A Beginner’s Guide to Sat Nav

Disclosure: Links marked with (eBay⇒) or (Amazon⇒) are affiliate links. This means I get paid a small commission if you buy something after clicking on the links. This money helps to pay for the running of the website.Sat nav. Satellite navigation. GPS navigation – it’s all the same thing.

Over the last few years, sat nav units have become an increasingly common sight on the windscreens and dashboards of cars.

They are a great tool for navigating and route planning – especially if you are driving on your own. At the same time, they do require a bit of common sense – you wouldn’t turn down a no entry road just because the sat nav told you to, would you?

If you are still a sat nav virgin, then you may be a bit confused. What should you expect if you buy one and what are the differences between them?

What Is  A Sat Nav?

There are four main elements to sat nav units designed for motoring use.

  1. Road maps stored in digital format.
  2. A small touch screen that allows you to control the sat nav unit and displays a  live map of your route.
  3. A GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver that uses signals from satellites to work out your exact position on the earth’s surface.
  4. Computer software that works out where you on the map and takes your starting location and your destination and works out a road route between the two. Your sat nav will then provide you with voice and on-screen directions for the whole of your route.

There’s more, but that’s the heart of it.

What’s The Difference Between Sat Nav Units?

Sat navs currently range in price from about £100 – £500. Although they all do basically the same thing, there are a number of things that can push the price up – some of which might be worthwhile to you:

  • Larger screens – always cost more
  • Maps of western Europe as well as the UK and Ireland
  • Live traffic information and speed camera positions
  • More advanced route planning functionality – e.g. a route with several stopping points
  • Built-in camera, bluetooth, mobile phone compatibility
  • And so on…

Lots of places sell sat navs but online giant Amazon always offers a good choice and competitive prices. To get an idea of what’s available, take a look at this selection of sat navs (Amazon⇒).

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