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11/3/06 I'm lost about what GPS unit I should get

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 1, 2006 4:22 PM PST
Question:

I have a poor sense of direction in the nonvirtual world. Buying a GPS unit that gives directions makes sense, but I need help figuring out the different features and how much to spend on one. What kinds of features are there to consider? Are certain brands more trustworthy? Who has the best coverage area? Are there service fees, and if so, what's an average amount? Any information would be helpful.

Submitted by: John L.

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Answer:


Dear John L., as you said you wanted GPS, let us first define what a GPS device is, then we'll get into the features and what you may want to look for in such a device.

Technically, what we buy is a GPS receiver. GPS, which stands for global positioning system, is a group of quite a few satellites that transmit their own unique ID on a very precise time code. By receiving signals from at least three of the satellites, a device can calculate one's position in the world. Additional reception will improve accuracy. This is a free service by the U.S. government for the world. Everybody can tune into the GPS signals for free. The only catch is during wartime, the U.S. may degrade the signal accuracy of the satellites from "within a few feet" to "within a few hundred feet." However, the U.S. has yet to exercise this option.

Theoretically, one can tune into GPS from anywhere in the world. Thus, there is no such thing as "best coverage area," at least not within the U.S.

There are standalone GPS receivers, as well as GPS receivers that are actually PC peripherals. Standalone GPS receivers have their own display screen, and may even be capable of displaying maps.

In general, there are two types of standalone GPS receivers for civilian use: hiker's GPS, which records path and exact LAT/LONG coordinates, and car GPS, which will give you routing instructions ("turn left next intersection", "you have arrived.") All GPS receivers will need an unobstructed view of the sky, preferably northern, after being turned on until it has locked on the nearest satellites. After that, it still needs at least three satellites to keep updating the positions.

A hiker's GPS is usually battery operated, and is the size of a paperback novel or a bit larger. Once it has locked on, it will give you a precise record of which direction you have walked for how far, often down to resolution of a few feet, so you can backtrack if you wish. It is also useful for doing "Geocaching", a sort of GPS-aided treasure hunt.

A car GPS is usually DC-powered and requires the use of an auto power adaptor. It may or may not have a color display, but it will have a way for you to input destination address, and compute a route from your location to that location. As a result, it usually has a LOT of internal memory, or a built-in DVD drive that contains the street/highway data. As such data does change, you may have to pay for the updates as some sort of subscription service.

Some car GPS have audio prompts to keep your eyes on the road, and many have "reroute" functions in case the route it recommended is not available and will automatically suggest alternates.

A PC peripheral GPS simply plugs into the USB port of a PC, probably a notebook or a laptop. It has no internal display, so it cannot do anything, and relies on the accompanying software to do everything.

Many standalone GPSs nowadays have PC interfaces so you can download routes and maps from the PC to the GPS, and download the path you took on previous trips into the PC.

Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom are probably the best known manufacturers of GPS receivers around for the civilian market. Cobra has some models for hiker's use but also has some auto GPS features. A typical hiker-GPS is under $250 while a car GPS can vary from 350 to 800, depending on the number of features, such as color screen, audio prompts, built-in database size, and how long of free updates they include with the purchase.

So all in all , what GPS receiver you choose depends on what you want to accomplish. If you already have a notebook for mobile use, get a peripheral type receiver. Else, if you hike a lot, get a hiker's model. Else, get the car model and buy the updates for your region of the country.

Submitted by: Kasey C. of San Francisco, California
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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 1, 2006 4:23 PM PST
Answer:

About two years ago, I bought a Magellan RoadMate 700 for use in my car. At the time, there were very few dashboard-sized GPS units available. Today they are much more popular and have come down in price. Magellan and Garmin have been producing them the longest and both have excellent reputations. However, they have many competitors today, so you may want to do some research to find out which ones are best.

Most of the dashboard-type units have a fairly standard set of features, such as points of interest, on-screen location tracking and directions, and voice-guided directions. You use a touch screen to enter information and select your choices.

Older models get their power from the cigarette-lighter connection but I have seen some newer models that use batteries. Assuming that they work well over long periods of time, I would prefer the battery-operated ones. Having to attach a cord to the cigarette lighter each time that I want to use the Magellan is a pain. I have to find a place to put the lighter and the cord interferes with my cup holder.

You should be able to select from a number of routing options, such as fastest route, shortest route, most use of highways, and least use of highways. However, the ability to create a custom route may be limited. In some cases, you might have to do it one destination at a time.

The quality of the display, the size of the geographic area covered by the pre-loaded database, the number of points of interest, and the ease of updating the unit's database are all important. Some displays are very difficult to see in the daytime. I would tend to favor units where data for the entire continent of North America was pre-loaded.

I don't do much traveling outside of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Most of my trips are within 40 miles of my home. I use the Magellan primarily when I am visiting a new client in an unfamiliar area.

The main reason why I bought the GPS was its voice-guided directions. I find them to be invaluable. My eyesight is not as good as it used to be, and in the area where I live, readable street signs and good lighting at intersections are almost nonexistent. Sometimes I will use the GPS even when I know the area because hearing the directions helps me to stay alert.

Others, particularly those with younger eyes, might be more concerned with the number of amenities such as gas stations and restaurants as well as points of interest. If you do a lot of long-distance traveling, these data points, as well as the geographic area covered by the pre-loaded database, could be very important.

It's helpful to understand how all trip planners work. If you select the fastest route, for example, they will use the following hierarchy to select the roads to use, based on typical speed limits:

1--Interstate highways, such as I-66 in the Washington, DC area.
2--U.S. highways, such as U.S. 50.
3--State roads.
4--County road.
5--Local roads and residential streets.

All trip routers suffer from one major drawback: They don't know local driving conditions. For example, in my area, the Fairfax County Parkway is a relatively new, four-lane divided highway with a 50 mph speed limit. The entrance to the parkway is only three miles from my house in Sterling, Virginia. If I need to go to a location in Springfield, Virginia, for example, that is close to the parkway, obviously I would want to use it.

However, the trip planners know it only as a county road. They will invariably have me drive 10 miles out of my way on Route 7, a state road, to the Capital Beltway (I-495), then take I-95 south to get to Springfield. Anyone who has lived in the Washington, DC area knows that the Springfield interchange is one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the entire area and should be avoided at all costs.

Here's another example: When returning home on Route 7, I can save five minutes and half a mile, and also avoid three traffic lights, if I exit onto Augusta Drive, a local residential street. However, the trip planners insist that I go all the way down to Potomac View, a county road.

Whatever unit you buy, it will likely come with a suction cup arrangement for mounting it to your windshield. I would recommend spending a little extra and getting a removable dashboard mount designed specifically for the unit. I bought one for my Magellan. It's very sturdy and the heavy rubber feet can be adjusted to fit the dashboard wherever I choose to mount it. This also makes it much easier to remove the unit.

I never leave the Magellan in my car except when I am using it. I keep it in a nondescript canvas bag when I am parked and I bring it in the house with me when I return home. GPS trip planners are expensive items, and leaving them in plain view is an invitation to theft.

