Car GPS Navigation Systems – A Buyers Guide

In 1973 the U.S. Department of Defence launched the Navstar GPS network. This consisted of 24 satellites orbiting the earth every 12 hours and five ground stations. This positioning system was made available for public use. With this capability, consumer location devices were produced to accurately determine location and other data such as current and average speed, directional heading, and elevation. These GPS devices need an unobstructed view of at least four satellites to provide a reliable 3D fix.

The GPS receiver overlays this location data onto map files stored on the unit, to give a current position on the map as well previous track. The receiver constantly recalculates position, giving real time position.

A typical GPS device contains:

  • 12-channel receiver – the quality of the receiver determines how long it takes the device to acquire a 3D fix.
  • Antenna to capture satellite signals – positioned to get a clear view of the sky.
  • CPU to process the data and overlay on maps
  • DVD Hard-drive – where maps on DVD’s or available online are uploaded and stored. Some cheaper units do not upload the maps, but reference them off the DVD or CD.
  • Display Screen – mostly color with handheld units using black and white
  • Voice Interface – more advanced units

How The GPS Device Gets A Fix

The first time you start your GPS device, its data store is blank so needs a to collect satellite information to determine your position. This is known as a cold start. Some units only take 30 to 45 seconds to acquire a 3D fix during a cold start, while others can take several minutes. Subsequent position updates only take 3 to 4 seconds. If you go out of range from losing line of sight, such as passing behind a large building or through a tunnel, a good receiver will instantly recover, whereas weaker units will require more time to reacquire a 3D fix.

How Different GPS Navigation Units Differ

Location of Antenna – A factory installed in-dash unit antenna is integrated into the dashboard where it has an unobstructed view of the sky. Many portable models have a suction-cup-mounting device to position the device on the windshield. Add-on antennas are also available. Regardless of the type of unit and antenna, the important thing is to keep the antenna visible to the greatest area of sky possible. Choose a unit where this can be done AT THE SAME TIME as being able to maintain a clear view of the screen.

Screens and Display – important to check how bright these are, and if they are clearly visible from the mounted position in bright day light. Onboard navigation systems are generally color screens, and portable units are black and white to save power. Larger screens and integrate better with other vehicle electronics.

Input Buttons – most enroute buttons are on the display screen. Ensure these are easy to use when driving; that is they are big enough and colored sufficiently to see without causing a driving hazard.

Map Media – Earlier models were CD-based, requiring multiple discs to cover the entire United States. Newer in-dash systems are DVD-based; only 1-2 DVD’s required for an entire country of maps.

Cost – In-dash systems are usually more expensive than portable counterparts. Aftermarket in-dash models usually require professional installation and can be just as expensive as the factory models.

Upgrading – always check how easy it is to upgrade the firmware and maps on your GPS unit. Some units detach a portion to be connected to the computer via USB, whereas others are done using a DVD. Those units which can be upgraded online, are much more convenient.

Added Features of GPS Units

Apart from giving you a current position, a number of GPS navigation devices can give you:

  • A track of where you have been – the number of tracks and waypoints stored varies from unit to unit. You may also want to save on part of a track for future use.
  • A path from your current position to your destination
  • Maintain commonly used navigation paths for reuse.
  • Points of Interest – user sets the types of points of interest, such as tourist, bank ATM, petrol stations, historical, accommodation, restaurants etc.
  • Real time traffic reporting to avoid traffic delays. This can also include road works.
  • Voice recognition to receive destination instructions, and voice guidance to give driving instructions
  • Weather updates
  • Street name navigation – instead of just turn left 200m it was say ‘Turn left into Stanley St’
  • Integrated Multimedia players – MP3 players, image viewers, and audio books.
  • Onboard or Portable GPS Navigation

The downside of onboard GPS Navigation units are susceptible to theft; and you cannot take them with you to use in other vehicles or when travelling abroad. Portable units, such as the Garmin StreetPilot 2720, can be used in multiple cars; being easily moved from car to car. Depending upon the power supply and portability, portable and handheld units can be taken when travelling or used on cycles, boats, private aircraft etc.

