Handheld GPS Navigators VS Car DVD Players

Author Chinavasion Marketing 3.3.2010. | 10:25

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By Michael Wong

As GPS receivers are taking on more and more features, many professional drivers (read taxi drivers and couriers) and commuters are starting to ask if it’s possible to get their needs met with a handheld GPS navigator instead of a car DVD player.

This is a very good question and one that merits some investigation.

I started thinking along these lines because for the last two weeks, I’ve been testing our new 7 inch GPS navigator with Bluetooth and FM transmitter and I’ve grown quite fond of it.


Here are some of the reasons I like it…

  • It has a huge 7 inch touchscreen with 800 x 480 pixel screen resolution, which is almost double the picture quality of most portable GPS handhelds on the market today.
  • It has Bluetooth and FM transmitter functionality, which means you can pair your cellphone to it and output the audio to your car speakers.
  • It has superb multimedia functionality.

Multimedia functionality is something I tested quite extensively. It effortlessly plays MP4 and AVI files. Specifically, this GPS device plays real MP4 files encoded using the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standard. More importantly, it plays XViD encoded AVI files which according to the Codecs Database website is the most popular video file format on the Internet.


But instead of just promoting the merits of this product, I want to talk about a revelation I had recently. See, during my tenure here at Chinavasion, I’ve spent a lot of time testing and writing about car DVD players. But the other day, as I was playing with this 7 inch GPS device, it suddenly hit me.

“Oh my gosh! This could potentially be the car DVD player for the people who aren’t in the position to install the real thing!”

Seriously, why do people choose a car DVD over a car stereo? Our sales figures suggest the answer to be:

  • GPS functionality.
  • The ability go hands-free by pairing your cellphone to it.
  • The ability to play multimedia files.

…which is exactly what this 7 inch touch screen GPS navigator with FM transmitter and Bluetooth does and does really well.


Sure, it can’t play CD or DVD disks, but for the current generation of users who download their media off the Internet, this isn’t a huge problem.

Before you decide to forego your decision to buy a 2-DIN car DVD system with GPS and Bluetooth and buy this 7 inch GPS navigator, however, let’s look at the opportunity costs of owning one instead of the other.

Handheld GPS Navigators (w Bluetooth and FM Transmitter)


  • It’s roughly 30-50% cheaper in price than a comparable car DVD system.
  • It mounts on your windshield instead of in your dash, so the screen position is higher and easier to see for passengers in the back of the car.
  • It’s portable. You can unsnap it from the mounting kit as walk around with it. Something you can’t do with a GPS-enabled car DVD system.
  • It requires next to no installation.

Car DVD Players


  • Since it draws power from your car battery, there is no need to constantly recharge it as you would a portable GPS device. You could argue that using the a cigarette adapter in-car would get around the charging problem with a portable GPS unit, but then another problem arises: a dangling cigarette adapter cable in plain sight which takes away from the in-car asthetic.
  • It plays CDs and DVDs. For many people this is very important because they’ve spent a lifetime acquiring their ultimate media collection. It certainly is possible to convert CDs and DVDs to mp3 and AVI format, but that requires a lot of work. Too much work for most people.
  • the superior audio output – since car DVD players directly output audio output to speakers by way of a physical connection the sound quality is much better. Portable GPS units accomplish car speaker output using the FM transmitter function. Though competent, the sound quality is inferior to what can be achieved from a car DVD player.
  • You have access to advanced features like Picture-in-Picture (PIP) and automatic rearview camera access which
    GPS receivers don’t have. Yet.

GPS Receiver or Car DVD Player?



Ultimately it’s about who you are and what you do.

Let’s say you’re frequently switch back and forth between two cars, a work vehicle and your family car for example. A portable GPS receiver would make more sense in this case.

But let’s say you’re a car enthusiast with exceptionally high demands for a total AV package that can be heard from several blocks away.

A car DVD system would be your best bet. The key idea to take from this blog however, especially for our valued resellers is diversify your catalog so you’re catering to both market segments.

Author Chinavasion Marketing 3.3.2010. | 10:25
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  1. Yvonne @ Gopher Promo August 25, 03:06

    AS technology gets more and more advanced, so the boundaries will become more and more blurred, and devices will become more integrated. Imagine the mobile phone, or if a bigger screen is required, an iPad or other tablet pc performing a similar role. You got to love the evolution of technology! Where is it all going to end?

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  4. Charles@Car Gadget July 13, 15:48

    I Love those technology .AS technology gets more and more advanced, so the boundaries will become more and more blurred, and devices will become more integrated.

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