possible bargain for my navigational dollar. Save Money by Buying the Right Auto Navigation System for Your Needs With so many GPS (global positioning satellite) devices and auto navigation systems on the market today how on earth is someone supposed to choose the system that will be best for you? The answer to that question isn't as difficult as you might think. It all lies in deciding what you will be using your GPS device to accomplish. You need to know where you will be using your device in order to use it properly. By this I mean will you be using your GPS system for driving, biking, hiking, boating, or 'off-roading'? Occasionally you will find that your goals and desires of your auto navigation system or GPS will require use in more than one of these instances, the good news is there's a device for that too! Seriously, there is a device that is suitable for almost every possible need and use. If you plan to use your auto navigation system exclusively for driving your automobile, you should probably choose a system such as one of the following: Magellan RoadMate 2200T Portable Navigation System, Garmin StreetPilot c530 Automotive GPS, Tom Tom One, Tom Tom GO 910 Automotive GPS System, or Navman iCN 750 Vehicle Navigation with Camera. These systems each offer something unique to consumers while also delivering some of the same popular features that consumer's love. Some of those features include turn-by-turn directions, landmark identification, important stops and destinations along your route, and popular restaurants along the way. If you want something that is a little more versatile than your typical stand-alone navigation system or GPS then you might want to check out the many options afforded by the handheld GPS systems on the market today. Many of these will require an upgrade of some sort in order to be useful for turn-by-turn destination information but are excellent for those taking the fun off the beaten path and off road. For those who love adventure in the great outdoors the following handheld GPS systems offer an excellent choice for keeping you on track and in the know: Garmin eTrex Vista Cx Color Handheld GPS Unit, Magellan eXplorist 600, and Lowrance iFinder Hunt Color. For those who currently own a laptop or PDA software and hardware add ons can turn your device into a GPS system. These offer a more affordable option to the stand-alone navigation system and are an attractive incentive to many potential consumers. You will also find the widest variety of features within this particular category. Most of these devices offer the hardware as well as the necessary mapping software as part of the package. This allows them to have relative portability while also offering the full features of the stand-alone navigation systems. Some of the laptop or Palm systems that you may wish to consider are the following: Garmin CF Que 1620 Compact Flash GPS, Tom Tom Navigator 6 Bluetooth, DeLorme Earthmate Blue Logger, and the Garmin Mobile 20 Smartphone GPS System. These are by no means all inclusive of the many wonderful and exciting products that are available in today's market for those interested in purchasing an auto navigation system. You should also keep in mind that new technologies emerge on a daily basis. With that in mind, prices on existing technologies are steadily decreasing, as prices on new items are often still quite high. It is very possible to get a great deal by shopping last year's top of the line navigation toy and skipping the high-end navigation gadgets of the current year. Another way to save money on navigational aids and devices is not to shop among the top of the line devices. Instead of shopping for those that are priced highest, elect devices within the middle of the price range. These devices generally offer the same excellent quality as the more expensive devices without the over inflated price tags. You should also remember not to pay extra for features that you won't be using. Having an extra feature or two shouldn't be a selling point if you won't be using those features. How Do Auto Navigation Systems Work? Have you ever given serious thought to the incredible benefits that having an auto navigation system will bring to your life and your travels? The truth of the matter is that the more sophisticated systems on the market today provide much more than simple directions from point A to point B. Today's auto navigation systems are your one stop travel shop when it comes to finding points of interest, restaurants, fueling stops, and places to sleep along the way. If you've never given it much thought, perhaps learning a little more about how an auto navigation system really works will give you something to think about when you get around to considering the impact that a device such as this can make in your life and the lives of your family members. The thing to remember is that not all GPS or auto navigation systems are equal. There are different manners of creation along with different manners of functionality and design. However, they all work on very similar principles. GPS systems use satellites that orbit the earth in order to send signals that are received by the GPS device. The system has software that interprets the signal and uses that data in order to form conclusions about the current location based on the time it took to receive the signal from the satellite, and the exact location of the satellite that sent the data. By combining that information a conclusion can be drawn by the GPS or auto navigation system as to the exact position of the GPS device. Three satellites are used in order to determine the point of intersection and a fourth satellite insures the accuracy of the data. Auto navigation systems are more sophisticated and much more functional than the original military GPS devices that were used. You can not only get directions to guide you on your trip, to make up for detours, and get you back on track after wrong turns, but you can also get information about local destinations, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and a few other points of interest along the way. Many auto navigation systems have upgrade packages that allow you to purchase a subscription, which will provide you with up to the minute information about traffic, weather, and construction along your route. The subscription costs for these services may be a deterrent for the casual driver but will prove invaluable to those who rely on correct directions and being on time while traveling extensively through work. Be sure that whenever you purchase a GPS or auto navigation system that the system you purchase is not only full upgradeable but also easily upgraded. It does no good to have a system that is capable of being upgraded if you can't figure out how to upgrade it. Many of these systems can be upgraded by using a something as simple as a CD or DVD in order to deliver the information and upgrades. If you can't upgrade your system it will become obsolete in time as new roads are constantly being made and old roads are often closed for construction and upgrades. If you do not have the latest data on roads you are essentially driving just as blindly as you would be without an auto navigation system. The Obvious Benefit of Auto Navigation Systems If you've been in the market for a car, truck, or SUV recently, then I'm sure you've seen the vast number of vehicles sporting shiny new auto navigation systems as part of this or that package upgrade. These systems are delightfully handy when you find yourself stuck in traffic that is moving slower than the snail that just passed by or that roads are closing due to nasty weather or traffic pile ups. The truth of the matter is that they can come in equally handy when faced with every day driving if you allow them to be. Many people unfortunately purchase these systems because they seem like a good idea at the time and then never really get their money's worth. Very few investments in technology are worthy if you aren't going to at least get your money's worth. Auto navigation systems are great when you find yourself lost in the woods so to speak, but they can help you find alternate routes when traffic is busy on your traditional drive to the grocery store. They can help you avoid roads that have been closed for maintenance, or even find a quick way around work that is being performed along your route. These devices can also help you find shorter routes to events and such than you may have been aware existed before and they aren't commanding nearly the price they brought in a mere two years ago. In other words, this convenience is becoming much more affordable. One thing you must keep in mind when considering a new car or a new auto navigation system for an existing car is how much you think you will actually use your system. Even if you save it for emergency use alone, it is quite possible that in an emergency this nifty device will be worth ten times what you originally paid for it because it could save jobs, time, or even lives (particularly if you are lost and searching for a hospital). For me, it is hard to put a price tag on the comfort that owning a device such as this would bring but it is definitely worth the $500-$1,000 that is currently being charged. Keep in mind that when these systems first hit the market $1,000 was on the ultra low end. If you never use this system and only get it because it looks cool, then you definitely are not getting your money's worth. Technology is only good when it's useful to someone. Sitting there unused it is assisting no one and is essentially a waste of money. On the other end of the spectrum however, you have people like me. By 'like me' I mean those of us who could get helplessly lost and flustered finding our way out of the driveway on dark and moonless nights. I use my auto navigation system like an extra pair of eyes. My system is not the top of the line system that advertises an uncanny ability to help you parallel park your car, but it is nice enough to help me figure out where I am and how to get where I'm going from there. For me, that is exactly enough to be worth every penny. Beyond that, my navigation system doesn't require tricky folds or my pulling off onto the shoulder in order to read. It talks to me (without losing it's temper) and tells me where to go, I love that about my system. I don't know about the rest of you, but map reading is not something I've ever been gifted at. That fact may have a little to do with the fact that it was not something I was ever terribly interested in. Couple that with my poor attention to landmarks and I was a driving disaster. Literally, I got lost at least once, if not twice a week before making the move into the modern world of navigation. I have absolutely no regrets and while I can't promise that you will love your auto navigation system as much as I love mine (all systems are not created equal), I can pretty much bet that your driving, particularly on long road trips, will go much more smoothly than without one. Auto Navigation Systems have Many Talents Today's auto navigation systems aren't just for the car, truck, or SUV. More and more manufacturers are discovering that offering drivers the option of taking their navigation systems off road is an incredible boon to sales. With this realization they are delivering on many levels previously unheard of. There are even GPS and navigation systems that are designed in order to assist in finding a great catch. Perfect for the fisherman in your life. Seriously if you're looking for creative ways in which to justify the expenditure of an auto navigation system, perhaps the following activities and ideas can help: 1) Biking. Biking isn't limited to sidewalks and roadsides any more. People are becoming much more adventurous and demanding of their bicycle travel today and taking the tour off road. This means that there isn't always a clearly defined path to guide you to your destination or even to find your way back to civilization. A good GPS or auto navigation system can help you find your way back home no matter how far you've strayed. 