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A Quick Guide to GPS Navigation Systems

Sep 1, 2008
GPS navigation systems are all the rage! And why not? These nifty little devices can tell you how to get from where you are to anywhere in North America or Europe, safely and efficiently. A friend of mine bought his wife one. She loved it so much, she bought him one!

With all the neat features these things come with, it's a wonder everyone doesn't have one. But they don't, and I think I might know the reason why.

The GPS marketplace is totally confusing!

There are a number of manufacturers out there, and they all make very competitive (and similar!) products. Furthermore prices range from $150 to nearly $1,000. And to make things even more complex, there are a world of features you might want, like Bluetooth, FM transmission, real-time weather and traffic, and multiple route calculation.

Well, if you give me a few moments of your time, I can break all of this down some, and make buying GPS navigation systems seem a lot more user friendly.

First off, let's talk about who makes these things.

Personally, I have a bias toward the larger manufacturers. I know my unit will be supported and that the company's not going out of business any time soon.

There are essentially three big GPS manufacturers, Garmin, Tom Tom, and Magellan.

Garmin is the industry leader by far. They also have the broadest product range. Tom Tom is the new kid on the block, but they've managed to get a lot of market share by delivering a very competitive product at very competitive prices.

Magellan is actually one of the pioneers in this industry.

Now, lets talk features!

All GPS systems come with spoken directions, a touch screen interface, a database of destinations (called Points of Interest, or POI's), and ability to auto-calculate a route to at least one destination.

If this is all you want your GPS to do, then good news! You can get this from either of these three manufacturers for about $150!

But what if you want more?

For about $100 to $200 more you can get Bluetooth integration, if hands-free calling is of interest to you. You can also get more extensive maps, real-time weather and traffic (comes with a subscription, usually), and a much larger POI database.

For under $350, you can get a state of the art GPS that can do everything I've mentioned except calculate multiple routes.

If you want to spend more, great! It's in these higher price ranges that the differences between companies really starts to play a role. With Garmin, you can get a device that responds to voice commands. Tom Tom has this thing where users can actually send in information about roads and POIs, which makes their database much more current. While, Magellan has a great deal with AAA where you can get their Tour Book actually in the device! (For AAA members only.)

Now that you've got the lay of the land, so to speak, it's time to get on an informative website and take a look at specific products, what they do, and what their prices are.
About the Author
To read more great GPS Reviews, check out my website.

Lee Cole is a true GPS enthusiast! Take a look at his website to find out more information!
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