What's a good traffic-enabled GPS navigator?
November 29, 2007 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Lazyweb, I need help choosing an automotive GPS navigation unit for a directionally-challenged relative. It must receive traffic updates, have an ability to remember programmed routes, and be reasonably easy to install and use.

I don't really care if the traffic stuff has a subscription or not, but I do care that it's reasonably thorough for the recipient's neighborhood (a major city in the United States). I've had trouble locating maps that show what roads are actually covered by a given traffic service.

Cost isn't a major factor. Keeping the recipient from getting lost, stuck in traffic and stressed out is.

As it stands, possible contenders are:
TomTom GO 920 T
Garmin StreetPilot c550
Magellan 4050
TeleNav and a new, compatible phone.

But I haven't the foggiest idea if this is a good list, or if any of these are particularly better than the others.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: We've been pleased with our Magellan 4050, though we do not subscribe to the traffic updates feature. The only problems we've run into have been some occasional squirreliness apparently related to the older firmware we're running - we bought it on very nearly the same day it started selling in stores.

I'm going to update it tonight, which (according to Magellan) should pretty much fix everything.
posted by jquinby at 10:56 AM on November 29, 2007

Best answer: I love my Garmin Nuvi. (I have the 660 but pointlessly, since I don't use the mp3 or the bluetooth capabilities). I let the traffic subscription lapse, but it is traffic-capable. You can save locations in Favorites to reuse them. It's pocketable and has good battery life. We used it on a trip to Walla Walla WA to go on a self-guided walking tour of wine tasting rooms downtown. (It has a pedestrian mode.)
posted by cairnish at 11:01 AM on November 29, 2007

Second the Nuvi.

I haven't used the traffic feature because coverage does not extend to my area. There is an easy to use Detour button you can press though, which has helped me find an zig-zag alternate route around a traffic jam on multiple occasions.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:10 AM on November 29, 2007

Garmin Nuvi, it's hard to beat their interface and the traffic feature works well.

It's got a decent power up speed, quick route calculation and is easy to install/uninstall/hide/move to alternate vehicle when not in use.
posted by iamabot at 11:32 AM on November 29, 2007

If you can wait until Q1 of 2008, you may want to look at the Dash Express.
posted by blackbeardrrr at 11:37 AM on November 29, 2007

Generally, the roads that will have traffic coverage on a GPS will be the ones with coverage on Google Maps. Thus, it will be limited to major highways only.
posted by zsazsa at 11:56 AM on November 29, 2007

tomtom have an excellent rep.
posted by jannw at 2:03 PM on November 29, 2007

Response by poster: I looked into the Nuvis, but I ended up purchasing a TomTom 920T.

I chose the model because it has some built-in accelerometers and magic that let it keep track of where it is even when the GPS reception is bad, as is often the case in the concrete canyons of some cities.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 4:41 PM on November 29, 2007

Best answer: Garmin currently seems to be the most popular pick in the US due to its interface and use of Navteq map data, which might be marginally more accurate than it's competitors, at least according to some of the reviews below. User reports are mixed.

Here are several extensive reviews of more recent traffic capable Garmin models (the first three are widescreen models) and then a link comparing the features of different models (scroll halfway down the page to see a table).


The site also carries detailed (but less positive) reviews of Magellan and TomTom products.

I bought a 750 a couple of weeks ago and found it very useful in the San Francisco area, but can't speak to the traffic option since I didn't get that. It has a screen bright enough to overcome the glare from direct sunlight, a near 3 hours battery life at highest brightness level and about 4-5 hours of battery life at 50 pct brightness level. Of course a car charger and a USB charger are included, though a wall charger, incredibly, is not.

Carrying along a paper map is still a good idea since it can give a clearer wide view of a region.
posted by bbranden1 at 6:47 PM on November 29, 2007

My parents and I both have the Garmin c340 and think it's great. There's an optional traffic probe, which my parent's have and say it works great. It's on my wish list for Christmas now.

Nice screen, voice prompts for turns etc... fully pre-loaded maps for US and Canada, and many features to find area restaurants, gas stations, parks, you name it. You can store routes in a Favorites menu, and it logs recent trips. It also has a "Home" function which I love because no matter how long I have been out traveling through many stops, I can just hit Home and it takes me there. I love the re-calculating route on the fly feature also, as even with them telling me what to do, I make wrong turns sometimes. It recalculates the route and gets me right back on track. A real good buy and swince it is older, economical too.
posted by genefinder at 5:09 AM on November 30, 2007

Response by poster: We took the TomTom out for a test drive today, and wow. Fantastic.

We also had running my existing Garmin c330, and my BlackBerry's TeleNav TeleAtlas. There were lots of spots (lower deck of a bridge, metropolitan area with lots of skyscrapers) where both the Garmin and the TeleNav became confused, and had no idea if you'd made a turn or not.

The TomTom's "Enhanced Positioning Technology" worked exactly as advertised. It knew where we were even when there were fairly long lapses in GPS signal.

I'm sure that the other manufacturers will work to incorporate the same tech into their own models, as it's a pretty obvious improvement to make, but I really don't think I'll buy another GPS that doesn't have accelerometer backup. It's too big of an improvement.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 2:43 PM on November 30, 2007

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