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Old 06-04-2008, 09:21 PM   #1
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The best and worst of GPS

Greetings,

I am looking for a GPS unit for my van.

What ones are the best?

What ones are no good?

Pros/Cons for a portable GPS unit?

Any advice or links would be appreciated!

Thanks,

Zugg



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Old 06-05-2008, 09:10 AM   #2
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I love my Garmin GPSMAP76cs because it has everything from topos (purchased separately) to address lookup (purchased separately) and I can share maps and tracks with my Dad and brother. I use the compass and altitude all the time.

We also have a TomTom which I don't really care for. The turn by turn is ok, but it is constantly saying "Keep Right" "Keep Right" "Stay in the Right Lane" and then "Turn Left" argh! The roads are broken up along some lines that make an interstate stretch a non-stop "keep left, ahead keep left" mantra. The TomTom also has none of the extra features of the Garmin that I like.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:10 AM   #3
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GPSs are a little like cameras and breakfast cereals, there is such a wide variety, the hard part is figuring out what features you want the most. Portable, screen size, offroad use, map provider, etc.

Overview site include:
http://www.gpsmagazine.com/
http://www.gpsinformation.net/
http://www.gpsreview.net/


I use a Garmin Zumo 550 which is a portable model (move from motorcycle to car etc). It has a smaller 3.5" screen but included bluetooth, is waterproof and armored for drops. Since I do drop it occasionally, I find these features more useful than a large screen siblings (which I still envy at times:-) ). I can't address the built in/large screen version since I don't have any familiarity with them.

If budget will play a part, the lower end of the portable Garmin/Magellan/TomTomline is still fine as a basic GPS giving directions. I like Garmin the best for the active forums for accessing routes and tracks, where others have gone previously. Again, it becomes an issue for you to decide what is most important for you.

My best piece of advice is to get to a store where you can actually see them for yourself. Screen brightness and menus are quite a personal choice and don't demo well over the internet.

As an adjacent topic, an interesting macro turn in the GPS industry has been the acquisition of the underlying map makers. Most GPS use map from 2 companies, Navteq and Tele Atlas. Both have recently been acquired by Nokia (the phone maker) and Tom Tom respectively.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00914.html

Over time, the concern is that other GPS providers will be squeezed out with poor(er) access to the newest maps. As all of us would agree, the newest, freshest maps are quite a comfort. As there is a high barrier to entry to develop new maps, this may be a concern over time.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:21 AM   #4
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So much of the decision depends on how you are going to be using your GPS.

We have two Garmin handhelds that are used while on foot for the most part. One is color and one is not. One is waterproof and floats and one does not. Both have WAS.

We have a Garmin Nuvi 350 that we use for turn by turn directions and other such road actvities, and we move it from vehcile to vehicle as it is needed.

We also have Delorme Street Atlas and Topo running on a laptop for more detail and trip planning.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:26 AM   #5
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Hi,

Thanks Jage & Bitburger.
You both have some useful ideas and they are appreciated!
Thanks for the links Bitburger.
I will go to some shops and try out the different models.
The Garmin Zumo 550 sounds like a good match.
I would take it out on hikes, (possibly mt. biking) and try it out on the scooter, gotta save on fuel costs somewhere!

Thanks again,

Zugg

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Old 06-05-2008, 10:30 AM   #6
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Hi Greg,

Thanks for your reply.
I will add the models you use to my demo list.
I hope I don't get lost trying out all of these gadgets!

Zugg

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Old 06-05-2008, 10:55 AM   #7
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Zugg,

Just a heads up that the Zumo 550 isn't a great hiking GPS. It was made for motorcycles and has shortcoming hiking compared to some of the nice little handhelds.

Good luck shopping.

-Mark
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:00 AM   #8
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I love my Garmin 76c for use in the van, on the trail or on my MTB/motorcycle. It is a very easy to use and versatile unit that can be easily mounted almost anywhere. The newer models offer turn by turn navigation and easier to read screens. Having a GPS that I can carry easily is very convenient. One tool for every need.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:16 AM   #9
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I looked and struggled with the GPS decision for a long time. What I ultimately came to realize is that the perfect GPS didn't exist for me for everything I wanted one to do. Basically a GPS that is good for hiking will not be that great in your vehicle and vice versa. Also, many of the in vehicle GPS units are not that good when travelling off road.

I made a lot of compromises and ended up with the Lowrance XOG. It has been great for in vehicle use. It is fine for on-road navigation. It is also great for offraod travel as you can download satellite imagery, BLM and Topo maps from mapselect.com. Or if you want a bit less detail, you can purchase the mapcreate program for the Lowrance and have topo maps for the backcounty. However, it is definitely not as good for on-road use as some of the nicer Garmin Nuvis. Also, I would not bother taking this unit hiking as it has a terrible battery life and the touch screen would be tough to use, not to mention its form factor.

If we ever need one for hiking, then I will be purchasing a separate unit for that purpose. It ultimately comes down to what your primary needs/uses are.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:36 AM   #10
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I use a Garmin 60CSX. It is a handheld. Not the best for vehicle use...but it will work. I mount mine on my motorcycle for dual sport use with a RAM mount. Works great for that, and is great for hiking. Little small for SMB use I'd think, and no voice prompts. It is a decent compromise if you do a lot of hiking or other such stuff away from the vehicle.

It does maps and routing, turn by turn direction is quite rugged and runs a long time on AA batteries. You can also get a 12V adapter. I have a Garmin iQue3600, which was a Palm pilot based unit with GPS. Worked great, but recently kicked the bucket.

Just ordered a Nuvi to replace it. I like the Garmin products and recommend you visit their site. They have a list of features for all products that can help narrow down your choices. Bluetooth, text to voice, active traffic...and more stuff to help you decide what model would suit you.


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