Car navigation systems buying guide

What to look for in a car GPS.
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02.What to look for

  • Do you need one? Before you buy a car navigation system, consider how often you usually have to use a street directory or map, and whether it justifies spending hundreds of dollars.
  • Data entry: Check how easy it is to enter addresses and routing preferences.
  • Display: This should be large and glare-free, and show the information you want to see — such as a two- or three-dimensional map view, distance to the next turn, current street name, time of arrival, and distance to destination.
  • Installation and portability: Check how easy the system is to install, but also how easy it is to remove and carry — you’re likely to take it with you when you park the car somewhere, as it could be an attractive target for thieves if you leave it prominently displayed on the windscreen.

Features they (almost) all have

  • Li-ion battery.
  • SD memory card slot.
  • Australian map data (to street number level) and points of interest.
  • You can buy map data for other countries
  • USB PC connection.
  • Touchscreen.
  • Allow you to store your home address.
  • Allow you to select a location on the displayed map.
  • Option to calculate fastest or shortest route.
  • Option to exclude highways and toll roads.
  • Display car speed, distance to destination, and estimated time of arrival.
  • Display street name and distance to the next turn.
  • Option of two- or three-dimensional map display.
  • Volume control for voice instructions.
  • Points of interest: schools, police stations, car parks, fast-food outlets, post offices, petrol stations, airports, railway stations, hospitals.
  • Option to search for a point of interest.

Extra features

  • Walking option: You can make the system plot a route for pedestrians — for example, ignoring one-way streets, or using walkways through parks.
  • Languages: You can select a number of other languages for the display and voice instructions (such as French, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Danish and Dutch).
  • Fuzzy look-up: If the system can’t find the street name in the suburb you’ve entered, it’ll search for it in neighbouring suburbs.

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Want a new GPS for the car? Here's what you should look for.

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