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  1. #1
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Need GPS System Advice
    I decided to make my big gift to hubby this year a GPS system for his car. I have no clue where to start, and what to look for. I've seen all these fairly cheap ones around, but any that I've seen him admire were at least a few hundred. I read reviews on various systems and saw that an issue with some of the cheaper models is the software isn't very good. Other than that, they all look the same to me!

    Can you share some of your input/experiences with these? What would you recommend? What features should I look for?

    We live in North Jersey, and don't really travel to no mans' land, so something that is very precise in these out of the way locations isn't a must. It should be easily dash mountable, and easy to read of course. I know one he saw in our airport transport's van in Germany caught his eye. Darn thing talked and all. It was about 400+ euros - I know something like that here is probably much more....

    Thanks for the help!

    ~Lisa~
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  2. #2
    Mama in Charge Anne's Avatar
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    I only have one suggestion, ANTI GLARE.. be sure to get one with an anti glare screen or you will be sorry!!! We have one currently being sent back to the company. What a dumb thing to make a gps with a screen that GLARES, you can't see it when you drive, LOL! Ours was about $800 but WELL worth it ( even with the glare) because if you ever get lost, those things are amazing.

  3. #3
    Plazan Merchant Neil's Avatar
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    my wife offered to buy me one that helps you get lost
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  4. #4
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Thanks Anne! I never would have thought of that. I would have assumed they all were. Silly companies!

    And Neil - again - always good for a big laugh! Your wife must be in stitches all the time! LOL!
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lstolze
    We live in North Jersey
    If you do any driving in New York, you might check with some New Yorkers to see which ones work the best there. I have a Garmin VistaC, and I really like it, but it was totally useless in New York. In many areas, it could only see at most a single satellite. (It needs to access at least three to be able to triangulate your location.)

    If you use it for routing and driving directions, I learned that it's pretty useless if you don't have all the right maps loaded. The first time I used mine, I was driving cross country. I loaded the maps for the starting and destination cities and it gave me a route. I figured the base map would be good enough to cover the major highways. The route eventually got me there, but it brought me way off the beaten path and in circles.

    I had similar problems in Chicago. Mine only holds 24MB of maps, and I was going to be in both NY and Chicago in the same trip, so I didn't load the full metropolitan area. Part of one route brought me to the edge of the maps I loaded and the route it suggested was "less than optimal".

    The VistaC is more of a handheld. It has a smaller screen and really isn't meant to be mounted in a car (although you can). It doesn't do voice directions. The price I got was good, though, and I helped a friend out by buying it. It meets my needs, but probably isn't what you're looking for.

    I think most of the ones with larger screens that are intended to be mounted in cars are $500 to $1000. I know the ones built in to new cars are usually more like $2000.
    Michael Coley
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  6. #6
    Not Verif-Lidated infoTim's Avatar
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    We have a GPS for each member of the family (and a few extra for me) but they're handheld with car mounts. Navigation on the road is a secondary feature to doing stuff like geocaching (http://www.geocaching.com) and kayaking and general outdoor adventuring. A big question is what he'd want to do with it...the ones designed for road navigation and turn-by-turn directions are usually a lot different pricewise than the handheld ones. Some of the higher-end handhelds do good road navigation with the proper map software add-ons.
    Tim
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  7. #7
    Not Verif-Lidated infoTim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Mine only holds 24MB of maps, and I was going to be in both NY and Chicago in the same trip, so I didn't load the full metropolitan area. Part of one route brought me to the edge of the maps I loaded and the route it suggested was "less than optimal".
    I have a Magellan Meridian Platinum that we use for long road trips and my favorite feature is the ability to use removable SD memory cards (just like cameras and PDA's). I can load all the different maps and stuff I need for a long trip on a big memory card or a few smaller ones and swap them out as I go from state to state. Or save a very long track log to the memory card each day so I can load it into the computer later and play it back.
    Tim
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  8. #8
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    It would definitely be for road navigating and turn by turn directions. We take a lot of trips to the Poconos and NY state (Bear Mountain, etc). We write down directions to where we want to go, but inevitably end up 'exploring' with no maps. A GPS would be a great help! Men are cranky when they get lost.
    Last edited by lstolze; September 9th, 2005 at 10:12 AM. Reason: typo
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  9. #9
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Another really nice feature that my VistaC (and presumably most any GPS with driving directions) has is that you can "Find Nearest" places. You can search by name or category. It even includes phone numbers. Once you find the place you want, just "Go" and it gives you a route to it.

    Miss a turn? No problem. The GPS recognizes that you've left the route and recalculates a new route just seconds after you miss your turn.

