My Folks Want a GPS
November 25, 2013 9:45 PM   Subscribe

What's the best GPS for my folks? They're in their 80s, and want it to speak directions to them.

There seem to be all sorts of GPS units under $100. Do they all speak? Are there any bad ones? Anything I should look out for or be aware of? What do they get for more money?
posted by musofire to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
About a year ago, somebody gave me their old Garmin. I think it must have been a 2010 or 2011 model. It spoke. I think it's fair to say that any of the ubiquitous ~$100 models is probably going to do them just fine.

The feature I really wish I had is live updating of road construction and traffic conditions, but I think those cost a lot more. (And maybe need some kind of data plan?) There are two parts of my daily commute that have ongoing construction and/or road closures, and it would be nice if I could assume my GPS was routing me around that. Rather than have to be all "NO, GILES, PLEASE STOP TELLING ME TO TAKE THE 2 TO THE 5. IT SIMPLY WON'T BE POSSIBLE."

If they live in a more sedate area, this may not be as important to them.

There are also some GPS units that come with "lane awareness", which I think means it'll warn them when to change lanes in order to anticipate a left turn or an upcoming freeway exit. Which is another problem I often have with my GPS.
posted by Sara C. at 9:57 PM on November 25, 2013

I have a Garmin Nuvi (I forget the exact model) that came with traffic service included, no extra fee. It's useful but not awesome. It will frequently re-route me around traffic in ways that I know are worse than just waiting it out, and it also lags reality a fair bit, so it doesn't know about fresh accidents and such. My car's nav also has traffic (I use the garmin in rental cars when I'm traveling) and it's results are wildly different from the garmin's. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. I'm glad I have the feature, but I wouldn't consider it make or break. The lane indication thing is really helpful, though.

I think just about any modern gps would be fine, but I've had a few Garmin Nuvis and they've all been good.
posted by primethyme at 10:25 PM on November 25, 2013

I think that Garmin has the easiest interface of all of them. The lane awareness aspect is really useful and I have three Nuvis in our house of different ages and they're great. The newest ones with the Lane awareness are much easier to use.

I've never used traffic awareness, though, so can't comment as to its usefulness. For straight navigation, though, I'd buy a Garmin every time.
posted by Brockles at 4:29 AM on November 26, 2013

The TomTom has had the best, simplest interface of any GPS I've ever owned... very, very simple and screw-up-proof. You're gonna want one of the ones with "lifetime" maps and traffic (so you don't have to pay 1/2 the cost of a NEW GPS every time you want updated maps). But yeah, easy to use, easy to customize, easy to add custom locations - you can pre-program it with everywhere they'll go (they're in their 80s! They're not gonna be Thelma and Louise-ing it!) before you present it.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:29 AM on November 26, 2013

We have a Garmon of some sort that's a few years old. The interface(s) for putting in an address is clunky and not intuitive.

Preprogram the addresses you think they'll use a lot.

Also - we bought the "US & Canada" version -- but it doesn't "hold" both countries info at once, it just meant you can buy Canada info, and then sync it with your computer to download Canada, and I think there was even some issue where it didn't have the memory to hold both country's data at the same time.

Should've read the reviews..,

It also took us off the Palisades Parkway once, just so we could travel at 45 mph in a residential neighborhood for 12 miles, and then put it back on the Palisades....?!

It did this to me once before -- where it had me take a looped exit and get right back on the highway I was already on.

GPS just doesn't seem to deliver the ease and efficiency one (I) would expect.
posted by vitabellosi at 9:08 AM on November 26, 2013

You really need to read this Wirecutter guide. Sounds like the Garmin nuvi 50LM will do what you want.

(I bought a stand-alone GPS for our car last year because I didn't want to deal with data on international roaming when driving up to Canada. It was cheap even after paying extra for lifetime international maps. But even though I updated the maps the day before the trip, it was really confused about some newer highways in Canada. Oh well.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:51 AM on November 26, 2013

Do NOT get a Tom Tom GPS. I'm pretty savvy with technical stuff, but I bought one last year and couldn't get it to update the maps like the instructions said. And I tried about a dozen times.

Also, five minutes after I opened it and turned it on, it told me turn right on "Interstate two west five south." That should have been I-205.

And also too - I tried contacting them for help getting the software updated and they never responded.

I got a Garmin unit and it works great and speaks out loud. I am very happy with it.
posted by tacodave at 4:02 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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