Pros Very usable interface for commuting regularly and easy to create my own feeds of locations. Support response is excellent. Strong community focus. Great customer support.
Cons Screen refresh is a little slow at times. Bulky. 3D view zoom is limited. Limited routing options.
Summary I've used a Garmin nuvi, StreetPilot 7500 for over a year. I've also played with a Magellan and Tom Tom display. I've been using my Dash for 5 days.
The interface for the Dash is, far and away, more user friendly. It took a little while to get used to, but having the upcoming street name, distance and exit along the top of the screen with clear traffic information and the ability to select from up to three routs is great.
The Dash president mentioned in a letter to pre-orders that they designed the Dash for use in regular commuting, recognizing that most people use a navigation system to regularly get to places they know. The Dash does just that, making it easy to select destinations, save destinations, create and save searches etc. Each time I use my Dash I find myself surprised at how normal it feels to watch.
Most searches are created through the my.dash.net Website, which I'll add and they'll automatically download to the Dash. I've created a GeoRSS feed of Washington Metro stations, and found the creation and adding of the search to be incredibly simple.
Both a 2D and 3D view are available. While I always prefer the 3D mode, there are only about three zoom levels. I often wish I could back out another step or too to see more of the route in 3D, but this isn't critical.
When setting a route I'll see up to three options and can easily switch between them. I love being able to route this way, since I do often select a route which may not be the first one the Dash chooses. At the same time I wish there were a way to drag and change a route. I'm not aware that any GPS can do this yet, but then none can get live search from Yahoo and live traffic from other users.
My main reason to purchase the Dash was to get the live traffic for a stretch of road. In the Washington, DC area it seems any traffic reported on the radio is at least 30 minutes old. Dash uses other Dash driver data to show traffic on side streets (excellent so far, and I use them to get to main roads) and main roads. In the two days I've used it I've found both the historical and live traffic to be accurate. If I had any want here it would be to see actual traffic incidents, though from looking around I think I can simply get a GeoRSS feed of traffic which will show me this information.
I also love having the Yahoo Local results for searches. It's great to see the number of stars rated for individual businesses. While I wish it also showed the reviewers text, having the rating works well. I also like having the gas prices listed for the local stations. While some stations are missing from the list, particularly one I use most regularly, it's good to know when traveling that I can find options.
While I'd like them to have live weather, from my support call it sounds as though they're working on that as well.
My original Dash connected once to the cellular network, then stopped. Calling Dash support got me a person immediately, and they shipped a new dash overnight (and RMA for the return). Support has been stellar, better than any other place I've called.
I would definitely buy this again, or buy one for a friend. I don't love paying $10 a month for connectivity, but the company makes clear how much it stands behind the product and answers all user comments made to their blog post. I also weigh the cost with buying map updates for my Garmin which was $70 per year, plus the traffic data (often out of date, and no history) with them which was $5 per month.
While Garmin was ok, the Web site and support made clear they were interested in selling units. Dash makes clear it's interested in creating a community of users.
Pros Spot-on accuracy, two-way communication, great traffic info
Cons No Bluetooth, quirky Text-to-Speech, bulky
Summary The Dash Express hits a great sweet-spot in terms of price and performance. The $200-drop in suggested price was very wise of Dash. $399 for a device with the capabilities it has is an incredible deal, and will help build a user base quickly.
This is important, since it is the user base which will make it improve over time. As more Dash users drive the roads, the traffic info will quickly become hyper-accurate, due to the two-way communication of the device.
I don't know why Cnet's test model had such bad accuracy problems (1-3 blocks off?!?), since mine appears to be spot-on accurate, which greatly impressed me as a first-time GPS owner. I urge Cnet to ask Dash for a new unit and test it again (unless Dash sends them one proactively, of course). Or, perhaps they got started with it too quickly, as the manual does say it may take 5-10 minutes when using it for the first time to gain an accurate position fix, and suggest remaining stationary until then, as it will take longer in a moving car. RTFM, Cnet!
If any device can be given a 10, it would be the Dash Express since, as the saying goes, "Perfection is a road, not a destination." (No pun intended.) The Dash Express is the only GPS device on the market which can truly grow and improve over time when you combine the user base and the over-the-air content updates. It's not quite there yet, but it can be in the future and without having to purchase a new device.
As it stands, I would give it a 9, but have to knock a point off for the lack of Bluetooth. I don't even want Bluetooth for any kind of hands-free speakerphone ability, but simply for the Caller ID (then take the call using my Bluetooth headset). Bluetooth is so incredibly cheap nowadays, that they could have included it easily without raising the price much at all.
The only other minor issue I have noticed is the quirky pronounciation of street names. For example, on my drive to work this morning, it pronounced Tropicana Ave as "tro-PEE-cana". Not a big deal, and I could easily see these quirks being corrected with updates.
So, I give it an 8 now, but could see it being a 10 in the near future, as updates roll in and the user base grows.Updated
I have discovered that the 3d map mode seems to lag a bit behind my actual position. This could be the cause behind Cnet's poor accuracy claims in their review. Not by the 1-3 BLOCKS the Cnet reviewer claims, however, which is a HUGE exaggeration on Cnet's part. Maybe 100 feet. It is possible that the longer you drive in 3d mode, the worse it becomes, but I kind of doubt that is the case, particularly since it still seems to know what street I'm on when I make turns. If this were an issue of GPS accuracy, it would probably report that I'm in someone's garden when I'm actually driving down a street two blocks over, which is what Cnet is implying.
