What cheap GPS to get for occasional driver in Canada?
December 9, 2007 9:51 AM   Subscribe

What cheap GPS to get for occasional driver in Canada?

Can the green help me choose a GPS?

Here's my deal:

- I'm looking for something at the cheap end of things - Ideally around $200 (Maybe as much as $250. Maybe...)

- Need somethig that works in Canada (where I live) and the US (where I sometimes go).

- I'd use it mainly in rental or borrowed cars. I don't own a car, but go on road trips once in a while.

- Something portable sounds nice, since, even when I travel, I tend to get around by foot/bike quite a bit. But I'm cuious how useful this would really be. Have other folks used GPS for casual getting-around by foot or bike in new cities? This isn't the main feature I'm concerned about, but it's interesting. Can you even charge the batteries in these things outside of a car?

- Of course, accurate maps matter a lot.

- I don't care about MP3 player.

- Text-to-speech would be great, but probably out of my price range, and I can live without it.

Right now, I'm looking at the Garmin Nuvi 250 (which costs a shade more than I'd hope to spend) and the TomTom ONE 3rd edition. I'm also thinking about a Garmin C330- I used one a couple years ago, and it seemed great, and the are cheap now.

Reviews suggest the TomTom maps aren't so great, which makes me lean toward the Garmins. All the features in the world don't matter if the map's not super-accurate.


- Would anyone recommend somethig other than the models I'd mentioned?
- Is the decrepancy in map accuracy really such a big deal as some reviews suggest?
- What would the Nuvi 250 do that the older cheaper clunkier C330 wouldn't?

posted by ManInSuit to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
John Schwartz reviewed several GPS units in the NY Times on Dec. 5. He looked at models ranging from about ~$180-$1000, I think.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:24 AM on December 9, 2007

I have a Garmin Nuvi 200 and I absolutely love it.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 10:36 AM on December 9, 2007

I don't know where you're getting your info about TomTom from, but my TomTom Go 510 is awesome, and if you google for refurbs, you can get amazing deals on them. Woot had them the other night.

You can witness the mostly-positive views here.
posted by SlyBevel at 12:20 PM on December 9, 2007

I have a c330 and it is useful. I haven't really used it for navigating on foot or on a bike, though. I imagine it would be fairly awkward on a bike because it's really meant to go in the holder. The battery life seems okay, but I think they do basically have to be plugged into a car to charge. If I got a non-car based charger with it, I never noticed at the time and have since lost it.

When I looked, Garmin was the only company shipping with complete Canadian maps. Unless you spend all your time in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal, or on the major highways between them, you'll want a Garmin, unless that's changed and TomTom or others have started shipping with full maps.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:12 PM on December 9, 2007

Response by poster: Oh! Thanks jacquilynne! I definitely want full coverage for Canada. That's a good thing to know about...
posted by ManInSuit at 1:52 PM on December 9, 2007

We do a lot of work outside the major centres. Garmin certainly works for us in terms of map coverage. Finding a GPS that works well in the cold is another question.
posted by bonehead at 11:26 AM on December 10, 2007

I was really impressed with the maps in the Garmin units I bought (both c330s). When I was home visiting my parents in Northern BC, I went out to visit a friend who lives on an unpaved rural road in the middle of nowhere. I couldn't figure out how to get the GPS to tell me how to get there (I've since figured out the 'near' function), but once I was there, it knew where I was. If the maps know about that road, I have to assume they know about pretty much everything.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:35 PM on December 10, 2007

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