Submitted by: Robert S.

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All GPS (Global Positioning System) units work under the same concept, triangulation. There are currently 30 GPS satellites in active use and are circling the earth as we speak. Many GPS units have external antennas, with universal receiver versions on most "car" GPS systems and "quad-helix" versions on most handheld versions. Some models of GPS also have internal antennas and typically are lower-end and do not receive as well. Understanding the way GPS truly works will aid greatly in your...understanding. The satellites in space are constantly running on a timecode that is constantly being transmitted. Your receiver is also running it's own timecode as soon as you power it on. Based on the time of day, and any received signals, it will begin to attempt to locate and lock a satellite. Once it finds a satellite and locks onto it's signal, it will sync this timecode and compare the difference in the code between the time it takes to get the signal from the satellite to your unit. This gives it a general location on the earth. At this point it will know what other satellites to connect to, and choose another candidate to lock onto. This will typically narrow down your location on earth to anywhere from a few hundred feet to a few miles, not bad for 40 (or so) seconds of searching. At this point (a 2D lock, as it's called) you will know where you are in a fairly accurate manner, but it will then call on a third satellite to verify the findings of the first two, as it checks their positions, it will find two points, one in space and one on Earth. It then eliminates the location in space and now you have what is called 3D lock, thus the triangulation. This narrows your location down to as little as 7 feet, sometimes smaller. Depending on what exactly you are going to use it for, I will divide this answer into two categories.


Car Models:

Car models will typically have a large color screen and an external antenna that may be placed in different angles, they will usually also have a mounting system (brackets, suction cups, etc.) Typically they will range from $200 to $5000, depending on how much STUFF you want with it. Larger and more expensive models usually have more interfaces, custom menus, and large touchscreens. If you live in a large city or one with many tall buildings in the area you intend to use it, I would suggest you also consider purchasing an internal GPS receiver/antenna. Many of the features are really up to the user to determine. If you want a larger screen, get one with a larger screen, if you want a touchscreen, get one with a touchscreen. Modern electronics are being packed with seemingly useless features, many GPS units will now come with mp3 players, search listings, and everything else that no sane person would honestly use while driving. I guess this is the reason for the warning "Do Not Use While Driving" eh? The only KEY feature you should look for if you are in the continental United States is WAAS, Wide Angle Augmentation System. It is a federally funded project that involves two (may be more today) correctional satellites at both the East and West Coasts that when activated and synced with your GPS unit, corrects for current atmospheric abnormalities and any weather conditions as well as any cosmic interference. This is mostly CRITICAL if you can get it, as it means the difference between helping you drive to work and leading you three blocks over and into the mountains somewhere. The best models from my experience are made by Garmin, but there are other manufacturers out there that may be found by a simple search (Magellan, TomTom, etc.) It is best to find one that comes with software and a USB cable (or other similar cables) that allow you to sync the unit with your computer. The salesman will most likely tell you some very untrue information such as "GPS units never need updating, even the police never update theirs". I know this because someone tried to sell me with this garbage, unknowing that he was talking to a police State Comm technician. THEY DO need to be updated, the more often the better. Your GPS is only going to give your position on the earth, it will not tell you what street you are on or where to go. You will rely on the software built into the unit to guide you to work, the gym, school, or wherever else you may go. Therefore, the more updated it is, the better. Many newer better units will come with the usual life "funs", and allow you to search restaurants, movie theaters, and other data on the go, but again, they have to be updated ever so often. Most units will also come with a "talking voice" that tells you "turn left" or whatnot, in some rare occasion where you can't take your eyes off the road for a glance. Civilian GPS may be used by ANYONE, anywhere in the world, with no fees or charges. Certainly those who live in the US will have a much greater advantage with the WAAS system in place.


Terrain/Handheld Models:

These are typically NEVER used for transportation or navigation in a vehicle, and they should not be. They will only provide you with a basic terrain map and your location on earth (altitude, incline, decline, speed, location, etc.) In a vehicle they will usually not be able to process the signals unless you have it near the windshield. They are also built smaller, designed to be held on your belt, and usually have a simple black and white backlit screen and water-resistant rugged construction. My experience has mostly been with Garmin, and compared to other brands they offer you the most "bang for your buck". If this is what you are looking for, you can look for their Rino models (see my detailed review of the Rino 110) which come with more features that one can possibly use, a fast and accurate quad-helix transceiver and a shock and water protected case. I have fell on my Rino 110 several times, used it in the rain and even dropped it in mud puddles and ditches, it still works perfectly fine. It also has built in FRS/GMRS radio, great for those short distance outings or whatnot. These are also cheaper because they require less processors and much more basic programming. Some may come with topographic maps build in, but expect to find most units without any maps at all, only your position on earth and where you are going. These will also allow you (typically) to insert waypoints, places where you have been or will go and will only help you get there in a straight line, if at all. These units are usually only useful for the outdoorsman, those who go hiking and trekking without having to worry how to get back to camp.

Submitted by: Brian T. of Boise, Idaho

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Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

First of all you want a consultant and most of us make our living doing so. What I will do is give a little history on "C" Lorain the forerunner of GPS and a little bit about GPS. How it is used and a list of manufacturers.

How it all started

It all started with a system developed by "Motorola" (founded by Paul V. Galvin as the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, in Chicago, Illinois, in 1928). It was called "C" Lorain. It was first used in planes. The pilot would pick up a strong radio station. by moving a movable antenna to get a fix on their position. Eventually the military used it to guide planes and boats. "C" Lorain uses a triangulation and still inn use today, but it uses a tone and at a given set of frequencies. Now we have low altitude satellites put up by the military and they go from pole to pole (these satellites occasionally have to be replaced because they eventually fall to Earth due to atmospheric drag. Russia transmits TV signals from satellites that go from pole to pole). A signal is sent down to the receiver from the satellite, the GPS receiver calculates how long the signal takes to be transmitted and gives a position through that calculation. Originally the signal was made to only as accurate as a mile or two. But the more one stayed in one place eventually, the more accurate the position became. So today they are accurate to within 50 feet of where you want to be in the commercial ones.

Vehicle Tracking - Two way communications

Boats, trains, planes, trucks and automobiles, add to that snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles so no so forth. Prime example is Lo-Jack, but Lo-Jacks are an example of triangulation devices, an anti-theft tracker. On the other hand we have North Star which is a combination GPS, telephone and is run by G.M.. This one is truly a satellite tracking system. The North Star has been used by the police to listen in on criminal conversations, really. It was remotely activated by G.M. to hear the crooks talk (the conversation was recorded) about an up and coming crime they were going to commit. Then we have the logistics (trucking), transportation companies, trains that have the devices permanently connected to vehicles that transmit to the satellite the position of their property so as to get real time whereabouts of that property. Truckers used to take a day or two paid for vacations before the companies put the transmitters on their trucks. Not only that, the dispatcher can guide a detour route if need be for the drive to get round road problems and the trucker does not have to be familiar with the area to get around. These GPS devices are one way, they transmit, but do not receive. Then there is the GPS that is activated through some crisis, such as a crash (North Star automatically activates if the air bags deploy and gives a location), by train, plane or automobile and boat/ship. What happens in the case of a plane, train or boat is that during the crisis the GPS transmitter is activated and the appropriate a authorities are alerted and given the location. Planes and boats/ships it is the Coast Guard. Trains and trucks, locals are alerted. One caveat, woe be tied if the GPS device should be activated accidental and the appropriate authorities are not told everything is okay, no emergency is happening.

