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Is it Time to Buy a New GPS?

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 by | Filed Under: GPS
 
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GPS Photo

GPS (Global Positioning System) units are a fantastic addition to any car. They let you navigate from wherever you are to wherever you want to go with easy turn-by-turn directions.

But you already know that right? You bought a GPS when it was new quite a few years ago and have been using it faithfully since to get around. So, is it time to get a new GPS? Do the new models do anything better then your old one?

Here are a few things that have changed in newer units:

Size matters!

Many new GPS units come in 4.3″ and 5″ models. The extra screen makes it a LOT easier to operate from arms length and makes seeing the map and what streets are coming up easier.

Speed! VROOM!!

Newer GPS’s are coming with faster processors inside which calculate routes faster, recalculate if you’ve made a wrong turn and display more information then ever before.

Features! Everything but the kitchen sink!

Sometimes you want a unitasker, but in the case of a GPS it’s a shame to waste such a big screen on simply “Turn right in 500 feet”, so most newer GPS units come with a host of features. Extensive point of interest (POI) databases with locations programmed in for everything from restaurants to post offices to attractions; speakers which can connect to your phone for hands free calling; speedometers; trip computers to keep your eyes up, and much more.

So what should you look for when buying a new unit?

1) Map updates – Many GPS companies now offer lifetime map updates included with the GPS. This is great especially if you’re traveling and don’t know that “main street” has now been renamed “Arthur C. Clark Blvd.”

2) Traffic – If you live in a busy metro area, then a GPS which includes free traffic updates can be a lifesaver. Don’t get stuck in another massive track jam again. The GPS will use the traffic information to reroute you and give you a more realistic time of arrival.

3) Big screen – On most new GPS units the display includes speed, time of arrival, detailed map, and is much easier to read from arms length if you’ve got a bigger screen. It may cost you 20% more, but when you’re using it you’ll be glad you bought the larger screen.

4) Good Brand – Don’t be fooled by the knock off brands. You may save a few dollars, but you’ll regret it later on when the map data doesn’t cover the areas you want to go or the screen doesn’t respond well to finger presses. With gas hovering at or over $4.00 a gallon, saving a few dollars on a GPS can mean a lot money wasted on gas later. Garmin, Magellan, Nextar and TomTom are all well known respected brands.

~Tim

 

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7 Responses to “Is it Time to Buy a New GPS?”

  1. Bill Wisman says:

    I have an older Cobra GPS with a large screen and it seems to work fine – never had to get a “new” map.

    Do they still make them and what is your opinion?

  2. Mark says:

    Bill Wisman,

    Roads change all of the time, if you have had your GPS for several years then what have is like an old road atlas. Most of the maps are still correct but there are changes that could bite you and the older the more likely it is to bite you. I got lost going through Nashville, TN once because they had renamed/renumbered some interstates and I didn’t know because I was using an old atlas. After that I started buying a new atlas every year. The same sort of thing has happened with my GPS, so now I get updates from Garmin a couple of times a year especially since they are free..

    • Bettie Marso says:

      Bill…We have a Garmin and it needs updated. I didn';t know Garmin would update for free! Is this true for ALL Garmin GBS? Thanks.

  3. Mary wiegard says:

    I have an older Garmin also but I get notices to update for around 70.00 so naver have. just use locally but bad in the rural areas.

  4. Terry says:

    The Garmin I have is around 5 years old. The only problem I have with it, since I live in Akron, Ohio which is the 2nd cloudiest location in the United States, is that it has a hard time locating satellites to download my route. I can drive for an hour, fumbling around for directions to my destination, and the map never appears on the GPS. I updated my maps last year for $85, but it didn’t help. Even on bright, sunny days, the GPS takes a long time to find a satellite.

  5. Paul Haak says:

    I have a Tomtom 1435, which I use frequently. Not only does it give me free map updates, I also get weekly “community” updates and updates on red-light and speed cameras. I often take I-94 from the Chicago area to Michigan and this unit has already saved me several HOURS driving times by rerouting me around traffic delays. So, yes, it is time to get a new GPS. Best units from all major manufacturers should be perfect.

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