2) Geo Cashing. This is a relatively new pass time activity that seems to be taking on a life of its own. For those who enjoy this activity I am sure you are well aware that it occasionally takes you well away from the ordinary beaten path. Not all of us are as observant as we should be while looking for something and discover all too late that we have no real clue as to how to get back to the point we began. You will use your GPS system for the purpose of geo caching, but if you purchase a minor upgrade you can also use it to guide you back to your point of origin should you find yourself lost in the woods. 3) Hunting. There is no rule anywhere that even remotely indicates a necessity for navigational skills in order to make an excellent hunter. In fact, I've known more than a few hunters who have a difficult time finding their way home some days. For these fellows and femmes, there is hope and a way to save face. Navigational assistance is a great way to discover where you are, where you've been, and get your where you want to go. 4) Boating. If you've ever been in the open sea I'm sure you'll understand what I am saying when I say it is very easy to become disoriented as to where you are headed. Now, those who are seasoned at navigation will tell you it's a piece of cake. I'm here to tell you that they must have learned it at their daddy's knee because I certainly tried to learn as an adult and it still seems completely Greek to me (of course, perhaps it is, I've heard that the Greeks are phenomenal sailors). Regardless, GPS and auto navigation systems can make your journey by sea a much safer experience while helping insure that you reach your destination, preferably without incident with any sandbars in the region. By car, land, bike, and sea auto navigation systems have a great deal to offer the savvy consumer. Take the time to study the many options for GPS equipment and find the one that will suit the inner explorer in you. You will find it is well worth the investment if you use it often and use it well. Four Great Reasons to Buy an Auto Navigation System If you are one of the many people around the United States of America and the world that has debated whether or not to purchase an auto navigation system for your vehicle perhaps this article can help you understand the major benefits of owning such a system. There are many benefits but there are four that seem to take precedence over all others. I believe you will find many of the four reasons quite compelling and may even change your mind about the need you and your family may have for a device such as this. 1) Safety. We live in a day and age where we can no longer rely on the kindness of strangers when it comes to stopping and asking for directions. Admitting you are lost to a stranger is sometimes more dangerous than actually being lost. Even in the modern day of cell phones there are areas in which even those can't be reliable and they aren't really much help if you have no idea where you are in order to get directions to begin with. Safety is an even greater issue if you are a female traveling either alone or with small children. You do not want to make yourself a target whenever you can avoid it. Having an auto navigation system can definitely salvage your trip despite wrong turns, detours, or bad directions to begin with. 2) Security. This goes along with safety to some degree but takes it one step further. Not only do you have and added degree of security from harm or the ill will of other men, you also have a layer of security when it comes to things such as getting to work, court, important meetings, job interviews, dates, or anniversaries on time. You will no longer have the worry of costly traffic delays, particularly if you subscribe to upgrade services, which provide minute-by-minute traffic analysis and areas to avoid. There is also the security of a lower stress commute to your destination even when you aren't certain of where you are going. Morning commutes are often filled with stress, adding uncertainty to that stress is not the best way to start off your day. 3) No more maps! This one is a huge bonus to me when it comes to my driving habits. I am not the most gifted reader of maps. In fact, I seemed to have received no gifts when it comes to that particular talent. My auto navigation system saves me the hassle of carting around multiple maps for long road trips while also providing the security of knowing I will not have forgotten an important one only to discover it is missing all too late. 4) Having the country at your fingertips. Literally! A good auto navigation system is like having a map to the entire country on hand at all times. Impromptu road trips are the word of the day and no longer require the painstaking planning of days long past. You can even get door-to-door directions to arrive safely and quickly at your destination. Of course these are not the only reasons that buying an auto navigation system is a great idea, but the certainly make the decision a little easier. As the technology required for these systems evolves prices are dropping almost weekly. Now is the perfect time to buy a great navigation system for your car, truck, or SUV at a terrific price! Why Install an Auto Navigation System? Auto navigation systems are wonderful tools to have when you need them and face it, we have all been utterly and completely lost at some point in time or another during our driving histories. Of course, some of us get lost far more often than others. I will be the first to admit that I'm one of those who are continuously lost. More than I hate the feeling of being lost, I really hate stopping to ask for directions, which nine times out of ten only result in my becoming more lost than I was to begin with. The truth of the matter is that in today's society, being lost is more than a waste of time or a simple inconvenience; it is actually quite dangerous in many places. I know when traveling it is very easy to take a wrong turn and end up in the wrong part of town. Even for those with decent map reading and navigation skills, simple detours can still lead you astray as maps don't usually come with a 'this is the bad part of town' sort of disclaimer. The fact that being lost can be a frightening situation is intensified in situations when women are either driving alone or with their children. Not only is there the uncertainty as to where you are or how you will get back on track, but there is also fear of anything going wrong because you do not know the area and there are no familiar landmarks. These situations and that sort of peace of mind are the very reason that auto navigation devices are a great idea for anyone who travels-period. These devices aren't useful only to those who travel frequently but to anyone who uses a car on a regular basis. We all find ourselves at some point in time needing to take detours for road construction, traffic jams, chemical spills, parades, and countless other details. The paths that are little out of the way of our ordinary paths, often rob us of familiar landmarks and it is very easy to become completely and utterly disoriented which could result in us going in completely the opposite direction of where we intend to travel. If we have some sort of mapping system onboard that can help us find our way, we will find that we arrive much more quickly and with far less stress than trying to find our way, read maps, or asking strangers for directions, which in and of itself is taking a risk. I know that there are a lot of people who find that personal navigation devices are quite useful as well. I seriously recommend having an auto navigation device installed in your vehicle for many reasons. First of all, you won't have to worry about the battery failing at just the right moment. I know my cell phone battery always seems to die when I actually need my cell phone. The same holds true for flashlight batteries and weather band radio batteries too. It only makes sense that this would be the case when it would come to navigation devices as well. Having one installed in your vehicle means that as long as your vehicle has power, so does your navigation device. Another reason I recommend installation is this: how many times have you walked out of your house without your cell phone, purse, keys, drivers license, or any other document or piece of equipment you need? I do it all the time and often find that I'm halfway to my destination before I remember that I left what I needed. Finding yourself lost is the absolute worst time to realize that you left your navigation assistance device at home and is generally the one time you need it. Having it installed in the car means you never have to take it out and as a result will never have forgotten to bring it with you. As you can see there are many excellent reasons to have an auto navigation system installed in your vehicle. I hope that you will find it provides you the same safety and peace of mind it affords me. Different Types of Auto Navigation Systems It is true that auto navigation systems installed by automakers look completely natural and integrated into the features of the vehicles we purchase. For that reason alone, many people opt to pay