Normally when referring to GPS and transport, we envisage the TomTom or Garmin GPS navigation units which most of us have been familiar with for years. These are an "aid to navigation" whereby the GPS unit will guide you from location a to location b. Car cameras which have GPS in-built do not use the system for navigation purposes as such, they are there to record location - rather than to direct the driver. There is absolutely no navigation capability via a GPS receiver in a car camera and this can cause some confusion as to the purpose behind it.
We would say - that for the vast majority of drivers - GPS in a car camera is a convenience, which can possibly stretch to a handy convenience from time to time if the data is being shown to friends and family. For anyone needing to store the route details for the display of mapping information at a later stage, then GPS is essential.
Most cameras come with GPS now, with a slight price variation between non-GPS and GPS versions of the same model (the non-GPS tending to be slightly less expensive) - so for most drivers looking to purchase a car camera, the choice of whether to go for a unit with or without GPS is price/convenience related, as opposed to being something which is an absolute "must have".
The GPS facility comes in two main parts, the first being based with the camera itself, and the second being during the playback of the recordings taken out on the road. Where the camera is concerned, the details of the position and speed of the vehicle will be constantly monitored and recorded onto the memory card as the journey progresses. This data is written to memory at the same time as the video is being made - normally in dedicated files which are separate from the video files themselves. The connection with the GPS system is fairly fast on most models - and comparable with most navigation systems, if not better.
The second part of the GPS setup is related to the actual "using" the data on your PC or MAC computer. The GPS data is read by special software supplied with the camera. This software will display the video, and alongside the video, it will also show a map with a "pin" symbol on it which shows where the car is located whilst it travels down the road. As the video plays, the map will scroll keeping the pin in the middle of the map so that you can see how the journey progesses both from the video and the map itself. The software often interfaces with google maps to show the position, and for this you will therefore need to be connected to the internet with a broadband connection.
Not all car cameras come with software which is compatible with a MAC computer. Therefore, if you own an Apple MAC, when choosing a camera, you will need to establish
a) Do you need GPS?
b) If so, does your choice of camera come with software which is MAC compatible?
The reasoning behind this is that you can still have a camera if you have a MAC, as the MAC will play back videos from ANY of the cameras we supply - however some models come with software which is only windows compatible, so you will not be able to play back videos AND map data from these cameras on a MAC. As noted though - the videos will still play fine. Always contact us first if you are in any doubt about any particular model.
Below is a screen shot of a popular free video and GPS data player which can be used by most cameras. Each GPS enabled camera DOES come with its own version of a player similar to that shown below - they are all fundamentally the same, in that they play video and show maps on the screen at the same time.