In-car navigation system experiences

Mrs. R is contemplating purchase of a car navigation system. She’s a little put off by the many extras some systems offer: She doesn’t use MP3s, and she doesn’t need Bluetooth; just a clean, easy-to-use navigator.

What brands/models of navigators do the Dopers use, and what are your experiences with them?

I’ve got a Garmin Nuvi 660 on order right now… as soon as I get it (process the damn order already!), I’ll let ya know.

My mother just got for my father a Garmin system, that was recently discontinued - no MP3 player, just a voice director, as well as on screen maps and directions. I don’t have the exact model number available, now.

They love it, so far just as a car toy, keeping them amused while driving, but they’re planning some trips to Baltimore and DC later this month, so they expect it will be useful.

So far they’ve noticed it has a tendency to route them via highways whenever remotely possible, which is a little quibble to their minds (though they’ve been reluctant to play with the preferences so far.) but no complaints about it.

We’ve been pretty well impressed with the nav system that came with our Dodge truck. The display is huge and it’s generally accurate. The only recurring concern we’ve ever encountered is that it’s occasionally backwards with regard to which side of the street an address is on, but it’s never actually sent us the wrong way. Calling the “wrong side” issue a problem is overstating it - it’s only been backwards twice, and in both cases, it was a fairly rural area and it was probably just going by the side of the road where all of the mailboxes were.

One caution with any nav device - you do have to pay attention to the world - the thing once sent me onto a freeway onramp, but it has no knowledge of local oddities like the ramp I was on was restricted to carpools from 3-7 PM, and it was 3:30. Oops! Fortunately, there were no CHP nearby.

Our neighbor has a TomTom and it seems to work well for him. He’s a courier, and as such, drives all over the place. Being on time at the right place is pretty important in that business.

I use a Magellan at work, and it gives me the option to chose “Least Use of Freeways” or “Most Use of Freeways” when looking for directions.
I have a 700 series model now, but we’re being upgraded to the newest model - I think it’s called Maestro.
It’s very user-friendly - I didn’t get to read an instruction manual, but have been able to figure out how to use it, and all its neat little tricks. I love it.

I have a Garmin iQue 3600 (now discontinued). It’s a Palm PDA + GPS (though I only use it as a GPS). It’s got search-by-address capabilities, the ability to route (and reroute) on the fly, and has voice navigation combined with a display that gradually zooms in as I get closer to a turn. (I’m sure all GPSs have these capabilities – I’m not sure if you knew about them, though).

I’ve used it on many occasions by just entering an address in and pressing “go.” The only time it steered me wrong was when I looked for the nearest McDonalds to an address I was going to – there was no McDonalds there, but it helped me find the next-nearest one easily. At this point, whenever I’m going somewhere for the first time, I use the iQue to get me there; it’s usually a good route.

(Sometimes, to taunt it, I ignore its advice to get it to say, “Off route … recalculating.”)

:smiley: I do that, too. Sometimes we’ll stop to get gas or a bite to eat and it will start saying, “Recalculating route. When possible, make a legal u-turn.”
I snap back, “Oh, shut up. I know what I’m doing.”

I bought my Mom a low-end Garmin for Christmas last year. She couldn’t load the maps because she didn’t have a DVD on her computer, so I took it home and loaded them. I used it for a few weeks after.

I love it. I don’t travel quite enough to justify buying one - but I will get one for my next driving trip.

I adore my Garmin Nuvi. I have the small model that can fit into your pocket, but I’ve heard good things about the cheaper-but-boxier model.

It’s pretty easy to use. I have run into only a few glitches with it (it didn’t know where I was, or, it freakishly had the highway drawn wrong and thought I was driving through a cornfield when I was still on the road), but those have been minor. Otherwise it’s been great. I use it locally but it’s also been a real lifesaver on vacations. It’s good not just for finding the major things (How do I get to the zoo?) but also for minor ones, like what’s the closest gas station to the airport for when I return the car rental? Where is the closest laundromat, where’s the postoffice? There are no goddamned street numbers visible here–what block am I on?