several times over what the system would have cost to have installed by someone other than the maker of the automobile. It is truly amazing how much of an impact aesthetics makes when it comes to purchasing your next dream car, or even your first dream car. The thing is, that even if the system doesn't seem to flow with the look of your car, there are very valid reasons for getting one in the first place and the safety and security that they provide travelers is very well worth the sacrifice of a few aesthetic features. It isn't exactly necessary, however, to completely sacrifice aesthetics in order to have the safety and security that auto navigation systems provide. As a matter of fact, some of the most popular brands of these systems are actually installed to the car by use of suction cups rather than cutting into the dashboard or removing the ever so important stereo from your car, truck, or SUV. Keeping price conscious consumers in mind, manufacturers are offering many options well under the $500 benchmark while also affording consumers the luxury (or lower price, however you decide to call it) of installing these devices themselves. It is important to remember that not all GPS (global positioning satellite) devices are meant to assist in auto navigation and make your purchase according to your specific needs. When shopping for one of these devices it would be comparing apples to oranges to compare a tool that is widely used for activities such as geo caching, hiking, biking, or boating. Each of these will bring in different price tags while offering greatly varied features. You need a device that is meant for mapping directions if you plan to use your device or system for driving. I try to keep pointing out the fact that not all GPS or auto navigation systems are created equal this is very important to remember. You run the risk of purchasing the wrong system without proper planning and thus having a bad overall experience. Even among systems designed specifically for the automobile that offer mapping and navigation assistance there are different types that will appeal to different needs and uses. There are three types of auto navigation systems. Those three types of systems include: Navigation systems that are designed to stand alone, handheld systems that suit multiple purposes, and systems that are designed to work with laptops, PCs, pocket PCs, and PDA systems. Each of the types of auto navigation systems and devices offers different benefits and drawbacks. It is ultimately up to you to decide which will suit your needs most. The stand-alone systems are often the most popular choice and are excellent for those who need driving directions and nothing more. They offer a steady power supply, turn by turn direction (in many cases), the security of being there at all times (no worry about whether or not you remembered to actually bring it along), and verbal directions along with landmarks that should let you know you are on the right path. There is a reason that these are the most popular. For those who want to take their navigational tools off road on occasion other devices might be much better suited to your needs. Handheld devices often require additional software in order to work well with door-to-door types of directions or regular driving directions, however, they offer portability for those who wish to go biking, hiking, or kayaking and need the confidence that directions and navigational tools can provide. For those who have laptops or PDAs, the software that is available for these provide an excellent service when it comes to navigation both on and off roads and the beaten path. The cost is offset greatly if you already own your laptop or PDA and well worth a little extra investment, particularly if you will use this particular tool on a regular basis. As I've said before, there is no perfect navigational solution for everyone, but there are quite a few that are nearly perfect for all who will dare to use them. Auto Navigation Systems are Great Tools for Geocaching Geocaching is an excellent way to maximize your use of a handheld auto navigation system. There are so many wonderful activities and events you can use your system for and geocaching is a way of combining many activities into one use or event. In addition to being a great way to get out and see the world this is a great way to work physical fitness into your fun regimen. The reason is that there is generally some degree of work involved in finding your hidden treasures. So what exactly is geocaching? Glad you asked. This is a sport really, kind of like a fox hunt without the dogs and foxes. Seriously, it is a merry chase in search of a small token or treasure. The idea is that you take something, leave something, and make a note about it in the log. You use your GPS or handheld auto navigation system in order to find the treasure you are seeking. You find the caches and stashes by getting the coordinates from the Internet. This is a very popular pastime and you will find all kinds of spectacular prizes and goodies in the cache stash as well as phenomenal flops when it comes to prizes as well. All bets are off really, some stashers leave great goodies and others leave pranks or silly items. It is completely up to you which treasures you will leave behind (do keep in mind that this is often a family activity and keep your tokens family friendly as people of all ages enjoy the sport). There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to geocaching and new games are created all the time to keep the fun alive and the sport much more interesting. Check the Internet for caches hidden in your area, you might be amazed at the vast number of treasures and treasure hunters that live near by. I always have a tendency to think of geocaching as my own form of treasure hunting. Not all caches are created equal but the thrill of the hunt is really what it's all about. There have been some incredibly zany and humorous caches in addition to the wonderful stashes of actual cash. Enter into this with the idea of having a lot of fun and you might be surprised at all the wonderful gifts and goodies you find. Be sure however to always leave something behind if you take an item. Don't be deceived by the fact that you are using GPS or other auto navigation systems in order to find the stash, you may find yourself getting quite the orienteering workout. Not only will you need to climb, hike, or bike on occasion you may need specialized equipment such as scuba equipment or rock climbing equipment in order to reach some caches. You may even begin your own cache by finding a creative location in which to stash your trinkets and treasures and loading the coordinates to your local geocaching website. If you keep an eye on your stash you may find all manner of interesting goodies and ideas coming through. Even if you haven't really considered how exciting it would be to go on a real treasure hunt since you were a child, isn't it about time you did? Geocaching is the modern day treasure hunt with a twist-rather than "X" marking the spot, you will find your way with beeps and blips. Auto Navigation Systems Meet Tough Competition-Lower Prices Ensue More and more automobile manufacturers are electing to offer auto navigation systems as options and upgrades to their customers. Gone are the days when these convenient systems were only offered to those buying ultra luxury automobiles. Today you can find these systems as standard upgrades on many vehicles that are in the middle of the price range. Even vehicles such as the Ford Explorer are offering these systems to consumers as part of an upgrade package that is fairly standard. If you happen to be wondering why we are seeing these options more and more often on fairly standard automobiles within reasonable price ranges it is because the technology, which was once cutting edge is now more commonly made and as a result falling victim to the old adage of supply and demand. More companies are making auto navigation systems, which means they are pricing them more competitively, this is a win-win situation for consumers who travel often but found the luxury car price tag that once went along with the auto navigation systems to be more than a little restrictive. Consumers are also electing to have auto navigation systems installed in their automobiles at the retail level. Some stores offer these systems and discounts on their installation to savvy consumers. It's quite possible to get a much better deal doing it this way for many and you manage not to pay the hefty interest costs that are associated with financing automobiles. Having your own system installed allows you a much greater degree of choice when it comes to not only the price but also the bells and whistles that come along with your navigation system. While it is fairly safe to say that not every driver will need the top of the line system, it is a good idea to get a fairly decent quality system that can at least provide you up to date information about the route upon which you are traveling. Most of us spend many of our days hurrying off from one point to another and are well aware that every minute counts. A good quality auto navigation system is one that will save you precious minutes during traffic delays, detours, and when faced with unexpected road construction. You may also be delighted to find that your navigation system can on occasion show you a much quicker route to your destination than you may have anticipated. While manufacturers are offering auto navigation systems to automobile consumers as an upgrade and for an added cost, check the pros and cons before deciding to go that route with installation. In this day and age of comparative shopping, ad match programs, and high competition it is very possible to find a much better deal outside the confines of your automobile dealership. You can find many that offer deeply discounted or free installation of their products, which will look as good as if it were factory installed if that is a concern (and for many it is a major concern). You should learn all you can about the particular model of auto navigation system a particular car maker uses and all of the features that come along with it in addition to any monthly fees that may be associated with the service. Auto navigation systems that offer no subscription fees may have fewer bells and whistles but may be completely adequate for your personal needs. Only you can decide which will be best suited to your needs. Some find the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have up to the minute and accurate (according to some manufacturers) information about