I have been a witness to the changes happening over the last couple of years – launch of newer models, claims of maximum road coverage and entry of international biggies with pocket-friendly devices. We, as automobile enthusiasts, couldn’t love this ride more. From a “may-have”
Well, there is a downside of these positive changes too – we are now left with a plethora of options to choose from and with so many similar features, it’s time to end this War of GPS!
First, let’s look at the key features required in a great value-for-money Car GPS device:
1. Quality and Coverage of Maps/ Software –
Let’s look at the softer but critical factors. A good navigator device should offer maximum coverage of Indian cities and Points of interest (POI) and should be powered by a latest operating system to deliver the value. Currently, most GPS devices claim coverage of over 500+ Indian cities/ routes and POIs and the standard op systems are Windows CE versions 5.0 to 6.0 (latest). While most people generally don’t head off-road everyday but having decent coverage helps when you plan vacations to non-touristy locations.
A benchmark device should at least over this much coverage and critical info like nearest ATMs, Emergency services location, Gas stations etc
2. Under-the-hood features – This is the core of a device. Like with most tech products, following points are important:
CPU frequency – required for speedy Satellite-to-
FLASH/RAM – Most budget tablets come with 1GB flash/ 64 MB RAM and that’s the expected benchmark. This is important for quick loading of applications and while multi-tasking between navigation and other features. Premium ones come loaded with 128 MB RAM and upto 2GB flash memory.
Battery – Since most of us prefer our Personal GPS devices to be specialists in the directional domain, having a good battery back-up is as important as having turn-by-turn navigation! 800mAh – 1100mAh battery is the industry norm across devices with the higher value of mAh considered better. With general use, 800mah-950mAh battery can give you up to 2.5 hours of backup while the backup in an 1100mAh (or above) battery would be about an hour or more extra. (Note: All devices are accompanied by in-car chargers so use of back-up is mostly out-of-car or when you forget the charger!)
Display – Two things matter here – the screen size and the pixel resolution. Most budget devices offer 4 inches of screen while the premium ones generally come with a 5 inch screen size.
Resolution aspect ratio standard is at least 320 X 240 pixels while some newer models offer up to 480 X 272 pixels in budget range and premium ones offer more.
All devices are built for touch-screen options and jargons like TFT/LCD screen, VGA/ QWVGA alter the visibility/ viewing angles add to your overall comfort while these can be discounted when looking for budget option
3. Build Quality
Weight of the device is not a major concern since most of the GPS devices available in Indian market range from about 140 grams to 200 grams. Having a lighter device does help when you don’t have a co-navigator in the front seat and you like to carry your device along with you for value-add features or security reasons!
4. Value Add
Well we all love value for our money so extra features and freebies add to the overall buying process. Most modern devices let you enjoy some music/video playback, E-book reading option, in-built games. Packing these features along with add-ons like “locate device/ help when lost”, favorite locations etc give you long-term satisfaction.
Now having understood some key features, it was time for serious reality check. I evaluated most of the available options (the list is never ending), especially the ones easily available in the retail market and following represent the podium finish as per my understanding. (Disclaimer – Use the parameters and your usage criteria to arrive at the desired option!)
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