2006 Electronic Navigation
The theme for GPS navigational units this year, be it handhelds or in-vehicle units, is all about integrating enhanced functionality with entertainment. Handhelds are becoming savvier, offering MP3 capability and more detailed topographical mapping. Real-time traffic information to navigate you through congested highways and alert you of traffic accidents and road construction is a common feature this year in the automotive GPS category. Other new features include “intelligent routing,” which calls out street names during turn-by-turn instructions rather than just stating, “in 2.5 miles, turn right.” One model even offers a back track feature specifically for back-road travelers, with topographical mapping views. Smarter and more entertaining, these units are taking the hassle out of trekking and driving.
Garmin’s GPSMAP 60CSx gets a performance boost this year. It features a blank 64-MB microSD card, a super-compact memory card specifically designed to offer more memory, expansion and upgrade potential. You can also purchase microSD cards with preloaded topo maps and inland lake and navigable river maps, marine cartography and street maps. Equipped with a new high-powered receiver, the unit offers faster signal acquisition times and better reception in heavy foliage and deep canyons. Other features include an electronic compass and barometric altimeter. MSRP: $535.70. 800/800-1020; garmin.com.
A step up from the Atlas, Brunton’s ATLAS MNS includes a digital compass, altimeter and a weather forecasting StormWatch Barometer. Its StraightHome feature will back track your steps by simply pushing a button. You can also view topographical information clearly enough to let you know of the trail ahead. The MNS’ size is 5.8×2.6x.1.3 inches, weighs less than 5 ounces and is submersible. MSRP: $359. 307/856-6559; brunton.com
Lowrance’s iFINDER Expedition C has a lot of bells and whistles in a handheld GPS. Notable features include a “Scout Mode” so you can mark area perimeters and create borders, MP3 playing capability via MMC/SD cards and a built-in microphone to record waypoints. The 2.83-inch diagonal screen offers good viewing day or night. The Expedition C has dual processors for high-speed screen updates and offers Easy and Advanced modes. The handheld offers a 16-channel GPS/WASS receiver to guide you through the continental U.S. and Hawaii and is waterproof. MSRP: $309. 800/324-1356; lowrance.com
Magellan’s eXplorist XL offers a 3.5-inch screen and 30 MB of free memory for uploading additional information. Features include Back Track, which takes you back to camp the same way you left camp. For geocachers, the unit has integrated software that loads geocaching information directly from the Internet, eliminating the need to enter GPS coordinates into a receiver. The handheld measures 6.4×2.9×1.3 inches and is water-resistant. MSRP: $499. 909/394-5000; magellanGPS.com
IN-VEHICLE GPS NAV UNITS
Alpine’s new Blackbird comes with a built-in radio data system (RDS) traffic tuner to deliver real-time traffic information (service available in selected markets in late spring). Through RDS traffic service, you can also subscribe to receive weather information in the covered markets. Running on Microsoft’s Windows CE platform, its 4-GB hard drive offers NAVTEQ map coverage and about two million points of interest. Its 3.6-inch anti-glare touchscreen automatically dims or brightens, adjusting to ambient light levels for clear viewing. It can also be used as the navigation brain for an integrated, in-dash system via a wired docking station. MSRP: $750. 800/ALPINE1; alpine-usa.com
Clarion’s Navigation In-Car Entertainment system (N.I.C.E.) P200 offers navigational capabilities as well as video and digital image storage and playback via a USB port. An A/V input and output allows for plug and play of external sources. Its 20-GB hard drive contains two million points of interest and offers instant recall of your last 40 destinations. It has a 4-inch touchscreen and comes with a built-in rechargeable battery. MSRP: $899. 800/GO-CLARION; clarion.com
Cobra’s Nav One 4500 provides real-time traffic information in 48 major metropolitan areas, claiming more cities than offered by other units. A great feature for off-roaders is the unit’s Trail Mode. It plots markers along an off-the-beaten path allowing you to find your way back to the main road. The unit’s 5-inch screen automatically adjusts for day and night viewing. Its 20-GB hard drive offers 7.6 million points of interest and can store 1000 addresses in 20 customized folders. MSRP: $1199. First three months of traffic service free. 773/889-8870; cobra.com
Garmin’s StreetPilot 7200 displays information on a 7-inch screen, ideal for larger vehicles such as semi-trucks and RVs. Preloaded with CityNavigator maps, it announces street names during turn-by-turn instructions and offers real-time traffic and weather information through XM NavTraffic. Entertainment features include an internal MP3 player and XM satellite radio. The unit’s only button is for power. Its side and back have a mini USB port, AV input, SD card slot and 3.5mm audio jack. MSRP: $1615.37. 800/800-1020; garmin.com
Lowrance’s iWAY 500c is half navigation and half entertainment with basic features and easy-to-read graphics. Screen viewing is exceptional day or night with its 5-inch backlit screen and graphic displays. Half of its 20-GB hard drive is for navigation, offering a NAVTEQ database and five million points of interests. Mapping displays can be viewed in 3-D. The other 10 GB is for storing MP3 files in MP3 or Ogg Vorbis formats. The iWAY 500C comes with power converter to transfer music files at home. MSRP: $799. 800/324-1356; lowrance.com
Magellan’s RoadMate 760 offers real-time traffic information for major metropolitan areas reported via Magellan’s TrafficKit (professional installation is recommended). The 760’s SayWhere feature provides next-turn instructions and announces street names. The Multi-Destination Routing automatically sorts the destinations you enter by shortest distance and presents the best route between addresses. The 760 has a 20-GB hard drive and offers six million points of interest. Its 3.5-inch screen automatically adjusts for night viewing. MSRP: $899. 909/394-5000; magellanGPS.com
Pioneer’s AVIC-Z1 is a complete multimedia center that sports a highly sophisticated GPS navigation system. Its 30-GB hard drive has a TeleAtlas database with 11 million points of interest and offers real-time traffic information on its 7-inch touchscreen. Nav features include smart routing (announces street names) and speech voice guidance. The system will also “learn” your driving patterns to calculate suggested routes. The AVIC-Z1 offers control of additional entertainment components and portable devices. MSRP: $2250. 310/952-2000;pioneerelectronics.com.