road conditions, closures, detours, and routes is worth the monthly fee that is associated with owning the device and receiving the service. Ultimately you alone must decide whether or not one of these systems would be a wise investment and how much system you want for your money. I personally find that the very peace of mind they provide when traveling is well worth the price. Auto Navigation Systems that use Laptops or PDAs You may or may not be aware of the many options on today's market when it comes to auto navigation systems. Take my word for it there are now more options than ever before with new options appearing daily. Among the many options that are available for those of you who are interested in obtaining equipment that will assist you in finding your way on long and short trips there are options that can be used along with your laptop or PDA devices. If you currently own and use on a regular basis a laptop or PDA the software or other devices and receivers that are required in order to utilize your laptop as a GPS device aren't nearly as expensive as purchasing a stand alone auto navigation system. In fact, as far as money savers go, this is a great way to save money on your purchase and receive the same great benefits that some of the top of the line auto navigation systems has to offer. You will find these types of devices that are geared towards as many different budgets as the actual stand alone systems. Some of the more popular of these tools include the following: 1) US Global Sat BU-353 USB port GPS Receiver. This nifty device costs less than $100 and allows you to turn your laptop or pc into a GPS. This is a great feature for finding directions and attaches to your laptop through the USB port. 2) DeLorme Earthmate LT-20 GPS. This is also a little less than $100 and gives your laptop fully functional navigation features. This not only works with laptops but also with Palm OS. You will experience rapid satellite acquisition and you have the Street Atlas software to guide you towards your destination. The software is included with the Earthmate. This software will even recalculate your directions should you miss a turn along the way. For the price, I highly recommend this if you have a PDA or laptop already. 3) DeLorme Earthmate Blue Logger Bluetooth Wireless GPS. This is another nifty tool by DeLorme. This device will allow you to receive a real time image of your location but requires an unobstructed view of the sky in order to accurately record its current position. This device also works with Street Atlas software in order to assist you in charting your course and giving proper driving directions. 4) Tom Tom Navigator 6 Bluetooth. If you are looking for feature rich navigation then this is certainly the tool for you. This is useful with laptops and Palm systems. Not only will you find mapping technology that is quite superior but you will also find useful things such as parking garages, fueling stations, and restaurants along the way. You will notice a great variety of prices and features with these devices. The important thing to remember is that you want the same or better features for less with this type of equipment since you are providing either the laptop or the PDA. If you already have the laptop or PDA you should be able to save a tremendous amount of money over the costs of purchasing a stand-alone auto navigation system. If you aren't getting an incredible bargain you might want to debate whether or not the system you opt for really is the best system for you. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is the fact that your laptop or PDA can become an important tool in keeping you on the right track when traveling. You may be one of the lucky few who has never gotten lost while traveling (or one of those who refuses to believe they are lost) however, if you aren't then perhaps it is time to seriously invest in either software, equipment, or devices that can help you find your way whenever you are lost. Laptop and PDA equipment offer great alternatives for those who need navigational assistance but need to remain within a strict budget. 5 Ways Auto Navigation Systems and GPS Technology Improve Lives Global positioning technology is used in most of today's GPS and auto navigation systems. The truth of the matter is that this technology while once reserved for the wealthy is now trickling into mainstream America. We are seeing this technology in cell phones in order to assist with 911 calls. We are seeing this technology in automobiles in order to track and possibly retrieve them if they are stolen. We are also seeing this technology used to help lost animals find their way back to the homes of their families. The truth of the matter is that there are many ways in which GPS technology is currently making our lives easier. Below you will find a great number of uses for GPS and auto navigation system technology that currently exist. Even more amazing is the fact that new discoveries for these technologies are being made every day and over time there will be an even greater variety of methods to utilize this technology for the benefit of society. 1) Keep track of teens and children by using services such as uLocate Communications. This technology allows you to track members of your family by their cell phones. With the click of a button on your cell phone or simply tracking from home via the Internet you can find all members of your family that are carrying their cell phones. The benefits of this feature to your peace of mind alone are well worth the monthly subscription fee, which can be as low of $4 a month depending on which service you choose. 2) Keeping track of the elderly. This is especially useful if you have a loved one that suffers from Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. Technologies are improving continuously and will hopefully reach a point very soon where ID bracelets much like the medic alert bracelets will allow GPS tracking that is even more reliable for the elderly. The relief of knowing that you can find your loved one even if he or she has wondered off and forgotten how to get home is something that you really can't put a price tag on. 3) Lost pets. I mentioned this earlier but it is worth repeating. The technology exists to have your pets implanted with chips or even to have chips placed in collars that allow you to readily locate your precious pet without spending endless hours of searching and whistling. The real beauty of this is that you won't have to spend hours comforting sad children; you can take them to the computer and let them help you track Fido. 4) Finding shortcuts along your route to work, job interviews, important meetings, conventions, and personal appointments. This is great if you are running into a time crunch or worse need an alternate route as the result of a traffic jam or road closure. 5) GPS technology allows security and safety in many cars that utilize On Star technology as well. This technology cannot only track the location of your car but also be used to call for help in emergency situations. This device is activated by the push of a button and can even be used by small children in emergency situations. There are many great ways that GPS and auto navigation systems and technology are being used each and every day to improve our lives and provide peace of mind. The methods mentioned above are simply icing on the cake.
4 Great Reasons to Enjoy Geocaching with your Auto Navigation System Geocaching is a great way to spend an afternoon, a day, or a weekend. This activity seems to be taking the nation by storm and is responsible for the rising popularity and availability of GPS and auto navigation systems on the market today. Many people aren't simply purchasing minimal systems that guide them to their coordinates with beeps and blips but investing in complete systems that can provide much more useful tracking and mapping utilities. Regardless of whether you are purchasing the bare minimum system when it comes to geocaching or investing in a top of the line auto navigation system that has all kinds of bells and whistles, I am fairly certain you will find that geocaching is a great activity for many reasons. Everyone who participates in this activity has something special that they enjoy and appreciate about it. Below you will find some of the more popular reasons that people choose geocaching as a fun way to use their GPS devices. 1) Being a kid again. You heard correctly, this is my personal favorite reason to participate in geocaching. I remember going on treasure hunts as a child and drawing out intricate maps and pretending for days, even weeks on end that I was a pirate in search of some rare treasure. That treasure usually ended up being holly berries or a rather large pinecone, but it was the thrill of the hunt that was important. 2) Enjoying the great outdoors. You may argue that one can do that anytime and wouldn't really need geocaching in order to do so. You would be correct, however, geocaching can take you hiking, biking, swimming, and mountain climbing in search of one little prize stash. Most of us wouldn't tackle all of those things in the course of an afternoon. In other words it's a way to experience the great outdoors only intensified. 3) Learning about others. When Geocaching you can find all kinds of neat and nifty treasures. The idea is that if you take something you should leave something behind and create a log. You learn about a lot of different people by examining the treasures they've left behind and reading the logs. You will experience many different people from many different cultures as this seems to be a rather universal pastime in which all ages and cultures spend hours upon hours participating. 