While perusing the double-story south hall at CES, we stopped by the Garmin booth to check out its latest gear for the directionally challenged. One of its shining stars at the show is a new program called Ecoroute that aims to steer drivers to navigate with the environment's health in mind.
Available now, it's a simple software upgrade to any of the brand's Bluetooth-enabled Nuvi units. Among its features is the ability for users to choose routes that use the least amount of fuel based on prerecorded GPS activity. It basically learns a driver's on road behaviors and calculates the path with the least fuel gulping.
We especially liked Garmin's add-on called Ecoroute hd ($149, available in March) that includes an OBD2 reader. The compact unit wirelessly beams a vehicle's information (such as engine speed, vehicle speed, timing, battery voltage, and engine load, among other available digital instruments) to the Nuvi in real time. Users can then check out their statistics in order to drive more fuel efficiently. They can also simply use it to check up on vehicle diagnostics as well.
Ecoroute hd also has an ecochallenge setting that displays a driver's eco-driving score. Eco-friendly driving gains a score closer to 100 points and also a digital tree leaf. Since it's a plug-in device, the Ecoroute hd is said to take only around five minutes to install. Both Ecoroute programs include a fuel efficiency calculator that helps users determine with they're actually spending and using while on the road.
If you're looking for more than just a GPS unit -- something with Internet and video capability, for instance -- or are not necessarily looking to maximize fuel economy, may we suggest Viliv's ultra-compact N5 computer. When we say ultra-compact, we mean it. It literally fits almost in the palm of your hand and weighs only 0.88 lbs. It's one slick touch pc with full Web, video, word processing, and of course, real-time GPS functions. But then again, you'll have to subscribe to the 3G service to use GPS on the road, so it all ultimately depends on your preferences and uses.