In the right direction


These GPS navigators are custom-made for Indian streets, so you won’t need to stop and ask about the route any more

Shweta Taneja


A map in hand is worth two on line when you are driving, says Amit Prasad, founder and CEO, SatNav Technologies, a Hyderabad-based GPS map-making company.

“You don’t need a phone GPRS connection, and re-routing is much faster in on-board systems,” he says. After all, cars honking behind you in traffic will not wait for the map to buffer on your smartphone. “A good GPS system talks to you and says ‘turn right’ at exactly the point where you need to take a turn,” explains Prasad. And since the maps are updated every six months, the very latest constructions are included in your map.

According to a report published last year by IE Market Research Corp., a Canada-based market intelligence and business strategy research and consulting firm, the navigation industry in India will be worth $158.4 million (around Rs. 793.58 crore) by 2014. New Delhi-based navigation company MapmyIndia’s director Rohan Verma claims his company has grown 600% in the last three years. “This is a testament to the significantly growing demand for GPS navigators,” he says, adding that guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are the main advantages GPS navigators have over smartphone maps.

Some GPS services available in India are:

Via by TomTom

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

The Dutch navigation-system makers entered the Indian market in September with their Via series. The maps come loaded with TomTom’s unique Landmark Navigation functionality, wherein you can search for a specific place by a landmark around it, be it a famous monument, temple or park. The console also includes a “Help Me!” emergency menu that provides information about hospitals and other emergency services on the road. Of the three models available for India, Via LIVE 120 and Via 125 have voice controls, so you don’t have to stop or take your hands off the wheel. These two models also come with a mobile car-kit feature that can convert this device into a hands-free Bluetooth speaker. The mount which comes with the device attaches to the windscreen and can be turned up to 180 degrees. It comes with an 11cm or 13cm touch screen, depending on the model.

TomTom’s India database, in the works for some time, includes 5,000 cities and towns across the country.

It will cost you:Rs. 15,000 for the Via 120. It comes with the latest map pack, and one year’s upgrades (one each quarter) cost Rs. 1,577.

Garmin nüvi 2565LM

Garmin nüvi 2565LM

Garmin nüvi 2565LM

The nüvi sits in a lower space between windshield and interior so there’s no blind side while driving. It is also compatible with many wireless camera systems, so it can be used as a viewer if you have bought any reverse cameras for parking. It can also be used as a speakerphone for your handset through Bluetooth. The set also sorts multiple destinations into efficient routes, for trips where you need to run errands along the way.

Take the device with you after you park and it will map your car location, handy for crowded parking lots. The nüvi also has additional tools, including currency and measurement converters and a calculator, that some may find useful.

Its map includes numerous points of interest such as stores, restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues, gas stations, ATMs and more. When driving, the nüvi also shows the upcoming junctions which may require you to change lanes. The text-to-speech of street names is in an Indian (north Indian, specifically) accent.

It will cost you: Rs. 18,500 for the nüvi 2565LM and the latest map. Lifetime free map updates available for download up to four times a year.

MapmyIndia CarPad

MapmyIndia CarPad

MapmyIndia CarPad

Launched in September, the CarPad is meant to be both GPS and media tablet, and aside from a windshield mount, can also be mounted on the back of the headrest so people in the rear seat can use it.

The 7-inch tablet comes with 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and runs Android 2.2, so you can call, message, mail, chat, browse the Internet, and use social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter. As a tablet, the CarPad is not particularly impressive, but it works very well as a GPS device.

MapmyIndia has the oldest service in India, and some of the most detailed and accurate maps available. The maps extend over five million places, and range from national-level mapping of highways to street maps of over 1,200 cities, and 3D maps of major cities. Turn-by-turn guidance, building-level details, travel guides, places of interest are all inbuilt, and you can save addresses you visit frequently so you don’t need to keep entering them.

It will cost you:Rs. 22,990 for the CarPad with the latest map installed. Each map update costs Rs. 990 or you can buy upgrade packs of up to Rs. 1,750 for four updates in two years.

Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca

Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca

Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca

If you are looking for a combination of navigation and good music, opt for the Lucca. With a bright, responsive 4.3-inch touch screen, the device has multiple GPS receiver channels which enable a quicker response and stronger signal fixes, especially while driving. The additional inbuilt music player comes with Blaupunkt speakers for loud audio playback and a two-year warranty.

The TravelPilot comes preloaded with MapmyIndia maps. Navigation is simple with zoomable maps and a basic layout. You can also import geo-tagged photographs and see them on the map as you navigate your way around a new place.

It will cost you: Rs. 9,499 for the TravelPilot. You can buy map updates from MapmyIndia for Rs. 990 each or bundle two updates in one year for Rs. 1,250, or four in two years, for Rs. 1,750.

The app option

Downloadable apps with maps that can turn your GPS-enabled phone into a navigation device.

MapmyIndia map: The MapmyIndia app is available on Android, Symbian, Windows and iOS devices. You can download the app for free, and the map for Rs. 2,490.

SatGuide: SatGuide covers the major cities and highway networks in a single map for Rs. 990. It is only compatible with Windows and Symbian.

Sygic: Sygic uses MapmyIndia maps, but future map updates are free. It only works on Android and iOS, and includes regional accents and 3D rendering. It costs €31.99 ( around Rs. 2,200).

Waze: The app works like a social network—it shares traffic data between Waze users, so if anyone is stuck in a jam, they can alert other Waze users to avoid the route with the push of a button. The app is in its beta stage, compatible with iOS, Windows, Symbian, Android and BlackBerry phones. It’s loaded with SatNav maps, and is completely free.

ShowNearby: A free app launched by MapmyIndia, ShowNearby is a location- based service that displays restaurants, ATMs, petrol pumps, big brand stores, coffee shops and tourist destinations near the user’s location. The app uses simplified MapmyIndia maps, and doesn’t have turn-by-turn navigation. It is free, but could become a paid offering later.