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Factory Installed GPS vs. Portable GPS

staysafeonline 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Recommendations
I am looking at getting a Honda Accord with factory installed GPS unit in it (I have an Acura right now and know that I can't live without a GPS). Was wondering how the "nicer" portable GPS units stack up vs. the factory installed units in terms of features and accuracy, etc. Obviously the portability is a nice factor but wasn't sure if the "factory installed" ones are much better or worse than say the higher end Garmin Nuvi line....

thanks in advance and this is my first post! Great resource!!


  • Tim 1482 Points
    Welcome! Glad to have you here.

    The nice thing about the factory installed devices is that they are.... factory installed. There are no wires hanging between the device and the power source. There is nothing hanging from your windshield or sitting on your dash. And they are not as attractive to thieves as a portable device which can be quickly snatched. However in my opinion the benefits stop there.

    The factory devices are typically much more expensive than the portable devices. Upgrading the device with new software updates, map updates, etc is both very difficult (you can't really just hook a USB cable to your car) and typically very expensive.

    The features in the portable devices are growing at a much faster rate. If you don't like your device you can always return it and buy one from a different manufacturer or a different model.

    In terms of GPS accuracy there isn't going to be much, if any difference. In terms of routing accuracy the portable devices tend to be a little more up to date because they are easier to upgrade and updates typically come out more frequently.

    I hope this answers some questions, let us know if you have more!
  • Tim,

    Wow that was quick thanks!

    Honda charges about $1800 for their navigation system and it is a pretty awesome system (I know that I'll never NOT have a GPS again). But it makes me think twice about getting it since you can purchase a great portable for significantly less than that.

    Are there any portables that will allow you to put in say 5-6 addresses and then it figures out what the most efficient route is?? The factory installed system in the Acura does that and though I don't use it much, when I do it is fantastic.

    And finally - if you were willing to spend $1000.00 or less on a GPS, what device would you purchase?

  • Tim 1482 Points
    Many of the Magellan devices offer that feature. "Route optimization" where it will figure out the best way to get to a handful of destinations.

    Second best on that feature are the TomTom devices which allow you to build an "Itinerary" of multiple destinations, however you select the order to visit each destination.

    Most of the Garmin devices (like the Nuvi series) only allow one "via" per route. You could setup each destination as a "favorite" ahead of time, but you can only setup a route with your starting location, a final destination, and one "via" location.

    If you don't use that feature a ton, you might find that the other features each GPS offers might outweigh the ability to perform route optimization like that.

    I try to avoid general questions like "which GPS is the best" because the best can be significantly different depending on needs and taste. What might work great for some people could be a terrible pick for someone else.

    With that said overall satisfaction based on feedback I get here typically leaves Garmin devices on top, TomTom devices second, and Magellan devices third. There are definitely still people who are thrilled with their Magellan devices and I've heard complaints regarding Garmin devices as well, but that seems to be the overall trend.

    There are also other features to keep in mind that could factor into your decision. Bluetooth connectivity to a phone for hands free calling, the ability to receive traffic alerts, text-to-speech of street names, the quality of the GPS chipset, etc. All of those features can make a bigger difference to some people than just the best for the dollar.

    For example I had someone the other day in a situation similar to yours... They were considering a portable device as an option to the $2000 factory installed option for the car they were purchasing. They ended up spending about $350 on a simple TomTom ONE and are thrilled with it.
  • grey 0 Points
    Keep in mind that factory installed GPS unit is more universal for the vehicle. As it was mentioned before you don't have to deal with wires running around, mounting, dash is not cluttered. With Honda installed navigation you'll be able to use voice commands to operate radio/XM/CD, as well as GPS itself.
    I have Accord myself, but without Navi, with I kinda regret. If I had to it all over again I would've bought it with Navi.
    But then again there's over $1000 in savings when you go portable GPS route.
  • Tim 1482 Points
    That is a good point grey. GPS devices are getting smarter and more closely integrated with vehicles though. Some do offer voice prompts. Some are tied in with things like your headlights so if you turn your lights on the GPS goes into "night" display mode. Some are also tied in with the fuel gauge and will let you know when you are close to running out of fuel and will offer to route you to the nearest gas station.
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