    Another feature I really love is that you can display the time and distance to your next turn and to your destination, plus you can see your ETA at your destination.
    Michael Coley
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  10. #10
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Yours sounds pretty cool Michael!
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  11. #11
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure most of the ones with routing capabilities have similar features.
    Michael Coley
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  12. #12
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    Men are cranky when they get lost.
    Men never get lost.........
    It is just that when we are not taking the more obvious and direct route we are taking the scenic route.
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  13. #13
    Internet Cowboy
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    Lisa,
    Does he have a Palm? If so, there are GPS packages available for use on most popular Palm brands and models. I think the main thing is that the unit must be bluetooth compatible.


  14. #14
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Scott,

    He has a Sharp Zaurus, which I think has the capability to be used as a GPS. I was worried that may be difficult to use in the car - small screen and all. Any thoughts on that?
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  15. #15
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    The VistaC that I use has a smaller screen than most PDAs, so I'm not sure the PDA based ones are fine. It's certainly a cheap alternative to try.
    Michael Coley
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  16. #16
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    I have a buddy who installs cable as a contractor and uses a Garmin GPS he bought a few years back for $1000. The screen on it is smaller than the screen on my Palm Tungsten.
    I would rather have the functionality all in one unit instead of two different units, two different chargers, two different batteries...etc. But that's just my opinion.


  17. #17
    Canadienne extraordinaire Susan's Avatar
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    I'm ordering a phone with GPS in it for my daughter (15 going on 30), that way I can keep track of them no matter where they are. Does anyone else have one of these? Are they any good? I have heard that if the phone is off, the GPS is off...i thought maybe that would be a problem but knowing my daughter, that phone will be in her ear 24/7! *groans at the thought of the cell bill*

  18. #18
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    I have a Motorola E815 cell phone with GPS. All it really does is provide 911 with a general idea of where you are if you call in an emergency. I've heard it isn't as accurate as 'real' gps, but since I never hope to have to use it, I can't say for sure.

    http://editorials.arrivenet.com/tec/....php/5526.html
    Last edited by lstolze; September 9th, 2005 at 03:24 PM. Reason: Adding an article to check out...
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  19. #19
    Canadienne extraordinaire Susan's Avatar
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    Hmmm...this one is actually designed with your teenager in mind...for the life of me i can't remember the name!

    But even with that, it helps put my mind at ease just in case something did happen (god forbid).

  20. #20
    Mama in Charge Anne's Avatar
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    Ours is the Garmin Street Pilot C330, ( without the antiglare) I just found the model number. The company is upgrading it to the lastest model that has antiglaire built in, but I am not sure what model that is.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador erninator's Avatar
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    Does anyone know if there is a GPS that accurately gives the altitude. A while back one of my clients (an engineer at HP) used his GPS to locate the corners of his house on his building site - within inches! The elevations of each of the points allowed me to determine the grade very nicely. He also overlayed his site data onto an aerial photo taken from the county GPS data base. I design custom homes on rough mountain terrain and this would sure make my work a lot easier. I don't know diddly about GPS, but I'm about to get one as soon as I can.
    ~Ernie

  22. #22
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    The Garmin Vista products include altitude. The GPS unit has to lock on to four satellites to triangulate a 3D position (i.e. altitude).

    As for "within inches", I don't think any commercial GPS can do that. (I don't think military GPS is even that accurate.) I think +/- 10 feet is about the best you'll see, and that's assuming your unit supports WAAS.
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  23. #23
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by infoTim
    We have a GPS for each member of the family (and a few extra for me) but they're handheld with car mounts. Navigation on the road is a secondary feature to doing stuff like geocaching (http://www.geocaching.com) and kayaking and general outdoor adventuring. A big question is what he'd want to do with it...the ones designed for road navigation and turn-by-turn directions are usually a lot different pricewise than the handheld ones. Some of the higher-end handhelds do good road navigation with the proper map software add-ons.
    We have a Garmin but I will have to ask hubby what model.

    We use it to GeoCache all the time! Our kids love to 'treasure hunt'. We often go on weekends or if we are going out of town somewhere, we alway print out cache info for the area we are going to.

    My husband uses it for hunting and scouting too.
    ~Michelle
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  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador erninator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    The Garmin Vista products include altitude. The GPS unit has to lock on to four satellites to triangulate a 3D position (i.e. altitude).

    As for "within inches", I don't think any commercial GPS can do that. (I don't think military GPS is even that accurate.) I think +/- 10 feet is about the best you'll see, and that's assuming your unit supports WAAS.
    Thanks Michael. He must have used a laser transit or something like that. I'm using a hand-held level with a laser pen taped to it. My rod man, Woody, is a 9ft stick thats imbedded in a bucket of concrete. My accuracy is 2" and thats good enough for planning purposes.
    ~Ernie

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