in-dash gps navigation?
In-dash Navigation Shopping Guide
What should I look for in an in-dash navigation system?
Accuracy, speed, and ease of use: These are all elements which can't necessarily be quantified in a specifications chart, but are vitally important to your overall enjoyment, and to the system's utility. If you read reviews of various navigation systems, pay specific attention to the author's opinions of the navigation accuracy, the relative speed of route calculation and recalculation, and the ease of working with the screen's control interface.
|In-dash navigation systems, like this Kenwood DNX9990HD, install cleanly in your vehicle's console.|
Screen size and resolution: Perhaps the most appealing aspect of an in-dash navigation system is the size of the screen that shows the maps you'll use to get where you need to go. Hardly surprising, the bigger the better. Most are either 6-1/2 or 7 inches (measured diagonally), either of which will give you excellent, at-a-glance visibility. You might also want to compare the resolutions of the screens you're considering; the higher the resolution, the sharper the picture, and the easier the map information is to see.
Points of interest: Points of interest (POI) are some of the most useful features in any navigation system. They help you find various locations in unfamiliar towns, including restaurants, hotels, gas stations, even ATMs. The more POI a navigation system has, the more options you'll have when you're on the road. Many systems let you program several stops along the way to your destination. Look for this feature when you're comparison shopping.
Real-time traffic data: Some systems are compatible with real-time traffic services. For a monthly fee, you can receive real-time traffic information, including traffic jams, construction, and even average speed of traffic along the programmed routes you're traveling. This doesn't just benefit cross-country travelers — it's especially handy for people with long commutes to and from work. Currently, traffic services are limited to major metropolitan areas, and typically require extra hardware.
Map updates: Most in-dash navigation systems enable you to update the maps and navigation data, usually by loading new ones into the built-in memory, depending on the format your navigation device uses. Map updates are released periodically and reflect the latest map information available. You shouldn't have to update your maps too often; once a year should be enough for most regions. Prices of map updates depend on the manufacturer of your system, and can range widely.
Touchscreen controls: All you have to do is tap the screen in the appropriate spot to enter a command. Touchscreen controls make entering destinations easier: when entering a city, for example, the touchscreen system will present you an onscreen keyboard. This saves you time, and is one of the many benefits of touchscreen controls.
If your vehicle has a double-sized dash opening, there are systems, like the Kenwood DNX7190, that will fit it perfectly.
Dash opening size: Some in-dash systems fit standard dash openings (called single DIN), just like standard stereos. Others fit the oversized (4") dash openings (double DIN). The monitor of a single-DIN retracts into the chassis when you turn the power off, then motors out and flips up when you're ready to use it again. The screen of a double-DIN sits flush in the dash, as though it were a factory-integrated component. Single-DIN screens are either 6-1/2" or 7" diagonally. Double-DIN screens typically are measured at 6-1/2". For the most part, the one you'll need depends on the dash opening you have (if you prefer a retractable screen, you can use single-DIN systems in many double openings with the help of an adapter kit; double-DIN systems will only fit double-DIN openings).
Besides handling navigation, these systems are also full-function car stereos. So you might want to check out our CD Receivers Shopping Guide for a heads-up on other features to look for in your new stereo.
And when you're ready: Shop for in-dash navigation receivers.