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GPS: which form would you prefer?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / November 2, 2006 7:46 AM PST

If you were choosing a GPS device, which form would you prefer?

In a cell phones
In a PDA
In a watch
A standalone handheld GPS
Built into the car
I don't need no stinkin' GPS unit, I use the stars to navigate!

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Actually my choice doesn't quite fit the choices given
by jayfin / November 2, 2006 11:05 AM PST

We just recently completed a 10,000 mile trip around the country on mostly back roads. We were using MS Street & Trips software on my laptop. Whoever was navigating kept the driver informed although the voice would do the same (in zero point two miles turn right). By zooming in with a 15" screen even the trickiest intersections became understandable. There are many features with this program but the ones that we used most for navigating were either having the car move across the map (the one I preferred, of course if you dozed off for a few minutes you might wonder what happened to your car.); my partner liked the option of keeping the car centered on the screen and let the map move. For trip planning there were three options which we used. 1)allowed you to go from point A to B in the quickest way, 2)allowed you to go from A to B in the shortest and 3)allowed you to create you own route by pinpointing on the map "way points". We used this one the most often. They also have an update service for road construction which I found quite usefu.

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MS Streets and Trips
by acquaahman / November 3, 2006 11:12 AM PST

Just wanted to respond to this posting: I too have MS Streets and Trips and have had it for about a year now. The software is phenomenal. I've often tried to outsmart it, but it always puts me back on track. Recently, I went to a wedding where the following reception was hard to get to even with the directions the groom and bride provided. For a trip that took 20 minutes for most of the other guests, I made the trip with the help of MS Streets in 10 minutes. My wife who when we go on trips makes sure my laptop and receiver are with me believes in the software more than she believes in MY sense of direction and I'm pretty good if I say so myself. The only bad thing, which really is more of a lazy thing is that if we go off route, or miss turns, we have to hit F2 to reroute it ourselves. It would be nice if newer versions automatically re-routed.

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stand alone GPS
by cptbrian / November 2, 2006 8:03 PM PST

The best option is to get a dedicated Navigator! I use the Garmin and the 910 Tom Tom, only so i can compare the two excellent systems.
Garmin is great for my global seaborne navigation and i prefer the Tom Tom for land lubbers and visiting unfamiliar lands. with T/T its even possible to log NEW speed traps and to have it speak out not only directions but street names and warnings of speed traps and the speed you are travelling. On top of all this it will answer your blue tooth phone and allow hands free conversation and scroll your favourite photo' with music as well

what more is there to say about it ?? Glad i Have one.

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Stand-alones rule!
by Clevermetal / November 3, 2006 7:45 PM PST
In reply to: stand alone GPS

It depends on what you want. If ytou want something for long-term hiking then you would want a stand-alone because you would want to keep your cellphone turned off to save its battery. If you were going on a short hike then you could use a cellphone. Remember cellphone batteries aren't the best when the cellphone is actually doing something (useing GPS). They have good standby times but when they are actually trying to track your movements they will not last that long. Thus a stand alone will rule!
Also in the car with most stand alones now you can download maps onto so you could use it in the car to.
They are just the BEST.
p.s. go for Garmin

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GPS tomtom 910 from newbie pol0334net
by pol334net / November 8, 2006 1:00 PM PST
In reply to: stand alone GPS

Very intersting comment, but tomtom is not suppose to alert you from speed trap. On there web site it says;" Alerts you that you?re speeding" unless you have a radar detector? Would like to know more about your set-up please

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In a PDA
by GeraDOT / November 2, 2006 8:22 PM PST

PDA is a kind of compromise between portability and still acceptible display for external maps. I have Garmin Venture and I have to use a laptop in may car while travelling for a long distance in Kazakhstan. With PDA it will be much more convenient travelling both by car and afoot, I guess.

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This isn't really on the list either but worth a look
by gdaw1 / November 2, 2006 8:38 PM PST

We have a Street Smart 330 by Garmin it comes with built in maps its ready to go out of the box, this model will not give road construction updates but it will recalculate to get you back on track on its own (it gives voice commands). It also comes with built in points of interest, hotels, restaurants, zoos, gas stations ect? it can be used outside walking around as well. It is very helpful and kind of fun on trips plug it in to the cars power supply and go. I would buy this again.

