WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA --- Garmin ranks highest in satisfying portable navigation device owners, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Portable Navigation Device Usage and Satisfaction Study released this month.   

Now in its second year, the study measures customer satisfaction with portable navigation devices (PND) by examining six factors: ease of use, routing, system appearance, speed of system, voice directions, and navigation display screen.

In particular, the appearance and system routing factors have the largest impact on satisfaction, accounting for slightly more than 40 percent of the overall index.

Garmin ranks highest among PND manufacturers, performing particularly well in the display screen, ease of use and appearance factors.

TomTom follows Garmin in the ranking, performing well in the routing, speed of system and voice direction factors.

The study finds that the average price paid for a PND has declined considerably, with customers paying an average of $245 in 2008 compared with $375 in 2007.

"Competition in the portable navigation device market is steadily heating up, and with more than 150 models currently available, consumers have more options than ever before," said Jennifer Amell, research manager of the automotive emerging technologies practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "With the constant introduction of new models, prices for older models are dropping. This is especially beneficial for customers, as 40 percent consider price as their primary purchase driver when shopping for a new portable navigation device."

The study also examines quality by measuring problems per 100 PND(PP100), where a lower score reflects higher quality. On average, owners experience two to three problems with their PND, which is represented as an overall score of 279 PP100.

"System mounting problems are the most common reported problem among PND owners, followed by accuracy of routing and address information," said Amell. "These mounting issues can be resolved by designing systems that are lightweight and less bulky. Accuracy issues are often an implication of outdated mapping software. This continues to be a user education issue, as many consumers are not aware of the process involved in updating the necessary software."

The study also finds the following consumer behavior trends:   

-- Real-time information continues to be the most desirable of features among PND owners, including real-time traffic capability, currentweather/forecast and up-to-date market information (such as average gas prices).   

-- PND owners are particularly loyal to their brand, as nearly 90 percent report they "definitely will" or "probably will" repurchase the same brand in the future.

-- More than one-half of current PND owners report using their device on a regular basis (at least one to two times per week). Additionally, more than one-third of PND owners cite some sort of prior navigation experience.

-- More than 60 percent of owners purchased their device at a retail store, while nearly 40 percent purchased online. Owners who purchased online provide much higher satisfaction scores with regard to their overall shopping experience compared with those owners who purchased in a retail store.

For more information, or to read an article or view portable navigation device ratings, visit www.JDPower.com.

The 2008 Portable Navigation Device Usage and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 4,866 owners of portable navigation devices. The study was fielded in September 2008.