4) Being a part of something bigger than us. I remember watching Treasure Hunters on NBC last summer. They were all off in search of a specific treasure but kept getting clues at different destinations along the way. Geocaching might not have a million dollar payoff but there are little treasures along the way and many people participate which makes the hunt thrilling and fun at the same time. By participating you are one of many people who will tread the same ground and seek the same treasure. It is a unifying experience in many ways and can be excitingly competitive. If you have never experienced geocaching, I hope you will at least consider this fun and thrilling pass time as you check out possible auto navigation systems and other GPS technology that might be good for you and your family. Geocaching is one of many ways that auto navigation systems can bring more life to your daily living. The Privacy of Auto Navigation Systems There is a great amount of concern about the privacy aspect of GPS and auto navigation systems and devices. Many people are strict guardians of their privacy as it has become so sacred and so easily invaded. I for one, certainly understand that desire to maintain one's privacy and do not endorse on any level using these types of devices in order to invade the privacy of total strangers or bending the law and legal protections we have in place in order to protect people from actions such as this. On the other hand, it is great to know that if I make a 911 call from my GPS enabled cell phone, I can be found even if I have no clue as to where I am actually located. The same holds true for On Star. You can be located by the GPS information that the company has access to. The really good news is that you are not completely sacrificing your privacy or your right to that privacy for the sake of security. There are very strict laws in place to protect your privacy from invasive eyes, even during a legal preceding and there is also case law and precedence to support the understanding that your GPS coordinates cannot be given out even if there is credible evidence or reasonable suspicion. Privacy is so important in America that it has been guaranteed to our citizens. In this day and age of big brother and with the fear of the horrible things that could happen being sensationalized in Hollywood, the idea of privacy isn't as foreign of a concept as we thought it was. The idea of privacy and invading privacy is another reason that many parents are more than a little hesitant about utilizing the GPS tracking capabilities of their children's cell phones. While we struggle with the notion of invading the privacy of our children we also know without a doubt that we want to protect our children from potential harm with every fiber of our beings. That protection includes protecting them from themselves on occasion no matter how distasteful that process may be. Knowing where our children are at all times is one of many ways that we can help protect them from the evils of the world while also being available at a moments notice. The flip side of course is that our children can find us whenever they need us also so we are essentially sacrificing some degree of our privacy in order to be available to our children at all times and to know where they are. Be sure to remind your teen or preteen of this whenever they grumble that you are checking up on them. The price to pay for these services is marginal when compared to the wonderful benefits they offer families with children, teens, or even elderly who may need to be monitored for whatever reason. Protecting our loved ones is one of the many benefits of auto navigation systems and GPS technology that can't be measured with a price tag or a certain weight in gold. Whether you decide to make use of this technology for you and your family you should rest assured in the knowledge that you aren't exposing your day-to-day travels to any passerby. Your privacy is still safe from strangers, while your family may be a different subject all together. Popular Auto Navigation Systems While technology is constantly evolving it is fairly safe to say that there are some toys that are better suited to remain at the top of the heap than others. The story really is no different when it comes to auto navigation systems. These systems each have different bells and whistles and while there is no one system that is perfect for everyone, there are a few systems that are consistent best sellers. It is important that you as a consumer know what is available in navigational tools before leaping and buying the first thing you see. There are many neat buttons and features that can really turn a girls (or guys for that matter) head if she isn't sure of what she will actually need and use in her (or his) travels. Knowing what you need, what you would like, and what you are fairly certain you can live without will help you get the best possible bargain for your auto navigation system dollar. Best Selling Models 1) Tom Tom ONE Navigation System. This system is currently the smallest of the portable auto navigation systems that technology is constantly changing so this could be a short-lived accomplishment. Don't let the size fool you however. Tom Tom may be small in size but it is big on features. The atlas is preloaded so you do not need to add any software in order for it to be up and running. Additionally you can subscribe to the plus features if you have a Bluetooth enabled phone, these features will provide accurate and up to the minute weather and traffic data while you travel. Tom Tom offers four different routing options and different views of the map displayed onscreen. Tom Tom One offers turn-by-turn directions and will quickly get you back on track if you miss your turn. The Tom Tom commercials aren't a terrible exaggeration of the great features this little device has to offer. 2) Garmin Nuvi 660 Automotive GPS. This auto navigation system is one of, if not the most advanced on the market today. Again, technology evolves so quickly that there is no guarantee this information won't be obsolete tomorrow. However, for the time being this is the system that has all the bells and whistles that should set your eyes aglow and get your fingers itching to 'play' with it for a while. Of course, being the most advanced generally brings the largest price tag. There really is no difference in this case and only you can decide if the features available are really worthy of the additional fee. In addition the typical navigation features Nuvi is Bluetooth enabled and has extra features for those who wish to subscribe. 3) Magellan RoadMate 2200T Portable Navigation System. This system is another that is wildly popular at the moment. Some of the popularity of this particular system is the direct result of its versatility. This unit is small enough to be used in settings other than the automobile. You will need to purchase an upgrade in order to use it for driving directions but all indications point to this unit being well worth the price, including that of the upgrade. This nifty device also has other functions such as an MP3 player and photo viewer. And is well suited for use away from the automobile for up to 8 hours. You can also subscribe to a service that provides reliable traffic updates including information about traffic snarls as well as road construction. You can also use RoadMate to point out points of interest, restaurants, and fuel stops along your route. Each of the models mentioned above has some feature that sets it apart from the others and some features that are very much like the others. You will find a wide range of prices as well as features in all units that you choose to check out. These are some of the best selling auto navigation systems on the market at the moment and are a good place to start your search for your perfect system. Auto Navigation Systems are Aids not Replacements for Attentive Driving If you are in the market for an auto navigation system you are definitely not alone. Some people are content to purchase a device, stick it in their windows, and hope it works well whenever the need arises. For those, it is quite likely that most stand-alone navigation units will work quite nicely. The thing to remember is that not everyone is created equal when it comes to primary or even secondary navigational skills. For that reason alone, not all auto navigation units are created equally either. Don't expect your auto navigation system to replace a 'co pilot' by any means but it should definitely do in a pinch and be more than capable of helping you get through a few lost moments while stuck in traffic, detouring, or taking a country drive. You won't have a natural conversation with your navigational system no matter how much the television commercials attempt to convince you that this will be the case. You can however get great details about every single turn of your trip including details about landmarks you should see along the way. You should be aware that when you miss a turn the alternate route isn't immediately forthcoming. Computers contain data and it takes a moment to go through the mountain of data sometimes in order to come up with an alternate route. Be patient when dealing with your auto navigation system and it should serve you well both in times of crisis and during your regular daily driving. I know this isn't always too terribly easy in high stress situations but when you look at it, using a navigation system is a far cry better than relying on maps that must be dug out, dusted off, and translated or an inability to read a map and ending up even more lost than you were to begin with. Even the best auto navigation system on the market isn't a replacement for attention to details, seeing and remembering important landmarks, and paying attention to street signs and what lies ahead. The good news is that the technology for these systems is constantly evolving and improving. Data is synching much more rapidly than ever before and more and more often you are finding much more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. The maps that are provided onscreen (in the more sophisticated versions) combined with the verbal directions and details work together in order to create a great driving experience, which would otherwise be filled with uncertainty, doubt, and no small degree of stress. Regardless of how effective the auto navigation system you choose is, it only matters how effective you feel it is. If it gives you the directions and insights you need in order to reach your destination safely and on time, then I really can't find fault in the system and would hope that you would not either. There is no such thing as problem free in this day and age and these systems are only as good as the mapping data that they have. The really good news, however, is that data is more often accurate than inaccurate and in most cases you can easily reach your destination. When selecting an auto navigation system you should really consider how often you travel and how often during that travel you wish you had an alternate route or at the very least an option for your directions, how often you find yourself lost and clueless and needing to ask for directions, and how often you really feel you will use the device you decide to purchase. If you don't feel you will get the most possible use of your navigation device, then consider one that can be used outside the automobile as well or at the very least one of the less expensive versions. You want to get your money's worth from whichever