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Ford Probes Buyers’ Psyche

On 8th of December, two curtained-off rooms at the Exhibit Hall B-1, Georgia World Congress Center were reserved by the automaker for six people – one man and five women. Among the group, five are single and only one is married. They are employed in real estate, computers and insurance companies. These participants drive two Chevrolets, two Hondas, a Kia and a Hyundai.

The participants sat down at an L-shaped table equipped with six microphones. In the other room, Ford employees put on headphones, booted up computers and concentrated on the huge television mounted on the wall.

At four in the afternoon, Orlando da Silva of California-based 7th Sense Research announced to the participants from Atlanta how they would spend the next two hours. “We are tremendously interested,” da Silva said, “in how you feel about your car.”

Focus groups have been around for several decades now. It has become an integral part of Ford’s planning process to come up with fascinating new cars. The automaker wanted to dig deeper and probe further into the minds of the consumers about the vehicles that customers want. Ford wanted to point out their likes and dislikes so as to apply the information in their forthcoming lineups.

According to the automaker, focus group’s opinions could be a factor in whether Ford commits huge investment dollars to a new product line. “We bring the program team here so they can see and be immersed in the customer,” said John Williamson, director of Ford’s North American “consumer insights” unit.

The six participants from Atlanta were chosen as samples to represent a hypothetical target market for a potential product line. The questions thrown by da Silva revolved on the size, design and kind of style that would attract the participants as Ford’s potential buyers.

“I’d like a timeless design,” said Barbara Mazzola who is a 31-year-old corporate trainer. “I want something with more room, just a little more space,” said Tonia Pettitt, 36, who manages an insurance company. “I like being able to say I got what I paid for, that I made a good business decision,” said commercial Realtor Teresa Johnson, 36.

While the participants are discussing, Ford employees are observing them closely on the television. No one from the participants knew Ford was behind the study. At one point, da Silva showed the participant sketches of two Ford concept vehicles under study.

“I don’t like the back end,” Pettitt said. Johnson criticized the “squareness” of the design, and Greg Frasier, a 22-year-old Georgia Tech student, described its potential owner as a “nerd.” The second sketch proved more appealing. Participants called the car sleek and fast, and compared it to automobiles more costly than their own.

Da Silva also inquired on the emotions of the participants in regards to their own cars – how they used them and why they chose one brand over another. “My car is like my little world,” said Hilary Wallace, 29. “For some reason, I always wanted to get a Honda.” The participants aspire to own vehicles which have been manufactured by Honda, Volvo and Volkswagen and other pricey vehicles.

At the end of the session, the Ford team picked Wallace for a 45-minute “home visit” the next evening. “It’s really about depth of understanding,” said Kolin Watts, a 7th Sense researcher. “It’s all about them.”

As the competition gets tougher and tougher, every automaker is expected to venture on exceptional activities to win over customers. For the Ford Motor Corp., the most viable strategy is to probe the buyer’s psyche. It is never as easy as integrating into the car cutting edge auto parts like EBC rotors – it is more than that.

Used Car Selling Tips on the Internet

The internet has become a great place to buy and sell new and used automobiles. In a matter of minutes, you can advertise your vehicle for sale by posting your ad on various paid and free classified ad systems. Compared to traditional newspaper advertising, selling your car on the Internet can be easy, fast and can save you money as well.

The following are a few simple tips for selling your car on the Internet:

Research your selling price

Part of a successful sale involves a reasonable price which buyers will be interested in submitting an offer on. If your sale price is too high, buyers may not be interested in contacting you at all. Initially start by researching your local newspaper for prices for your used vehicle, you may be surprised to find a wide range in price for the particular make and model of your vehicle.

