It is true that auto navigation systems installed by automakers look completely natural and integrated into the features of the vehicles we purchase. For that reason alone, many people opt to pay several times over what the system would have cost to have installed by someone other than the maker of the automobile. It is truly amazing how much of an impact aesthetics makes when it comes to purchasing your next dream car, or even your first dream car. The thing is, that even if the system doesn't seem to flow with the look of your car, there are very valid reasons for getting one in the first place and the safety and security that they provide travelers is very well worth the sacrifice of a few aesthetic features.
It isn't exactly necessary, however, to completely sacrifice aesthetics in order to have the safety and security that auto navigation systems provide. As a matter of fact, some of the most popular brands of these systems are actually installed to the car by use of suction cups rather than cutting into the dashboard or removing the ever so important stereo from your car, truck, or SUV. Keeping price conscious consumers in mind, manufacturers are offering many options well under the $500 benchmark while also affording consumers the luxury (or lower price, however you decide to call it) of installing these devices themselves.
It is important to remember that not all GPS (global positioning satellite) devices are meant to assist in auto navigation and make your purchase according to your specific needs. When shopping for one of these devices it would be comparing apples to oranges to compare a tool that is widely used for activities such as geo caching, hiking, biking, or boating. Each of these will bring in different price tags while offering greatly varied features. You need a device that is meant for mapping directions if you plan to use your device or system for driving.
I try to keep pointing out the fact that not all GPS or auto navigation systems are created equal this is very important to remember. You run the risk of purchasing the wrong system without proper planning and thus having a bad overall experience. Even among systems designed specifically for the automobile that offer mapping and navigation assistance there are different types that will appeal to different needs and uses. There are three types of auto navigation systems. Those three types of systems include: Navigation systems that are designed to stand alone, handheld systems that suit multiple purposes, and systems that are designed to work with laptops, PCs, pocket PCs, and PDA systems.
Each of the types of auto navigation systems and devices offers different benefits and drawbacks. It is ultimately up to you to decide which will suit your needs most. The stand-alone systems are often the most popular choice and are excellent for those who need driving directions and nothing more. They offer a steady power supply, turn by turn direction (in many cases), the security of being there at all times (no worry about whether or not you remembered to actually bring it along), and verbal directions along with landmarks that should let you know you are on the right path. There is a reason that these are the most popular.
For those who want to take their navigational tools off road on occasion other devices might be much better suited to your needs. Handheld devices often require additional software in order to work well with door-to-door types of directions or regular driving directions, however, they offer portability for those who wish to go biking, hiking, or kayaking and need the confidence that directions and navigational tools can provide. For those who have laptops or PDAs, the software that is available for these provide an excellent service when it comes to navigation both on and off roads and the beaten path. The cost is offset greatly if you already own your laptop or PDA and well worth a little extra investment, particularly if you will use this particular tool on a regular basis.
As I've said before, there is no perfect navigational solution for everyone, but there are quite a few that are nearly perfect for all who will dare to use them.