GPS Opinions from People whom I Know
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We now have a Garmin Nuvi 660 GPS (4/2007) (didn't want the stuff on the
latest models), and we are generally very happy with it. It has a very
bright screen and good maps. I have been surprised by how useful the
ability to look up stores, resteraunts, etc. on the Garmin can be.
While there are many brands of GPS screen protectors
about which I know nothing, we are using Clarivue
screen protectors that are made for the Garmin Nuvi 660, and like them.
As in any data produced by humans, there can be errors. For instance,
My wife located a new McDonalds near our house (think ice cream slurries)
- it turned out to be our old eye doctor's place, (not a McDonalds).
We just (9/12/2007) got back from Branson, Missouri. We took are Garmin Nuvi
660 - it worked flawlessly. I never looked at a map. The Nuvi 660 found our
way to and from everywhere. I could always see the screen, although it is NOT
necessary to see the screen, since the 600 tells you when and where to turn,
warning you 2/10 mile before your turn and then at /10 mile and then at the
turn. We will never take another trip without a Garmin. Usually, we could
locate the desired desitination in the Nuvi's database, and then set it as
our destiantion. Other times, we just input the desired address.
10/-/2008 - Successful trip to Orange, Riverside & San Bernadino Counties, CA
9/11/2008 - Successfully naviagated South Carolina
4/2008 - Sucessful trip to San Francisco (from Southern CA).
3/2008 - went to Cheverly, MD and back to NC - Garmin worked flawlessly.
2/2008 - Successful trip to San Diego (from Southern CA).
1/1/2008 - Just got back from Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia -
Our Nuvi 660 saved the day - never even opened a map.
9/12/2007 - Flew to Branson Missouri and then used the Garmin
Ensure that the GPS model you buy doesn't contain this dreaded GPS Error Message.
We typically put the Nuvi in a large (car) cup holder, inserted into a
vehicle's cup holder. Joany uses Beanie Babies to wedge the Nuvi into
the cup holder, so it is very stable. We could mount it to the windshield,
but we preferred this method of mounting.
We gave our inlaws a Garmin Nuvi 660 - which they took to Pennsylvania
and Washington DC - saved them when he got lost. Later they did San Francisco & San Diego -
no problems with the Garmin Nuvi 660.
Don't hesitate, get one (our opinions).
=========== Comment from other GPS users =============
This little GPS (Garmin Nuvi 660) has also made its way from Dallas
through Austin and all the way down to Big Bend National Park in Texas,
and itís navigated me around Pittsburgh, PA. So far it has proven to be
more accurate and faster than GPS units I have (or have had) in my 05?
Nissan Titan, 02? Infinity Q45, 02? Acura CL Type S, or 06? Honda Civic.
Plus I can travel with it!
I am using Garmin GPS units for more than 10 years. It all depends on your
budget and what do you expect from it. The thing must be practical and usable
and that means that the cheaper things with just a few buttons don't satisfy.
I have GPS V in one car and 2620 in another. The 2620 is an excellent unit.
The newer 27XX are probably even better. A friend recently bought a Garmin Nuvi
and I think he likes it very much - I don't have experience with that one.
Features to look for:
- all of US preloaded
- fresh maps - this is a problem with Garmin as you have to buy newer and
newer maps which come out in 1 or more year steps, instead of having
some kind of subscription to get them continuously. Garmin also doesn't
have a practical ability to add new roads yourself. I don't know how
other manufacturers deal with these update problems.
- nice and logical interface
- voice prompts
I do save track logs from both GPS units before they fill up.
I also plan trips ahead as newer roads are not in the GPS map
- but it allows me to estimate where the waypoints will be from
other sources, e.g. Google Earth. Maybe becaue my first GPS didn't
have any maps in it at all and each trip required planning with a
program on PC and uploading the itinerary to the GPS. The current
GPS units wil have the maps inside and will be able to calculate
the trips and correct you if you miss a turn.
A good site is http://gpsinformation.net/
I suggest you find a retailer that will not charge a restocking fee and buy
what seems to be the best (REI, Boaters World, Circuit City - be sure to
ask if you can try and return if you don't like). It is essential that the
unit has all US maps preloaded so you don't have to open and break seals on
any CDs to use it. Then see how does it work for you. Try another unit or two.
Then buy online with the best price.
I like Garmins because they have excellent two way communication with the
PC so you can plan the trip on the PC and upload the itinerary or waypoints
and after you have been somewhere you can download the track and any
waypoints you made during the trip. And thus maintain a waypoint library
for useful things.
My 2620 can on its own create a trip with multiple destinations (waypoints)
and then it can sort it so that the whole trip is quickest or shortest -
which is a very nice feature if you have multiple places to go and are not
sure what would be the most efficient way to do it - the traveling salesman
problem. However, GPS is meant to go where you don't know how to get there.
If you know how to get somewhere in many cases you are able to find a
better route because trhe GPS map is simplified and it divides roads in
just several categories and for each it maintains a certain average speed
and doesn't think of extra time for crossroads or traffic lights and such.
Or it might not be aware of some newer roads and they also have some bugs in
the maps too.
