Help me help my boss not get lost.
July 14, 2009 5:50 PM   Subscribe

My boss wants me to research GPS units for him to use since he'll be traveling a lot more in the near future. Any recommendations? I really don't know what I should be looking for in a good GPS unit.

He wants to spend less than $200. It also needs to be fairly simple to use and update. He's an awesome boss, but not so good with tricky technology. Most of his travel will be within North and South Carolina. We're looking to purchase this within the week, so I won't be able to wait for new models that might be around the corner. I've read a few of the previous questions on this, but I'm wondering if there's anything new and exciting I should be looking at.
posted by chiababe to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Traveling how? Does he need an in-car unit for car travel? Does he plan on a lot of hiking in the wilderness and needs a highly portable unit? Does he want to just travel around in cities or between them? Is he looking for special features, like traffic reports?
posted by VikingSword at 5:58 PM on July 14, 2009

Garmin nuvi. The 255w is $150 at amazon at the moment, which is both what I have, and also a good middle-of-the-road choice if you need to decide in a hurry.

The new theme seems to be convergence into the cell phone platform. Many carriers offer turn-by-turn on their handsets -- which is great if you only travel in areas with good cell coverage and prefer a per-month fee versus a one time cost (plus occasional map updates).
posted by devbrain at 6:05 PM on July 14, 2009

IPhone with appropriate apps. We used one to bypass 5+ miles of backed up traffic after the scrubbed shuttle launch Sunday.
posted by patnok at 6:06 PM on July 14, 2009

Response by poster: He wants an in-car unit. An iphone is unfortunately not an option.
posted by chiababe at 6:14 PM on July 14, 2009

Best answer: Garmin Nuvi. Read reviews about the various models at
posted by 14580 at 6:25 PM on July 14, 2009

I would definitely stick with a Garmin Nuvi or a Magellan Maestro. They're powerful but not overwhelming, easy to use and really good for new GPS users, especially those that are going to stick to travel in the US.

This is a review contrasting Magellan and Garmin, and there are a lot of other reviews out there that will help you decide which unit will work best for your boss.
In any case, be sure to get the most recent map database support possible.
posted by neewom at 6:28 PM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]

Love love love my widescreen Nuvi.

Map updates are free, and there are silly voices you can download too, if you want.

Don't bother with text-to-speech, it's more irritating than anything else.

Also, if he's geeky, the Garmin's all run on WindowsCE, and thus are hackable to no end. (Watch divx's, play mp3's, hack the hotspots menu, etc.)

But yea, nuvi for the win.
posted by TomMelee at 6:38 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing Garmin nuvi. Spent a week driving around Spain with it and it worked a charm.
posted by katrielalex at 6:44 PM on July 14, 2009

Another vote for the Garmin Nuvi 250w.

Also, don't be confused when some models say "No text-to-speech." This means that the computer doesn't try to regurgitate out the street names to you. I'm fairly certain that every GPS says all the things like "Turn left in 200ft."

I was really confused when shopping for ours, since I swore that my girlfriend's mom had the 250w and it talked to you, but the box said no text-to-speech. I was right.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:57 PM on July 14, 2009

Text to speech is amazing, if you are driving around on back roads and want to verify the turn, or are on a highway, where the exit names are big on the sign.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:20 PM on July 14, 2009

nthing a Garmin nuvi. i love mine.

no matter which kind you end up suggesting/buying, if you can check it out in store, i recommend you choose one that allows you to calibrate it. my Garmin nuvi has an option where you can touch the screen a few times and it makes the GPS easier to use (especially if you're poking at it while you're driving).

my mom's GPS unit doesn't have that option and she has to touch the screen to the right of every letter/selection she makes. it's pretty annoying.
posted by gursky at 9:14 PM on July 14, 2009

Best answer: Wow, I guess Garmin Nuvi has lots of satisfied customers in addition to myself. I have the 260W and it has been fantastic. I've used it on backroads here in Montana, as well as in southern California and Seattle.

Pros: Very easy to use. Default voice directions are very clear (aside from the expected occasional odd computer pronunciation). It WILL get you where you want to go if you follow its directions, even if it's a different way than you might choose. In unfamiliar areas, I found it best to not second-guess it too much.

Cons: I've had it give me out-of-the-way directions when exiting the interstate for gas on the way to a programmed destination. Seems like it doesn't know there's a freeway entrance right there where I got off, and recalculates to take me on a frontage road or some other highway. This may have to do with "shortest distance" vs. "fastest time" settings. Anyway, I just get back on the freeway of course, and it recalculates again and all is well.
posted by The Deej at 9:38 PM on July 14, 2009

Here's a Garmin Nuvi 260, factory refurbished, for $109.19. It will do anything you need a GPS to do. I have one and love it. Higher end GPS units will play MP3s or are Bluetooth enabled to let you used your cell phone through it, but don't do the basic "get me from here to there" functions any better than the cheaper ones.

I recommend this portable dashboard mount. My wife and I share one GPS, and it's super easy to move it from car to car if you don't have it suction-cupped to the window. Plus, when you park, you can set it down out of sight so it is alluring to potential thieves.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:06 AM on July 15, 2009

*isn't* alluring, of course.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:06 AM on July 15, 2009

I have the Magellan Maestro3225 which was bought cheap because it only had 1.5 million POIs. then upgraded for free to 6 million POIs. There are a few things you want to be aware of. square or wide screen, Number of POIs (points of interest include restaurants, gas, etc.), Upgradeability of maps, Maps that include USA, Canada, Mexico, battery life when unplugged etc., Text to voice. I think this is very comforting, when the voice says right turn in 1 mile, Main Street...YMMV,
Also DO NOT mount anything to the windshield. Even if the mount is removed, leftover suction cup marks and other tell tale signs invite vandalism.
posted by Gungho at 5:17 AM on July 15, 2009

Yeah, I've got a Garmin Nuvi widescreen and it's awesome. I recommend getting one with text-to-speech, which reads out the names of streets; it's a lot easier to navigate this way. Also, the windshield suction cup works really well, it's never fallen off while in use.
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:52 AM on July 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help everyone! I ordered the Garmin nuvi 260w from The Deej's link. Should be here in a few days. I'll follow up to let everyone know how he likes it.
posted by chiababe at 8:01 AM on July 15, 2009

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