Categories: HardwareMobile

PNDs Getting Thinner and Better, Smartphones Still Lag Behind

PND means Portable Navigation Device, and in general use refers to any portable automotive GPS device.

For several years now there have been those that claim PNDs are a dying market and that they will die a quick death. The exact opposite of that has been true. PNDs still continue to sell by the truckload and in addition have become quite advanced in overall look, construction and use:

To this day, a smartphone simply cannot compete with a PND no matter the manufacturer. Could be Garmin, could be TomTom, could be Magellan; it doesn’t matter. Nothing navigates as well as a true dedicated real-time sat-nav system. If you want the best in GPS navigation, you have to use a PND.

But why is this?

It’s not that smartphones can’t do GPS because they certainly can. It has basically everything to do with software licensing, because in the end it’s the software that makes PNDs so great. The software I speak of is comprised of two parts, that being operational software by the GPS-maker itself, and the map data provided by NAVTEQ or TeleAtlas.

Garmin in particular is still trying to do the smartphone thing. The first attempt was nuviphone. It had a cold reception at best. People simply didn’t like it. Now they’re going at it again with Garminphone from the Garmin-Asus partnership. This time it runs Android, and people do like that. It has all the stuff that should make for a great smartphone, and with Garmin software + NAVTEQ map data will finally break the need to have a smartphone and separate PND.

But will it convert iPhone owners to Android? Is the convenience of having a smartphone with Android and Garmin GPS technology worth giving up iPhone and all the apps it has available?

Personally speaking, I’d still go with the PND because the only place real-time GPS is truly needed is in the car. For instances where you need GPS while on foot, existing smartphone GPS tech seems to work just fine.

Should GPS-makers stay out of the smartphone biz, just make PNDs and start licensing the software to more popular smartphones?

Let people know by writing a comment or two.

Rich Menga :Rich Menga is a pro-blogger and musician living in Tampa Bay Florida. Check out his blog at www.menga.net, follow on Twitter via @richmenga, or follow him on Facebook here.