Low Cost GPS Device Showcases Bad Trade-offs

Engineer Scott Wayne, bought this inexpensive (<$200), FineDrive 400 aftermarket GPS system for his car last year — only to find out quickly what sorts of unhappy performance trade-offs the manufacturer had made to get to a lower price point:

In a recent issue of Analog Dialogue he writes: "My first, and most serious complaint is that the touch screen became much less responsive as the summer temperatures in New England heated up. A few minutes in front of the air-conditioning outlet usually cures the problem, but I’m a fan of sunshine and open roofs. Too bad the manufacturer didn't include a capacitance-to-digital converter, which includes on-chip calibration logic to compensate for changes in temperature and humidity. A second problem is that the GPS loses its signal when I travel through Boston’s Big Dig tunnels, making it unable to maintain its bearings or to provide instructions for lane splits and exits (anyone who has been in the tunnels knows how essential this information is to a driver). Too bad the unit didn't include an ADI accelerometer, whose inertial navigation capabilities could provide positional information during these temporary signal losses. A third, minor irritation is that the aftermarket GPS has no connection to the car stereo, and thus cannot mute the music when it needs to provide spoken directions. Fortunately, my system gives several warnings before each turn, allowing me to turn the radio down when necessary." In other words this only proves an old adage again: You get what you pay for.

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