Yes, a GPS device is still a good gift idea

There are plenty of circumstances under which a standalone navigator still has advantages over a GPS-enabled smartphone.

Garmin Nuvi 50
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

I know what you're thinking, "Haven't GPS-enabled smartphones rendered the portable navigation device obsolete?"

True, an Android, Windows Phone, or iOS device running a navigation app such as Google Maps, Bing Navigation, GPS by Telenav, or Waze will handle the turn-by-turn needs of your average smartphone-toting techie. However, there are plenty of circumstances under which a standalone navigator still has its advantages and may be the best device for the job.

TomTom GO Live 1535M
Click through to check out our list of Top GPS devices for navigation gift ideas. Josh Miller/CNET

Portable navigation devices (PNDs) often feature screens that are larger than your average smartphone (although the latest batch of megasize phones and small tablets is starting to eat away at this advantage). Those screens are also usually glare-resistant and use technology that allows them to be used by drivers who prefer to wear gloves. Global positioning is more accurate thanks to more sensitive GPS antennas.

Meanwhile, locally stored map data allows navigation to continue in areas where wireless data is unavailable. Spoken turn-by-turn directions can be more clearly heard over the din of road noise, thanks to the PND's larger, louder speaker. Additionally, as a discrete device, the portable navigator doesn't go down when your streaming Internet radio app crashes and locks up your phone.

Most importantly, the standalone GPS device can be loaned or given as a gift with no strings attached. You can gift this simple device to a young driver without fear of creating a distracting driving environment, to a seasoned driver without having to convert them to a new mobile operating system, or to an older driver without locking them into a wireless subscription or contract to keep the device working.

If you're thinking about giving a GPS device as a gift, be sure to check out CNET Car Tech's top GPS devices list to see which PNDs made the cut.

 

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