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handheld GPS
by DoctorJerry / November 3, 2006 12:23 AM PST

I have a Garmin 350 which is great, and is a handheld unit since it has a rechargeable battery which means it is portable. Insofar as which unit to buy I would first of want one that has a rechargable battery and comes with an external 120v battery charger. I would also want one that has ALL the US/Canada/Mexico maps loaded into the system and one that give voice directions. Some voice directions tell you which way to turn in so many feet while others tell you which street to turn on. Advantages both ways.


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I just bought my 3rd GPS Unit
by sellitman / November 2, 2006 8:40 PM PST

I am a road salesman and each time I change companies I get them to buy me a new unit. I just purchased a TOMTOM One and I couldn't be happier. It's small enough to fit into my pocket yet has all the features you need to get to where you are going accurately. I had it re-route me around a 7 hour traffic jam (Hole in bridge) the 1st week I had it. The best part is it was under $500 dollars with a carry case. (Online)


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LapTop Format
by kjg48359 / November 2, 2006 8:41 PM PST

In the off-road community, a very desirable alternative is to locate a GPS recieve on the roof of your vehicle, and something like a Toshiba "Tough Book" inside the vehicle on a boom. The reason for such a large screen, and the PC based system is to be able to show topographical maps, and to be able to locate yourself when a specific road isn't marked (as occurs when using trails).

This way you'll actually be able to read the map quickly, and (importantly) you can leave 'bread crumbs' so that you can map trails you've been on to be able to take notes on your favorite features (or sections to avoid).

This is probably the 'highest' end approach, but invaluable when getting several vehicles through remote areas of the country (those that have these systems, usually end up leading the expedition, at least in our MI Land Rover club).

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GPS for Hikers, Hunters and Winter Enthusiasts
by MooseMk / November 2, 2006 9:21 PM PST

I own two handheld GPS units; my first was a Magellan SporTrak Color and I currently own the Garmin 60CSx. The SporTrak had a better antenna as it was able to pick up satellites under heavy cover. With this unit, on a couple of occasions, I picked up satellite reception in a closed, windowless room because of the plumbing stack!

The software left much to be desired. Summits and points of interest (POI) were often not where they should have been on the map - often they were as far as a few hundred feet away. For example, if I was hiking in a fog or in a blinding snowstorm, the mapping software may show me descending when I'm walking on the level. Yet, the POI was right on target. Elevations were often off: Mount Marcy, in the Adirondacks, was listed at 5266 feet above sea level when it's correct elevation is 5344 feet.

The Garmin unit has far better mapping. It is accurate and the POI's are where they should be. The problem I have with that unit is that often I lose satellite reception. I may have to invest in the optional antenna.

The problem with GPS units is that too many hikers rely solely on this method for navigation. I often carry back up batteries and I always keep mapandcompass (intentionally written). If the batteries fail, if the unit is damaged, if any variety of mishaps occur, mapandcompass work far better than any GPS unit. Often I hear hikers complaining that they cannot use a compass, but, it's so easy to learn and is useful even in the dark or in a fog. I wear my compass on a cord around my neck and in a coat pocket, along with a map or section I printed out from, for easy access. Lightweight conscious outdoorspeople can greatly benefit from carrying M&C. While it's nice to have a GPS unit, when it's not operating, it's just dead weight.

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GPS: Which form would you prefer?
by bokononism / November 2, 2006 9:23 PM PST

AS a tool I think it would be most useful in my car, although I can see many advantages for hand held also when Bush walking and trecking.

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Integrated GPS systems for the car
by wpavlik2 / November 2, 2006 9:28 PM PST

I really love how the car companies are building more and more vehicles with integrated GPS systems.
What really disappoints me about them is the fact that they want to charge $2000 for an integrated GPS system.
I think that's just way too much. I have a portable unit that I can put on my dash which works OK, but it just doesn't look as "cool" as the built in units.

The technology has dropped in price, it should drop in cost when installed in automobiles as well.

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Built-in GPS in a car seems to be better than standalone one
by Bob Shenski / November 2, 2006 9:30 PM PST

I have a Magellan 800 unit while my wife has a built-in GPS with her car (Lexus). Magellan unit tells you to stay "left" or "right" through voice to imply whether you need to exit from current route. It does not tell you the name of the new route that you will enter into. My wife's built-in GPS spells out the name of the route in voice so that you know exactly where to go. The screen is also much, much bigger and clearer with built-in GPS. My conclusion in comparing the two is that built-in GPS is far superior and much more user friedly. Considering the fact that you will use it for a long time with your car, it worths the extra money to get the built-in unit if you are buying a car. Good luck!