Basically, in 3d mode, when passing a street, it still shows that street just ahead of me. If I happen to turn onto that street, it will show me on that street, though still a bit behind. This could be lag in the 3d mode rendering, or it could simply be a matter of the car's position within the rendering needing to be moved up a little. Either way, it can be fixed with a simple software update.
The default 2d map mode has perfect accuracy, however, which is the mode I usually use.
My score stays at 8/10. Again, I urge Cnet to review the unit a second time, and stick to 2d mode until Dash patches the 3d mapping.
Pros 2-way Internet, send addresses to car from internet, Yahoo local
Cons You will want more than one
Summary First off I want to state that I am not a paid employee of Dash nor have they paid me to make the following statements. I have however been allowed to test drive this device before the general public was able to purchase one.
After having my dash unit for almost 1 year now I can't imagine being without it. It allows me a direct connection to information on the Internet.as well as it is portable, and it has never let me down. The fact it will never be out of date like the other thousands of dollars worth in paperweights sitting on my shelf from Garmin, Tom Tom and Magellan is an added plus.
I have had numerous people in my travels stop me and talk to me about "that thing on my dash" almost every day. But for me that thing was more than a GPS...It's a dream come true. The conversation usually starts "Is that a GPS on your windshield?" I tell them that it is, but it is also the next level of the future of information delivery in their car and they need "Dash Express." I have even invited them to take a look at it first hand and show them the numerous bells and whistles like movie times, gas prices and the local weather and Weather Alert rss feed I created myself.. This usually gets them thinking of something they would like to spontaneously look up from the internet while out on the road. like the nearest (Starbucks) I just respond "With a Dash you are only limited to your imagination."
I can think of many times Dash has helped me while on the road but the following is an example of one of my favorite Dash moments that stands out.
For several years I have always kept a laptop in my car with me for emergencies and had a access card for the Internet. This was very difficult to use in the car, internet searches and responses were slow and these requests did not take into count my current location. And this was after waiting 10-20 minutes for it to start-up. Along comes Dash... I have always been impressed with the Internet search ability of "Yahoo local" and Dash, but on one particular day. My family and I were driving to dinner at a brand new restaurant in town . we had decided to leave around 4 to beat the dinner rush when we encountered a bad accident that had just happened right in front of us and were forced to stop on the Highway and wait for the emergency crews to clear the road. We had invited friends to join us and they were in a car right behind us. To make matters worse it was now 4:30pm on a Friday and we knew that by the time we got to the restaurant so would the rest of the working world and it would be at least another hour wait to get a table. My wife and I tried calling information on our cellphones to locate this new restaurant's number but since the restaurant was so new there was no listing yet. Just for giggles I checked Dash. typing in the restaurants name... Bam there it was and a phone # as well. I called the restaurant and made a reservation for 45 minutes from then. When we arrived there the line outside the door was huge. I heard several people complaining that the wait was going to be 2 hours. I walked up to the receptionist and said I am 5 minutes early , gave my name and asked if they were running on time with reservations. she replied "Right this way I have your table ready" THANKS DASH!!!
"Incredibly helpful"on by alxnet
Pros Connectivity! Integrated search feature. Accuracy. Traffic data.
Cons Map redraw rate is a bit on the choppy side. A little slower refresh than Tomtom on a 640x480 WinMobile platform.
Summary While the device has it's minor flaws, the positives clearly outweigh it. I've been using it all day today and I absolutely love being able to search for the nearest gas station sorted by price, the nearest favorite restaurant, the nearest whatever. And for the most part, it's integrated seamlessly.
I did find it odd though, that the cnet review dinged it on accuracy. The Dash Express I received works flawlessly in terms of accuracy - none of this 1 to 3 blocks off stuff. It worked about as well as my SirfIII Tomtom device.
The only negative? The map's drawing rate isn't the smoothest. I had a Dell x50v a while back with butter smooth draw rate and I sorely miss it in the Dash Express. Hopefully they'll be able to improve the draw rate in future upgrades.
Overall, this is a more than capable GPS with a highly functional search engine, all working seamlessly.
Pros Wireless connectivity, live searches
Cons Horrible routing capabilities
Summary I purchased the Dash Express the day it was released. coming from the technology industry I knew better. It had been in a beta program for some time so I hoped this might be a solid product. Before I continue I need to make it clear that Dash has some of the best customer service you can find in any consumer sector. The Dash Express has some innovative capabilities. The live traffic data will hopefully work well when there are enough units out there. The Yahoo based live search engine is pretty good. The reason we use GPS devices is to direct our route from one point to another. This is where the Dash Express, in my opinion, has failed terribly. I've owned the same GPS for four years. With the exception of outdated map data, it routed well. It let me down a few times but overall over four years it did its job well. I allowed the Dash Express to route me over trips I regularly make. The suggested routes made no sense at all. Some of the reasons given is that Dash uses the Tele Atlas map data. Some of the big GPS manufacturers use Tele Atlas with no problems. I returned the Dash Express for a refund within my 30 day window. Dash may get it right someday if they can hang on. They are supported by venture capitlists. In my opinion VC's are high rollers that have no idea how to run a railroad. Perhaps the VC's pushed Dash to get the product on the street so they could start seeing a return on their investment. I just couldn't risk my money on a bleeding edge product from a company I think might be ran by VC's. I can't prove that but I do feel the product was released way too soon. If I had it to do over I would have given it a year or so to see how and where it was going. I wish Dash all the luck and presperity in the world.