Types of GPS

One is portable hand held, the other is permanently installed in a vehicle, then there are the ones that are portable and put into a dash holder and usually plugged in the cigarette lighter/device port. The last one is a portable none the less. The personal is the hand held one that you may see people carry. Some uses maybe: (seriously) to find your vehicle in a large parking lot such as a mall, sporting event or a downtown parking lot. The personal type can be used for hiking, going for walks in unfamiliar cities. You might start our with the origin point, hotel/motel, a relatives home as your starting point. Then you would make what is called "way points" and associate it with a landmark. These "way points" are where one would turn right or left or simply go straight ahead.

Manufacturers

Alpine

AmbiCom http://www.ambicom.com/products/gps/gps-cf.html

Audiovox

AVERATEC http://www.shopaveratec.com/searchresults.asp?search_id=6

Cobra

Dash http://www.dash.net/product.php

Fine Digital http://www.finedigitalusa.com/2006/index.htm

Garmin http://www.garmin.com/

JVC http://www.jvc.com/press/index.jsp?item=502&pageID=1

Lowrance Electronics http://www.lowrance.com/automotive/default.asp

Magellan http://www.magellangps.com/

Navman

Panasonic http://www2.panasonic.com/

Pharos Science & Applications http://www.pharosgps.com/

Pioneer

Sony

Suunto

Thales Navigation http://us.thalesgroup.com/companies/navigation/

TomTom http://www.tomtom.com/products/index.php?Lid=4

Whistler http://www.whistlergroup.com/gps-text.html

Submitted by: Rick B.

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I am going to make an assumption here; I assume you are planning to use the GPS system in a vehicle. Next, to address a few of your questions: coverage depends upon having a clear look at the sky. Surprisingly, large cities are very bad places for GPS. Recently, while traveling through San Francisco, I was unable to use my GPS just when I needed it the most, because the skyscrapers blocked the satellite signals. Most systems require a minimum number of satellites (5 to Cool to get an accurate 3D fix. 3D means your unit will give you elevation as well as location.

Some handheld units come with a minimum of software and require that you purchase extra cds for different areas. Stay away from such units because there are also many which come with full maps of the US and Canada. As to the fee issue, in a word-nope, there aren't any fees as the satellites belong to the American people.

As I have owned a number of GPS units (DeLorme, Magellan, Garmin, Microsoft and a couple of others) since they first became available to the public, I have learned a wee bit about GPS and how to use them. If money were of no concern, then Trimble is probably the best available. As money is definitely a concern, my choice- DeLorme Earthmate receiver with Street Atlas.

This is a laptop computer based system, which requires, obviously, a laptop. At first this sounds like a very expensive way to go, but I use an Averatec 12" machine which I purchased for $700 at Staples a couple of years ago. As an aside, Averatec is not a well known maker, but I have recommended their units to a number of my customers (I am a computer tech/consultant) and they are all happy. Also, Averatec has the best tech support I have seen this side of APC.

Anyway, as you can find the Earthmate/Street Atlas combo for less than $100, the combined total is equal to or less than, what most good in car GPS systems will cost. A big plus is that you can use the laptop for computer things.

One drawback to laptop based systems is that you need somewhere to put the computer; there are several mounting systems available,however.

The Earthmate is the receiver and Street Atlas is a very good mapping/routing, etc. program.

The learning curve can be as shallow or as steep as you desire, as the feature list and capabilities of the system are phenomenal. It does just about anything one would want from a GPS system; finding places, routing, tracking, waypoints, logging of travel, finding where the nearest Wal-Mart is to where you happen to be and then showing you the route to get there. It has turn by turn navigation and gives those directions audibly, if you desire, and can follow voice commands with a microphone attached.

One can even add roads which have been constructed since the last release of software. DeLorme publishes a major upgrade each year which contains all types of new data.

If you choose, you can track and log your travel, then play back the trip at any time. Helps me to keep a record of where that 'special thing' was that I saw, but can't recall the location.

If you own a handheld computer, Palm or any of the others, version 2007 of Street Atlas can send maps to the unit which can be used with the gps receiver. It can even put routed maps onto a handheld video device.

Of course, I am speaking of In Car type systems here. If you are looking for a handheld, Magellan and Garmin both make good units although the Garmin I have is one of those which required me to purchase separate map software. They may have stopped that by now.

Microsoft has recently released a new version of their gps software which includes a receiver and works much like the DeLorme product; each has some neat features the other doesn't, but I still prefer DeLorme.

One last item: DeLorme is now offering, for a price, of course, actual satellite/airplane photo overlays which gives you a Google Earth type view of the map. Kind of useful in some situations.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: David R. of Venice, Florida

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I have the exact same problem. I don't know my north from my east and get lost easily.

So, I went out and bought a GPS unit. I got a Garmin c330. There are newer ones out there and I would suggest that you check the newer ones out before getting the one I got.

The one I got does pretty much everything I need, including clear, spoken English to tell me which way to turn (instead of saying east or west, it says turn right or left--which is the way to go). Now, I'm able to go practically anywhere I want to go. I've even gone to cities I've never even thought of going by myself before. (Before the GPS, I NEVER went to a town or city that I didn't know very well without someone else with me.)

As far as features, BE SURE that it has the voice features--that it'll talk to you. That way, you don't have to constantly look at the screen. Having to look at the screen constantly is not only an irritant, but can be dangerous as it takes your eyes off the road. Also be sure that you can upgrade the programming AND the maps!! Not all GPS units will allow you to upgrade the maps.

Figure on spending AT LEAST $400 on one. (Although be sure to check around--especially on the web. You may be able to find even better deals.) You don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles if all you need it for is to get you from here to there. There are those that have mp3 players in them, or will probably even let you record off the radio (not sure about that one), but forget about them. Just get the one that will suit your needs best.

As far as trustworthiness goes, I can't really tell you. I have a Garmin and it does pretty much all I need it to do.

I know that Garmin, at least, will usually include maps that will cover the entire United States and Canada. You can buy other maps if you need them for other countries. For the GPS I have, there are no service fees. The updates to the programming are usually free. However, there will probably be a charge for updated maps, unless the updated maps came out just before you bought the unit. In that case, they may throw in one map update. (There are charges for updates for mine. Probably plan on spending about $50-$75 for updates to the maps.)

As far as the extended coverage for warranty, my advice would normally be no. However, in the case of a GPS, I would say get a good extended coverage for it. Anything can go wrong with it, and it is good for piece of mind. I'm going to have to replace the cigarette lighter adapter for it.