Create an email selling account

At times you may receive junk emails, you may want to separate your sales inquiries from your personal or business email account. Visit Google Mail, Yahoo Mail or Hotmail for a free email account where you can receiving inquiries and emails about the items you are selling.

Photo ads sell

People online want to see what they are buying. People look for color, condition and any additional accessories that your vehicle may have. Although you may not need to post all your car or truck photos, take as many pictures of your car in case a buyer wants to see more photos of your sales item.

Mention that it is a private sale or for sale by owner in your ad

Some people like to deal with people direct and may be apprehensive if they know they will be dealing with a dealership. Not to say anything about automotive dealerships, but it is simply a matter of personal choice.

Selling a car privetly also ensures that you will get the best possible price and the buyer will get the best possible deal.

Get your car ready

Thoroughly clean your car or truck inside and out. Buyers love a clean vehicle and it makes a great impression. Consider spending some money on having it professionally detailed.

Provide lot’s of information in your ad

Buyers want to know everything about your car: when was it built, are you the original owner, how many miles or kilometers on the vehicle, has the engine been rebuilt and more. Listing lot’s of information in your ad shows that you pay attention to detail and that you have nothing to hide when selling your car.

If you have photos of the vehicle posted on a website somewhere, provide a link to that site. Indicate to the potential buyer how to contact you; by email or by phone. Optional is to list where the car is located so that people can come and view it at their leisure. Some auto sellers even indicate what their viewing times are: mornings, evenings, weekends.

Don’t be affraid to put “OBO” (or best offer) in your ad. This tells car buyers that you are willing to negotiate the price of the vehicle and that you are ready to sell your car.

Advertise your car on internet car classified systems

There are many paid and free car classified ad system on the Internet where you can post your used car ad to. Some will accept photos while others simply offer a text ad. Initially start out by searching for local ads within your city or state. National ad systems will provide you with a larger coverage, but may also charge your for your listing.

Selling A Car Made Easy

Are you upgrading to a newer car and wish to get rid of your old vehicle? However, what if you do not have the time or energy to find the right buyer? Well, you do not have to look too far. You can now sell your car easily without really going out of your way.

With technology becoming an integral part of people’s daily lives, life has become fairly simple. Tasks, which normally would require a lot of time and physical sweat, can now be done easily sitting back at home. The internet medium has especially revolutionized marketing.

Traditional Methods to Sell Used Cars

Earlier, the most common way used for selling a car was advertising the same in local dailies and newspapers. The seller then had to wait to receive replies to the advertisement. After scrutinizing the responses, the seller also had to ensure that he was available at all times to attend to all buyers who came to inspect the car.

In such cases, the vehicle has to be maintained in a good condition to ensure that there are no problems when the buyer comes in for inspection or trial run. This can result in unnecessary maintenance costs to attract the buyer. This also does not necessarily fetch the right price for the seller.

Another way for selling a car is trading it in with the dealer for a new car. However, it has been largely observed that the exchange price offered for a used car is considerably less than what it is actually worth.

Online Selling

People sell their cars for different reasons. It could be due to upgradation to a newer model/variant or due to relocation to another city or just due to financial needs. Whatever may be the reason to sell, the seller would like to procure the best price for his used car.

Selling a car is no longer an arduous task. Finding buyers has become easy through the presence of online dealers. The seller does not have to put in too many efforts to sell his vehicle. The traditional methods of selling used cars have been overtaken by modern selling ways.

There are a number of online dealers who offer free car valuations for second hand cars. The prices offered by them are generally competitive. In addition to this, they also offer many complementary services, such as free pick up of the used vehicle. Moreover, they buy the car on a ‘as is where is’ basis, thus saving the seller from incurring unnecessary refurbishing costs just to lure a buyer.

Choosing the right dealer for second hand cars is of utmost importance. The online dealer should have a reputation of honesty and integrity, wherein the seller is not shortchanged.