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Why buy in-dash GPS?

by hosmann95 / January 7, 2008 10:37 AM PST

When I read the reviews on CNET, I obviously see a lot of emphasis on technology and gadgets. However, while I can appreciate this (that's why I'm here) I don't understand why, as a consumer, I should ever choose to purchase an in-dash navigation system in a new car.

- They are far more expensive than aftermarket units (usually seem to be about $2k vs. some nice portable units for $200).
- You can't take them with you (My wife and I each have cars... in fact, I also have two classic cars). With a portable unit I can use it in any of my vehicles. Also, I really want nav when I'm in a strange city, not when I'm driving my daily commute. The portable units are now little bigger than a cell phone so I can take them with me when I travel and rent a car.
- In-dash GPS seems to often complicate the usability of other features like the stereo and climate controls which all use the same display or touch screen. This is a big negative to me. I don't want to scroll through two or three menus just to save a radio station.
- Resale values for cars put little value on GPS... look at some late-model cars, for example. KBB puts as little as a $200 value addition for GPS.

So, other than the fact that they often look cool, why tie myself to one technology during the 3-4 years I'll likely drive my new car?

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So the factory can get more money.
by Andy77e / January 7, 2008 2:07 PM PST
In reply to: Why buy in-dash GPS?

In other words, there is no reason to do this. BTW, you forgot the excessive cost of repair if it breaks, and the week it'll be in the shop if they have to pull the dash apart.

Whereas if you buy a separate unit, you can either mail it into the company and drive your care freely until the replacement arrives, or if it's out of warranty, toss it and buy a new whenever you please.

Meanwhile, if you have an in-dash unit break, and it's not worth fixing, or you don't have time to take the car into the shop, you have a ugly non-functioning unit in the front of your car for everyone to see.

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Factory Profits
by hosmann95 / January 7, 2008 2:54 PM PST

No doubt the OEMs love selling $2,000 GPS systems given that there is very little else they can upsell these days. However, some day we'll look back at built-in nav systems like we look at phones mounted in cars from the 1980s, as curious artifacts, or as you pointed out, blank screens.

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by batman823 / January 10, 2008 11:33 PM PST
In reply to: Why buy in-dash GPS?

If you need GPS, just get a portable one. Your initial investment will be smaller, as well as the monthly fees. I've never heard anybody complain about having OnStar, I would recommend that. It's out of the way and can be very useful if your car is stolen or need it unlocked, or God forbid, you get in an accident by yourself, they can call you an ambulance if you are unable to do so.

It sounds like what you want is not compatable with what in-dash Nav Systems have to offer.

The only reason people would want the in-dash Nav is so they don't have an eyesore hanging off of a heater vent, plus it makes your dash prettier. But, as you mentioned, they complicate everything else.

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Both have thier advantages
by stevesd619 / January 19, 2008 9:10 AM PST
In reply to: don't

Now that I own a portable system, and work on a near-daily basis with the OEM In-Car Navigation systems, I can see where both have their advantages. I cannot (nor would I) argue the point of portability or updatability. The cost factor is obvious as well, though if you're an early adopter who snags the latest supa-doopa GPS, you may be paying for the "beta priveledge" if the software is buggy! But to be fair, think of these advantages of In-Dash systems:
1. They are MUCH less likely to be stolen. Thieves all know, it seems, to look for the tell-tale "Suction marks" on your windshield. So keep a towel handy for when you take it down! That's what I've done for the time that I've had my portable system.
2. They are covered by the manufacturer's warranty. In the worst case that I'm aware of, that means at least three years/36,000 miles. Most portable GPS systems that I've seen offer one year (or two if it's a Magellan and you're a AAA member). I realize that there are extended warranties out there for both cars and portable GPS devices, ofcourse, and the ones for the GPS devices are a LOT less money, too.
3. The screens of in-dash GPS systems are almost always larger than those of the portable types - some approaching eight inches. The portable one that I bought has a 3.5" screen, and it's easy to see the difference (sorry, no pun inteded) that a bigger screen makes. Additionally, those screens can also (in many vehicles) double as a movie screen when the car isn't moving, so you can watch a DVD if you like while your spouse or significant other is shopping.
4. Almost every in-dash GPS system that I've worked with in the last four years has voice recognition that can do everything from changing your screen view ("display day mode"), to finding a place to eat ("Navigation Italian food"), to tuning your radio ("Radio 92.5 FM"), to now inputting a street address (part by part) to even rolling up your windows and storing your memory seating position! This technology is JUST making it into portable GPS units now.
5. In-Dash GPS systems will automatically mute or quiet the radio when you give it a command, or when it tells you about an upcoming turn. My portable unit has a medium volume speaker when it's turned all the way up. That becomes irrelevant with an in-dash unit, and it's a nice convenience that I wish my portable unit had.
6. Many consumers like the sheer cool factor of an in-dash navigation system. Y'all may disagree, but I have had many people tell me that they want the in-dash system just because they can have it, and because they like to have a car with "All of the toys". Now, I know that we're not like that, but I wouldn't be writing this if I wasn't a gadget hound, now would I? And you would not be reading this if you weren't one either!

