Which GPS Service Do You Use?
Given the fact that it’s quiet on the BlackBerry news front at the moment, I thought I would put together a poll to see what GPS navigation device you use most.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked by others why I don’t get a navigational device for my car, not that I’ve ever been ridiculously bad with directions. My answer is always the same. I use my carrier's resident nav app on my BlackBerry. Why would I want another device? I don’t pay extra for my service and it hasn’t failed me yet. But then I began to wonder. I see a lot of personal navigation devices (PNDs) stuck to at least every other car I pass, and I do pass a lot of cars. I’m certain many of the adults driving these cars have cell phones. Why do they use a PND? Do they really offer anything more than my BlackBerry offers?
Let’s start with the basics. GPS receivers (typically twelve to forty channels) acquire signals from at least four of the thirty or so satellites orbiting the earth. This captures a 3-D fix on your location. GPS enabled smartphones generally use Assisted GPS or A-GPS to capture satellite data and typically uses fixed locations of cell towers or WI-FI hotspots to triangulate your approximate location. GPS receivers overlay the signal data onto the maps stored on PND devices or through your cell phone carriers’ service, and thus it can tell you where to turn.
Most integrated factory installed GPS devices are located in an ideal spot on you car to optimize a view of the sky - crucial in obtaining your GPS fix. Add-on PND devices get stuck to the windshield with suction cups for the same reason. I opt to use a sticky mat on my dash that keeps my BlackBerry safe and secure. I’m not worried about my phone flying anywhere during an accident because I can barely peel the BlackBerry from the sticky mat as it is, when I leave the car.
Most aftermarket PND models come loaded with street-level maps stored on their internal flash memory, so you should be ready to navigate right away, without a data connection. Cheaper units may use removable media, such as flash memory cards, to hold their map data. If you should lose this memory card, you’re pretty much out of luck. You’re now stuck with a pretend GPS unit in your car. It may look like a cool GPS device to your friends, but it won’t get you anywhere, except maybe a broken window should someone try to steal your pretend GPS unit.
Updating the maps on a PND device is typically done through the manufacturer's web site, where new map data can be downloaded and synced via USB or ordered on SD cards. Some manufacturers, such as Pioneer, Tom Tom, Motorola and Garmin, have downloadable software that can be used to check for map updates and manage map data. Though most map updates are priced in the $50 range, many manufacturers are beginning to offer subscription-based update service that give users quarterly map data updates for a lower yearly fee. Additionally, some devices come with a new map guarantee that allows users to download one free map update within 30 days of purchase.
Some people also use BlackBerry Maps or Google Maps on their smartphones, though I have never found the need.
CELL PHONE NAV SERVICE
Sprint and AT&T both use similar Telenav applications to get you where you need to go using voice commands and are indeed very accurate. Using Sprint, the nav app is fully customizable. I get everything from accident reports and one button re-route directions to the nearest Starbucks location, which I consider critical on any journey. While I am not familiar with Verizon’s VZNavigator, the service (along with AT&T’s) can be purchased in addition to a data plan. Their navigation service can be purchased by the day or month. Sprint on the other hand, includes the navigation service with their data plan, so it is cheaper.
When comparing my Telenav service through Sprint versus a PND, I may get slightly less feature-rich maps, which considering I’m typically driving while using my nav service, I don’t really need feature rich maps anyway. The mapping feature within my nav service is fairly detailed as it is. If I need to see points of interests along the way, I simply view the maps prior to heading out.
One drawback to using a nav service on your smartphone is if you’re driving through a forest or through the mountains, your reception may get cut off temporarily. But that’s not to say that PNDs are perfect here either. Fog can often hamper reception with PNDs. Remember, most devices will need an un-obscured view of the sky in order to work properly.
So, would a PND offer me anything more than the nav service on my BlackBerry? I don’t think so. And considering my nav service is included in my data plan and the fact that a PND would end up costing me more money with map update costs, I’ll stick with my BlackBerry.
How about you, do you use a PND? If so, tell us why you prefer it over your BlackBerry.