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Is it Time to Buy a New GPS?

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.