My sense of direction is all but non-existent, so I have wanted a working Satellite Navigation system for my car for years.
I used one years ago in a rental car, many years ago and I wasn’t over-awed with it.
Partly, it was quibbles with the map data:
An example was the time I was cruising along Riverside Drive towards the centre of Brisbane. It urged me to turn left. I declined. I had driven on Riverside Drive many dozens of times, and I knew it was the best way to the city. It responded by having a tantrum, and declaring it didn’t know where I was – I was off of its map! A minute later it discovered it knew where I was again! I was on Riverside Drive, and it suggested I keep travelling along it if I still wanted to get to the city after my cross-country adventure.
Partly, it was quibbles with the software:
An example was how long it took to learn to translate “Take the third exit from the traffic circle” to mean “Turn right at the roundabout”. Another example was whenever it decided that I had failed to follow instructions, it would recalculate the route without any indication, and just start given competing directions. I was still trying to turn right like it told me, and it would suddenly bark at me to turn left.
In the last year, Sat Nav systems seem to have hit a critical point where they are becoming cheaper and better at an incredible rate. Since Chris at BrainSnorkel bought (and highly rated) a TomTom, my feelings of jealousy and raw gadget lust have been at a dangerously high level – almost at that point where I would go and buy an expensive toy I don’t really need.
I tried to talk myself out of it, to save myself some money. “If I can hold off for another year, I will get a much better system for a lower price. So here’s my compromise: My next car… I will install a nice sat nav system in my next car.” That was a satisfactory compromise, that worked very well for a few hours, until I found myself thinking “So! It looks like it is about time for a new car, eh?” So much for saving me money.
My recent adventures in the USA with the Hertz Neverlost system have done more to persuade me to wait a little bit longer than all my self-argument.
Again, the issue is partly the map data:
Being told to turn right on a freeway where there is no intersection – apart, of course, from a flyover 20 feet above my head – is stressful. Realising that, after I miss Futurama-style flying-right-turn, its re-routing is just taking me back to the same point to try again is even more stressful. Add pouring rain and heavy traffic and you can probably guess the level of invective I shared with it.
Sometime freeway sections would be filled with unnecessary instructions to not take an exit. Effectively, “in 2 miles, do nothing… in 1.1. miles, do nothing… in 0.5 miles, do nothing…. prepare to do nothing… ding!” Other times, it would just remain shtum.
Again the issue is partly quibbles with the software.
I found some of the verbal directions it gave in complex intersections to be positively distracting. To get to my hotel, it would urge me to “stick to the left”, which really meant “remain in the right-hand lane, or else you will end up on a freeway entrance, shooting past your hotel at 65 miles per hour”.
It was fascinated with U-turns, and I don’t think they were given a high enough weight to represent their cost in the routing algorithm. I once looked in fascination as it pushed me to join a highway early, and then do a U-turn to head in the right direction, rather than continue a block down a side road, and join the highway in the correct direction.
Combine this with the previous issue, and you may find yourself in the dilemma I faced! An unclear set of instructions put me in the wrong lane of a freeway exit, so I missed my turn-off onto a service road, just prior to the entrance of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport car-park. The system was quick thinking, and recommended a U-turn, before the impending toll-gates. I just needed to immediately cross twelve lanes of traffic to do so. I ended up having to go through the toll, and rely on the exit booth giving me a freebie. They were nice the first time it happened. They were even nice the second time I fell for the same bad instructions, and it happened again. The third time it happened, I was ready and the road traffic was quiet enough to actually make it across all those lanes in time. Maybe if I did it a fourth time, I would have ignored the machine and actually made the right exit in the first place!
When you enter an address it offers three choices of routing algorithms: fastest, most use of freeways, least use of freeways. Huh? What does “most use of freeways” mean? That it will take me on a tour of the entire USA? Perhaps the emphasis is meant to be on “free”, i.e. toll-free? I would have said “Fastest, Cheapest or Avoid High Speeds.”
The “+” and “-” buttons adjust the zoom levels. Guess which one increases magnification. Guess again.
In one of the cars I drove, starting the engine would reset the Sat Nav system, which was frustrating if you wanted to program the system before you set out.
In conclusion, I found that I got lost about as frequently with the NeverLost system as I do with a paper map. The advantage was that it generally took me less time to get back on course once I was lost.