Innovations Awards are given out annually at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which just took place in Las Vegas during the first week of January. These awards recognize standout aftermarket products introduced at the show. This year, seven of the ten awards in the category of Mobile/Vehicle Electronics were related to navigation systems. Clearly, this is one of the hottest emerging technologies for vehicles-including your truck SUV.
Alpine won for its DVD Navigation System with XM Traffic. The company's entry combined Alpine's NVE-N872A DVD, GPS, and touchscreen-based navigation system with the HCE-100XM NavTraffic tuner, integrating real-time traffic information from XM Satellite Radio.
Pioneer's similar winning entry, the AVIC-N2 Real-Time Traffic Navigation System, offers real-time XM traffic for 20 major metro areas in a DIN-sized, high-power (50Wx4) head unit with a pop-out 6-1/2-inch screen. One of the innovative features of the service is a color-coded traffic flow. It assigns different colors to streets depending on their average cruising speed. The optional Pioneer GEX-P10XMT, an XM radio tuner and data receiver, is required. Bundled satellite radio and traffic service runs $13.99 a month.
XM received an Innovations Award for NavTraffic, which is powered by its partner NAVTEQ. Their data allows the above Alpine and Pioneer navigation systems to display up-to-the-minute traffic data on the user's screen, including accidents and traffic speed on selected arteries. It's advanced technology that is taking navigation systems to the next level.
Meanwhile, Clarion won the award for its CLNAVSIR, which bundles three separate systems: the NICE (Navigation In Car Entertainment), a transportable unit with a 7-inch touchscreen LCD, MP3 player, and 20GB hard-drive containing software maps of the U.S., the NAVGPS external GPS antenna, and the NAVSIR Sirius Satellite Radio tuner.
An award also went to Eclipse for its AVN (Audio, Video & Navigation) model 5495, a handsome double-DIN head unit with a full-color screen. Like the above systems, the Eclipse AVN offers a low-reflection, high-resolution LCD touchscreen, a DVD player, and a full-featured navigation system.
GPS specialist Garmin won the award for Quest, its affordable pocket-sized system that offers turn-by-turn directions and voice prompts with a small but useable color screen, along with 115MB of internal memory to hold a variety of maps downloadable via USB from the included MapSource City Select CDs. The MSRP is $640.
Finally, Parrot Company won for the Parrot CK3300 GPS Car Kit, a hands-free navigation adapter for select Bluetooth smartphones and PDAs equipped with commonly used navigation software like Navman. The CK3300 allows drivers to locate their coordinates on the screen of a compatible Bluetooth phone or PDA.
Navigation is still expensive, relatively speaking, but prices are beginning to come down, and with the arrival of innovative new features like real-time traffic, consider adding this cutting-edge technology to your truck or SUV.