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A SMARTER GPS

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Nov 3, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Dash Express

A SMARTER GPS

By

Reed Berry With the navigation technology available to drivers today, I wonder how we ever managed to find our way in the past. Asking directions is hit-and-miss, and I always seem to find the "sorry, I'm not from around here" person. Then came the first automobile navigation system - the spouse. While their intentions may be good, directional information is not always 100 percent accurate and, unfortunately, a spouse doesn't come equipped with an "off" switch. The GPS navigation system is one of the most useful automotive accessories of our time, and many new vehicles are equipped with these time saving devices. Some can be programmed using buttons or a touch screen, while others are voice interactive. GPS systems are designed to route you to your destination with pinpoint accuracy. Unless you are in need of directions, however, most GPS devices live rent-free in your car and don't really serve much of a purpose. Dash Express has solved this problem as the first two-way internet-connected GPS system for automotive use. It will prove useful on a daily basis because combining a GPS device with the power of the Internet, including the Yahoo! Local search, puts a wealth of valuable information at a driver's fingertips. And we're not talking general information that may be out-dated, this is the most up-to-date information available. Need to find a popular restaurant? No problem. And if you need to fill up, Dash Express won't just direct you to a gas station, it will allow you to locate the cheapest gas, sorting the stations by price. A friend and I will be going to see a movie later. Luckily, there's no need to start up my PC or look through the newspaper. Dash Express will locate nearby theaters and will provide a list of movies and show times. After using Dash Express for several weeks, I can't imagine driving without it. After selecting a destination, the unit gives me a choice of up to three routes to pick from and tells me approximately how long each route will take based on distance and current traffic conditions. Once I select my route, the map appears, a synthesized female voice begins giving me directions, and my estimated time of arrival appears. Touching the bottom right corner of the screen allows you to switch between arrival time, distance remaining and travel time remaining. Providing accurate traffic data is where this device really shines. Each Dash Express unit anonymously and automatically sends its position and speed information back to Dash. This information, along with traffic data from other providers and historical data, is then used to update other Dash units in the area. Based on my experience thus far, the traffic flow information is very reliable. On my display, the color of the road a head changes as the traffic gets heavier. Speaking of the display, as the sun sets I notice that my Dash device automatically changes from the bright daytime mode to the more subtle nighttime mode.

For more information: dash.net

Another definite advantage of using Dash Express is the over-the-air updating capability. While some GPS systems require purchasing new mapping CDs, connecting to a PC, or seeking professional assistance with system updates, Dash Express is continually refining the software and adding features. Frequently as I turn on my Dash Express device, a message on the screen announces yet another available update. I touch a button on the screen and the unit is updated in seconds. The Dash experience can also be planned and personalized using a PC. The MyDash website allows customers to create new search lists and categories and send them to their Dash Express device. Using Dash's Send2Car feature, I am able to send addresses from the web or e-mail directly to my device, as well. A recent partnership with voice providers Tellme and Dial Directions gives Dash owners voice control of the user interface by allowing them to wirelessly send information to their cars via their telephones and mobile phones. As with any automotive accessory of value, you should exercise care to prevent your Dash Express device from becoming the target of thieves. However, if your device is stolen, Dash's customer support team can clear the device's memory remotely, preventing the thief from accessing your personal information and address lists. The size of the device (which contains a large battery and three internal antennas) and the suction cup mounting bracket that attaches to the windshield makes Dash Express a bit larger and bulkier than some of its GPS competitors. But given what it has to offer, not to mention the features yet to come, it seems like a small price to pay to have the latest in navigation technology. The Dash Express device is reasonably priced at around $300. Monthly service is currently $12.99. A one-year plan is $131.88 and a two-year plan is $239.76. If you choose not to pay the monthly service charge, you will not have access to the internet-connected features, but the device will continue to operate as a GPS navigation device. For your safety and the safety of others, never attempt to program a navigation device while driving.

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: $299.99

Name of product: Dash Express Manufacturer: Dash Navigation, Inc

General * Width 4.8 in * Depth 2.8 in * Height 4.1 in * Weight 13.3 oz GPS System * Recommended Use Automotive * Receiver SiRFstarIII * Connectivity Wi-Fi * GPS Functions / Services Traffic alerts/detours, TruTraffic, Alternate routes * Voice Audible signal(s) * Antenna Built-in * Features Built-in speaker, Keyboard * Software Included SiRF Star III * GPS design features Touch screen Built-in Display * Type TFT * Resolution 480 x 272 * Diagonal Size 4.3 in * Features Anti-glare * Color Support Color Navigation * Routes 3 Included GPS accessories: Mounting arm extension and wrench USB cable Dash express Wall charger Car power adapter Dashboard mounting disk Mounting arm and cradle Alcohol wipe Manufacturer Warranty * Service & support type 1 year warranty

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