What’s Your Preferred Navigation Device?

What’s Your Preferred Navigation Device?

What’s Your Preferred Navigation Device?GPS devices revolutionised the way we get around, but these days stand-alone GPS systems face competition from smart phones running GPS apps, navigation systems built into cars, and even smart phones simply being used to refer to Google Maps occasionally. What’s your preferred strategy for making sure you don’t got lost?

Picture by State Records NSW

A recent survey by Navteq suggests that Australians still prefer a dedicated portable GPS device over an in-car navigation system or a phone with GPS capabilities. But let’s face it: they would say that, wouldn’t they? So let’s see what you all get up to when you’re behind the wheel:

Feel free to tell us why you made the choice you did in the comments.


  • The sun and the stars. It was good enough for my ancestors in the days of yore, it is still good enough for me. Even if I have no idea how to navigate by them . . .

  • I’ve always preferred using the good old road map when I go to new places. A GPS is good, but it takes away the fun of finding your own (most direct!) route, possibly getting lost along the way, and exploring different ways to get somewhere.

    If the road system is really complicated (have you ever driven in Kuala Lumpur? I’ts terrifying!) then I’m all for a GPS though!

  • This is a rather limited survey as it doesn’t include a laptop PC option which is the only way to follow a complicated route with dozens of via points.

    See my comments at the link below for my preferred configuration:


    Yesterday we travelled from Surfers Paradise to Brisbane Airport following the coast all the way using Garmin nRoute (which should be very high on the list of the world’s most useless software, which sort of negates my argument – fortunately Garmin has discontinued it and its successor Mobile PC – but it’s all I have for Qld).

    Despite nRoute’s limitations we were able to see the local roads which hug the coast and plot a route with many via points. This would be nearly impossible with a PND.

    Another example, this morning I wanted to get from BNE F1 to the Botanical Gardens at Mt Coot-Tha. nRoute suggested a route via the downtown. Really sensible at 0830. Most people with a PND would just accept this because they don’t know how to use the limited rerouting options that PNDs have.

    I was easily able to drag the route to bypass the centre and get here in no time. (I’m writing this sitting in the car park while my partner and mother tour the gardens. I have zero interest in plants!)

    I have a TomTom which is great for quickly getting from A to B but it is useless for the scenarios described above.

    Andrew Watson

  • Google Navigation is so handy – you have it on you all the time and it is up to date for every country (supposedly). I just wish it didn’t try to bend the laws of the road (no right turns etc) or purely bend the laws of physics (using non-existent roads and tunnel connections).

    Portable GPS still rules for niceness of use and accuracy. Lane navigation is great especially in Sydney where the road sign is 2m from the intersection – or in case of the Bridge, 2m after.

  • Nokia N8. Free turn by turn navigation, drive or walk, online or offline, anywhere in the world, free city & country guides, traffic updates and so on and so on, all free.

  • What’s missing here is the option for ‘I plan my route before I travel.’
    I tend to use Google Maps and Streetview to check out the route beforehand. If it’s a long journey (e.g Toowoomba to Canberra), I’ll note the waypoints (Goondiwindi, Moree, Dubbo, etc…) and then follow the signs. If I’m looking for a particular road I’ll turn on the GPS as I get close to the destination (mostly because Queensland street signs use block capitals and are inconsistently placed — the GPS means I don’t take my eyes off the road.)

    I still keep a UBD in the car and get travel maps from RACQ before embarking on a road trip. Paper maps still give a good overview of your journey and let you plan a route for yourself, so long as you have the skill to do that.

  • Until the last couple of days I’d have argued for a decent look at a map and ‘winging it’.

    My experiences with GPS units have ordinary. Last weekend I visited Sydney – towing a 20′ (~6.5m) dinghy to Balmoral Beach (Mosman) from Canberra – and the assistance I got from by not-to-be-named-brand GPS ranged from unhelpful to modest. Wish I’d remembered the Sydway…

    Since the weekend, I’ve started to use a A50 (Asus-Garmin) phone that, I have to say, does a pretty darn good good job on managing navigation INCLUDING giving several call turns in advance when a series of manoeuvrings are required in a short space of time/road. Doesn’t seem too shabby as a smartphone either. Pity that it looks like this collaborative enterprise is not going anywhere.

  • Dedicated/in-car – Tom Tom on the iPhone chews through batteries, loses location easily, and doesn’t recalculate anywhere near as fast. A dedicated TomTom is easy to use, unambiguous under the law and a low battery doesn’t mean I could be stuck without a functional phone.

    But always, look at the route on a static map first and understand where you’re going – far more useful than just blindly waiting for the GPS to beep at the right time.

  • I tend to use Google maps to pre plan trips and a physical map when I’m out and about. I have a few in my wallet for areas I travel around the most. Mainly because I can’t really afford something with a GPS in it.

  • I have a Nokia 5800 on me at all times. It costs me an almighty $25 a month and I use OVI maps for driving turn by turn directions and google maps app for public transport directions. In Perth, google maps is faster and better than all other options, and I include the Transperth 13 number in that.

    I also use google Latitude on google maps app to share location info with my interstate fiance. It’s a small bit of a kind of contact that we have with each other that makes it easier to be apart.

    I will also hit up the google maps website every time one of the noobs at work asks how to get somewhere. Not to find out, to print the directions so they stop talking.

    Don’t get me started on yellow pages paper monitor stands.

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