The very latest units have additional capabilities to receive realtime
traffic and/or weather data either through an additional FM radio or
from the XM satellite - these are however, subscription based and esp.
the weather is very expensive for a casual driver. And I am not sure if
Raleigh is included in the traffic data - it is probably an excellent
thing to have in major cities like L.A., NYC or Chicago.
Nice article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6392007/
I played a little with iQue which really is a Palm with GPS - it is nice,
except for the car use - as while driving it is not so easy to poke the
screen with the stylus and not get overly distracted from driving - not
a good idea. The 27XX and Nuvi have nice large screens with big touch
screen virtual buttons that are usable while driving. I tend to learn my
toys well, so I don't have to look so much at the GPS for commanding it
Well, I am a heavy user for at least 9 years. I might have saved tracks
from all that time! I see that the first is dated 12/16/97 - The first
GPS unit was an early Christmas present from a friend. The 2620 is the
5th unit I have. That 1st one didn't even have a map, it just had
waypoints and I used Delorme's Street Atlas to create trips which were
saved in the unit in form of a list of waypoints. In case you made a
wrong turn and didn't have Street Atlas handy there was no way to
recalculate from that point on. It still was very useful when driving
in unknown territory. And also to see afterwards when I have been.
Now the Google Earth can display the tracks too. I used GPS when flying
- and always asked to be seated next to the window. Some airlines allow
use of GPS in air and some don't. There is a list of these somewhere
online, too. That first unit had a software limit on the max speed with
which it would show the position and it was set pretty low at 100 mph
or so. So that the cheap handheld is not competing with their much more
expensive airplane units that pilots of the small planes were using.
I was not aware of that when I took the transatlantic trip to Croatia
and I as the plane was taxiing on the airport it was working. When the
plane took off the GPS stopped working. Not knowing that the unit has
a speed limit I held it next to the window for hours for the whole
duration of all 3 flights to Europe and another 3 back, haha. Only
when I came back I found the information on the internet - along with
how to hack it with an EPROM and a solder gun. Normally the units still
have a speed limit of about 1000 mph or knots - to prevent them being
used in home grown missiles.
If you buy a Garmin it will come with the MapSource program with which
you can set waypoints in the unit and download tracks and waypoints and
such from the unit. There is also a free nRoute program where the GPS
is tethered to the laptop en route and the laptop is taking the position
from the GPS unit and the laptop is used as the GPS. This is nice for
big campers and such and when you have a real stand for the laptop -
like the cops do. That way a cheap $100 GPS can be used with the laptop
to have the full functionality of an expensive GPS model. For this one
needs the mapping data that comes with the expensive GPS.
Garmin has a feature that prevents map sharing because to use the maps
in GPS you have to register and get the code from them that enables the map.
I think it would still work - it just prevents you from uploading someone
else's map data into your GPS. But, if you buy a unit that has all maps
preloaded - you don't need to upload it with no maps anyway. I don't know
how this work with Magellans and TomToms or the plethora of other brands
now on the market.
If you already have a PDS you can buy a GPS Bluetooth antenna for it and
software, but as I said before I don't recommend using a PDS and stylus
while driving. I tried and it's not a good idea.
There is even a an outdoor game/activity www.geocaching.com
and you wouldn't believe how many geocaches there are everywhere around you.
It was a good thing to get my daughter out for some walk in the nature.
Garmin was the original. I don't know much about tom-tom.
From experience, you need to look for features. GPS can do many things, such as:
1) How are maps updated? Mine are on a DVD I must purchase. Would be better
if the maps were satellite updated.
2) Shipe's map shows any prerecorded destinations (friends houses, etc) as flags on the
map. Mine does not.
3) Mine leaves bread crumbs if you go off road. This way you can find your way back.
4) Mine has integrated phone book, and tied to the bluetooth cell interface.
5) Mine has "direct route", "easiest route", maximize/minimize freeway settings. I'm not
sure how it figures it, but "direct route" is not always the shortest route.
6) Mine does not know about congested areas, so the direct route may take you down
Six Forks road with many lights.
7) Mine does not know about seedy areas, so the direct route may take you into areas
you don't want to be in after dark.
8) Mine has detours - if you are stuck on a freeway for example, you can press detour and
it will suggest another way around.
9) Mine you can preload all of the day's destinations at the start and it will advance through
them as you go.
10) Mine has listings for restaurants by category, name, movie theaters, shopping malls, churches,
courthouses, etc. The database is already out of date as it has taken me to restaurants that
have gone out of business. Handy while I was out of town - I was bored one night and it found
me the nearest movie theater.
11) It should have 2 modes - north is always up, or facing the car direction which I think is better.
12) I have split screen mode - the map stays up on the left, and the turn-by-turn
directions with countdown distance to go is on the right. It shows you
feet-to-go as you approach turns as well.
13) Look for a brightness setting - some are very hard to see with the sun on the LCD screen.
14) Mine has day and night map modes with override.
15) Volume settings and voice type (male/female)
16) 2 sets of prerecorded destinations - User 1 and User2.
WE don't care.
Other stuff as well. Decide on which features are important as well as quality of the unit.
Garmin c350? and the Streetpilot 2700 series are good. Amazon has
pretty good pricing. I have a 2720, but would not get it again in favor
of another 2700 model without all of the XM radio features that I don't
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