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Chicago Lady

Do you use a GPS system in your vehicle? What do you recommend I consider when selecting?

Is there a particular brand you would recommend? Do they come with good instructions and tech support? Thanks for sharing your experience and tips...

I went the 'all-in-one' route and bought a Pioneer AVIC-Z3. Yeah, big $$$, but it replaced all my audio that I wanted to replace anyway - and, since it's integrated, things like when my mobile phone rings, the hands-free Bluetooth kicks in and mutes the audio automatically, as well as when voice navigation is used, the audio mutes. Plus, I can access/control all the additional AV through it and since it's internally dash mounted, it's less likely to get dropped/lost/spirited away by somebody's light fingers.

FWIW, different brands and models have different UI features/functions/flow. Some are more intuitive to some users while others find the same model difficult. Take some time to spend with different don't want to have to concentrate on the GPS while you're driving.

Chicago Lady:

Thanks Agave Anejo, I appreciate insight from someone who is using an integrated system. I have only looked at portable systems, so far. I appreciate your recommendation and I like having more options to explore. And you're right - there are too many other things to focus on while driving - I don't need any more distractions.


You're welcome; Pioneer makes several models...if I remember correctly, when I was looking, Kenwood, Alpine, Eclipse, and JVC also made in-dash NAV/AV head unit systems.

I think if you search "head unit nav", you should get a fairly complete list. Also, there's the used market; gadget junkies tend to upgrade/swap out frequently, so you should be able to get a near-new system for a bargain.

Distractions was one of my biggest concerns, and the all-in-one seemed to remove many other gadget distractions as well. I don't have multiple things mounted all over the place, multiple cords, multiple play and volume controls, etc. - and the hands-free mobile phone integration was a plus.

There is a small downside though...because my mobile phone automatically syncs with my NAV/AV head unit, sometimes when I'm within range of my truck (but, not inside), I have to scramble back into the truck or disconnect the hands-free Bluetooth to answer the phone...good thing it doesn't happen often. :)

Literally Speaking ™:

My wife uses one in her truck, it is a Garmin Nuvi 650 and she is very happy with it, she is also a non technical kind of person and most gadgets confuse her but she had no problem learning that unit, don't know about tech support because we have never needed it, the device simply works.


Chicago Lady:

Thanks, LS I have heard Garmin is reliable. Personally I like techy gadgets :-)

Jim D:

Some of my friends have them in their cars, and they never go anywhere except to places they already know the way to and from. I really think they're kind of a silly gadget unless one travels far away, to a whole new big city where they need to navigate from the freeway to the place. But you can also get the directions on the internet and print them out to take with you.

Chicago Lady:

Thanks a lot, Viola. You make some very good points! I have friends and family members who spend a lot of time in their cars - traveling to different areas every day to service clients, give sales demonstrations - it is useful to have on -board navigation. Sometimes they get a call while in the car to stop at another address - can't go home and look it up on the computer and print it out. These are for heavy volume travelers and for people who must meet demands in unknown neighborhoods in their cities. Very, very handy!


Some not so obvious uses of a Nav system...

(1) Someone asks you to follow them to a place. You don't have to be concerned how you got there and how you'll get back. With the Nav system, you can (1) once you get there save the place in its memory (2) Use the Nav system to go somewhere else from there or back home - even though you might not have a clue where you are.

(2) Plain old scenic drives - you don't need to be concerned with where you're going or how you got there and can concentrate on the beautiful surroundings - just tell the nav system "Take Me Home" when you're done enjoying the open road, road-side stops, and last-minute side-trips.

(3) Using Multiple waypoints, you can program in a whole list of errands and have the Nav system organize them by the most efficient means of getting from place to place.



(4) Detours - within you own area you may not know which side-streets are the most efficient and many times the posted detours are to handle the most traffic, not necessarily the shortest/fastest route around the detour.

(5) Like having a co-pilot without the nagging - pretty self-explanatory :)

(6) Fewer significant other scrabbles - "you said turn right", "no I didn't, I said turn left".

(6) Absentmindedness Assistance - you're driving down the road, your favorite song comes on and you forget you need to turn up ahead - the Nav system reminds you, you need to turn.

(7) Unlike maps, if you miss a turn or the roadways are different than the maps, a Nav system will automatically reroute you. No distractions, frustrations, crazy corrective driving, slow-downs to see if you're at the right intersection, less U-turns, less getting lost, etc.

Admittedly, some of these uses are only for people who don't live in an area of hundreds of square miles and only ten roads :) :) :)

Chicago Lady:

Thanks, Agave Anejo! All very good reasons, and most of them apply to me!

Jim D:

Well, Agave, I've been driving for more years than I care to say (50 years). I have crossed this continent twice, coast to coast, I have visited Alberta, Canada, British Columbia, Canada, all with paper maps, and addresses. I never have had to use anything more than a map, and a few times I asked someone, but not very many. No GPS.
My friend travels about 40,000 miles per year in her work, and has only called me twice to help her find her way back to her hotel, once she was in Chicago, and once she was in Los Angeles. I would look it up on the computer and tell her where to turn.
I have driven in remote areas on the prairies and the mountains, but I never have gotten lost.
People should not trust those things to the exclusion of common sense. One of the first things I learned was to always keep the direction north in mind, and be aware of which way I was traveling. That has helped me more than anything else.


@ Viola, I'm sorry my comments meant help Chicago Lady upset you so.

Chicago Lady:

Hi Julie, thanks for your answer. You are right - no sense in having one if you don't have a car. I am thinking of getting one for my car, but there are a lot of brands out there and I don't know what is best ...


Some are better than others, if you travel a lot it makes sense to also purchase a satellite service. We own a Garmin and so far we're happy with it although once in Hartford CT it directed us through a very bad part of town. Other than that it's been great.

Chicago Lady:

Hi Average Joe. That is my major complaint - they will give you a short, direct route but do not know that they are directing you into a dangerous area... However for highway driving, petrol locations, etc. they appear to be very useful. Thanks for your answer.


You have to get a Garmin. We have one and it works great. It might even be the 650. I have heard bad things about the other brands from friends.

Chicago Lady:

Thanks, In touch, I appreciate your taking the time to respond.


I use a Garmin Nuvi, and I bought one for a friend who watches our cats when we go on vacation. The 200 series is affordable as these things go, and easy to use even for people who aren't very comfortable with technology (my wife and our friend). The display is easily visible. Most, if not all, Nuvis let you play music or audio books as MP3s and pause the music or book when giving driving instructions. My only, small complaint is that I wish the volume could be turned louder -- I haven't ever missed an instruction, but I keep the volume all the way up and struggle a bit to hear it when in noisy areas like those with road contruction. Garmin has a nice website that lets you check off the features you want and shows which units meet your criteria.

Chicago Lady:

Hi, David C. Walls. Thanks for your recommendation and comments.


I use the navigator on my cell phone. A friend has TomTom and my phone has been more accurate.

Chicago Lady:

Thanks, singlemom! What mobile service do you use?


Verizon. It works well. My oldest son used it when he went from Norfolk, VA to Kings Bay, GA, and I used it to when I was in you neck of the woods.

Chicago Lady:

Thanks, Glad it worked out for you!!



Chicago Lady:

Thank you nolan! I am not familiar with that brand but will look into it.

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