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Navigation Gadgets : Review, Features & More

In this post, we will discuss about various Navigation Gadgets available in India. In US and Europe Navigation devices are part of the Car Dashboard itself, but India we believed in asking the passerby for the directions and to make sure we double check with one or two persons on the road. But with the arrival of improved roads like Golden Quadrilateral and more and more cars on the road, navigation gadgets got acceptance in India too.

So Garmin, Tom Tom started marketing their won GPS Navigation devices in India and we have home grown gadgets like MapmyIndia and SatGuide navigation devices. Let us have a brief look at various options.

We have the following Navigation Gadgets. Each one has its own plus and minuses.
  1. Standalone portable GPS Devices
  2. In Dash Navigation devices
  3. Navigation Apps running in Smart Phone
  4. Navigation Apps running in Tablets

Standalone portable GPS Navigation Device

MapmyIndia ZX250

ZX 250 is the flagship GPS device from MapmyIndia. It comes with a 3D Sygic maps for navigation and lots of other features, such as Bluetooth for pairing your phones and various multimedia capabilities.

I have tested this only in Bangalore but as per their website it supports turn by turn navigation for 4000 cities in India. The package comes with a USB charger, separate car charger and a mounting unit for ZX250, it has a 12.7cm screen with a resolution of 480X272 which is equivalent to most of the similar 5” screen GPS device available across brands. It provides a provision for connecting a camera (need to buy separately) to aid reversing the car and the display automatically switch within 3 seconds you engage the reverse gear. It has a built in Bluetooth support to pair your phone and an FM transmitter to connect the sound to the car stereo speakers. It supports 8GB micro SD card which can store and play multimedia files in the 5” screen the sound can be redirected to the car stereo using the FM transmitter. Using the AV input you can connect external video or audio too. It can be used to see the photos you have shot while travelling.

Once you open the box you realize that it is easy to setup but the navigation menus are not very intuitive. The resolution of the maps displayed is very poor which reminds you of CGA resolution you would have come across late 80s. Once you accepted the poor display resolution you are ready for another shock. Unlike your smart phones, the GPS tracking will not work indoors, you need to take it outdoor to find the GPS satellites and kick start the tracking. Once the tracking is enabled and found the GPS Satellites it may work in indoors too. The map is very detailed, almost door to door navigation is possible. Before starting you need to set the destination which is easy to find but not very easy to navigate the menus. If you ever worked with touch screens of iPhone, iPad, Galaxy series phones or Nokia Lumia series you understand how fast a touch screen should respond to give you a good experience. Compared to this ZX250 touch screen is pathetic you need to wait for it to understand the intention of your touch; otherwise it refuses to acknowledge your gestures and start taking its own decisions. So it is big learning curve for you to slow down and make it understand your intentions are good. It is one of the worst implementation of touch screens I have seen like a cheap touch screen phones. It provides a stylus pen which I initially thought an Antenna since there is no mention of it anywhere in the manual.

It provides a decent door to door navigation and good voice prompt to stay in which lane before a junction approaches. Maps are fairly detailed and most of the time it finds your destination, in fact it knows all 6 gates of Infosys and will take you safely there. There are lots of spelling mistakes (even Infosis) and it looks like they have translated the names from regional languages (may the BMP records). The voice command and control is good, it read out street names and alert you when you drive at higher speed than the speed limit.

Over all it is not a great experience when you know that you need to spent Rs15500/-.

Z250 teaches you that large screen does not offer better display, smaller screens are better.

TomTom Via 125

TomTom has entered into Indian market around 6 months back and offers many models.

Via 125 is a 5” screen with almost all the features of ZX250. Unlike ZX250 the mounting for Via 125 is integrated with the device itself. So it is very easy to mount and remove it. Maps support 5000 cities but there is no 3D support. It has 4GB internal memory but no SD slot, no FM transmit or reverse camera support.

