The roads not taken...

The GPS is a network of 24 satellites that continuously broadcast position and time data throughout the world. Data from three of the closest satellites is used to triangulate your GPS unit's exact location and speed.

Brinda Vasudevan | Print Edition: Nov 29, 2007

People who’ve got it call it direction dyslexia. It’s the sheer inability to get to point B from point A without having a panic attack. That’s why the US Department of Defense developed the Global Positioning System or GPS. Well, okay, they developed it to track military movements, but it’s far more useful to take you to office.


Most phones today (other than the barebones basic models) come with GPRS. And many people confuse that with GPS. GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Services and is a radio service that is used to send data wirelessly; the GPS is a directionfinding system. GPRS is not free to use; you have to pay a monthly fee. GPS is a free service. However, if and when mobile phone service providers offer GPS, they could begin charging a fee for the use of the software and map database.
Nokia N95
Built-in GPS mapping, Webenabled, fast downloads— as Nokia says, your computer just went mobile. Other features include a 2.6" wide display, locationbased mobile search, Web browser with Minimap, USB 2.0, WLAN and Bluetooth connectivity interface.
Price: Rs 35,000 (approx)
Casio GPR-100
The GPR-100 is a waterproof wristwatch for joggers. The watch uses GPS technology to measure run data like distance, speed and pace. The watch uses GPS not so much for location-finding as to measure time and distance.
Price: $625 (approx)
Asus P535
It’s a phone, a camera, a mini-computer and a GPS unit all in one sleek gadget. A large 2.8-inch screen makes this a good in-car GPS unit. You also get a 520MHz processor, Windows Mobile 5.0, 2MP autofocus camera, and decent battery life.
Price: Rs. 32,500 (approx)
MapMyIndia’s Navigator

3.5" colour touch screen; graphical map guidance supported by voice instructions; easy to locate points of interest; auto re-routing and detour; trip planner; 18 city maps; highway map
Price: Rs 21,000 (Delhi); Rs 22,000 (ex-Delhi)

The GPS is a network of 24 satellites that continuously broadcast position and time data throughout the world, regardless of place or weather. Data from three of the closest satellites is used to triangulate your GPS unit’s exact location and speed. The unit comes with a maps database and software, which plots the route.

There are two GPS service providers in India today—MapMyIndia and SatNav. MapMyIndia offers a standalone GPS unit called Navigator, while SatNav sells a PDA loaded with GPS software and maps. You can also buy SatNav’s software and maps andinstall it in any PDA or GPS-enabled mobile phone.

SatNav’s SatGuide software and map of one city costs Rs 2,000; the Navigator costs Rs 21,000. SatNav has detailed maps of six cities; Navigator comes with maps of 18 cities. The huge advantage of the Navigator is that it seamlessly integrates highway with city maps, ideal for long-distance drivers.

SatNav’s PDA is a far better multi-function device. The Navigator lets you store and play music and video on a second SD card, at which time the GPS doesn’t work. But really, the music doesn’t matter: what the Navigator does very well is to get you to your destination in the least possible time.

So, which should you buy? Ideally neither. Wait till more products hit the market and prices fall. If, however, you need one now, the Navigator seems the better option. If cost is a constraint, and if you have a GPS-enabled phone, take the SatGuide with a single map. And wait for cheaper GPS units to enter.

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