So you've unwrapped a shiny new GPS device over the holiday. Now what?
Get locked on
What to do: Most portable navigation devices will take a bit longer to make the initial satellite lock the first time out of the box. Help it out by letting the device sit--powered on, of course--stationary with a clear, unobstructed view of the sky for a few moments while it figures out where in the world it is.
Years ago, this process could take up to half an hour, but these days a few minutes is usually enough.
The benefit: Subsequent restarts will be faster, because the GPS device knows what satellites to look for first.
What to do: Set the Home location on your GPS device to, well, your home. On some devices, this is as easy as saving a favorite called home.
The benefit: At the end of the day, you can hit one button and be on your way home without having to input a long address every time.
Safety tip: Consider programming only the street or an intersection near your home instead of the complete address. That way, if your GPS device is lost, would-be thieves won't be led straight to your doorstep.
What to do: Connect your GPS device to a PC and use the included software to download updated map data. Many manufacturers will give you one free update out-of-the box; subsequent updates may cost money.
The benefit: Having the most updated maps keeps your GPS device's directions as accurate as they can be. This is particularly important when buying older GPS models, as old roads may not exist anymore and new roads may have opened since your device was built.
What to do: Most portable GPS devices these days come with a suction cup mount, but before you go and slap it in the middle of your dashboard, check your local laws to see what mounting locations are legal in your area. Also consider the adhesive disk that came with your GPS device or an aftermarket friction mount for dashboard mounting.
The benefit: Knowing where you can and can't mount your device could save you from an obstruction of vision ticket. Dashboard mounting can bring the GPS device closer to you for easier destination input and more clearly audible directions.