Despite the very public problems some GPS and mapping solutions have I decided to get a GPS for the car recently to help find my way around Seattle and the surrounds. As we had friends come to visit and a little emergency it actually turned out to be a very good idea.

After a month or so of using the device though I think that the "state of the art" is a way off yet, and there are some features that would be really good to see in all units, not just the high end $1000+ monsters.

The maps get out of date. Mine comes with an annual update, that I have to pay for if I want. I'd prefer to pay a monthly subscription fee and know that I'll be getting updates as and when they happen not have roadworks shut down a junction for 6 months but keep having the route try and exit there. The same goes for Places of Interest - it's so out of date I'm directed to drive past two Starbucks to get to the closest one in its database. You'd think that some of the locations in the system would even subsidize the cost to know customers can find them. A Bluetooth connection, a cellphone and a data plan and the updates could trickle in incrementally. A USB connection and a PC and they could be done when you remember. It's not rocket science.

A smarter solution would be to have a live integration with something like Live Local or Live Mobile - current maps, local businesses and current traffic information. Add to that weather info and you've got a solution that understands where I want to go and the current conditions that will affect my drive.

Slow down when it's a good idea like around schools. Having the local speed limits flagged (especially schools, hospitals, elderly care, shopping precincts etc) and reminding you (nothing intrusive, just a little ping) when you're going too fast would be good - especially if you don't know the area and you've got a transition from 55mph to 20mph just around a corner...

Learn from my (your) mistakes. If I keep taking a different route (for instance when a street is actually one way, but not flagged correctly in the database, or a road is closed due to roadworks so I always take a particular detour) assilimiate that information and learn from it. Use my preferred route to over-ride or inform the algorithms.

I don't want it to sing and dance. I've got an iPod I can use in the car with my iTrip. I don't need another music player from a tinny speaker. And I've got Sirius (though I'm still not sold on that idea!). I guess if it's wired into the car (mine is powered off the aux power at the moment) and can use the car speakers it's a better idea, and provides a way to get MP3s into the car.

A better musical accompaniment would be to build dynamic playlists from my collection based on time, route, driver - perhaps a pick'n'mix from locally available data and a service like MSN Radio or Pandora. Of course that's more viable when the data networks move to a more high speed, flat rate model (or WiFi, WiMax and Satellite work out how to work together to provide ubiquitous coverage)

Despite the above list however I'm quite pleased with the Garmin nuvi 350. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than being hopelessly lost!

If anyone is building the perfect GPS system though, can you include speed limit information (so I've always got a reminder on screen) also the ability to download where I've been onto my PC and show it on Live Maps....

I'd thought about getting a GPS bluetooth device and using it in conjunction with my K-Jam and something like Pharos, CoPilot or Windows Live Search for Mobile but in the end I like a simple, easy to use solution that just works.