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GPS navigation system owners are highly satisfied

Consumer Reports News: December 17, 2007 11:52 AM

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Owners of portable GPS navigation systems are a satisfied bunch, but the systems are not without their problems. According to a recent J.D. Power and Associates survey, 95 percent of people said their GPS unit meets or exceeds their expectations, but nearly two-thirds of owners have experienced problems.

Consumers are most satisfied with the appearance and voice directions of the systems, but the speed of information ranks lowest in the survey. The most problematic issues found among portable navigation devices are the accuracy of the route and mounting the system in the car.

Other findings reveal that owners would like to have additional features on their GPS units such as real-time traffic, weather forecasts, voice commands, and speed alerts. These features are absent on the low-cost, heavily advertised devices, but they are readily available on mid- and high-priced units. A significant 25 percent of owners want an iPod compatible device and 26 percent would like a camera in their unit.

The study was based on responses from 4,013 GPS owners of major brands such as Garmin, Magellan, Mio, and TomTom and measured six factors of satisfaction: ease of use, routing, appearance, speed, voice directions, and display screen.

How to be even more satisfied
When looking to buy a GPS unit, make sure you know the retail or online store’s return policy, so if you are dissatisfied with the model you purchased, you can return it easily. The study noted that customers who contacted the manufacturer directly for support were more satisfied than those who returned the model back to the store.

GPS units have a variety of features, but they vary between models. For example, traffic capabilities on most models are provided with a subscription service and some need an additional receiver, so you would have to pay extra. This may not be readily apparent when browsing units in a store. Research the products to understand their performance, features, and determine the right balance for your budget.

For more information on portable GPS navigation systems see our Ratings and buying advice and watch our video guide. Discuss GPS with other shoppers and owners in the forums.

Liza Barth

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