Inexpensive GPS Navigation
An article in yesterday’s Washington Post talks about “gimmicks” GPS manufacturers add to their devices. A point is made that since maps all come from the same place that manufacturers are adding these “extra features” to set themselves apart.
Deep down, the new products from Lowrance Electronics Inc., Garmin Ltd., TomTom International BV, Thales Navigation Inc. and others are still designed to keep track of your location and help you get to where you want to be. That’s why most of them use a geographical database from Navteq Corp.
Just a point of clarification, not all GPS manufacturers use NAVTEQ maps, TomTom (mentioned above) and several other manufacturers use Tele Atlas maps. Cobra is reportedly switching to Tele Atlas and other companies such as Mio, Pioneer, and TeleType have also used Tele Atlas maps. Still other companies use their own base maps such as DeLorme.
The article mentions that the addition of features such as FM modulators, MP3 players, and photo viewers add to the cost of GPS navigation equipment.
The added features don’t take away from the navigation performance on these devices, but they do add to their cost. The Lowrance unit sells for just under $500, while the feature-rich TomTom and Garmin units cost closer to $800.
Certainly those features do add to the cost of GPS navigation systems, however you can find lots of great GPS systems quite inexpensively. For example many retailers now offer the Garmin StreetPilot i2 for under $300, some under $250. You can also find the Magellan RoadMate 300 for under $300 from a few retailers.
Frankly, I think GPS manufacturers are offering choice. If people want to spend just a couple hundred bucks for basic GPS navigation they can. If they want to spend more for advanced features they can do that as well. I wouldn’t call it a gimmick.