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Video: Three ways to get GPS in your car

Heads up!

Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.

Truth be told, GPS has become a bit ubiquitous. Not only is it a standard feature in many newer cars, most smartphones offer some kind of GPS app right out of the box, and a variety of other GPS apps are available. So why would you want to buy a dedicated navigation device like a receiver or a portable? To investigate, we installed a nav receiver in the dash, secured a portable GPS device to the windshield, and downloaded a GPS app onto an iPhone® 5. Then we hit the road for some performance tests.

Portable GPS

For our test, we used the new Garmin nüvi 3597LMTHD. It’s Garmin’s best portable device, offering a highly visible 5" touchscreen, an innovative and easy-to-use magnetic mounting system, and free lifetime map updates. We were particularly eager to see its free HD Digital Traffic service in action, which can receive info on traffic jams up to every 30 seconds in select areas.

In-dash navigation

We installed Kenwood’s DNX890HD navigation receiver in the dash. It features Garmin GPS, and offers live traffic-monitoring (though not the HD Digital Traffic of the nüvi). Part of the appeal of in-dash nav is having GPS and entertainment in one package, and this receiver is no slouch in the fun department: it offers a suite of sweet options, including smartphone app control, Bluetooth® hands-free calling and streaming, and an HD Radio™ tuner.

Smartphone navigation

While most smartphones feature some kind of GPS app preloaded, we wanted to use the MotionX-GPS Drive subscription service ($.99 for the app, and $2.99/month or $9.99/year) for two reasons. First, it would be more of a fair comparison, because it offers a wide range of extras. Second, this app can be used in conjunction with some DVD receivers, which lets you see the maps on the receiver's screen and hear the turn-by-turn directions over your car’s speakers.

Watch the video to see all three in action and to hear the results of the test.

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