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Portable or Built-In
by scuba_bob / November 3, 2006 12:37 AM PST

I use two different vehicles and move my Garmin 330 between them. I find it hard to justify the $1500-2000 for the auto accessory. They might add to the resale, but that's iffy.

You can take the Garmin with you, even when someone else is driving.

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I use Telenav and love it!
by CynicalGal / November 2, 2006 9:36 PM PST

When I used to have a Blackberry 7520, I used Telenav service with it and it was wonderful! It took advantage of the BB's beautiful screen and only cost $10/mo for unlimited directions. Now that I don't have Nextel anymore, I use Boost Mobile and an i860 mainly for the Telenav service. At just $5 for the program and $5/4 directions and $1.50/direction after I find it's a cheap alternative to buying a color gps unit. I barely need directions, but can still find places nearby (banks, restaurants, libray, etc...) based on what location I'm at. The step-by-step directions are great, the audio is loud enough and even on a non-pda phone's screen you don't have to squint.

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A GPS Is very important for me
by navy59 / November 2, 2006 9:36 PM PST

I have been using GPS's since I had one in a 1998 Lexus GS. Almost every car I have leased or purchased since then have had GPSs. I have had GPSs in a BMW, a Mini Cooper, a Toyota, a Honda, an Acura, and a Pontiac. Automobile GPSs have improved a lot over this period. My first GPS had very poor map coverage. Both my current GPSs have excellent map coverage but there are still some small towns not covered well where I drive. I use the GPS whenever I drive anywhere. I never take off without putting in a destination first. In my opinion the system used by Toyota/Lexus is best by far. The Honda/Acura system is good because its screen is largest but still the Toyota features make it best in my opinion. The BMW sytem is worst. The Mini Cooper has a variation on the BMW system. Both are poor in thier operational features. They Toyota system has an outstanding feature that switches the screen back and forth from audio, HVAC, or energy use to the map by pushing a button on the steering wheel. This is very useful.

I cannot see using a portable system in a car or for walking because both use streets and roads as reference points for navigation. While driving you often need to change the scale of the map and reaching to a a portable unit and changing scale would be difficult while driving. You might drop it or have trouble manipulating the controls on a portable while driving.

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by cptbrian / November 3, 2006 8:15 PM PST

Hi there, I just read your posting and you seem set on fixed instalations, and nothing wrong with that if you can afford it. the Tom Tom 910 is bang full of features and one of them is AUTO ZOOMING as you approach the intersection or target.
Try one and i think you will be amazed, also you dont take your eyes of the road, its similar to checking your wing mirror.
I speak from experience having tried many and chose this one, you take it home and plug it in to your computer and download the latest alterations to the roads and Cameras as well as planning the next days routes which can adapt to your itinery. well now you have great day!!

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Tom Tom
by navy59 / February 4, 2007 6:52 AM PST
In reply to: portable

You are right auto zoom on your Tom Tom 910 unit is a valuable feature. Thanks for the feedback.

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Where is API Access?
by mmichaels / November 2, 2006 9:37 PM PST

I want a GPS cell phoen unit with access to its API. Why are they so protective of it? This way I can build my own GPS programs and not rely on prepackaged ones. API access would give businesses the ability to build their own dispatch programs catered to their business and customers.

We currently do this on Nextel i58 sr models. It would be nice to see this on Windows Mobile and Palm based phones.


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the survey left out dash or window mounted units!!!!
by billsmithishere / November 2, 2006 9:45 PM PST

How could a survey like this abt GPS units leave out the most ubiquitous, most purchased types??? CNET, you need to better understand your issue, apparently you dont. Most chose the hand held as it came closest, but geeze....lousy survey.

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cell phone
by cfs8642 / November 2, 2006 9:49 PM PST

My new LG 8400 cell phone has it. Haven't had a chance to try it yet but will do so very soon & report back.

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Standalone + map and compass
by Enforcer / November 2, 2006 10:03 PM PST

GPS units are all well and good and I would get one as soon as I could afford one but because of several drawbacks in accuracy and usability I would still go the old school route with a map and compass. GPS units would be great for driving on well traveled roads with a clear view of the sky, but some "scenic" roads are not as well mapped and usually covered so therefore don't have an exact GPS mapping. Also there is the issue of batteries when you are backpacking. That's why i say in some cases it is better to have knowledge of navigation and orientation using a map and compass so when a situation exists in which a GPS becomes useless, well then you won't get lost.

