What to consider while buying an in-dash navigation system for your car?
A comprehensive in-dash navigation buying guide
In-dash GPS navigators are complete entertainment, communication and information system that are installed in a car dashboard and amplify the travelling experience of a car owner. An in-dash system helps you access music, road-ready apps, connect your smart phone and play various discs through a single system. Also, in-dash system with built in GPS navigators are ideal for long distance travels and are more accurate than map applications on smart phones as they suffer from patchy network coverage issues.
Points to consider while buying an in-dash navigation system
- Speed, accuracy, reliability & convenience
All these elements and variables are unquantifiable but are important in improving the overall travelling experience of a car owner. You should make sure an in-dash navigation system is speedy, accurate, reliable and easy to operate. Accuracy in navigation, distance calculation and speed of calculation along with ease of usage of interface are instrumental in ensuring that an in-dash system is extremely useful.
- Screen size and resolution
Having the right screen size and resolution is essential for the success of an in-dash navigation system installation in a car. The age-old perception that bigger is better still is true in case of screen-based systems and in an in-dash system, it is ideal to have a bigger screen to navigate through the maps accurately. You can choose from a six inch screen to a nine inch screen, which are measured diagonally, but most in-dash systems come with a screen size of 6.1-7 inch. But only screen size is not responsible for better experience. Having a crisp picture quality and visibility on screen is equally essential. Having an in-dash system with a sharp picture clarity ensures that map information visible is crisp and is easy to read on-screen. Also, most systems come with a feature to play videos from DVD or smart phone, having a screen with high-resolution in case of video playback can result in better picture quality.
- Points of interest feature
Navigation systems come with a number of useful features, one being points of interest. This feature help you find essential services in an unfamiliar town such as a restaurant, hotel, petrol pump, ATM or other places of interest in a city. With a powerful navigation system with great options and support for maximum points of interests gives a user better control and information of the locality or city being travelled to. You can also look for an in-dash navigation system that provides option to mark several stops in a journey and plan your travel for best experience.
- Real-time traffic data
Some in-dash navigation systems are equipped with features to provide real-time traffic data. Such systems provide accurate information about traffic jams, constructions/obstructions and also provide information about the estimated time of journey, making it easier for a car owner to plan his/her travel route accordingly. This benefits a person as he can plan well in advance about the route to be taken. Also, keep in mind such services on a number of in-dash navigation system often requires payment of a subscription fee and are limited to specific areas/cities.
- Map updates
Modern in-dash navigation system also comes with an option to update maps and navigation data periodically by uploading fresh data into in-built memory. These updates equip the in-dash navigation system with latest maps and route information that makes it easier to navigate through unknown locations and cities. Also, different manufacturers have different requirements related to downloading map updates. While some manufacturers offer updates through website which can be browsed using a Mac or Windows PC, sometimes these updates are locked to be accessed through a specific operating system such as iOS or Windows.
- Smartphone integration
As in-dash navigation system come with touch screens, these systems can be used to emulate smart phones by connecting with smart phone. This provide the in-dash system an ability to stream music, access travel information, access various mobile apps to enhance the user experience. Most modern in-dash navigation systems come with an in-built ‘app mode’. The app mode, while providing control over selected apps through the display, also facilitates using various other features for enhanced experience. If a system has 2-way control, one can easily control the system and smart phone from one device for music playback or for performing other functions.
Mostly, controlling smart phone audio requires connecting a phone to the system using a wired or Bluetooth connection. However, to play videos on the screen through smart phone on many systems requires parking the vehicle or applying emergency hand brake for safety. Specialty apps like Apple CarPlay for iOS & Android Auto for Android can be used to connect the smart phone to the navigation receiver. This makes the car navigation system turn into your virtual mobile phone allowing you to conduct basic phone and app functions on dashboard screen like checking maps and controlling music using audio commands. Also, advanced in-dash systems can even read out incoming texts and reply using voice.
How an in-dash navigation system is fit into a car?
Usually, an in-dash navigation system fit into a 4 inch opening that is also known as a double-DIN. But such systems are also available in the market which can fit in a standard 2 inch dash opening (single-DIN) just like a normal stereo. So, before buying make sure the system is compatible to your available in-dash opening. Also keep in mind that the monitor of a system installed in single-DIN space retracts back into the chassis when power is turned off and motors out and flips when powered on again. But in the case of a double-DIN compatible system, the screen is etched into the dash and appears just like a factory-integrated component. If you are looking for a retractable screen like a single-DIN system in a dash space with double openings, you can also use an adapter kit to fit in the same.
Customized fitting options for in-dash navigation systems
There are a number of in-dash navigation systems that are designed in a way so that they can replace double-DIN factory stereos, while at the same time retain factory look of the dashboard. This facilitates an individual to take benefits of in-dash navigation without the need of learning the controls of a dashboard again. These customized systems also function as a car stereo and come with a host of additional music playback and connectivity features.