By Ben Ellard
Special to Land Line
Interesting coincidence: Even as Westchester County, NY, is asking the U.S. DOT to require truck-specific software for navigation devices in trucks, the marketplace has suddenly filled with truck navigation products. The first all-in-one, truck-specific device appeared only a year ago.
Some of the vendors are more familiar than others, but each offers what consumers have enjoyed for years: a complete package that you simply unpack, suction-cup onto your windshield, and take on the road. No laptop needed.
Virtually all of the new, truck-sensitive, all-in-one navigation devices offer touch-screen functionality and databases with points of interest, including truck stops. Beyond that, they differ in a number of areas. Some have Bluetooth to connect with a cell phone for hands-free calls. Others with memory card slots can be used to watch videos or listen to MP3s. If you really want your device to do more than get you where you’re going, check the detailed specs on the company Web sites.
The most important element in any device is the geographical database. All the products listed here, with the exception of those from ALK and Cobra, use map data from NAVTEQ (navteq.com). Cobra uses a TeleAtlas (www.teleatlas.com) database, and ALK uses its proprietary North America database. All vendors claim to offer the best, most accurate directions, but none are perfect.
For some insight on which product to buy, talk to other drivers and check out driver discussion boards. Also see user reviews on sites like Amazon.com, where you can enter the product name. If a vendor carries it, you’ll find customer feedback for that product.
For pricing, check online shopping sites like Google Shopping and PriceGrabber.com. As with any product, be careful of vendors you don’t know – especially if their price is unbelievably low.
Remember, all these products are relatively new. Most hit the market for the first time in 2009. They haven’t had time to generate serious track records with truckers.
Cobra 7700 PRO from Cobra Electronics (www.cobra.com)features a 7-inch screen, map data from TeleAtlas, and truck stop data from ProMiles, the Texas-based trucking mileage software company.
Availability: direct from the Cobra Web site, at truck stops, and through Web outlets.
Goodyear GY500X from The
NCC Inc. and Goodyear (www.thencc.com/goodyear) features a 4.3-inch screen, Bluetooth capability, and NAVTEQ map and routing data.
Price: $449 list, but was found as low as $350 on Google Shopping.
Availability: According to The NCC Web site, the GY500X can be found at Flying J, Petro and TA Travel Centers, and online at jr.com and DieselBoss.com. But it’s clearly available elsewhere as well.
IntelliRoute from Rand McNally (www.randmcnally.com/trucking) features a 5-inch screen, map data from NAVTEQ, and added functionality. For example, IntelliRoute can track state and province mileage for fuel tax reporting among other trucker-friendly features.
Availability: direct from the Rand McNally Web site, at Web retailers, and at truck stops.
PC Miler Navigator from ALK Technologies (www.alk.com)comes in four models using ALK’s PC Miler North America database. The original 430 model is still available in some places, and its database can be updated. The 430 has been superseded by three new models, which differ only in screen size. The PM Nav 440 has a 4.3-inch screen, the 540 has a 5-inch screen, and the 740 has a 7-inch screen.
Price: $299 for the PM Nav 440; $399 for the PM Nav 540; $499 for the PM Nav 740. If you shop online you may still find 430s for $250 new or as little as $199 refurbished.
Availability: direct from the ALK Web site, through Web retailers, and at truck stops.
Garmin nüvi 465T (garmin.com) has a 4.3-inch screen, NAVTEQ database, and Bluetooth compatibility.
Price: At press time, Buy.com was offering the 465T for $438. It’s $499 virtually everywhere else.
Availability: The Garmin nüvi 465T is available through electronics retailers, mainly online, and at some truck stops.
WorldNav from Teletype
(teletype.com) offers NAVTEQ data with four models in three screen sizes. Functionality varies from one model to the next. The three higher end models all support MP3 and video through a memory card slot. See the company’s Web site for details. The WorldNav 7100 and
7200 have 7-inch screens, the WorldNav 5100 has a 5-inch screen, and the WorldNav 3300 has a
Price: At press time, WorldNav 7200, which lists at $749 on the Web site, was available for $500 on Amazon.com. WorldNav 5100 lists on the company site at $399 and was found for about $340. WorldNav 3300 listed at $399, on sale for $329, and found elsewhere online for $300. For the best price, shop online.
Availability: directly at the Teletype Web site, at various Internet shopping sites, and at truck stops.
If you have a mounted laptop in your truck, you might not need another device. The right software and a GPS receiver could do the job. CoPilot Truck software from ALK Technologies comes in two versions, with and without a GPS antenna. Price: $199 for the software DVD alone, $299 for the software and a Philips USB receiver.
Of course, laptop speakers may not provide the volume necessary for use in a noisy cab. That’s something to test out before you invest. LL