It cost you around Rs. 15900/-

Navigation using a Smart Phone

Navigation maps are available for all the smart phones with GPS support but the capability differs. The free ones generally use Google Maps and are not available offline. So it needs 3G connections as well as the manual intervention for moving the Google maps depending on your current position. In other words the map will not move as you drive, your co-passenger has to move the map in the smart phone. But there are other apps which automatically move the map as you drive.

Car Speed for iPad

Car speed is an iPad application which replaces your car dashboard. It has odometer, trip meter, Speedo meter with speed limit warning, compass and Navigation. For navigation it uses Google map and the dashboard indicators are stylish with a chrome finish. You can do lots of customization, whether you want the compass to point true north or magnetic north. You can also switch between an analog and digital speedometer. The app’s trip meter and odometer can be reset as well. It works in the background to calculate how far you’ve traveled.

You can set the speed limit to give a warning. While driving it zooms on to the current location and the map moves automatically without any intervention from your side. It looks great too and costs $2.99/- Remember that it uses online Google maps so you need a 3G connection to work. I put on the personal hot spot in my iPhone which allows the iPad to access the internet using its Wi-Fi. Over all it is a good application but you need to mount the iPad in your Dashboard for easy access.


Sygic Maps for Smart Phones

Sygic Maps are available for iOS and Android and employs 3D offline maps which are same map available in MapmyIndia’s ZX250 but it looks much better in iPhone or iPad due to its awesome display screen though Apps does not support any great resolution currently. Navigation is similar to ZX250 and it provides a door to door navigation. For example I can set it my home as the starting point (it is marked already by Sygic!) and Gate no 6 of Infosys.

Its voice command and control is excellent which kept on saying to keep the right lane before any junction (since it is a straight road for me to reach office) and warns me whenever I cross speed limit and inform me before it reaches any junction and finally tells to take a right turn to electronic city from elevated highway. I can blindly follow it instruction and reach office, it is that accurate. For this great apps you have to shell out $50/- . It is a bit high, but for this price I use it in my iPhone, iPad and my wife’s iPad. So it is not a bad deal for door to door navigation in style.

MapmyIndia Application for iPhone.

MapmyIndia introduces door to door search navigation maps for 36 Indian cities for $5 for iPhone. These are 2D maps found in their GPS devices and gives voice commands and similar controls of their devices. But it supports only few cities and may be a good starting point to familiarize with navigation maps in iPhone.

In Dash Navigation Devices

MapMyIndia introduced latest gadgets for navigation recently. In Dash devices for most of the popular cars in India starting from Chevy Beat, Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai Verna, Ford Fiesta, Honda City, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Fortuner , Chevy Captiva, Mitsubishi outlander etc..
MapmyIndia website says “It comes power packed with features to make your life as easy and interactive as possible. It contains the ability to sync your mobile with the device, and enjoy these wonderful features such as seamlessly receiving and making calls so that you can relax while driving. You can even load your mobile contacts with the device, and use its A2DP music streaming to play music through mobile phone once; the synchronization is complete with In-Dash AVN-R. With the multimedia capabilities, you can play different music formats like MP3/MP4 and utilize its 17.8cm screen to enjoy theatre experience right in your car. Of course, it comes with all the normal features like an iPod interface (to listen to music with your iPod), rear view camera input option, Radio (AM/FM) and USB port/SD card slot. But its best feature is the Steering Wheel Key Control which gives the ability for the in dash to be controlled through you”. But it cost you Rs 39000/- Following figures show you the dashboard for Civic.

MapmyIndia have 2DIN navigation device which can be fitted to any car and enjoy navigation as well as DVD playback for Rs 26000/- or you can look Carpod Android tablets running Sygic maps which is sold at Rs 22000/-.

From the above discussion it is clear that the best choice is to go for either standalone GPS device or Sygic maps with an iPhone/ Android phone or iPad. Hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please send your feedback and comments.