Just be sure to check out any model you can--and see if you can get the store to give you a demo--that way you can get a feel for what it offers. Best Buy (where I got mine) usually will let you see how it runs. I'm betting that other places will too. There are other brands besides Garmin (such as TomTom). They may be better than the one, and they may be worse. I just know that I'm happy with mine.

Once you get one, it'll open up a whole new world for you--it did for me.

Submitted by: Carl R.

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Here's one perspective on a personal GPS:

I already owned an HP iPaq pocketpc. For about $225 I bought a bluetooth GPS receiver bundled with Navigation software [OnCourse Navigator] and cables to power both the GPS receiver and the iPaq from a car battery outlet. With 8hr charge time on the GPS and about 6hrs on the iPaq, I can put these in my pockets and go for a hike! I am very happy with this setup! One of the features that I have this way is that I can click on a someone in my Contacts and it gets transferred to the navigation software and entered as the destination automatically. That is sweet. Also, now I don?t have to shell out $1500 on every car I buy to include navigation options.

What features to look for? Some models don?t work inside buildings [the building shields the unit from the satellite signals]. Otherwise I think the GPS receivers are pretty much alike. On the software side, first look for ease of data entry -- how you can enter your destination. the in-car systems I?ve used are really clutzy and poor. I like being able to [bluetooth] over a contact from the PDA or cell phone to the GPS. You also want to be able to upgrade the maps somehow -- both for new roads and also to correct all the glitches in the databases. Also, what about if you travel to Hawaii ? Puerto Rico ? Europe ?? look for a brand that has maps there too. Finally, the OnCourse software I use has a detour feature: If I'm driving and hit a traffic jam or construction, its 2 clicks to say detour, tell it how far ahead of me the jam stretches and it quickly gives an alternate route. And as another feature, you want to be able to find the closest gas station or restaurant! so look for one with lists of nearby stuff: gas station, restaurant, hospitals, schools, museums, etc. etc.

But the last point is this: look at the convergence between cell phones, PDAs and GPS -- you might get all the functionality you want through your cell phone if you wait a few more months. this is a great option because it means you wont have to carry around a version of the database with you -- the cell phone company will do that and just download the route to you. the downside is that it probably wont work for hiking or motoring in areas with poor cell phone coverage.

Regards.

Submitted by: Jim M. of Ann Arbor, Michigan

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GPS units all do the same thing. They receive satellite signals, do some calculations, and then display information across a number of screens. Since the satellite signals are provided by satellites owned and maintained by the government there is no fee (other than your tax dollars) unless you subscribe to some value added service such as GM's OnStar.

Having said that, your selection criteria will be based on a number of questions:

Are you planning to use it more in daylight or darkness?
What kind of batteries does it use or can it be connected to your car/boat battery?
If using it on the water, is it waterproof?
Is the display big enough for you to read?
Are the buttons easy to use and clearly marked?
Are there any particular features you want or need?
What is your budget?

You can buy GPS unts from under a $100 to well into the thousands depending upon the features you need. Color displays and their sizes, available memory, and the ability to integrate with other pieces of equipment (mainly in marine environments) will drive up the cost. A unit that provides driving directions will run in the $400 to $1000 dollar range. Used units are always for sale on eBay.

Another bit of information, if you live near a US Coast Guard Auxiliary unit, you can sign up for a GPS class to learn how to use one. You can find the nearest flotilla here - http://ff.cgaux.org/ - you may be surprised how close it might be!

Submitted by: Ken B.

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Some GPS devices acquire a wealth of data that aren't necessarily of use to a purchaser unless you're a data monitoring freak (which I am!). For example the Garmin eMap that I have (purchased about 5 years ago) provides, in addition to navigational maps, Sunset, Altitude, real time progress in location of satellites and their number, plus the usual navigational aids such as estimated arrival times, compass bearing, map contents in setup, etc.

Check out whether the GPS device is sensitive to trees and buildings, especially in wet weather. It's a little embarrassing to have satellite contact interrupted because there are too many trees about - in this respect going down country lanes with trees either side can give rise to a temporary problem, and at a bad time when the moment of decision arrives, such as at a junction. Also need to ask whether the GPS loses satellite contact when next switched on if not used for a few months. The problem is temporary as it is resolved by leaving device on for a couple of hours in an "accessible" location.

Also determine software availability for other continents as well as portability - in other words avoid, if possible, having it exclusively operated from within the car. It's a treasure for navigating through woodland and off the beaten track when it's hand-portable.

I suspect that the eMap that I have was a head of its time given the many useful monitoring facilities which appear not to be available with the latest devices, hence the need to address these issues.

Good luck.

Submitted by: Edward W.
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GPS/auto navigation systems
by Mollynj / November 2, 2006 7:56 PM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I have had Navigation system in my car for three years and couldn't live without it. Now my lease is up and the cost of the in dash system has gone up considerabley SO I bought a new cell phone from Verizon with the GPS Navigation system- the cost of activation is $10/month - the Nav system on the phone is great and does all the car system does and more- it is voice activated but better than the car system it says "turn right on Elm stree" not just "turn right" like the auto system does; and I can carry it with me if I am on a walking trip - in NYC I can find the nearest restaurant or get directions to the theater I am looking for. My new car will not have Nav ($1000 to $3000) because I'll be using the phone..
Mollynj

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GPS Navigation
by Frank Andrews / November 2, 2006 9:48 PM PST

I just bought a new Toyota Sienna. It has gps Navigation but with one great new feature. It's voice activated. Just say where you want to go, house number, street, city and state then just start to drive. Actually there are 72 features which are voice activated including radio, cd, rear seat dvd player, even temperature. I know that my solution won't help answer the question, but it's just so cool I had to tell somebody about it.

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Gps navigation.
by nonkelmil / November 3, 2006 12:46 AM PST
In reply to: GPS Navigation

As a mariner {retired} the first nav.equipment I used was
Decca and Loran A .Then we got Sat.Nav.This was not like the modern kind we could only get a position with it every
90 minutes.Then the brought in Loran c This was way better
than anything out before but it had its limitations when going offshore and certain areas were not covered.
Then came GPS the best covered yet.You had coverage where ever you were wether in the Artic in the middle of the ocean on in the middle of the continent.
I needed a GPS for my car.I bought a Magellen first but the screen was so small that it was useless in the car so I got rid of it.
I checked out different units and settled on a Lowrance iWay 500c and I have been very satified with the performance of this unit.I have used it while travelling in the US and it has performed without a hitch.Even in the the brightest sun there is no effect on the screen.Plus I never have to look at the screen when I am going somewhere as it gives me voice directions and I can also download my favorite music as it has a 10gb for music and pictures and 10gb for maps.There nothing to pay for after you buy the unit any updates are free and can be downloaded from your computer.

