The Best GPS: Many Ways to Find Your Way

We compared navigation systems to see which ones do the best job of pointing you in the right direction.

By Craig Ellison, PC World |  Personal Tech, GPS

Android doesn't have a plethora of turn-by-turn navigation applications--yet. Intrinsyc's Destinator 9 offers on-board map data, 2D and 3D views, weather reports, lane guidance, and speed-limit information. The full version costs $70. An Android app from Navigon is ex­­pected later this year.

Server-Based Navigation

Best for: People with basic navigation needs who don't use smartphones and would rather pay a monthly fee than buy a dedicated device for $200 or more. Hardware tested (1): RIM BlackBerry BoldService tested: AT&T Navigator 2.0 (via TeleNav) Price: $10 per month or $99 per year Hardware tested (2): Samsung HighlightService tested: TeleNav GPS Navigator 5.2.9Price: $10 per month

A standard cell phone using a cloud-based navigation service can provide good turn-by-turn, voice-prompted navigation. But with some handsets, the hassles involved may outweigh the benefits.

The software needed to connect to a cloud-based service comes preinstalled on many cell phones. To activate the service, you pay your carrier a subscription fee--typically $10 per month or $100 per year for unlimited usage.

The main advantage of "cloud-based" navigation is the constant automatic updating of maps and points of interest. And because the maps reside on the service's server, using these live features doesn't tax your phone's memory or CPU. But since the route calculation and tracking occur remotely, away from the phone, many services require a constant data connection for navigation. Your handset acts as a dumb terminal that displays the graphics the remote server sends.

I tried cloud-based navigation services on two phones: AT&T Navigator 2.0 (powered by the latest TeleNav 6.0 service) on a RIM BlackBerry Bold, and a light version of TeleNav's GPS Navigator 5.2.9 on a Samsung Highlight, a fairly basic touchscreen phone. Both services got me where I wanted to go, but the experience on the BlackBerry Bold was far superior to that on the Highlight.

Because the Bold's AT&T Navigator 2.0 downloads the en­­tire route--including surrounding map data--onto your handheld, it can supply directions even when you lose your data connection. On my test route, I continued to receive turn-by-turn instructions despite driving out of data coverage and missing multiple turns. The TeleNav service on the Samsung Highlight couldn't navigate without a data connection.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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