Mine has the MP3 capability and the picture viewer, but I don’t even bother with them.

I do occasionally have to tell it to shut up, as others have said. But it’s been great.

Garmin StreetPilot c330. None of that blue-tooth, or MP3 bullshit.

Totally intuitive. You can learn how to use it in like 3 minutes. Pre-loaded with maps.

It’s a beauty. My dad has one he loves, and he’s a total technophobe. I got my wife one because she travels all over for her business.

We paid $300, but you can find them for $250.

I know you don’t want the gadgets but I use an HP IPAQ and it outperforms Garmins I have used in the past. Quicker signal aquisition, a bit sharper more accurate directions. But it does have bluetooth and 802.11, MP3, videos, pretty much everything but phone service. It can give up to date traffic, re-routes, and weather and has great POI (points of Interest).

It’s tunnels that really get them confused. Halfway through the ten-mile Gotthard tunnel: Turn around when possible. Then a couple of minutes later: 'At the roundabout, take the third exit. :eek:

I develop the same type of data that drives these things. They just got the odd/even addresses backwards for that particular range on that street.

Really like my Garmin GPS map. To the point that I will just put in a ‘to’ address and go. I have also used them in rental cars. Very useful and quite reliable and easy to use.

I have to agree with Trunk. I have the Garmin StreetPilot c330 as well and it is great. No fancy extras, all the maps are pre-loaded. Incredibly easy to use. We occasionally do have some disagreements because it doesn’t always know the shortcuts I know. The upside though, the voice is so darn perky when you finally arrive at your destination (on left)!

My parents recently got a Garmin - sounds like it is quite similar to what Trunk and abbeytxs have (it was $400 in June).

They love it. It was not too hard for them to figure out, even though they’re a bit technophobic. The maps are large enough for them to see and it’s loud enough for them to hear.

It’s also very nice because it’s compact and you can easily move it between cars - or even take it out of the car with you (it’s battery powered when not plugged in).

Another vote for the Garmin Nüvi. I have a 310D which came with a DVD of street-level mapping for the whole of Europe (all of the UK is preloaded and you transfer any extra chunks you want from your PC onto an SD card).

It’s small and pocketable, the screen is very clear, it’s easy to use and it gets (and keeps) a lock very quickly. It’s small and unobtrusive enough that I’ve used it hand-held on several occasions while walking round a city looking for an address, without feeling like a dork. I bought it just before driving to France last summer, and it was great just to be able to take scenic routes down tiny backroads and not have to worry about whether the roads actually appeared on our road atlas. On one occasion it did try to route us down what certainly appeared to be a private driveway, but we ignored it and it recalculated with no problem.

I’m a map geek anyway and find the whole concept of detailed real-time moving maps pretty cool. :slight_smile:

Quick question, guys who own Garmin Nuvis… can you load topo maps into the memory and use the unit for geocaching? Mine’s not getting here 'til Monday, darnit.

We got my MIL a Garmin after she played with one in a rental car and loved it! It was so simple, she had no trouble at all. We also bought Garmin stock, which has done very well! :wink:

My car has a factory-installed GPS nav system- it’s a Range Rover, so I have a nice British guy reminding me where to turn and advising me to merge left!

I have a Chrysler with a built in navigation system. In-car navigation whether it’s built into your vehicle or not is one of those things that you quickly realize is a requirement. It’s so much better than asking a friend how to get somewhere (my friends are famous for directions like, “…when you get near my place there will be a tree with a big thing on it… turn.”) no. no. just gimme your address, buddy.

The extra perks like an mp3 player with full track information is just gravy. You can save a few hundred songs grouped by artist and play them back randomly. The in car bluetooth system is great. You get all of your phones info right on the screen (signal strength, caller ID, roaming, etc.) and the conversation is piped into the cars speaker system. I prefered the in-dash system as opposed to the free standing because I didnt want wires running around

I think it’s one of those things where once you use it you don’t want to go back.
What are you planning on getting?

One thing I haven’t successfully found or used are good POIs for my Garmin. The Garmin site talked about them, but finding them isn’t intuitive. If anyone’s been successful, fill me in.