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Florida Guide > Travelling

Take an in-car Satellite Navigation system

Ever wondered what all the fuss was over Satellite Navigations systems? What are they? What do they do? Why rent one when on holiday/vacation?

Some cars have the option of these systems when a car is purchased and is built in. However the portable systems offer flexibility to move from one car to another, take on holiday or rent when in a strange country or area. For those unfamiliar with portable Satellite Navigation devices these generally consist of a small unit, approximately 4” x 6” in size, similar to a pocket PC organiser. These clip into a holder and are then attached to the windscreen by means of a suction pad. There is a small receiver on the back which locks on to the GPS (Global Positioning System) and this in turn positions your vehicle on a map displayed on the small 5-6 inch display screen. The units are usually powered through a lead which plugs into the power outlet (cigar lighter socket) and most also include a rechargeable on board battery (good for around an hour before a recharge is necessary).

Once the system is attached it locks onto a signal. This can take up to 10 minutes when first switched if you’ve taken it from one country to another or it hasn’t been powered for a while. It will display your position relative to the roads, points of interest and junctions around you. My system has a suite of menus which include varying levels of functionality from simple to complex.

In its simplest form it is just a case of using a menu to select the GOTO option and inputting the zip code, street, and house number of the destination. The device will then perform a calculation of the route based usually on a default combination of algorithms, i.e. shortest v longest route, more or less highways, toll v non toll roads. The latter was particularly useful for me last year when I forgot all my US coins and arrived too late in Florida to obtain any change. I simply selected an option on the Sat Nav to ‘AVOID TOLLS’ and amazingly the device took me all the way to my destination without going near one!!

Once the device has performed its calculation it will display the distance to travel to the destination and the time it might take. The system then commences to issue step by step instructions both visually on screen and via voice commands. On my device you can even select a male or female voice with a British or American accent (LOL).

The Satellite Navigation device is quite fascinating as it displays other roads and streets around you as you travel. The great thing too is that if you do make a mistake or take a wrong turn it will immediately re-calculate the route and get you back on track. It may even keep the kids amused in the back as you ask them to listen to each of the required manoeuvres. The usefulness of the device does not start and finish with the journey to/from airport either. It is an excellent way of getting around Florida and finding your way to the many well known, and not so well known, attractions. I find it gives a great deal of confidence in where you are travelling to, especially at night time. At all times you know where you are and just how far you are from where you want to be. I’d highly recommend it.

Author: Denise and Nigel Taylor (Villa link: click here)
Other articles by this author: click here

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Page added on: 13 November 2006
Viewed 3903 times since 1 September 2008.

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