GPS device recommendations?
July 20, 2004 2:17 PM   Subscribe

GPS. After a road trip of checking the atlas way too much, I've decided to get GPS for the next trip. (more inside)

I have a PocketPC with Bluetooth which I think would be nice, but there is a concern with battery usage. I wouldn't mind using an SD solution. I've also been looking at a PalmOS device and thinking of getting it, which also has SD and bluetooth. Any recommendations?
posted by benjh to Technology (10 answers total)
If you're considering a Palm device, be sure to check out the Garmin iQue, which is a Palm device with integrated GPS. (No Bluetooth, though.) It may be more cost effective than a separate GPS system. Whatever GPS you get should be easily powered from your car's lighter socket, though; I wouldn't worry about running out of juice on a trip.
posted by kindall at 2:55 PM on July 20, 2004

Occasionally I suspect people have misconceptions about what GPS is or what it's useful for. I'm not accusing you of this, but here is as good a place as possible to air it out:

If you'd like to avoid lugging an atlas, what you want isn't necessarily GPS. GPS just tells you where you are. What you're looking for is mapping. There are, obviously, GPS receivers with built-in maps, and some of them are quite good, but for the purposes of plotting a road trip the GPS itself isn't the most terribly useful thing.

Like I said, what you want is a map system. Obviously, if your map system can tell you where you are on the map -- such as with GPS -- that's especially keen. I do this using a laptop running a mapping program (currently Topo!USA, but I'm considering getting something else) and a GPS receiver hanging off of it, even though my receiver has a servicable street-level map in memory.

How come I use a separate device? Routing. It's really really useful to be able to ask my mapping rig to show me the shortest or fastest route between two points. Most GPS receivers don't know how to route you along the streets they display. The map is just sort of a static background without any smarts, although there are exceptions and this capability is getting a little more common than it used to be.

When you're shopping for a road trip rig, look at mapping capabilities first, and GPS functionality second. Whatever device you get should have street routing, ought to allow you to edit or at least update the map, allow you to quickly define route points with a search of addresses, towns, zip codes, or a quick click.
posted by majick at 3:25 PM on July 20, 2004

Most GPS receivers don't know how to route you along the streets they display...although there are exceptions and this capability is getting a little more common than it used to be.

Yes--I've been using a Garmin Street Pilot III for about 3 years now, and love it--not only does it do routing, but it gives voice directions as well. The SP3 has been discontinued; Garmin's current equivalent is the Street Pilot 2620.

But it's important to consider what you'll be using it for. A GPS receiver which has a lot of useful features for road driving may be not at all useful for, say, hiking--if that's something you're interested in as well, the various Street Pilots are completely wrong for you.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:55 PM on July 20, 2004

I've been using this device for over a year now.

It's freaking awesome. I just don't get lost. I used to travel around doing computer and network support at companies all over northern NJ, and this thing has never let me down. Turn by turn with voice directions, ETA, total distance, distance to turn, a few different views, etc.

The only thing I could ask for more is to be able to upload custom voices to it. Ya know, like Cookie Monster and Arnie. "Turn! Do it, nooowwww!!!"
posted by adampsyche at 4:24 PM on July 20, 2004

I would also like to use it for biking, because I've seen where some will tell distance traveled.

I have Pocket Streets on my PocketPC, and thats fine, but I really want to know where I am in relation to where I am going. And checking mile markers just aggravated me.

I really need a Bluetooth PDA because I want to be able to check e-mail on it as well. I also have a Tablet PC with a CompactFlash slot, maybe that would be better to use with GPS and mapping?
posted by benjh at 4:25 PM on July 20, 2004

GPSIII gives voice directions? DAMN! I had a chance to snag on of 'em for C$150 the other month. Turned it down because I got horny for the GPS IV or V. Dumb!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:21 PM on July 20, 2004

I use a laptop and map software because the screen is big and I allready own a laptop and dont have to worry about loading map data. It works very well.
posted by stbalbach at 7:59 PM on July 20, 2004

I use the Garmin IQue. I've used it in the UK, Portugal, France, and Belgium, so far. Fairly accurate maps but occasionaly one-way streets have changed. The software doesn't do detours as well as it should.

You get the maps for the area in which you live with your purchase, but extra maps are over priced. It will cost me excess of $200 to get maps for South Africa when I move. We neglect to pay for North American maps, for when my partner has business trips, simply because they are too costly.

The IQue would be great for bike trips with the addition of external battery pack. In the car, you want the Garmin beanbag mount. Its better than it sounds (we tried a 3rd party mount, it sucked).

The IQue could definitly stand improvements in the overall system. You should be able to do rout planning on your pc, then load the IQue with appropriate detail maps. It doesn't work that way.

With some cars, the windshields have too much metalic additives, so the weak GPS signals don't get through. French cars especially, probably others. You can buy an extrenal antenna for the IQue, but I worry that additional wire is going to be an irritation.

There is a 3rd party software that allows you to use any scanned map, loaded into the IQue, but this won't then do routing, nor correct errors to put you on a street. It would be fine in many situations.

GPS built in to your car has some serious advantages. Mainly its about the addition of data from your tires. This improves accuracy and helps in cities where the signals are sometimes hard to pick up.
posted by Goofyy at 11:26 PM on July 20, 2004

any good gps/mapping combos for the Ibook?
posted by mecran01 at 8:05 AM on July 21, 2004

Far another twist on mapping GPS, try the Garmin Rino. I've been using these for about a year now and they rock. Radio enabling the GPS changes everything.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:19 AM on July 21, 2004

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