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GPS/auto na. system
by CMoore / November 2, 2006 10:04 PM PST

Mollynj - If it doesn't violate any policies can you tell us what phone you have that has GPS features? CM

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GPS/auto na .system
by rchaack / November 3, 2006 11:37 AM PST
In reply to: GPS/auto na. system

After a long trip with a built in navigational system I researched for a long time for a portable system and found a Sony Nav-70. The very first time that my wife and I went with this very portable system, she was totally impressed.... Although it takes the time to read the instruction throughly to understand how it works, after that it's a breeze....

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Verizon Phone GPS
by pcaldararo / November 4, 2006 1:05 AM PST
In reply to: GPS/auto na. system

Sounds like Molly is referring to VZNavigator, which is available on several Verizon Wireless phones. I have it on my Motorola Razr V3M and I love it. Bought the phone back in July. It came with a free trial of VZNavigator. By the time the trial had ended, I was hooked (just like I was supposed to be, I guess). For $10/month, it's well worth it. Here's a link to it on VerizonWireless website. You can view a demo:
http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/splash/turnbyturn.jsp

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An alternative to the GPS phone
by thepit47 / November 3, 2006 5:21 AM PST

I've installed an aftermarket Kenwood in-dash DVD/Navigation system (DDX-6019) in my Toyota Highlander. I was using an on-dash Garmin which was great. The aftermarket in-dash uses a small separate box (hidden behind or under the dash) that is actually a Garmin GPS unit. It can be updated easily with an SD card from the updates on Garmin's site. It works exactly like the portable Garmin units but has many more features. When a street prompt comes on, it gives a gentle tone and automatically lowers the sound of the stereo, gives the direction, then restores the sound. You can program which speaker you want the voice to come from. It has a 7'' inch screen, plays both Sirius and XM and gives great detail, all neatly installed in the dash. I've also subscribed to XM traffic and weather which is unbelieveable. I was driving home yesterday and the voice came on and said...''traffic ahead.'' In about 3 minutes, I was stuck in traffic but since the Navigation detail is so great, I was able to make a few clearly marked turns and bypassed the traffic. How this thing knew the traffic was ahead of me on the road I was on in real time is amazing. I'm in NJ and this unit can pick out traffic jams right down to street level. This Kenwood Navigation/DVD unit in my opinion is one of the best out there and I could not live without it. This baby will follow me from car to car when I decide to sell my vehicle. It's easy to install if you buy it at the right place (for the kit and wiring harness).

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Small Correction
by MikeM132 / November 2, 2006 9:24 PM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

First, to the guy who wrote the homework assignment on "What is GPS", it is LORAN C, not Lorain C. It stands for (duh!) LOng RAnge Navigation. That was pretty much coastal marine navigation and useless in parts of the world other than major (basically US) coastal waters. They did have a different (kind of) version of this same thing called "Omega", which used VERY long range transmitters supposedly to cover the earth (apologies to Sherwin Williams).
Anyhow, I wonder if the original question wanted a background of GPS or just what to buy.
As others said, all civilian GPS uses (at present) the US GPS "constellation" of satellites. So it really does not matter whose coverage is better. You just need the best receiver. The new Sirf III receivers are a big improvment in city/foliage coverage. You can get a signal through a window or in NYC (most of the time). It did not used to be that good. The receivers are just more sensitive. So, get a Sirf III (very common).
Next, get a unit with a battery inside. If you get a basic unit for a car, you can't use it without it being plugged in. Many new units have a limited battery for "walking around navigation". Garmin Nuvi, Tom Tom ,etc. have something like 5 hour battery life outside your car. You charge it up at home or in your vehicle.
More expensive units have something called "text to speech". These are the ones that say "turn left in 50 yards on McDonald Street" instead of "in 50 yards turn left". I don't have this and can't comment on how well it works, but these units seem to be more expensive and I do fine without it (the street name is on my screen, so if there are 2 streets really close I can just check the screen for the name).
I like a small unit you can stick in your pocket. A big unit on your dashboard is an invitation for theft. It is more awkward to carry with you, and if you leave a trace of your GPS in your car (the dash or windshield mount) you are advertising there is a 1,000 GPS unit in your glove compartment or under your seat. My unit is a Treo phone with Tom Tom navigator. It is a pretty good GPS navigation unit, an pretty much the same as a dedicated unit with a few advantages. 1.-cheaper; 2.-navigation to my "contacts" already set up 3.-it's my phone, fits in pocket and I ALWAYS take it out of my car (easily and naturally) 4.-it's my phone so I always have it and don't have to remember to bring it in another car or on vacation.
For my wife, however, I plan to buy a dedicated unit. She is not great with gadgets, and the dash-top units are REALLY simple to operate (although I think my unit is, too).
Make sure you get a unit that does automatic, quick re-routing!!! This is HUGE! If you miss a turn, your unit should plot a new route immediatley to where you want to go. Tom Tom is excellent at this. Others are, too, but read some reviews on it. SOme have slow processors and by the time it figures out your "new" route, it's already "old". Also, auto re-routing is great if you hit a snag in your route, decide you know better than the computer (this is fairly common), etc.. Anyhow, that's my .02 from someone who started out navigating with a sextant and stopwatch.

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LORAN coverage correction
by Cinza / November 2, 2006 11:59 PM PST
In reply to: Small Correction

Coverage of LORAN-C was actually much of the northern hemisphere's ocean area. It too was primarily a military system supporting military navigation needs though it had widespread civilian use. Solid hyperbolic coverage was extended by the use of precise time equipment to enable ranging on any transmission site (LORAN-C Ranging or Rho-Rho).

Many GPS units offer conversion of LORAN positions or conversion of the GPS calculated position into LORAN values (TD). This is selectable in my Garmin by choosing "LORAN TD" as the unit to display.isted as LORAN TDs.

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Better Mousetrap
by drubin / November 3, 2006 5:24 AM PST
In reply to: Small Correction

For some weeks I've been using the HP IPAQ 6915 (AKA 6925,6945) with abuit in GPS receiver and it's great with all the advantages of carrying around your phone.

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GPS
by Dalesgal08 / November 4, 2006 7:35 AM PST
In reply to: Small Correction

We always put ours under the seat in our car and unplug it. No one has seen it yet or stole it. There is no way to know it is there unless you leave part of it sticking out or leave info advertising it in your car. I still stick by the Garmin, that we put on our dash!!!!!!!!!!!!

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GPS accurate for car AND pocket
by cornba11 / November 3, 2006 10:19 AM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I love my 5 year old Magellan 330 GPS. Along with "Mapsend TOPO" software, I use it in my vehicle and in my shirt pocket for hiking the multitude of trails it displays. On the road it is accurate enough to tell me on which side of the interstate I am driving. In the woods, beside letting me know how steep the trail ahead will be, I can forge my own route and backtrack along a trail it lays down. Sure I would like to have a big color screen and a pretty voice to guide me but that one could no do both jobs...besides the prices are 5 to 10 times what I paid. One day there will be a pocketable and vehicle ready color GPS with voice that I can afford but not quite yet unless someone out there knows of one.

