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Naked_Homer's avatar

What would you suggest for a GPS for my car and why?

Asked by Naked_Homer (2160points) December 26th, 2009

I want to make the purchase because I get lost. A lot. I hope to spend no more than $200, but am a really good and patient shopper. I also work somewhere that enables me to get an employee discount.
Features I am interested in are:
– spoken directions
– updated route if you miss a turn
– points of interest, i.e. food, gas, lodging
– long battery life and the ability to run it off the car’s power

Are there things you enjoy or found useless? Things you might encourage to value where as others you might do with out?

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34 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I get lost all the time and find a detailed paper map by far the best. I pull over onto the shoulder, calm myself and then read the map.

I have street maps of all the areas around me for exactly the same reason.

dpworkin's avatar

In my opinion you don’t need most of the “interactive” subscription stuff, but is nice to have street names read, and there is one Garmin model, a 265T, which, if it is still available, gives you lifetime free live traffic and detour in exchange for your seeing a pretty unobtrusive ad every once in a while.

Naked_Homer's avatar

@gailcalled – I would like to take advantage of the technology to help me be safer about it. I use paper maps now but I want to keep my eyes on the road. And it can be just as unsafe to pull over and stop all the time depending on the traffic. I admit to being a nervous driver in areas I don’t know.

@pdworkin – Excellent, thanks much!

lfino's avatar

I bought my husband one a few years ago, it’s a Garmin but I honestly don’t remember the model number. But from the research I did ahead of time, it suggested to get one with a model number over 200 because anything under that and it will just say, ‘turn left at the next corner’ where the higher number of models will say, ‘turn left at the next corner on Smith Street”. I used it when my daughter and I went on vacation and it was a life saver. My only complaint is that sometimes it doesn’t tell you quick enough that your turn is coming up. If you’re in the outside lane and your turn is next on the inside lane, you don’t always have enough time to get over when you’re in traffic. It is easy enough to turn around and the positive side of that is that you do know that the turn you just missed was the correct one. You can also change the voice to a male or female voice and also change it to different accents. My husband keeps his on a female voice, and weirdly enough, I could understand the male voice better. Whatever one you end up getting, check the reviews of the people who bought it before you.

fireinthepriory's avatar

I’ve also heard that Garmin is best, so I got my mother one for Christmas this year. She hasn’t really had time to use it much so far, but its “maiden voyage” today went very well.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I liked the TomTom One 130s so much that I purchased one for my wife’s niece. Not a bad little unit for an entry level mobile gps (little over $100).

I’m partial to TomTom because they’re easy to personalize (add voices, points of interest, etc.) online via TomTom Home.

This particular model features:

- spoken street names
– advanced lane guidance
IQ Routes technology.

Regardless of what brand you purchase, I’d recommend a mobile gps unit to everyone who drives. They come in handy on those occasions when to You never know when you need quick directions to an unplanned destination.

faye's avatar

@lfino Exactly what I found with the turning but I’ve only used one once- my sons’. I LOVED that it would recalculate when I did miss a turn!

lfino's avatar

@faye have you noticed that when it says recalculate, it says it in sort of an irritated voice??

lfino's avatar

@Naked_Homer another thing I just thought of – when you leave your car, either take the GPS with you or hide in a glove compartment or something. My brother passed that tip on to me. Enough people steal GPS’s (and probably anything else they find in your car after they’ve broken a window) and if they’re hanging there on the inside of your windshield, it’s too easy of a target.

TheNimrod's avatar

I’ve been using an older Garmin for my job (a food delivery service) and it is a life saver. I don’t think it’s too old as it will tell me the street name that I need to turn on. I am really excited to go on a road trip with this.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@lfino Great advice.

Naked_Homer's avatar

Excellent advice.

I had a friend who had his stolen. And he was very freaked out because it meant that the person with it had a map to his house and knowledge that at least one person was not home.

lfino's avatar

Thanks @SABOTEUR and @Naked_Homer.
@Naked_Homer, what a scary thought that some creepy person knows your address! Especially for the person who is home alone. Ewww, bad thoughts. Our GPS is thin enough that I can just slip it in my purse. We even take the suction thing off the windshield when we leave the car.

DrMC's avatar

I love my Garmin. (old iQue). Also like my newer Delorme for bushwacking in the woods. If you love gadgets and traveling it’s a must.

Just picked up a friend of my son with little more than an address tonight. Driving there was effortless. Directions tend to cause stress.

Been using them for 5 years. Feel blind without when going somewhere new.

rooeytoo's avatar

We have a tom tom in the car, I forget what model, but I love it and it does all the things you mentioned plus it remembers my favorite places, recent destinations, etc.

I also have a handheld Garmin Gekko for bush walks and bike trips. It tells me exactly how far I have gone and how to get home if I get lost.

They are both great!

Naked_Homer's avatar

Thanks for all the help so far! This has been great!!!

jerv's avatar

I have a Magellen Roadmate. It’s not a fancy one; it was only $100 and has a “mere” 4.3” screen. However it does great job.

I have borrowed TomToms and Garmins and Toyota Highlanders and had issues with the interface on them, but the thing I really love about my Magellan is the quick readjustments. If I miss a turn, it wilt recalculate a route in well under half a block, sometimes before I am even completely through the intersection! The Garmins I tried took over a mile… at 30 MPH!

