In Reply to: That's what they told me, no changes to navigation posted by Nicole Hamilton on August 18, 2000 at 09:36:20:
The system has two modes. One mode, where it displays a map in color, is the one you always see in brochures and for good reason: it's just sexier to look at. And indeed, in map mode, a larger screen where perhaps you might be able to have larger, more readable characters and a wider coverage area, would be nice.
But that's not the mode we tended to use except out in the country when all we wanted was to get a very general sense of where we were relative to the border or the next big city.
Most of the time, we kept it in its instruction mode, where you get a diagram of whatever intersection is ahead and what you need to do. In that mode, the diagrams are quite large and street names are in a pretty good-sized font. At the same time, you're also listening to the voice instructions. So when you're in that mode, screen size is really totally adequate.
What we felt were things that would be much, much higher up on our list of improvements had essentially nothing to do with screen size.
To us, far and away the #1 improvement we'd suggest would be a faster processor with more memory so if you miss a turn, it can calculate the new route faster and also so that if you change the scale in map mode, it could replot the screen faster.
#2 would be higher precision to tell you exactly where you need to turn, though possibly that's simply beyond what can be done with GPS unless it's augmented with differential GPS. Some intersections in Europe, especially those with rotaries, are very confusing. Okay, you're supposed to take the second turn on the right, but which one is that? You end up trying to watch the distance figure change on the monitor -- 400 ft, 200 ft, 100 ft, 50 ft, 0 ft -- to figure is this it, but sometimes even that's not good enough and you miss your turn.
#3 would have been more information on hotels everywhere we went. It was good in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where it listed prices and features, but useless except for directions in France, where all it listed was their addresses and phone numbers.
#4 would have been some better "query" capability to be able to describe your criteria for a hotel, e.g., price, location, number of stars, etc., and then get a ranking. Instead, all you get is an alphabetical list.
Overall, the navigation system is right up there with sliced bread and indoor toilets as far as I'm concerned. This trip made me a believer!
And I should add that contrary to some initial concern I had, i.e., did it really make sense to spend $1500 for the BMW system when I could geta Garmin dashboard thing for $500 (give or take), I learned that, yes, there is a big difference. Getting it built in gives you a far more useful system. The BMW system, being built in, does not need to always have a usable satellite signal to track position. It's obvious it must be using information coming from the wheels because you'll notice it does continue to track your position through long, long tunnels, e.g., through mountains in the Alps.
I just can't say enough good stuff about this system. People who say they don't think they'd need it remind me now of people who say they don't really need air conditioning because after all, they only have a couple hot days every year.