device you choose for your auto navigation system. Handheld Auto Navigation Systems There are many different types of auto navigation systems. Among the many you will find those that come factory installed, those that are attached to the interior of your automobile through the use of suction cups, and still others that are handheld devices which can simply be installed by attaching a cord to your cars cigarette lighter. These devices don't offer quite the functionality and ease of use as some of the other (need I say pricier) types of navigational devices but you should not be fooled by features that you might not find all that useful in reality. I'm a bargain hunter by nature. There really is nothing I can do to change my thrifty (some might say cheap) nature. I like having nice things but would like to get them while spending as little money in the process as possible. For this reason alone I decided to seriously consider some of the many handheld navigational tools on the market today. There are many reasons I find these devices attractive. First of all, they suit many purposes. Not only are they useful when traveling by car (if you purchase the right software of course), they are also quite useful when taking your travels off road as well. You can use them four wheeling in the country, riding horses in wide open spaces, hiking in the hills and mountains, or when getting away by bike for the day. My personal favorite use for these nifty tools however is on the water. I'm a horrible navigator and a mapping handheld GPS is just the thing to keep me on track and on target. I don't know about you, but I hate feeling as though I am completely and utterly lost. It is a frightening feeling that is only intensified whenever there are children on board during those lost moments in time. Only someone who has ever experienced that feeling while looking into the eyes of her babies and feeling so alone on top of being so lost can really understand. There simply aren't adequate words to describe the deep down inside fear that can take hold in situations such as this if allowed. The best action to take is proactive. Avoid putting yourself in situations where you will feel lost. This of course, hasn't always been possible in the past. Having a navigational device on hand at all times can go such a long way towards alleviating that fear and calming any qualms someone may have about the need to travel to unfamiliar places at time. Since we must occasionally stray from the world we know, love, and are familiar with it is great to know that there are devices to help us find our way in many situations. If you are looking for a great gift to give almost anyone on your Christmas list this year, a nice handheld GPS system with mapping capabilities is a great gift to give. Of course, you do not really need to wait until the holidays in order to give a gift such as this-especially if you are giving it to someone whose safety is of great importance to you. I think anyone who drives, bikes, boats, floats, hikes, or rows could find a great deal of use for tools such as this, particularly females who enjoy these activities and occasionally enjoy them alone. No matter what your specific needs in auto navigation systems may be, there are many systems that could suit them quite nicely. Take the time to study what is available and reconcile your needs with your budget in order to find the one that will work best for you. Handheld GPS systems with mapping abilities offer a highly affordable option along with some surprising extra features, which will make them attractive in and out of the automobile. Good luck in finding the perfect auto navigation system for you. It's out there somewhere. Pros and Cons of Auto Navigation Systems and GPS Devices Auto navigation systems and GPS devices are everywhere you turn in this day and age. You can find them in your car, boat, plane, even in your purse (if you have a PDA or cell phone with GPS capabilities combined with the right software and/or subscriptions). If that isn't enough for you, you also have the option and capability of turning your laptop computer into a GPS device if that is your desire. The thing that most people forget to check out or ask about when looking at all the nifty features of unit A over unit B is how easy is the unit you are considering to use? Handheld GPS and auto navigation systems offer sensible solutions to common travel related problems. They will not have all the answers all the time but are a great help most of the time. There are many styles and types of GPS and auto navigation systems that are available in today's market. Some people may not fully understand all of the neat tricks you can do with your GPS system. Here are a few things you may not have realized you can do with your GPS device. 1) You can always find the spot where you parked your car by marking it. Talk about a treasure hunt where "X" marks the spot! 2) You can track your route while hiking, biking, or horseback riding so that you can retrace your steps in order to find your way back where you started. 3) Some GPS devices can even allow you to 'go it alone' by offering the option of a digital compass rather than telling you step by step where to go (if this interests you, check the package details to see if this is available on the unit you are considering). Keep in mind however that GPS and auto navigation systems aren't fail safe. There are a few problems that the brochures, boxes, and salesmen might neglect to mention. 1) You still need to carry around an Atlas or road maps for backups as there are occasions when the data for GPS units may not be current or accurate. Remember that roads are built, close, and in need of repair and maintenance all the time. It's nearly impossible to have one that is always correct up the minute. 2) These devices do not typically work well inside buildings or under dense forest cover. 3) Batteries, batteries, batteries. These are worse than digital cameras when it comes to burning through batteries. This is one reason that people tend to leave them charging at all times if you're leaving your car with your unit be sure you have extra batteries for backup as it is quite likely that you will need them at the worst possible moment. 4) GPS units do not recognize the existence of mountains, rivers, and other obstructions in your path so the directions and coordinates they give can occasionally be misleading. There are many pros and cons when it comes to not only auto navigation devices but also for handheld GPS devices as well. Be sure that you try out the model you are considering before you buy it if at all possible. This will make your decision much easier and allow you to see whether or not you will be able to easily use and understand the auto navigation system you choose. 5 Ways to Utilize Auto Navigation Systems and GPS Technology While Traveling If you have managed to do any research on auto navigation systems I'm sure you've come across countless nifty features that these devices have in common. While not all devices utilize the very same technology, it is great to know that cell phones today in addition to handheld auto navigation systems are utilizing technology that make travel and locating lost children, pets, and other loved ones a little bit easier to manage in today's hectic world. There are many ways that the technology that drives GPS can improve our lives both at home and while we travel. Below you will find some great ways that this technology helps improve your overall travel experience. 1) Trip Planning. Not only are auto navigation systems great to have while on your trip, they are also quite useful when planning your trip. You will not have to listen to endless whining about whether we are there yet or how much fathers. Your children can listen along with you as you plan your trip and find out fascinating places to stop, view scenery, and get some great chow along the way. You should also be able to quite easily find out about neat shopping, shows, and other points of interest en route as well. Finding something for everyone keeps the entire family happy on your trip. 2) Finding restaurants, theatres, and nearby malls. This is very important not only when traveling to your destination but also once you've arrived. Many of the nicer auto navigation systems on the market today are able to sort restaurants that are nearby. These systems are much more than simple software that is designed for the sole purpose of giving directions. They are fully functional navigational tools. Some of them even have entertainment features, which will allow them to be used as ebook readers and/or MP3 players. 3) Keeping tabs of family in crowded situations. Even in the mall, you can have family members going off in different locations and keep track of them all. This is also true at graduation ceremonies and other events, which may call for family members spreading out over a large amount of space leaving some out of sight at times. 4) Security when away from home. The idea of being away from home, particularly with teens can be very frightening. We want them to be independent and at the same time we want to never let them out of our sight. Having a cell phone that allows GPS tracking of your teen is a great way to have the best of both worlds. You can keep a watchful eye on where they are without having them in your direct line of sight. This allows them the freedom to pursue their own interests and you the security of watching that happen. 