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Navigation Race: Garmin Nuvi vs Atlas

Nov
13
2006

In the UK, a test was conducted recently to compare the speed at which two drivers could navigate from point A to B. One was equipped with a Garmin Nuvi and the other had maps which came from the UK Government website Transport Direct. Who would you put your money on?

For a number of reasons, I’d put my money on the person with the Nuvi. The Nuvi is capable of receiving live traffic alerts which the atlas user would not have access to. Additionally, the atlas user should pull over when they need to consult the maps, it just isn’t safe not to. Therefore the Nuvi user should get to point B faster, hands-down.

However that doesn’t appear to be the case. Apparently the driver using the Nuvi arrived in 103 minutes while the driver using the atlas arrived in 95 minutes.

There are a few things about the test that certainly favored the atlas driver though… The driver using the atlas had a passenger reading the maps! I also wonder how much time the road atlas driver (and passenger co-pilot) spent selecting maps on the website, then printing the maps and instructions…. Surely longer than eight minutes.

Another point to note is that the person operating the Nuvi said they were confused between the “quickest” and “shortest” route settings. Confused? How is that confusing?

Quickest – Gets you there the fastest based on road speeds.
Shortest – Gets you there in the shortest overall distance.

Apparently, they selected the “shortest” route since they said the Nuvi guided them on a slower rural road.

So let’s see… Let’s say it was during rush hour and both vehicles only had one occupant, the driver. Let’s also assume the Nuvi operator knows the difference between shortest and quickest or read the manual to find out.

The atlas driver starts at his computer visiting a website and printing maps. Meanwhile the Nuvi driver is already in the car, has entered the destination, and is on his way. The atlas driver finally gets in his car and starts towards the destinations, with paper printed maps in hand.

The Nuvi driver gets a traffic alert and is advised on the best route around the traffic. The atlas driver eventually comes along but doesn’t know to avoid the traffic and gets stuck in the jam.

The Nuvi driver arrives at their destination, a couple of minutes behind the anticipated arrival time due to avoiding the traffic jam. The atlas driver tries to find his own way out of the traffic jam and stops along side the road to review their maps and figure out if there might be a way around the traffic. Eventually he too arrives at the destination, late and stressed out from the drive.

One Response


  1. [...] A few days ago we talked about an article comparing how fast someone could navigate between two points; one person with a GPS and another person with an atlas. (Nuvi vs Atlas) Today, I saw another article comparing paper maps with GPS maps. The article suggests that paper maps are more accurate than GPS maps [...]

    GPS Vs. Paper Maps GPS Review - November 27th, 2006



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