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Toyota, Toyota Camry Solara, Coupe, Convertible
Jan 08, 2004 (2:29 pm)
The in car DVD based maps are best, but are generally $1300 to $2000 or more. One hidden cost is that you usually are required to buy some other options before you can order the navigation, so the real cost is even higher if you weren't going to get the other options anyway.
In the last year, hand held units have improved. They do not have all the shortcomings you listed, but still are not as nice as a DVD based system.
I can load the maps of CA, Nevada and Oregon on a 256MB SD card on a PDA and have room to spare with some PDA based systems. I can load the entire US on the hard drive of a laptop based system using Routis 2004. If I want to go "cross country" I will fly, not drive, so the PDA system works fine for me.
The GPS software and hardware cost about $200, so it is super cheap if you already own a laptop or newer PDA. If you have to buy a PDA or laptop for the sole purpose of using it for nav and have no need for the portability, then just get the built-in system.
Jan 08, 2004 (5:37 pm)
The NAV is $1,350 MSRP option alone without any other option on the SLE and SE V6. I have PDA and have checked out the NAV software. It dies provide your location and direction to the destination. But what it lack is other resources like ATM, Back, restaurant and more importantly hospitals and police station. You ahve to to plan in advance since you need to download it if plan changed and you have to bring along your Laptop. My company is working on GPS so we have collected and compared many portable GPS system. None is as capable and easy to use as car Nav. If you need one, buy the one in the car. There do exist the portable one is bigger (not PDA-like) and can be installed in the car like those after market one. CR has test them and rated them from fair to good while auto OEM is good (CD-ROM based) to excellent (ACURA and Lexus are quoted).
Another reason why those PDA platform unit performace poorly is power. PDA need to save power to keed the battery last longer. The power it emits is about 10% of those car based or after market. The difference is how many satelite you can link. The more linked, the higher precision. This is particular critical in metro without lots of high building or hilly area with many big tree. Along the hwy, the PDA should work fine though.
Jan 08, 2004 (9:05 pm)
You are not using a good PDA system. Routis 2004 has banks, atms, gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, shopping centers etc.. Like I said, I am able to load CA, plus adjoining states on an 256MB SD card, so you do not have to plan in advance or bring a laptop along with all nav programs.
Try to find a Solara SE or SLE with nav and no other options.
Many Lexus models are completely impossible to find with nav unless they also have the Mark Levinson stereo, rear DVD video entertainment system etc..
The GPS unit I use does not only work out on the highway. I have used it in the city with tall buildings and trees around and had no problems, you can even add an external antenna for better reception. I have heard about ones with severe problems, but better navigation software and GPS hardware have come out in the last few months. Power is not a problem, the GPS I plugged into my PDA normally tracks 8 or more satellites and the PDA simply plugs into the cigarette lighter power port in the car.
I still like the in car systems since they are easier to use than dealing with a laptop or PDA and the new Honda and Acura systems let you input commands with your voice (which is very cool), but they are all very expensive and don't add all that much to the resale value.
Jan 08, 2004 (9:36 pm)
I totally love the Nav. It uses DVD. Very convenient and useful if you like to travel around and have an active lifestyle. The only thing I don't like is I cannot "hide" the Nav. Not like those from Volvo or the new Mazda 3, it is not retractable and there's no cover to "hide" the nav. So I'm kinda worried sometimes if I have to park outdoor.
BTW, I think the Solara's Nav is pretty cheap given it's quality.