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GPS which one
by Dalesgal08 / November 4, 2006 12:50 AM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

We purchased a Garmin about 3 years ago, and use it in our car and motor home. It fits on our steering column between the wheel and the dashboard. It has a base of magnetic pads(I think) We have used it from Michigan to Florida every year and just love it. It keeps my husband calm, because I am not much help in the navagation department. Plus now, he drives the motor home pulling our boat, and I follow in our Yukon, so we have a vehicle to use while in Florida. So, he is on his own. We communicate by cell phones and I just follow him wherever he goes. You do need to update the mapping in it every so often. But thats about it. Have had no problems with it so far!!!!

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Other advice from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 1, 2006 4:24 PM PST
Answer:

Here's three words for you-Nuvi 350. Actually, only two words. well, ok technically a word and a number. But the point is, it's terrific.In my usage gave us d oor to door directions in several new cities and states ( my wife just used it to drive around NYC and raves); top rated by Consumer Reports as well as a nice review by Cnet; lightweight (literally fits in your pocket and can be taken with you in different cars); intuitive operation ; the whole nine yards.

As for your questions, here's a few things to consider:

-size and weight-- it may be "portable" but do you really want to try to lug that 12 ounces in a coat pocket?

-voice commands- most, but not all, will give you directions ("turn right in 400 yards"); Nuvi tells you "turn right in 400 yards onto Elm Street") as a double check in a strange city. That way you don't have to take your eyes off the road to confirm you're turning at right street.

-traffic reports-- some models ( including higher end models of the Nuvi) can reportedly, and with a monthly charge and add on attachments, give you "real time" updates on traffic conditions in certain cities. Not sure if it's worth it-- limited number of cities and speed of alerting you to a problem would seem to be issues.

-input- touch screen a must. The Nuvi is intuitive , requiring you to only tap the screen a couple of times to get to many common types of destinations, like hotels and restaurants. For new addresses, you have to type them in; afterwards, they appear in a retained list of your destinations.

-add ons- there's additional features on most of them, like memory ,so you can download books, or the ability to use it as an MP3 player. The Nuvi has some travel features, like currency converter and language translator. Who cares, right? You're trying not to get lost in Cleveland, not convert your yen to dollars with a guy who speaks French.. Nice touches, but not worth paying more for, in my view. One that may be worth it, on the Nuvi 360 and higher, is a Bluetooth connection that lets the unit act as a speakerphone with Bluetooth cellphones if you have one.

-sensitivity. The technology is pretty good in most cases. The Nuvi usually acquires satellites within a minute or two. It can lag a bit when you change cities, as its brain adjusts to the fact that it is now seeking different satellites. My wife reports that the tall buildings in NY interfered with reception very infrequently. It also is important how quickly the unit recalculates the route if, for example, you miss a turn, there's a detour, etc. Again, the Nuvi works great. When my wife missed the exit for the Triboro Bridge in NY, the Nuvi quickly adjusted and got her back into the city.

There. Simple, right? Oh, and I don't work for Nuvi

Submitted by: Michael W.

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Answer:


I made the unfortunate decision to purchase a GPS from Palm One that is supposed to work with my Treo 650 (Verizon). After purchasing it from The Palm Store and experiencing problems with the GPS freezing up while I was using it, I was told that Palm doesn?t support the products they package and I would have to contact the software vender (tom-tom) or the hardware vender (Holux).

After numerous calls to tom-tom I was told that their was an update due out in the first quarter of 2006 which might fix the problem. That never happened. Then the GPS receiver had to be replaced and I had to contact Holux who did replace the GPS. Tom-tom still hadn?t released any software fixes and the GPS still had freeze ups which always happened when it was being used on an interstate at 60mph. Tom-tom promised to update the software and maps by the end of summer2006. Now they say there will be no fix of the operating software. They are making available a new operating version for $150 or if I want to update the maps only $49, but I have to continue to put up with the system problems.

Thru out this period I have contacted Palm to try and have them take the package back under the 1 year warranty without any satisfaction. Palm customer service people don?t give a damm about their customers. If I asked to speak to a supervisor I was put on hold for an interminable time and eventually hung up. I attempted to contact Palm?s corporate office in California. There the answering machine invites you to either look up an extension by entering a name or hold for help. After holding for 30 minutes I gave that attempt. I then went online at Palm?s website, looked up the name of their President and the called back to the Corporate Office, entered the Presidents name and was told there was nobody by that name at that office.

The moral to this story is find don?t buy Palm Products or Tom-tom GPS. Both of these companies have no real support for their customers.

Submitted by: Bernie Z.

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Answer:


I suggest Garmin as it has more sales of GPS units than any other brand in the USA, Tom Tom is the biggest in Great Briton & Europe.

There are several GPS units and you would need to check out the specifications of each to fit your needs http://www.garmin.com. I purchased a Garmin StreetPilot 7200 last March and it has saved my marriage (no more arguments in the car).

This unit talks you to your destination and has over 90 million points of interest built into the maps. No monthly payment for the GPS (antenna's require additional payments). Garmin also offers two antennas, one for XM radio, and one for "traffic & hazard" use in areas where they have the sensors."

Submitted by: George B.

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Answer:


The best overall GPS is the Garmin 60cx. I use it to create maps and participate in Geocaching, the national sport. (http://www.geocaching.com) I love the 'treasure chest' icon that appears at all the caches I download into it and how they OPEN when you find the cache.

I use to use Magellen Platinum and it was easy to use but would lose signal in thick tree canopy. That hasn't happened with the Garmin 60cx. However, if Garmin could make an easier keypad to use like Magellen, then the Garmin would be perfect. I make LOTS of notes while mapping and the Garmin takes awhile to accomplish that task and doesn't offer the space Magellen did.

A friend purchased the 60cx from Ebay and had it at the door for $371.00. There are no service fees but you do need to purchase 'their' MapSource mapping program extra. Look for it on Ebay too.

Submitted by: oldhide

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Answer:


In the olden days when people used to travel on horsebacks - it was easy to pack a sack of flour with a hole punched in it. This way the rider could check out his trail and could not lose his bearing.

These days - with all cities with similar Down-Towns (Glass Boxes) and residential areas with identical neighbourhoodscapes : One sure gets lost.

"Etrek" by Garmin is cheap and easy if you do not forget to click at each turning. No, I don?t think there is service charge. The Handheld gadget is basically for scouts on their Treasure Hunt missions but I guess this would solve your problem. Similar products are available by Trimble and Megallen (names not sure). Look for "Handheld GPS" on Google.

Submitted by: Anand U.

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Answer:


I have a poor sense of direction in the nonvirtual world. Buying a GPS unit that gives directions makes sense, but I need help figuring out the different features and how much to spend on one. What kinds of features are there to consider? Are certain brands more trustworthy? Who has the best coverage area? Are there service fees, and if so, what's an average amount? Any information would be helpful.