One final note - Many feel that part of the beuaty of in-dash units is that they help control several functions of the car through one (some may think) easy interface. I'd agree with this, if it's done correctly. From my brief experience, some companies have it all wrong (iDrive anyone??), while others have it mostly all right (try a 2008 Cadillac CTS).

By all means, go with what you want, be it in-dash or portable, but both serve a place for many consumers. If I could have had an in-dash unit in my car, I would have loved to. I was not so fortunate, so I went with a portable - and I'm quite pleased overall! I think batman823 says it well - weigh what you want with what's offered by each individual system.

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I suppose
by Andy77e / January 20, 2008 2:50 AM PST

I'm not a gadget hound. Didn't even know there was a phrase. I'm happy with my '82 Buick. Has that great cruise control gadget. I don't need any other bells and whistles.

I guess, other than screen size, being cool just isn't a priority. 'Cool' is just another way of saying 'spent too much'. Even if cool was a factor, I'd rather spend more money on buying a cooler car, than a mediocre car with cooler gadgets.

I'd rather have Corvette, Mustang, Hummer, Commander, than some lame Cadillac with a little screen in it. "Guys my slow luxobarge has a screen yay! I'm cool now!" No thanks.

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In Dash is far superior if money is no object
by Tim Bishop / February 6, 2008 7:57 PM PST

I agree with the very comprehensive and fairly presented post above. I would also add that having extra wires from your power plugs gets to be an annoyance after a while. I have several vehicles, three with in dash and 1 with a portable. The in dash units do a better job and are easier to use, but are probably not worth the extra cost unless you don't care about the cost and will pay a premium for reduced clutter, ease of us and peace of mind.

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I like built-ins
by AC / February 7, 2008 5:14 AM PST
In reply to: Why buy in-dash GPS?

Depends on the car of course, but I have a portable Garmin unit and have had an Audi with built-in Nav and now have a BMW with built in Nav. The portable unit works fine, but the built-in is better in many ways. Can't be stolen (GPS is probaby the number one item stolen from cars and number one reason for break ins - if your car doesnt' have a built in unit the thief is going to break your window anyway because you probably have a portable unit). Also the bigger screen is nice, and in some cars there are multiple displays to make it easier, like the Audi has a mini nav screen inbetween the guages in the dash and some BMWs offer a heads up display on the windshield so you don't even have to look down. The integration with the car is key. I can do almost anything with voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel, no going through many menu screens and pushing buttons. And no wires and power adapters. On a car like the BMW the nav includes many other features, so it is well worth the price (if you are computer savvy, idrive is great)...and particularly if you lease the car, the nav only adds $15 a month to my payments.

All this being said, portables are fine, and if money is an object, get a portable unit...if money is no object get the built-in unit.

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Pick and choose
by Willy / February 8, 2008 12:13 PM PST
In reply to: Why buy in-dash GPS?

Just another gadget for a new car, afterall, MP3 players, iPod, Sync, geewhiz, what next??? so you as the consumer will want to buy. BUT, consider all the work is done and already in place and supported by the factory. If you don't want it, then don't get it. But, like everything else, costs will come down to more like a std. option sorta thing and the vehicle is equipped as part of the package in later yrs.. -----Willy Happy

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by flytdeck / February 11, 2008 9:54 AM PST
In reply to: Why buy in-dash GPS?

