What are the Different Types of GPS Systems?

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What are the Different Types of GPS Systems?

GPS , or global positioning system, has become an integral part of daily life for many drivers. From the satellite navigation (sat nav) systems that guide motorists from A to B to smartphones and cameras with geotagging abilities, GPS can be found virtually everywhere. GPS was developed by the United States government and originally intended for military use, but it was later made available to the public so that anyone with the right equipment could use it.

There are many kinds of GPS systems available to buyers for use in the car. Buyers who are interested in GPS should first learn about how the system works, and then consider the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of system. Finally, buyers should consider which features are offered, from Bluetooth support to traffic information. When buying GPS devices for a car, buyers need to look no further than the online marketplace eBay, which has a large selection of car accessories and electronics.

How GPS Works

GPS relies on a network of satellites positioned around the earth, orbiting more than 20,000 km above the earth's surface. The satellites orbit the earth twice daily, travelling at approximately 11,265 km/h. There are currently 24 satellites in operation, with several others orbiting as backups that can be activated if required. When a GPS device is activated, it uses triangulation to pinpoint its location by gauging its distance from three satellites and looking for the point of intersection between them. GPS devices that use four satellites, can also calculate altitude. GPS devices are accurate to within several metres, sometimes less. GPS systems for cars can calculate speed, estimated time of arrival, and a variety of other data in addition to tracking the car's location.

Types of GPS System

There are essentially two types of GPS used in cars: in-dash and portable. However, many smartphones are now equipped to offer GPS functionality and may be a suitable alternative to in-car systems.

In-Dash GPS Systems

In-dash GPS systems can be either factory-installed or added later. These systems integrate into the car's dashboard, so that the wiring is hidden from view. These devices tend to have the largest screens. Thanks to their design, in-dash GPS systems often serve as a hub inside the car to manage features, such as the vehicle's audio system, DVD player, or electrical system. Factory-installed in-dash GPS systems may be the most expensive, but even models added after purchasing the car can be expensive because they usually require professional installation. Nevertheless, in-dash GPS systems tend to have many features and are convenient for motorists seeking a permanent navigation system for their car.

Portable GPS Systems

Portable GPS systems are smaller than their in-dash counterparts, but they have the benefit of mobility. For households with more than one car, a portable GPS is a great solution because it moves from vehicle to vehicle with little or no problems: buyers need only the power cable and a mounting device. The mounting device can take the form of a suction cup for the windscreen or a base that sits on top of the dashboard. Most portable GPS systems are ready to use as soon as they are out of the box. High-end models can have many features. However, the ease provided by portability is counterbalanced by a lack of integration: some features of in-dash GPS systems are not available in portable systems.

Smartphone GPS Systems

As smartphones become more advanced, buyers depend on them increasingly for a wide range of functions. GPS has long been a staple feature in mobile phones, and owners can download applications that offer sat nav capabilities. Motorists who want to use their phones as navigation devices can purchase docks and mounts for their cars. They may also decide to invest in a charger cable for the car, as some GPS features can drain a phone's battery quickly.

Alternative GPS Systems

There are other GPS devices used for much more than guiding a driver from A to B, but they can be just as useful in the car. For example, there are handheld systems that are ideal for hikers, and sports GPS devices that help runners and other athletes train. Software based systems can turn laptops or PDAs into GPS devices. A final type of GPS system to consider is the GPS tracker. Whereas in-car sat nav systems have a screen to display map information, trackers simply send their position information to a receiver, which allows the motorist to track the car's position in real time. Trackers can also set a geofence, which is an alert that is triggered if the tracker leaves a designated perimeter.

Features of GPS Systems

When choosing an in-car GPS system, buyers should look for a few essential features, such as Bluetooth support, voice commands and text to speech, traffic information, points of interest, and unlimited updates. These features enhance a GPS device's capabilities and usability.

Bluetooth Support for GPS Systems

Bluetooth support allows the driver to link a mobile phone to the GPS device wirelessly, without having to purchase a Bluetooth headset. The GPS system can display, or even announce, a caller's name and information, answer the call, and allow motorists to hold a conversation while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

Voice Commands and Text to Speech for GPS Systems

Voice commands make it easy for drivers to operate a GPS device. For example, they can programme a destination or look up information, which makes a voice command feature extremely convenient, especially for people driving alone. This means that motorists do not have to stop the car in order to operate the device safely; they can simply tell the device what to do.

In addition to accepting voice input, some GPS devices offer text-to-speech capabilities. This feature means that the device announces the directions rather than just indicating them on the screen. Some devices announce the names of the streets that motorists need to turn onto, rather than just giving instructions by distance.

Traffic Information for GPS Systems

GPS traffic information takes two forms: historic route data and real-time data. Both kinds of information help a GPS device to calculate the quickest route to a motorist's destination. However, real-time traffic updates are the most beneficial, because they can detect when there is heavy congestion, an accident, or roadblocks, and plan around them. Buyers should look for a rerouting feature that allows the GPS device to redirect them if they encounter obstacles mid route.

Points of Interest for GPS Systems

A points of interest (PoI) database is a standard feature on many GPS devices. PoIs include petrol stations and garages, as well as car parks, hotels, and restaurants. They are great for travellers in unfamiliar areas and for locating services in an emergency. Some GPS systems may even allow drivers to download additional information from the manufacturer or other sites for locations including entertainment venues and historical buildings.

Unlimited Updates for GPS Systems

From time to time, maps become outdated as a result of new roads and changes in routes. Many GPS service providers will update these as part of a subscription service. However, a GPS device with unlimited lifetime map updates and lifetime real-time traffic provides free map upgrades, as well as unlimited traffic information. This feature may cost a little bit more at the outset, but it is often well worth the investment.

Buying GPS Systems on eBay

You can find in-car GPS systems easily on eBay. From the home page, or any other page on the site, you can enter a keyword, such as '' portable GPS'' in the search box. You can also be more specific by using brand or product names, such as ''Garmin GPS'' or '' TomTom Go Live 1005''. eBay displays all of the available listings that match the description. You can further narrow the results by specifying a features of the product or by applying the filters for price and condition.

Tips for New eBay Shoppers

If you have never shopped on eBay before, take a moment to register for an account. Signing in while you browse has several benefits, including saving searches and sellers for later reference, monitoring items that you are interested in, and communicating with eBay members. You should also take time to learn about the eBay buying basics and how the feedback system works. eBay is made up of a network of independent sellers, so feedback helps buyers to identify reputable sellers and provides a good idea of what to expect from the buying experience.


GPS systems rely on a network of satellites orbiting the earth. Most models triangulate a position based on the location of three of the satellites. GPS devices have many forms. Buyers can choose from in-dash and portable models, each of which has its own benefits. In-dash systems tend to have more features, but portable systems can move from car to car with ease. In addition, some smartphones can be converted to GPS devices for use in a car with a mounting dock and special software or applications.

When buying GPS systems for a car, buyers should look at the features offered. For example, Bluetooth support allows motorists to make calls while driving without needing a Bluetooth headset. Voice commands and text-to-speech also enhance the device. Traffic information makes it easy to avoid congestion and roadblocks, and points of interest allow the motorist to find specific locations, such as petrol stations or hotels. Finally, lifetime updates may be included in the purchase price. Whatever kind of GPS system buyers wish to have, they can always visit eBay for a great selection and convenient shopping.

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