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GPS - In dash or External?
Old 05-24-2011, 11:54 AM   #1
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GPS - In dash or External?

I've owned external GPS's only. Never used an in-dash one. But in my car browsing I've been doing lately, there's a used car calling me but has an in-dash GPS.

I like an external for several reasons, 1) price - a lot less than in-dash
2) portable (if I drive another car, I can my settings with me) 3) I think having the gps not built-in would be safer -looking too long at the dash, I might drift the car

Would like to hear your thoughts.

Of course, if I get a car with in-dash, I can just pretend that I don't have one and continue to use my regular external..but that's kind of wasted technology
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:24 PM   #2
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I never look at my GPS when the car is moving. She talks to me.

When the in-dash model is obsolete, or breaks, you'll need an external one anyway.

I'd say, don't consider the in-dash GPS when making your decision about the car. It's only a $100 part of the decision.
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:31 PM   #3
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Updates to DW's in-dash Honda GPS cost $185. When my dash top Tomtom's maps get obsolete I'll just buy a new one for less than that.
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:38 PM   #4
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If it comes with the car, keep it but I wouldn't pay extra for it. Between smart phones and the dropping priceses of external GPS systems, you have lots of other options. Plus with an external system, you can take it with you when you travel.
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:39 PM   #5
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I'd consider the internal one a detriment.

Sellers usually have a very inflated idea of value and try to charge more on the front end for the car.

If/when it breaks you pretty much gotta fix it or upon selling you will have all the knuckle-heads low balling you by 1000 bucks for a broken GPS.
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:40 PM   #6
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In Dash or external? It may be all the same.

In-dash from the factory becomes external as a thief rips it out

More damage is usually done to the dash than the cost of the nav unit itself.
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Old 05-24-2011, 01:01 PM   #7
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I'd never pay for an in-dash GPS unit.

My external unit has served two cars, moving trucks, a motor home, and rental cars both in the U.S. and internationally. It is better in every way than an in-dash unit.
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Old 05-24-2011, 01:50 PM   #8
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Would consider internal only if it was in addition to a decent OBD II diagnostic program capable of running on the same display.

Example is seven year old version of Autotap, which runs on an old 486 laptop bolted to the center console of my sub. It also runs a six year old copy of a road atlas, from a miniature GPS receiver velcroed to the dash.

In the car I use a Sportrak, which hangs on a hook mounted to the dash.
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:03 PM   #9
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My current (used) car has an in-dash GPS, which I ignore, because it is clunky, difficult to navigate, out of date and not a touch screen. Instead, I still use my Garmin GPS everyday. It is much more friendly.
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:07 PM   #10
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Only GPS I have ever owned is one for my golf cart. Yardage to front, center and back of the green. What else would you need one for?
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:15 PM   #11
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I have an in-dash unit (SRX).

Since I bought the car used but Cadillac Certified, they provided me with annual updates twice (no cost), on request. Further updates would cost quite a bit as I understand.

The one thing to remember about an in-dash unit is that it is not only an in-dash GPS, but is also the centeral monitor station for the entire car - giving a heads up display of all "systems" as you drive (such as indivudial tire pressure, oil usage, etc.) along with control of your sound system and scrolling radio displays.

We don't travel (by car) so I've used the GPS feature infrequently, however I just wanted to mention that the in-dash is not "just a GPS".

Just my $0.02, since I have one.
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:19 PM   #12
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We are contemplating some extended travel later this year, National Parks and areas totally unfamiliar to us in the US. Husband was eyeing a couple systems at our local Costco but the screens look tiny IMHO. Any thoughts about those systems vs something we could use with a laptop computer?
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:22 PM   #13
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but the screens look tiny IMHO.
As long as it has a "big voice" (they talk ) you should be OK.

Regardless of the brand, you should buy one well before you travel, to get familiar with the features.

