Reviews for the new Dash Express, the first Internet-connected GPS, are trickling in. Dash Express differs from other GPS systems. Each unit can be part of a network, sending and receiving real-time information about local traffic speeds. Here's a quick summary of some reviews thus far:
The Wall Street Journal: "I've been testing a Dash Express in and around my home base of Washington, D.C., and, while it isn't perfect, I like it a lot. If the company sells enough units to create a solid network, Dash could radically improve in-car navigation."
CNET: The Dash Express "really adds value to portable navigation devices, and it's the type of innovation that we think will take GPS to the next level--so much so that we even gave it a Best of CES 2007 Award."
However, CNET only gave the GPS a 6.7 rating (out of 10). Why so low? "The bad news is the unit was a subpar navigator. It was consistently off the mark when tracking our location, which ultimately affected route guidance."
GPSReview.net: "If I’m going to be spending some time trying to get around a larger, unfamiliar city, the Dash Express isn’t going to be my first pick to take with me. The inability of the GPS to auto-zoom as you approach intersections, and map that is sometimes difficult to scan quickly makes for it to be not the best choice when you are in tight unfamiliar areas.
"On the other hand if you are a hard-core commuter who keeps the radio tuned to stations with frequent traffic updates the Dash Express is your dream GPS."
I've not seen a Dash Express yet, but I wouldn't rush to buy one, either. One of its biggest benefits--the ability to share local, real-time traffic speed data--won't be useful until there's a decent installed base. So you might as well wait until there's critical mass. (Of course, if everyone waited, critical mass would never materialize.)
Another concern of mine: The Dash Express looks fairly large and bulky, compared to other handheld GPS devices. This is partly explainable due to its Wi-Fi and cellular network chips. Still, given its size and shape, the Dash Express looks as if it were designed to primarily be used when docked in a car mount.
That's all well and good. But I've read several stories about how thieves are increasingly breaking into cars specifically to steal GPS units. Crooks have been known to break into cars even if all they see is the GPS mount or the sticky circle where the mount would go.
Here's an official video illustrating the Dash Express: