Why investing in personal navigation device a good idea   Leave a comment

Success is almost always a corollary of being at the right place, at the right time. It isn’t without reason that this tenet is bandied about by many a management guru. However, this is easier said than done given the growing size of cities and travel, be it inter-state or inter-country, becoming the rule rather than the exception. Asking for directions may be difficult when you are in an area where the landmarks and language are unfamiliar. This is why personal navigation devices, or PNDs, as they are commonly referred to, are becoming an integral part of the mobile executives’ digital arsenal.

Why can’t you simply use the GPS-enabled smartphone? 

The idea of investing in a PND might seem extravagant to many people, given that today almost every mid-segment smartphone and tablet in the market comes with GPS connectivity and built-in maps or navigation of some sort. For late initiates to the navigation tech, GPS stands for global positioning system, which helps pinpoint your location by using special satellite connections. If your device also has a map, GPS can show you exactly where you are. In case your system has a navigation software, the gadget will even help you plot your route from one place to another, complete with turn-by-turn instructions through voice and/or text.

While most smartphones and tablets can help navigate and chart routes, saving you the need to purchase and carry an extra gadget, they have their limitations. For one, they are not designed solely for navigation, so your routing experience could be disturbed by incoming calls, texts or e-mails. Secondly, neither the speaker system nor the display on a handset is meant to help you find your way. There’s also the issue of the battery draining out fast when you have the GPS running. Add to these the fact that most smartphones depend to an extent on mobile network connectivity to pinpoint your location (via A-GPS or assisted GPS). This effectively limits you to areas that are supported by a particular operator, while adding to your data usage bill. These are the various reasons why relying solely on a handset or tablet to find your way might not be the best option.

The PND edge 

The PNDs easily score over smartphones since most of these sport relatively large displays (3.5 inch and above) and come with speakers that are louder than those of most handsets. What’s more, they do not rely on a mobile network or Wi-Fi to pinpoint your location, so you can use them virtually anywhere without worrying about picking up data charges. These devices also tend to handle navigation extremely smoothly as they have been designed solely for this purpose. You can simply switch on a PND, indicate where you want to go and follow the route and instructions it gives. Almost all of them come with voice navigation. Unlike phones and tablets, most PNDs do not run multiple applications, so battery life and speed of operation (in navigation mode) are significantly better.

Of course, they have their drawbacks. As there is no Internet connectivity built into most PNDs, you have to connect the device to a computer to get new maps when they are updated. This can be cumbersome and time-consuming, especially if you have a slow Net connection. However, it is not advisable to skip this exercise, especially in a country like India, where roads and routes change, new landmarks emerge and old ones disappear very frequently.

This brings us to another shortcoming. As these devices depend on maps that are pre-installed and have to be updated manually, their utility is limited when it comes to discovering new routes or spotting new landmarks. Yes, some PNDs let you send information back to the manufacturer about such changes, but you have to wait until a new update comes along for the device to be able to factor them into its routing. In the end, a PND is only as good as the maps on it, and if they happen to be old, you are unlikely to get the best travel advice. Finally, most PNDs are designed to be used inside vehicles, so if you are the type who likes to walk to locations, you might find yourself saddled with an additional, slightly bulky gadget.

As for the cost, a decent navigation device, with a large display, comprehensive maps and good speakers, is priced at about Rs 15,000. However, you can get one with basic features in the price range of Rs 7,000-8,000, while the more evolved ones can cost Rs 20,000.

Should you buy one? 

Whether you need a PND or not depends on your travel itinerary. Those who travel in a small area might not have much need for them, but for those whose excursions are more extensive and takes them to new places, these are indispensable.

The fact that traffic information is slowly making its way to PNDs in India (it is a staple feature in Europe and the US) highlights their utility. Imagine being able to figure out not only where you have to go, but the most convenient route with the least traffic, and all before you set out for your meeting. Is it worth spending on the device if you are a frequent traveller? We certainly think so.

How to select a navigator 

➢ Make sure the portable navigating device has a clear, bright display, visible in sunlight as well as in the dark.
➢ Check the speakers of the gadget. You should be able to hear clearly even in noisy traffic.
➢ The maps are the soul of the navigator. Ensure that the places you travel to frequently are included.
➢ Find out how often the maps are updated on your device. Also check for the duration that these will be free. Some manufacturers provide free updates only for a limited period.
➢ Make sure that there is an accessory to attach the device to your vehicle’s windshield and/or dashboard.
➢ Go through the navigation options, such as the number of languages available and whether the navigation between two places is done through addresses or landmarks.
➢ No matter how big the temptation, stick to a device that specialises in navigation. Music, video and cameras will only hog space and slow its performance.

Posted February 17, 2012 by avinash2060 in Gadget World

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