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How to Compare GPS Units to Get the Best One For You

Sep 6, 2008
In order to figure out which of the many GPS systems is best for you, you need to compare GPS units in some logical way. To do this you need to first understand what is being offered and how much that's going to cost you. If you know your budget, you can narrow down the selection quite a bit. After that, it's just a matter of fine tuning what extra features you want.

By GPS units, I mean the kind you attach to your car's windshield, not the kind you take hiking with you. There are a lot of GPS systems out there and finding the right one seems confusing at first. In this article, I'm going to focus mainly on systems built by Garmin, Tom Tom, and Magellan, since they are the biggest manufacturers.

All GPS units keep track of where you are and calculate routes to where you're going. Here's a list of what virtually every GPS device can already do. Think of this as standard equipment.

All GPS's

* Give you directions with voice prompts.
* Have a touch screen.
* Have different views or representations of their maps.
* Include a database of Points of Interest (POIs).
* Come with maps of the lower 48 states.
* Automatically calculate your best route.

This is all great, but it's the extra or optional features that are the real kicker!

According to how much you want to pay, you can get:

* Spoken street names, instead of just plain voice prompts.
* A larger 4.3-inch screen--measured diagonally.
* Maps of Europe, Canada, and Mexico.
* Incorporate Bluetooth.
* Tell you real time traffic and weather.
* Can be used as a digital picture viewer, audio book player, or mp3.
* Have a much larger POI database.

What you really need to do now is to figure out how much you're willing to pay, and then see which makes and models will fit your budget. Let me give you a few examples.

A basic GPS costs $200 or less. For that you can buy a really nice unit from Garmin, Tom Tom, or Magellan which can do all of the basic features listed above. Three possible models are the Garmin nuvi 200, the Tom Tom One, 3rd Edition, or the Magellan Maestro 3100.

If you don't need Bluetooth for hands free calling, or directions that actually say the name of the street (but which do say "turn right," or something to that effect), then a basic unit may easily be all you need to buy.

If you want all the bells and whistles, then you're going to have to pay more. The top of the line unit that Garmin makes costs in the neighborhood of $900, but it can do everything for you except tie your shoes. (They have a model coming out next year that can do just that! Just kidding!)

GPS units are great and there are a ton of other features you can get with these devices. What you need to do now is decide on your budget and get online and shop.
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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