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A standalone handheld GPS
by George B. Lockwood / November 2, 2006 11:03 PM PST

Garmin StreetPilot 7200. It is portable, has a 7" screen and can be mounted in multiple vehicles using their mounting plate.

Garmin has two add ones, a XM radio antenna, and a traffic antenna.

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what type GPS vote
by jakie / November 2, 2006 11:18 PM PST

I think 90% of the GPS units are mobil type that plug into car lighter.

There is no choice of this type in your questioneer.

I own a Magellan 760 and it is flawless.

jakie k

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Acura makes the best GPS - voice activated too
by KathyW / November 2, 2006 11:46 PM PST

The Acura line has the best navigation and GPS on the market. Clear, concise, easy to use and all with voice control so you can find your way while driving without messing with controls.

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Which GPS form would I choose?
by Moto Man / November 3, 2006 12:05 AM PST

Well, for me, it's simple; since I spend a lot of time outdoors, backpacking, fishing, etc.; I wanted a unit that would be practical in the backwoods and in Silli Valley. I bought a Garmin Rino 120 GPS, actuallly bought two of them; one for me and one for my kids to use when we go camping. The nice thing about it is that in addition to the standard GPS features assocaited with most of the units on the market today, it also has two way radio features that work well within about a 3 mile radius.
It doesn't have a color screen, the new units do; but it has everything else you could want, map, compass, trip tracking, waypoint features, lots of memory for a small unit, and you can upload maps from a CD for anywhere in the world, including marine use. Downside, it doesn't have the speech feature, and you do have to read the manual to become familiar wiht the unit.
On a scale of 1-10, I would rate the Rino 120 an 8.0.

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My Caddy SRX has a great GPS
by ribbons / November 3, 2006 12:09 AM PST

Boy is this easy to use and a nice big screen. When you combine this with the available cell phone system and geta combo that I feel is excellant!

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Oh to be Batman
by peterCIS / November 3, 2006 12:14 AM PST

In an effort not to look like I am walking around with Batman's utility belt I have moved all my 'stuff' to a single device.

I am using an Orange SPV M2000 (which came from GB). On that is my Cell Phone, Wireless Internet (802.11b) , GPS (With an external ant), Camera, voice recorder, video camera, video playback, PDA and external virtual Keyboard.

Now put a phone into an ultra-PC and I would trade for that, until then this will do nicely.

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I taught Navigation for year, Radar, Stars, INS, DR....
by dllfo / November 3, 2006 1:30 AM PST

Before you buy anything, you have to understand what enviroment you will use it in. In the city? What good
are Latitude and Longitude in a city? Unless you carry
a chart with you AND a chart with Lat & Long lines to plot from.

Use it in a boat, plane or backpacking and the coordinates should be of greater assistance finding your way, but only if you take time to buy a chart with the proper Lat & Long lines.

A GPS that lets you put a destination in is of REAL use. My wife can use the key pad in our car and type in her destination, allowing the machine to direct her there.

To my knowledge, and I could be wrong about this, the Street Pilot 7500 is the first hand held unit that will DR for you. Dead Reckoning. We all do it. If you
are driving down a highway and mentally compute you are
doing 60mph and it is 60 miles to the next city, where
you will stop and eat, YOU did a mental DR. Airborne and nautical DRs are a LOT tougher.

You can walk thru a forest, with no satellite signals
available and the 7500 claims it will compute your
position. Maybe it can, maybe not. If it can, it is the best all around unit for me.

History...during vietnam, we used celestial to cross the Pacific Ocean, just like Magellan. Our government allowed us fifty nautical miles either side of center line. Center line being defined as our flight planned position at a given time. Even further back, WWII
aircraft did a land fall. Mostly Map Reading where they looked for the Golden Gate Bridge or a specific mountain. A major feature that stands out. Science has come a LONG way, have you?

So remember, if you want a GPS to help you in a city,
most people would need for it to tell you HOW to get to a specific place. Knowing where you are in Lat and Long is pretty worthless unless you carry a bulky chart in your hip pocket or purse.

None of this replaces your brain. I was born with an
inate sense of direction that has led me out of the deep woods more than once. Like a homing pidgeon I guess. Many people have it. We are lucky.

Just an old guys opinion, one size doesn't fit all, so continue reading and learning.

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