As for the few times I used mine, I found that keeping the display at minimum (e.g. display the next quarter/half mile rather than the entire state ) worked well. That along with "Heather" (my "voice") on the surround sound speakers (since it's an in-dash unit) reduces the need to even reference the display in most cases.
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:23 PM   #14
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My 2000 BMW has /had indash navigation + all the nifty onboard computer stuff and radio/CD info. It took a big dump, the screen is black and it took with it the radio - now I can't find a given radio station by number and can only listen to the radio 2 minutes at a time before it shuts down.

Even when it was working the common BMW wisdom was that one was better off with a new external NAV system rather than the 10 year old unit.

Honey uses Iphone for NAV while in the car, I keep trying to convince her my navigation by right opinion is better. it rarely is.
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:31 PM   #15
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I keep trying to convince her my navigation by right opinion is better. it rarely is.
It's a guy thing ...

Never stop for directions, never stop for a bathroom break, never stop at all (unless you hit another car )...
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Old 05-24-2011, 03:13 PM   #16
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I installed an in-dash unit in my Focus mostly because I don't like the look of the wire from an external unit draped all over the dash. It doubles as an mp3 player/radio with hands-free blue-tooth integration for my cellphone.

The nice thing is it's always there. So if I'm out and about in a different part of the region I don't know, trying to find some place specific, or just some place to eat, it's one button away. Unlike an external unit which might be in the glove, the trunk or worse, in another car.

It doesn't do everything, but someday I'll get around to building my own in-dash unit from scratch.
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Old 05-24-2011, 03:18 PM   #17
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I'm happy with my external GPS. I can program in new addresses while looking at Google maps on my computer, instead of in the car. It also has settings for walking or bicycling, which can be nice while exploring on foot in a new place.
If you do decide on an external GPS, I can recommend the weighted non slip bases. Its easy to connect the GPS to the base, easy to reposition the whole thing and it never slides. For short parking times, I just sit the GPS & base & cord on the passenger floor and a baseball cap covers it all. For parking a long time in the heat, I take the GPS with me in a belt case and leave the cord and base under the baseball cap. I also like to move the GPS down off the dash well before entering the parking lot, so that it isn't noticed by anyone.
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Old 05-24-2011, 03:24 PM   #18
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We have had both (different vehicles).

The in dash is on a 2004 Nissan Quest.

Pros: We've never had any problems with it working, it doesn't take up any windshield space, doesn't use up a power plug in, has never been stolen or lost, and has been easy to up date (reasonable cost -- about $100 every few years).

Negatives: Very, very tedious and difficult to program to go to a specific address. Does not have up to date features. Our external Garmin runs rings around it.

That said we are considering buying a new vehicle that will have the built in GPS. I've looked at it and it has very similar features to my current high end Garmin GPS. That said, I imagine that 10 years from now it may not compare with then new external ones (but will they even exist 10 years from now?)

We used to have a TomTom external and now have a Garmin. The Tom Tom, well, disappeared. I don't really know what happened to it. I think it was taken from my car when it was unlocked while at home (we lived on acreage and had a front gate so this is unsettling).

The Garmin is great. Works well. Easy to program. The only negatives:

If I don't keep it plugged into power it dies very quickly. Even unplugging it from power to hold it and plug in an address to go to causes it to die before I've finished. So the front side power plug is always used just for this.

You do get used to having it on the windshield but the reality is that it does cut down a bit on what you can see as compared to one that is in dash.
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Old 05-24-2011, 03:46 PM   #19
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Only GPS I have ever owned is one for my golf cart. Yardage to front, center and back of the green. What else would you need one for?
Directions to the nearest med store?
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Old 05-24-2011, 05:11 PM   #20
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I like the in-dash one I have on my prius, but I don't know if I'd get one again. I actually really like the interface, I don't have to worry about power, and it's very convenient to glance at while driving.
The externals you'd have to mount, and in CA you can't attach it to the windshield.

The biggest negatives for the in-dash are, cost ($200 for new maps every year or whenever you get sick of roads being out of date) and the safety turn off - you have very limited access to features if you are driving more than 5 miles per hour. I understand the safety, but it stinks if you have a passenger, and they can't use it either.
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