[BiturboS4] Nav systems

Ti Kan ti at amb.org
Sat Sep 28 02:45:57 EDT 2002

To chime in on Philip's post...

Those of you who haven't used the nav system might not appreciate what
it could do for you.  Aside from what Philip had already described (ETA
display, traffic jam detour function), let me describe a few more.

In the event you miss a turn or go the wrong way, the nav system will
instantly recompute a new route to get you to your destination.  In
other words, you cannot get lost.  No need to stop and re-check a map,
or go around in circles trying to find your way again, and certainly
better than any confused "backseat-driver".

Several times now I had used the nav system to go to unfamiliar places,
only to be unable to make a turn due to road construction, traffic
detours, or other situations.  No sweat, just keep going and the nav
system will get you there anyway.

The nav system voice will pre-announce and then announce that you're
about to get to where you want to go.  For example, she might say
"You will arrive at your destination after one thousand feet", and then
when you're there "You have reached your destination".  This makes it
unnecessary to take your attention off the road while you repeatedly
look for street numbers on signs or buildings too see how far you might
be before you get there.

Similarly, turns are also pre-announced, and announced, so you have
time to change lanes, etc.  "Prepare to turn right", a little later
"Turn right after seven hundred feet", then finally "Please turn next
right onto US 101".  This, along with the bargraph leaves no doubt as
to where you're going to turn, even in short city street blocks.

The nav system also has a built-in database of convenient destinations,
such as gas stations, theaters/stadiums, hotels, restaurants, car
rental, airports, car parks, shopping centers, hospitals and police
stations.  You can look them up in the local area or another town, and
scroll through them sorted by distance or alphabetically.  Click and
it'll just take you there.

Still think that a printed map could match that?  I don't think so...

In fact, I think the US Audi nav system with its simple "arrow and
bargraph" display in the instrument cluster, augmented by the voice, is
simple and very effective.  It minimizes the need to take your attention
off the road, while it does what it's supposed to do, which is to help
you get to where you want to be.  It doesn't look as glamorous as a big
LCD screen on the center console, but the system works just fine without
one.  On the Euro Nav Plus system (which does have the color LCD
screen), the screen takes up real estate in the center console, which
means that controls for the stereo and other functions have to be
integrated into the screen.  That is a disadvantage in my book, because
you'd now have to take your attention off the road to operate it,
sometimes going through several screenfuls of menus just to do something
that a simple turn of a dial or push of a button would have
accomplished.  One of the worst such designs is the i-Drive system on
the new BMW 7 series.  It makes simple tasks complex, which is not a
good ergonomic design.

The only thing that left me wanting in my nav system is the fact that
it's CD-ROM based.  A CD can only hold so much map data, so the US is
split into many geographic zones, each with its own CD, and the owner is
given only the CD that pertains to his/her home location.  To get the
other CDs require paying $$.  The next generation Audi nav systems
are DVD-based, which solves this problem, but not for us with the older

In my mind the nav system is without a doubt one of the most useful
optional features.

2003 A4 1.8T multitronic
2001 S4 2.7T
1984 5000S turbo
1980 4000 2.0
    ///  Ti Kan                Vorsprung durch Technik
   ///   AMB Laboratories, Sunnyvale, CA. USA
  ///    ti at amb.org
 //////  http://www.amb.org/ti/

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