If I want the route to the nearest Bank of America ATM, it knows. Gas station? What chain? Nearest Old Navy store? No problem! And the best part is that it was cheaper than the rest.

Better + cheaper = WIN!!!

And yes, it does speak, and it lasts over 2 hours on it’s internal battery (I think it’s rated for 3 hours). Spend a little extra and youcan get an add-on for traffic updates too! Sure, spending extra for that feature may not sound great, but when the base unit is only $100 and most units that offer that feature cost more than that plus the add-on, you still win :)

Austinlad's avatar

I’ve never been goof with paper maps. Love my Garmin.

Austinlad's avatar

Make that never been GOOD with paper maps! Freudian slip.

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s a frightening article about a couple whose GPS left them stranded for three days in a snow storm:

“KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) – A Nevada couple letting their SUV’s navigation system guide them through the high desert of Eastern Oregon got stuck in snow for three days when the GPS unit sent them down a remote forest road.”

lfino's avatar

Those things happen, but really the same thing could happen with MapQuest or even if a friend had jotted down directions for you. You’re just following the directions that something else is telling you is correct. The directions could be wrong, but the chances are pretty good that it will get you there. If the couple in the story had questioned taking the snowy, remote road, the GPS would have chosen another route for them.
There’s also the story of the person who followed what GPS was telling them and drove into a train and died. Sometimes you just need to follow your own instinct and you shouldn’t do what doesn’t seem right.

jerv's avatar

@lfino But what use is technology if we still have to think?

SABOTEUR's avatar

@gailcalled: As reliable as mobile gps is (for the most part), you’ve given an excellent example of why owners must remember it’s a guide, which suggests a given route. If the gps suggests one thing and your eyes tell you another, it might be a good idea to disregard whatever direction the gps offers and use common sense.

jerv's avatar

@SABOTEUR For instance, if you try going South on Aurora, some GPS and map-sites will tell you to take a left onto 46th street…. ignoring the concrete barrier between the lanes on Aurora and the fact that 46th actually goes under Aurora, meaning you’d have to crash through a second barrier (the edge of the bridge) and then drop 15 feet.

My Magellan tells me to take a right a couple of blocks further down, loop around, and go the right way, but apparently not all of them are that smart.

rooeytoo's avatar

Often if I have mine on while en route to a known destination, it will give me a route that I don’t consider to be the best choice so of course I ignore it. Or tell it to choose an alternate route.

They are fantastic but nothing replaces common sense. If I am traveling in a strange area in a blizzard at night, I think I would stick with a main road no matter what Ken in the Tom Tom tells me. He can be annoyingly insistent, but the second best part about him is that you can turn him off heheheh.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@jerv Well, in a lot of cases, it’s not a question of the device being “smart”, it’s a matter of the map missing data or not being updated to address changes in landscape. One of the reasons I like TomTom is that users can either manually correct inaccuracies they run across in their area or notify TomTom of changes they cannot manually correct (new streets, exits, etc.) for future upgrades. They can also share those changes with other TomTom users via the internet (TomTom Home).

Some events, like road construction, may happen too quickly to be immediately reflected on user gps (if reflected at all). The interstate exit that has always been after the left fork is now after the right fork. It’s nobody’s fault the gps doesn’t reflect this change; the driver just has to have sense enough to follow the road instruction instead of the gps.

In fact, one of TomTom’s safety reminders is to “always check the traffic situation before you follow a spoken instruction and obey road and traffic rules.”

Naked_Homer's avatar

I have made my purchase.

Thanks all for your help.

Incidentally, I went for the “Homer Simpson” bundle (if you click on the bundles tab it is the bottom option) as it added nothing to the price and I am a huge fan.

lfino's avatar

@jerv, are you saying you might be like the guy that ran into the train?

rooeytoo's avatar

Looks like a good choice, let us know how you like it.

lfino's avatar

@Naked_Homer congratulations on your new Tom Tom! I’m glad we were all able to put in our two cents and help you out.

jerv's avatar

@SABOTEUR I meant that as “My Magellan has a map that knows how the roads are actually laid out”. It never tells me to go the wrong way down a one-way street, it knows where the over/unperpasses are, and basically has the best map of any GPS I’ve tried.

@lfino There is a reason I take the GPS suggestions as guidelines rather than absolute rules. I happen to know a couple of things it doesn’t, mostly since I did not spring for the traffic update option. Anybody who takes Aurora between 155th and 180th between now and 2012 is a moron!

SABOTEUR's avatar

@jerv: ~Nice to meet someone with the perfect gps. Bravo!

@Naked_Homer: Man, I’m envious


Welcome to the world of mobile gps users!

(Raises Rand McNally)

“Here’s hoping your trusty electronic “back seat driver Homer”
serves you well
and directs you safely down the highway!”


Naked_Homer's avatar

@SABOTEUR – Thanks!

@all – thanks all for your input!!!!

gailcalled's avatar

@Naked_Homer: Keep your iPhone charged so that when you get lost, you can ask the collective for help (not while you’re driving, however,)

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