GPS Units : an overview
In days gone by technologically advanced concepts like GPS units and navigational software existed only in the visions of the creatively minded. Travelers would plot their paths on paper maps or in some cases even rely on the stars to guide them to their destinations. Today, the dreams of a few have become the reality of many as GPS navigational systems have evolved to play an integral role in the lives of both military forces and ordinary civilians alike.
There are various types of GPS units available, each of which has its own distinctive features and advantages. Some of the more renowned receivers include handheld receivers, portable and fully installed car units, Laptop programs, GPS watches, Bluetooth GPS receivers and GPS cell phones. More advanced aviation and marine units have also been developed specifically for use onboard ships and planes.
Handheld receivers are the least complex and most economical of navigational systems. They also have the added advantage of being compact and portable which makes them a popular choice with outdoor enthusiasts like cyclists and hikers. Most units have a battery life of approximately 20 to 25 hours and are also able to operate off car cigarette lighters.
Although it is certainly possible to use a handheld GPS receiver in a car as well as outdoors, the small screens that are characteristic of these units make them difficult to read while driving. Portable or dash-mounted car navigational systems are designed specifically for plotting driving routes and are therefore equipped with larger screens and more advanced features. Most models also feature voice directional software that gives drivers voice directions from their starting point to their final destination. Possibly the only disadvantage to dash-mounted units is the fact that due to their extensive features they are often highly priced.
Laptop GPS systems offer a cost effective alternative to car GPS units. Most systems come with extensive mapping software which conveniently eliminates the need to constantly upload new area maps. Alternatively, those who own a Palm PC or Pocket PDA can invest in a Blue tooth GPS plug-in and turn their PDA into a fully functional navigational system. Unlike laptops, PDA's can also be mounted on the dashboard of a vehicle which makes them less cumbersome and more convenient.
Unbelievably, the most convenient and inexpensive form of GPS may soon become available in the form of an item already owned by a large portion of the world's population. New models of mobile phones are set to be equipped with GPS technology which will allow users to receive directions anywhere on the planet. The cellular GPS systems will also feature tracking devices that enable satellites to pinpoint the exact location of phone users to within a couple of hundred feet. Science fiction meets reality in the form of a global tracking system. It gives a completely new meaning to the notion of somebody out there watching you, now doesn't it!