Once found only in luxury cars, GPS units are now available in a variety of sizes, prices and configurations. For people who travel to unfamiliar areas frequently, or even occasionally, a GPS can bring incredible peace of mind, although they’re not without their frustrations.
Assessing need before shopping helps people buy a unit that suits their needs without overspending.
Deciding Which Features Are Necessary for a GPS
The basic purpose of a GPS is to help people find their way one point A to point B. Any GPS has this capacity. But a GPS can also:
While all GPS features are valuable, they aren’t all essential. Most people won’t bother to use a GPS to display photographs, for example. Some won’t pay extra to hear the street names; being told to turn left at the next corner is good enough for them.
Checking Out GPS Pricing
A GPS can cost under $100 in 2010–or it can cost nearly $1,000. For most people, deciding on a price range is the first step towards picking the right unit. While more expensive units have more features, not everyone needs the features offered. Hand held units are generally cheaper than units built into the car’s dashboard.
Comparison Shopping for a Global Positioning System
The internet has made comparison shopping easy and painless, but don’t pass up the opportunity to see units that sound promising in person. Some screens are lighter or darker than others; some audio systems are louder than others.
Smaller units are easy to take with you if you travel frequently out of town and rent cars, but some screens may be smaller than you’d like when you see them in person. A 4.3 inch screen is big enough to see well and has bigger buttons for entering addresses, but is still easily portable, according to Consumer Reports.
Downsides of Global Positioning System Navigation
The biggest problem with a GPS is its built in obsolescence. Roads change frequently, especially in growing cities, and the route that was correct a few years ago may no longer be accurate because a new overpass or exit has been be added. Updated maps are available to be downloaded, but it costs money to do so and many people just forget to do it.
Having a GPS also doesn’t mean people can leave their brains at home. If the GPS appears to be heading down a dirt road or an abandoned looking area, use common sense. The GPS doesn’t take short cuts on dirt roads. If anything, one of its shortcomings is that it rarely takes shortcuts at all. Most GPS routes stick to main roads to a fault. The GPS will rarely take the back roads or cut through a neighborhood, even if it’s faster.
Following the GPS blindly is not a good idea if it seems to be leading into a bad neighborhood. The GPS can’t assess its surroundings, but people can, so if the area looks bad, drive in the other direction. The GPS recalculates another route when it realizes the route it suggested has been bypassed. There’s always more than one way out of a city.
Choosing a Functional, Properly Priced GPS Navigation System
The best GPS is the one that suits individual needs. The prices are low enough that nearly everyone who could benefit from owning one can afford one. The peace of mind that comes from knowing that the GPS knows its way home is worth almost any price.
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