5) Tracking important items while traveling. This may not seem like such a big deal until you've dealt with lost luggage a time or two. The truth is that this is a huge load off the minds of many, particularly when it comes to laptops and electronic devices that have important information. If you haven't considered these reasons for purchasing an auto navigation system or making use of the many options for safety and security that GPS Technology allows in your life, it is time to give these things some serious thoughts. Our children are the most important thing in the world we can protect and it is well worth the minimal investment in the software required to assist in keeping them safe. Choose a User Friendly Auto Navigation System With so many options on the market when it comes to auto navigation systems how do you choose the one that will best suit your needs? This question may seem very simplistic; unfortunately the answer is not nearly as simple as the question. There are many things to consider when selecting a personal navigation system not the least of which is what purpose you will be using the system to achieve. Many people consider auto navigation systems for their automobiles and no other purpose. The truth is that these devices can have many very practical uses in your every day life. If you are a person who spends a lot of time outdoors, you might find that a handheld GPS device with mapping capabilities is better suited to your personality and your needs than a stand-alone type of auto navigation system. The reason being that these devices can not only be used for turn-by-turn driving directions but also for off road travels, geocaching, boating, hiking, biking, and mountain climbing among many other popular activities. Handheld devices are perfect because they can be easily removed from your vehicle and taken along with you. The portability makes them perfect companions for just about any activity in which you choose to participate. Many newer models of cars, trucks, and SUVs are coming equipped with in dash auto navigation systems. Don't for a second think you aren't paying for these glorious goodies. In fact, the chances are that you are paying quite the premium price for these lovely features and aren't even aware. The worst thing though is that if you are financing the cost of your car you are also financing the cost of your navigation system. If at all possible avoid getting into this situation unless you are particular enamored of the look of the in dash systems as they really offer no better coverage than you can find in many stand alone systems that you can easily install and cost significantly less. The thing to remember about these systems is that they are only good as long as you are in your car for the most part. You may find some that can last so many hours away from a power source (if you have a system that you've installed yourself rather than a factory installed system) but most of them aren't going to offer the greatest features for activities such as geocaching or fishing. Before you buy, seriously consider and have in mind the activities for which you will use your device. Don't buy a device that charges for features that you aren't likely to use and avoid at all cost an interface that isn't easy to use. Remember you will be using this while on the road most of the time and you want a system that won't require a concentrated effort in order to operate. We have quite enough distractions to deal with while on the road without adding a difficult to operate auto navigation system. Auto navigation systems are great to have when you need them and even at times when they simply come in handy though you could have survived without them. For me the security of knowing that I will never be truly lost again is well worth the investment I have made in mine, I honestly believe you will feel the same way about your system once you decide which one is best for you. Auto Navigation System Provides Less Stress Travel Have you ever found yourself frustrated with slow moving traffic only to reach a certain point (an hour or so later) to find that the problem seems to suddenly fix itself? Have you ever been sent on a poorly marked detour during road construction only to find an hour or two later that you are hopelessly lost and have no clue where to go from there? Do you travel often and find that road signs are often obstructed or missing all together? Have you ever found yourself late to important meetings as the result of bad traffic, bad weather, or poor directions? If you have answered yes to any of these questions you are a prime candidate for purchasing an auto navigation system for your car, truck, or SUV. You may think that only people who travel extensively need these incredibly useful devices and systems. The truth of the matter is that anyone who spends any time during the average day in a car could seriously benefit by owning an automobile navigation system or device of some sort. The problem often lies in deciding which of these systems would be best suited for your specific personal navigation needs. Stand-alone Navigation Systems These types of systems offer the most complete and thorough mapping utilities. You will often find extended or subscription features with these systems that offer vital information about daily weather, traffic, and construction issues in the areas in which you are traveling even going as far as offering alternate routes in order to avoid possible delays along your route. You can purchase systems that either have maps already loaded or that require you to go online in order to download the maps the system will use. These systems are usually great at not only offering detailed driving directions but also information about landmarks you should see along the way. They are the best buy for those that will rely heavily upon them for directions and travel details. Multipurpose Handheld Navigation Devices These auto navigation systems are by far the best for busy active families. These devices don't offer the same turn by turn directions as the stand-alone navigation systems but software can be purchased that will enable them to do so. The primary benefit of these devices is that they can be useful both in and out of the automobile. They are excellent choices for those who spend a great deal of time outdoors. If you get your thrills hiking, biking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, or row boating down the way you will find that these devices offer a great number of options to the average consumer and are an excellent choice for those who want more from their navigation dime than a system that can only be used inside an automobile. Laptop/Palm Based Systems Technology improves continuously and often by leaps and bounds. It should come as no surprise that our laptops and Palm Pilots could quite easily be turned into personal navigation devices complete with turn-by-turn directions and many other bells and whistles along the way. Some of the devices that make this happen cost less than $100 which makes this an excellent choice for those who travel extensively with Palms and laptops in tow. In fact, if you already own the Palm or laptop it seems almost a waste of money to invest in more extensive auto navigation systems when you can have all you really need for a minimal investment. Of course, there are those that can be quite costly and the ultimate decision is yours alone. I happen to be the bargain hunter type (which often translates to cheap). Regardless of which type of auto navigation system you ultimately select I believe you will find that having this type of assistance in your travel offers a certain level of safety and security that you may not have enjoyed previously. Take care and enjoy your travels, I hope you find that things go much more smoothly and confidently with the assistance of your auto navigation system. Auto Navigation Systems are for Work, Play, and Everything in Between Back in the dark ages, it was nearly impossible to navigate the shark-infested waters of Main Street or big city USA without the assistance of a road map or some other major navigational aid. Back then if you found yourself lost you either had to stop and ask for directions at a convenience store along the way or drive along until you found a payphone you could use in order to call for better directions. This process became a little easier once cell phones became prominent and affordable to the masses. Today it has become even better if you can believe it. Gone are the days when you drove around in circles hoping to find a place to stop and get directions to take you back to the beaten path before your gas tank uses the last of its fumes. Now you can simply use GPS tracking to find out where you are and then get directions to the nearest destination of choice or simply find your way back towards your destination. You can actually go on vacation now without taking a massive road atlas or a half dozen maps of a half dozen states along for the ride. Gone are the days of needing a tour guide in order to fold your maps back into their former positions. Vacations are now much more relaxed as a result of the lack of stress involved in merely getting there. Not only is getting there easier with the use of auto navigation systems, but getting around once you reach your vacation destination is much easier to handle. This makes the entire vacation experience much more enjoyable to all involved and helps build memories that aren't marred by serious adult conversations about the lack of road signs and a few expletives about the fact that armadillos seem to be the only ones around to ask for directions. Beyond the vacation factor, business meetings were always a step away from potential disaster before the advent of auto navigation systems that exist to help you find your way in the jungle that has become corporate America. The good and the bad of corporate America is that it isn't only on one coast or another but scattered throughout the country. This means that there are times when you will find it absolutely necessary to take drives in places you may have never considered visiting at any other time in your life. Cornfields, I assure you, begin to blend together and all look alike after a while. Only the most keen of observers can tell at any given time one cornfield from another. This is one of those times when it is almost necessary to have an excellent tool to assist you in navigating throughout the countryside en route to your business destination, particularly if it is in the Midwest. Many times being late is not an option and being lost in the middle of nowhere is even less of an option. An excellent auto navigation system will help you avoid this possibility all together while also helping you in other instances where weather, road construction, and general traffic delays could cause you to be late for those oh so important meetings. You will also find that even when your job isn't on the line there are plenty of reasons to make use of your auto navigation system. Work and play aren't the only reasons to make use of systems such as this. Getting to your daughters big day at school or your son's big soccer game even when traffic is snarled to a standstill is another great reason to use this type of technology. In fact, there are situations almost every day in which this technology will prove quite useful if you are of the mind to utilize it. It doesn't really matter what you are using your auto navigation system for as long as you are using it widely and faithfully you are getting your money's worth. Things you won't be told about Auto Navigation Systems Auto navigation systems have come such a long way since their inception. It's hard for many to see the product that exists now and realize exactly how far these