I recently bought a Magellan 300 Roadmate for about $200 on e-Bay. The 300 model allows you to easily download 2 or 3 states (depending on size) from its included software into its internal memory with the option of using an SD card for adding additional areas. Although the 300 is the low tech model, it is every bit as adequate for almost all users as are the high cost models. The voice (male or female) is loud and clear and leaves no questions as to when and where to turn to reach the specific address you are driving to. The only thing that I have found not to be accurate is that it may tell you "You have arrived at your destination on the left," when it may actually be on the right, or vice versa. You might want to compare the prices and features of the higher priced units on the Magellan site to be sure which model suits your purposes most. There are no service fees and there is online help available if you need it.

Submitted by: Beryl F.

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Answer:


I would avoid Magellan Roadmate 760. The maps are outdated, and it gives incorrect directions, turning instructions, at times. Magellan says the maps are updated every 12 to 18 months. Current maps are at least 24 months old.

It often will take you on routes that, according to a paper map, are out of the way..... but eventually arrive at your destination.

Magellan customer support is absolutely TERRIBLE! They have yet to respond to any of my emails to them through their web site.

You do want the touch screen and voice guidance options on whatever you buy.

Submitted by: Richard M.

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Answer:


I've watched with interest the hoopla about GPS units. They are very pricey units. All the rage now is about one called "Tom Tom?" Several years ago I bought a laptop computer for business and when I retired I looked into GPS systems. Talk about sticker shock. Then I saw Delorme Street Atlas, which came with a GPS unit. I think I paid $159 for the software and the receiver. With the price of laptops as low as $500, and even lower, why would anyone want a handheld unless they were going to use it for hiking. If you're in the car, a laptop with GPS software is great, even giving you the amenities at the next exit. One bit of advice though, let your co-pilot run the computer.

Submitted by: GerryS8

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Answer:


Hi John L.,

One GPS is as good as another. I'm a sea captain and have use most GPS's on the market and all of then have served me well. They all have basically the same features. If your interested in a hand held they run from $200.00 to $500.00 the more costly ones come with maps in them for cities in USA. I have a Garmin 72 hand held that I use on my sail boat that I can plot routes for sailing around from place to place and they all have this feature. You can use GPS world wide and there is no service charges.

Best regards.

Submitted by: Capt. Orval

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Answer:


Let me enhance the question.

Unlike the Adventure Car Hop patrons of the 60's ("Adventure where the service is great and you never gets outta your car.") and the car-bound GPS cache yuppies of the 00's, there are a few(maybe a lot more than you think ) of us less out-spoken users of GPS who wander on foot miles away from paved roads with topo sheets in our back pack who would like to discover where we are on the map from reading the GPS. Road pilots have the luxury of a 5 inch screen. Us off-roaders are stuck with something the size of a small cell phone which is worthless for maps or anything bigger than a numeric readout, ie, lat-long. Anyone got a solution?

Submitted by: Robert M.

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Answer:


John,

If your sense of direction in the real world is that bad you feel you need a navigation system, then may I suggest the following: CALL A TAXI.

Driving is hazardous enough without having directionally challenged drivers dividing their attention between the road and a low resolution video screen or straining to listen to some computer generated voice for directions.

The best one should do before setting out on an unfamiliar road it to map the route BEFORE you get behind the wheel.

Submitted by: Ben O. of Hazlet, New Jersey
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Garmin Nuvi 360
by atkinsp / November 2, 2006 7:43 PM PST

I've now owned three Garmins and think the Nuvi 360 is great. However, I upgraded to it from the Nuvi 350 and, knowing what I know now, would have stayed with the 350. Bluetooth is badly implemented in the 360 and my Blackberry does not work well with it. In addition, the two speakers face the windshield making it very difficult to follow a conversation, especially if any window is open. It's not worth the extra money. Stick with the 350.

Other than that one problem, this unit has been flawless. I travel extensively in my job and this unit has never gotten me lost--in fact, I only ask for the address of my locations now and never for directions.

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GARMIN NUVI 350 OWNER
by oilmanowen / November 2, 2006 7:55 PM PST
In reply to: Garmin Nuvi 360

I COULD NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE, MY GARMIN NUVI 350 HAS GOTTEN ME TO VERY DIFFICULT TO FIND ADDRESSES FLAWLESSLEY I HIGHY RECCOMEND IT OVER THE 360

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Garmin Nuvi 350
by Fury2 / November 2, 2006 11:54 PM PST
In reply to: GARMIN NUVI 350 OWNER

This is the best I've seen yet - completely portable
easy to use, and updates are sent to my email address
to download. I'd be "lost" without it!

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Nuvi 350-2 HUGE benefits I never expected
by roadrunner2525 / November 3, 2006 12:15 AM PST
In reply to: GARMIN NUVI 350 OWNER

I too got caught up reading every review on the web trying to find the best GPS for the car. With a new car on the horizon in 12 months that would probably have one built-in, I spent a lot of time justifying the $500+ cost. The thing I got hung up on was the small screens of the portables, how easy it would be to read whereever I placed it in the car & frankly, thought in a $50K car, a windshield mounted version with a cord running to the power port would look tacky.

WRONG! What I didn't realize when I got it was the following incredible features of the Nuvi 350:
- everyone mentions voice prompted directions. Most units say "turn left at next intersection" but this doesn't help if you come up to an intersection with several streets angling off to the left, a service road paralleling the main road or a newly built road that may not be in the database. You then HAVE to look at the screen to see if it's reading the road accurately or which left hand road you're suppose to take. The Nuvi actually says the street name ie. "turn left on Main street in 1/4 mile", then "turn left on Main street in 200 ft", then just before the intersection "turn left on Main street". The voice prompts are so clear, I've never had to look at the screen. And the receiver is powerful enough that I never did mount it on the dash - it just sits in my console tray and I just listen to the voice prompts. So screen size & where to mount it have become irrelevant.
- I thought portability would be a pain since to prevent theft you have to take it with you when parking the car. But the huge advantage: I also use it to visit new clients or plans trips into unknown territory. Being able to bring it in the house at night allows me to enter the addresses for the next day while at my desk. With a car model, I'd have to write them down, then re-enter again while sitting in the car. And since it saves 500 of my last entries, I can also enter the address of someplace I know I may want to go sometime in the future, or enter every address I know I'm going to stop at on a long road trip.

It's great when renting a car in another city, or if you have several cars or travel in a friend's that doesn't have one. It's literally the size of a deck of cards, and unlike the Magellan or TomTom doesn't have a bulging backside like others (so slips unnoticed in a jacket pocket or briefcase) & all controls are via LCD touchscreen and is SO easy to use.
Plus have never had a problem with not being able to acquire satellite connection, battery lasts long enough that have never had to use the car charger and it quickly recalculates the route should I choose a shortcut or another road because of traffic tie-ups or I just know the area better. AND you can also switch it to walking mode and use it as a guide map when strolling in a new city.

As far as accuracy, no GPS unit gives the best directions 100% of the time. You still have to use your common sense if you know the area better like your own neighborhood. But they are invaluable if you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, even if you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam on your regular route and you're wondering which exit is the best to take to get over to another freeway.

