A car navigator is a computerized device that performs the functions of an electronic assistant and a map. The appliance is capable of determining the car’s current location, laying and remembering routes, analyzing the road situation, recommending how to avoid traffic jams, warning about speeding, and reminding about turns. GPS systems for vehicles differ in size, parameters, and additional functions. Next, we will consider how to choose a navigator for a car and which functions are of primary importance.
How Does GPS Work?
Despite the fact that GPS is in most smartphones, the car navigator has a number of advantages:
- compact and convenient devices can be easily mounted on the windshield or dashboard;
- the driver can check the direction without taking his eyes off the road or letting go of the steering wheel;
- availability of detailed, up-to-date maps and step-by-step instructions for quickly reaching the destination.
The navigator sends a request and receives information from 24 satellites located in orbit around the Earth. To correctly calculate the coordinates, you need to get information from at least three satellites. After that, the device decodes the data and compares the coordinates with the map of the area. The quality of the signal is affected by cloudiness and mechanical obstacles like tunnels and high-rise buildings.
The car navigator doesn’t need an Internet connection: it receives all information directly from GPS satellites. However, models with hybrid modes can be equipped with SIM card slots and the Internet connection. This allows more accurate positioning, taking into account not only data from GPS satellites but also the location of cell towers.
The car navigator works from a built-in battery. A gadget with a large battery capacity will be able to work autonomously longer. For charging, it can be connected to any power source: outlet, car cigarette lighter, power bank.
The housing of the car navigator is most often made of plastic. Along with that, there are models on sale with cases protected from dust, moisture, and even complete immersion in water.
Just 10–20 years ago, planning a route was a long and difficult process. Before trips, drivers stocked up on road paper maps. Such tools were cumbersome and inconvenient to use. With the invention of navigation devices for cars, navigating behind the wheel has become easier. Maps can be downloaded and updated. They are constantly being improved and detailed.
The navigator determines its coordinates: longitude, latitude, and altitude. For the driver, this data has no practical value, so the gadget marks the location with a dot on the map.
Modern navigators are also able to:
- lay route options from point A to point B;
- calculate the distance to intermediate and final points;
- calculate the approximate travel time along the route by taking into account the distance and average speed;
- remember routes and places;
- guide the driver along the route using voice prompts.
Some models can provide the driver with additional information about gas stations, cafés, hotels, tourist attractions, roadworks, special attention zones, and speed limits.
New models of navigators have a function of synchronization with smartphones. It allows you to control music and receive notifications about incoming calls and SMS.
How to Choose GPS for a Car: the Hardware Part
The classic navigator, in its basic configuration, is a self-contained device that is easy to use. Which one to choose for a car? The answer to this question depends on the goals and location of the usage. Residents of a big city, moving through the traffic of the megalopolis, will need devices with access to the Internet that can quickly adjust the route to bypass jams. Models with a SIM card are more suitable for those who often travel long distances outside the zone of a stable Internet signal.
In many cars from the last years of production, the navigator is included in the set of the control system. However, if your car isn’t equipped with such an option, the device can be purchased additionally and set even to auction cars for sale. Below is a list of details and features worth paying attention to:
- The display is responsible for the clarity and legibility of small details. You need to pay attention to the resolution and viewing angle. An anti-glare display coating and a sensor module will increase the comfort of using the gadget.
- The processor is the main control module of any computerized device. The car’s navigation is controlled by a special GPS chipset. The device doesn’t need the same speed of operation as smartphones or tablets have. A processor clock frequency of 500 MHz or more is sufficient for the correct operation of the device. Navigators with a high-frequency processor work faster. In such models, the delay between receiving a signal, processing it, and issuing a result will be smaller.
- Multi-channel increases the accuracy of the gadget. The more signals the navigator can simultaneously receive and process, the higher its efficiency. On average, car navigators have 8–10 channels, while the flagship models have 12 or more.
- The voice signals of the navigator aren’t a critical point, but it’s important. The driver shouldn’t leave the road for irritants. Also, pay attention to the provided languages and the ability to download language modules.
Finally, remember the interface of the GPS device should be simple, convenient, and understandable without causing difficulties for the driver during use. Additionally, check if your device supports the ability to download other necessary maps.
How to Choose a GPS for a Car: the Software Part
Portable car navigators are self-sufficient gadgets. They work on the basis of the built-in operating system. Most often, it’s Android or Windows. Also, such devices have factory programs and system components, but there are models in which the user can independently download and install a specific navigation application.
To choose a GPS navigator that will last for many years, remember that this smart device needs regular system updates. It’s great if it happens automatically. In this way, the owner can be sure of the relevance and accuracy of the received information. The Wi-Fi models update navigation programs and maps without connecting the device to a computer or using the mobile Internet.
Today, you can travel by car all over the world. Therefore, it’s convenient when maps are at hand already installed on a small device with a comfortable interface. That’s why GPS has become so popular. It doesn’t matter whether you are driving on the roads of a big city or somewhere in a deserted area, a navigator will guide you along the most optimal route.