The recently purchased GMC Acadia has a built in GPS system and several other options that I did not particularly want, but came nicely packaged at a reasonable price.
One major advantage to the built in GPS is the integration with the HUD (Heads Up Display). The HUD shows distance (in a countdown bar graph) and direction to the next turn. This allows me to keep my eyes up and outside where they belong while confirming the aural prompts.
Other integrated features include voice command and readable, simple programming. The interior display is very easy to read, and does not interfere with other features. Environmental controls are separate.
The downside is the atrocious prices charged for updating the in-vehicle database. Many Japanese systems have an update service through the satellite system at a very reasonable price. It appears my GM system requires an annual update by disk at a substantial cost.
Now about supplemental equipment. A TomTom 920 is always with me. It provides navigational capabilities while away from the vehicle, and away from home (it contains both North American and European maps). The TomTom also has more recent data and even some user supplied corrections which on several occasions have proved extremely helpful.
There is, in my opinion, a place for both GPS configurations in the world. If, however, I could only select one, then the portable TomTom would need an appropriate holder in my vehicle.

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I'd buy an aftermarket model
by LucJs / August 6, 2009 3:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Why buy in-dash GPS?

I do have a built-in one, including GPS, phone, radio, harddisk with 10 GB music, ...

Love it, but it's ridiculously expensive as you mentioned. As far as the GPS is concerned, there are 2 advantages I can see:

1. It's extremely fast, also when zomming in or out.

2. It's always on. So when you started without GPS but then suddenly decide you want to see the map around you to avoid a traffic jam, it's instantaneous.

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In dash traffic
by kansurr / September 14, 2009 11:18 PM PDT

I just recently purchased a car with a in-dash unit. I love it, except i cannot get traffic updates. What GPS do you have and what software are you running? I would love to have the traffic on mine especially in the area I live. Thanks

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love my in-dash gps
by christopherp552 / September 19, 2009 12:43 PM PDT
In reply to: In dash traffic

I also have an indash gps and i love it. I'm a geocacher so its a big help. now i dont have to hold the unit and drive at the same time. But i agree with the others, i want to have a portable gps so i can take it when i get out of the car. Also, i want to get traffic updates. I constantly have to drive and it would help me a lot if i can save time!

The downside of having an inhouse gps is that i had to pay a huge amount for car insurance.

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what system do you use?
by kansurr / September 19, 2009 2:09 PM PDT
In reply to: love my in-dash gps

What system do you use?

tom tom, garmin, route 66, something better, please let me know i just got mine and am trying to figure out which to buy. Thanks

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Just spent a week with a garmin
by Dan Filice / October 17, 2009 2:07 PM PDT
In reply to: Why buy in-dash GPS?

My wife and I just spent a week in the Vancouver area with a rental car, and we added the Garmin GPS. The good points: We would have been lost without it. It's portable, so we could take it with us on long walks and see where we were.
The bad points (as compared to the two in-dash units in our cars): 1. The Garmin took forever to get satellite reception. My in-dash units are instant. May not seem like a big thing until you are driving and go ten miles before the dumb thing starts to talk. 2. The Garmin did not give anywhere the same advanced warning about turns, sometimes waiting until 100 ft to say "Turn at so and so street". 3. You can't scroll the map on a Garmin. You can zoom in or out, but my in-dash units let you use a joy stick to scroll the map, which I find helpful if you need to determine if the road you've been driving on does in fact join the freeway you need. 4. I don't know about a Tom-Tom, but the Garmin did not have traffic congestion indicators on it's maps. 5. The map is small on the Garmin, so unless I zoom way out on the map (making it usless while driving), I can't see where I am in relation to a larger area. 6. The most frustrating thing is that the Garmin would not let me search for a gas station while driving. You need to stop completely before you search. Seems like a good safety precaution, but if you have a passenger who can be your co-pilot, this is stupid.
But like I said, we would have been lost without it. But in comparison, to me a good in-dash unit is better.

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