As a portable, I'd rather carry something the size of a deck of cards rather than a can of soda & Nuvi's ability to speak street names make it the best choice, hands down.

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Another NUVI 350 Owner
by Gibsonws / November 3, 2006 8:08 AM PST
In reply to: GARMIN NUVI 350 OWNER

Very satisfied with my 350 which I have had for 11 months. Good points made by others that I will not repeat. Purchase factors not discussed so far: Garmin probably has one of the best maps for their GPS units. All of North America is preloaded. They get their maps from a company that actually drives every road, creating the maps. As a result, their spoken directions are very thoughtful in that if you need to exit left off the interstate it warns you to get into the left lane.

Go to a store with GPS units on display and see if you can find your home address. Navitate from the store to your home. Is is correct? If not don't buy that one! What sold me on the Nuvi was that we took it outside the store and you could really see the features, screen clarity and size, hear the voice etc. Don't buy it unless you see it operate and are comfortable. Note that the Nuvi has a four-hour battery so you can take it out of the car and walk down the street, or take it into your house and look up an address. I just keep finding uses for it. (I had it plot my position on a cross-country air trip, it goes a little nuts trying to recalculate the roads. It knew we were going 600 mph at 40,000 ft!) This is my first GPS and I am very satisfied. This unit has a technology that is much easier to pick up signals. We often leave the unit on the car seat, works fine.

Garmin supports the customer! My unit had a problem and they replaced it in a week. About every three weeks there is a software update which I download and it keeps getting better.

As good as these units are, you still have to use your common sense when driving. One caution is that if you buy on the internet, Garmin may not honor the warranty.

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we love our Garmin 360
by aswb / November 4, 2006 12:17 AM PST
In reply to: Garmin Nuvi 360

after much anxiety about what to buy, we bought the 360 mainly because of it's size.I have not used the extra features, so the 350 may be a better buy. I wish it had a better battery life, but as previous mentioned the power cord is not really a problem. the 360 is a great gadget that we actually use. Portland OR is a somewhat complicated city to get around when you're new to it--so far the 360 has done a really great job.

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GPS
by Eileen Corrado / November 2, 2006 9:25 PM PST

I have a Garmin Street Pilot 720 which has a defect since I purchased it. It will not reset the satellite finder after a brief stop. This is a big problem, since when you stop for gas and turn off the car, the GPS comes back with a poor reception message and you don't have any use of it for many miles, one time it lasted for 150 miles of no GPS. Warranty problem, but it is impossible to get through to the GARMIN 800 number. This summer, the average wait was 1.5 hours! Well, I did wait 2 times and both times I got no resolution, no one would help me by allowing me to return the item. Can you imagine that, after spending $900.00, I can't get the unit even repaired..STAY AWAY FROM GARMIN!

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Get an external antenna
by williamrichard28 / November 2, 2006 11:56 PM PST
In reply to: GPS

Get an external antenna. Available for under $50.00 online. It comes with a powerful magnet that keeps it on the car's roof and about 10 feet of thin wire that you can bring in through the door to the GPS unit.Use some Velcro to keep the wire in place inside your car. No need to drill holes. I leave the antenna permanently on the roof. No problem with car washes. I have a Magellan 700. It never worked well with its buit-in antenna. Once I connected with an external antenna, it worked great. You can not blame a GPS unit while you use a built-in antena. As you know, even the best television can have poor video if the antenna is bad.

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Better way than putting the antenna on the roof
by hairymon / November 6, 2006 9:55 PM PST

For about $10-30 on eBay (and I'm sure some vendors out there) you can buy a small device that is a metal square plate with a bent end that has 4 suction cups. You suction this to the bottom center of your windshield and attach the magnetic external antenna there.

The one disadvatage to putting it on the roof is that you usually have to leave your window open slightly, otherwise you may break the antenna wire having the window squeeze it. The windshield area is an equally clear view of the sky so it will work well.

I do this with my Lowrance IWay 100M, which by the way, though discontinued, is easy to find and is a very inexpensive way (under $200) to have a GPS that does turn-by-turn and voice prompts.

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GPS
by buddstock / November 2, 2006 11:28 PM PST

Megellan has a huge problem with updating there mapping thay haven`t updated it since 2001 I dont know where you live but roads have changed alot around me since 2001 .. I`ve emailed magellan several times asking when there going to update there mapping, there answer was... when thay have enought people asking( or get them pissed off enought) thay mite think about updating.. do your self a huge favor buy garmin thay update every other year just to keep up with things and too keep there customers happy.. Wayne.. Rocky Mount , NC

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Magellan GPS
by Skippy3246 / November 3, 2006 1:24 AM PST

I have had a similar experience to those posted in this string. I also have a model Magellan 300, and it will often take you on a round-about path, but it will eventually get you there. That's the good news.

The most frustrating thing I found with this unit is that it requires the TOWNSHIP name, which in PA, at least may be different from the POST OFFICE name. For instance, I recently had to travel to a location with an "Elkins Park" post office address, but I had to know that Elkins Park was located in "Cheltenham Township." Also, the unit will not search by zip code, yet, when you hit the "LOCATE" button, it lsits the local zip code.

My advice, read through the strings in this posting for recommendations, but stay away from this Magellan unit.

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GPS Units
by djanna54 / November 2, 2006 8:13 PM PST

In an answer to the question on which one to buy: I ordered and am using the new NAVMAN PDA and I think it is great! The PDA part does all the things you'd expect a PDA to do; the NAV part does the navigation part. It is hand held, or you can also use the kit that comes with it to install it in your car, removing it when you want to walk with it. Like American Express...I don't leave home without it.

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GPS Units
by djanna54 / November 2, 2006 8:33 PM PST
In reply to: GPS Units

I have already posted about NAVMAN, but, I forgot another possibility. I also have a laptop computer and last year I purchased Microsoft's Cities and Streets with a GPS module. I loaded the software, put the GPS module on the dashboard, insert the other end of the module cord into a USB port on my laptop and, eureka....I have a very good GPS that shows cities and streets. If you type in a destination, it will give you directions. I used this while my wife did the driving. Very nice. Worth looking into. Incidently, I also have the Magellan RoadMate 360, which I bought several years ago but my wife won't let me ''...stick that damn thing on the front windshield.'' She doesn't seem to mind the NAVMAN at all. So, she's happy and I'm happy. That's all that counts.

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GPS RS232 Output
by OnFilm / November 2, 2006 10:09 PM PST
In reply to: GPS Units

Want to get the positions from GPS to my digital camera which has a RS232 port to accept the GPS data to be included in the EXIF data. Is RS232 from a GPS unit a thing of the past; all seem to be USB.

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RS232 Output
by Sal123456 / November 2, 2006 11:19 PM PST
In reply to: GPS RS232 Output

Not sure I have seen a camera with a RS232 jack but Rand McNally marketed a software package with a RS232 antenna to be used on a laptop. I have one and it worked quite will untill I went to a handheld GPS several years ago. Any questions that I can help with I can be reached at email (rschini@sbcglobal.net).

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