devices have come since their origins in the U. S. Armed Forces. The thing to keep in mind and remember is that they still have a long way to go. These devices are far from infallible and still have some serious faults that prohibit us from canning the compass and maps all together. One thing to keep in mind is that there are almost always problems of some sort with electronic equipment. This is especially true when it comes to equipment that is run by software. If anyone doubts the validity of this statement, check out a computer that is run by Windows? We often find ourselves at the mercy of the limitations of the software we are using. The same holds true when it comes to software driven auto navigation systems and GPS devices. This fact alone makes them a little unreliable. For those times when reliability isn't at its best keep in mind that for the most part the system works well. It's just difficult when the times you need it to work well are the times when it is malfunctioning. The good news is that the units themselves are often quite resilient and even able to withstand the manhandling a typical rough and tumble two year old can dish out. It is also important to keep in mind that GPS technology isn't meant to replace the use of maps or of common sense when driving. You can only store so much information on a GPS device and roads are constantly being built, changes, constructed, improved, and moved. For that reason alone it is nearly impossible to guarantee that any device will have 100% accurate information at all times. You should however, choose a device or auto navigation systems that allows frequent and simple upgrades to the maps provided. Updating regularly and immediately prior to any large trips will go a long way towards saving some serious hair pulling while you travel. Another thing to keep in mind with your auto navigation device is that it isn't all that reliable whenever you don't have a clear view of the sky. For that reason there may be times when you aren't able to get a clear signal. Tunnels are a great example of one of those times. It's not just about one signal, the device must be able to lock onto three satellites at the very least in order to be 'seen'. A fourth satellite is usually required for verification of the data. This means that in some situations where you have a clear view of the sky, you may not be in a position where all four satellites have a clear view of you and more importantly your device. GPS and auto navigation systems are still a far cry better than trying to read dusty old maps for most of us. Despite that, it is always a good idea to go into a buying situation with all the facts in hand rather than thinking you've discovered the next best thing to sliced bread only to find out that the crust is a little hard and crumbly at times. This technology is wonderful and affords many benefits to those who are willing and able to make use of it. It will never sacrifice common sense or map reading skills however and that is important to understand. Auto Navigation Devices Offer Many Installation Options Auto navigation systems are offering many options to a growing number of consumers each and every year. From systems that are factory installed into automobiles by the automakers themselves to those that simply plug into the car's battery adapter to use on the go and take along with you, there is a little something for every type of consumer when it comes to these nifty devices and systems. Even those who don't limit their travels to automobiles can find a device that would work for them as well. There are even devices that are made with water travel in mind and famous for their endurance of less than optimal weather conditions. While you are not limited to auto navigation systems in order to find your way, they do make being lost a lot easier to handle. In fact, you are never truly lost if you have a reliable auto navigation system. These systems are designed to help you navigate back roads, country roads, city roads, main streets, and out of the way high ways like a pro and they deliver on their promise for the most part. There are a few glitches just as there are with road maps, the major difference between a common atlas and these navigational devices is that they have up to date information that is quite reliable in most instances (unless there are unannounced road closings and such) and you are limited to the data at the time an atlas or road map was printed when relying on those for directions and navigational input. Additionally you are limited to the combined map reading skills of those in the vehicle. Map reading is a lost art for many and is becoming less and less emphasized as a growing number of people are turning to navigational devices for direction and guidance. For aesthetic reasons, many consumers opt for auto navigation systems that are installed by the automobile manufacturers. These systems come at a premium price but offer a seamless integration to the interior of the car. This of course makes perfect sense as those devices were literally made for the cars. In the long run it is quite likely that you will pay the most for these devices. Not only are you paying a higher price for the device initially but you are also paying for the service of installing them and the interest on both of those fees. It is a completely personal decision as to whether or not this is the option that is best for you. Many savvy consumers have discovered that they can have these systems installed in their automobiles by professionals without paying the hefty price tag that comes with interest when purchasing a system and installation along with the vehicle. If you choose the right people to install your navigation system you will find that you save money and have a system that appears natural within the interior of your automobile. You can have the best of both worlds when it comes to auto navigation systems. You do not have to sacrifice your budget in order to get a nice quality system that looks great in your automobile. For those who are seriously limited on funds but have a real need for the security that an auto navigation system affords there are still many options that might very well fit your needs from a navigation system. You can purchase installation kits and make the installation yourself. This alone could literally save a few hundred dollars on the system. There are also installation kits that include the device at very reasonable rates. Keep in mind that some of the lower priced systems may require a monthly fee for the service. However, many people that cannot afford a large amount of money up front for the system might very well be able to put $20-$50 per month towards the service. The truth of the matter is that as competition grows among makers of auto navigation systems so do the options available to consumers. Along with growing competition we also see falling prices. It's a great time to be a consumer when it comes to auto navigational devices. Auto Navigation Systems are not One-Size-Fits-All Have you ever gone for a long country ride with a man who simply did not believe in getting lost? It happens and often results in hours and hours of driving by the same tree or creek twice and a desperate fear of running out of gas miles away from civilization. At least that was always the case for me. I am not afraid of adventure or trying new things. At least not for the most part, I am however, deathly afraid of being in situations where I have no idea where I am or how far I am from familiar places and things. I grew up in a little town off I-55. No matter how far from home I am, I always feel safe if I am on I-55 because it is familiar. I know this road. I may not know this particular stretch of road, but I know that if I remain on this road, it will lead me home. There is safety and comfort in that knowledge. This same sort of safety and comfort can now be bought. It is called an auto navigation system and will always tell you which road leads home. That for me is a feature that is truly priceless. Auto navigation systems are becoming much more common as people are practically living in their automobiles. We bring our work into our cars; our kids sports, lives, friends, and family go along for the ride. Knowing that our children and their safety depend largely upon our ability to get from point A to point B without getting lost somewhere in between or taking a decidedly wrong turn makes the decision to purchase a vehicle with an auto navigation system a much easier decision. The good news though is that you don't have to go out and buy a new car, truck, or SUV in order to get a very decent auto navigation system. There are many systems on the market today. With the numerous systems available are plenty of options that will suit all manner of budget as well as the innate desire that men (and some women) are well known for: a desire to have plenty of buttons to push and play with. More and more of the systems offer much more than simple directions. Many offer turn-by-turn instructions while others promise a truly intuitive navigational experience. Regardless of what type of system floats your boat or of whether you prefer the bare bones system that will simply get the job done, there is a system that is probably very well suited to your desires and your temperament. Many drivers today are finding increased uses for their navigational systems. Some of these uses include: traffic pile ups, weather delays, wrecks, detours, road construction, high traffic areas that are best to avoid, or even simple door-to-door driving directions are sometimes in order. Most auto navigation systems are outstanding in any of the above situations. It is important, however to remember that not all systems are created equal. You need to have a list of expectations and talk with a reliable and reputable dealer to see which device or system would best suit your specific needs. You should also keep in mind that while a system might not be the right system for your needs doesn't mean it wouldn't be the ideal system for someone else you know or love. We all have different needs, desires, and tastes. Don't push the system you purchased on others as it may not be the best suited for them while it works wonderfully for you. This is another reason that it is important to study the various systems available and make an informed decision from the start. The fact that one system doesn't meet your requirements doesn't mean that no system will. Take the time to find the best system for your needs from the beginning in order to be a truly satisfied customer.
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