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Old Sep 23, 2007, 05:14 PM   #1
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Pr3tty F1y
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Default GPS recommendations?

I'm looking to get a GPS navigation device for my car and I'm trying to figure out the GPS lingo and what I will really need from the device. I'm relatively computer savvy, but when it comes to stuff I haven't touched before, I need help and now is one of those times

I'm not going to take it hiking, spelunking, sky diving, scuba diving or on dates to nude beaches. I just need it to get me from A to B as smoothly as possible. No need for MP3 capabilities or any of that jazz, I have a car stereo w/ usb flash drive support for that.

I'm trying to figure out the difference between models that have voice and those that have text-to-speech. I'm assuming that the voice models only would say stuff like "Turn left on M-A-I-N Street in 500 feet" and text-to speech would actually read "Turn left on Main street in 500 feet". If someone could clarify that for me, I'd appreciate it.

Also I see bluetooth wireless abilities (which amazing, my cheapass cell phone has). Would this just mean that the GPS has a microphone/speaker in it that would hook up to my voice dial type software on the cell phone so I can make hands free calls? I drive a manual transmission car so I'm not on my phone when I drive (well, rarely and on very straight, flat roads).

Is the traffic system really worth it and is it really accurate? I see that it's only available in select cities in the US, but it might be a nice feature to have.

Anything else I should look for? Is it worth it to get one with an SDCard or USB interface so I can download my own maps? I really don't want to pay for a subscription being that I'm not going to be vacationing with it often. But I am going to be getting a new job then moving across the country in a few months (and probably transferring that job) so I would just want something that is fast, accurate, and will yell at me (aka be loud enough) and tell me where to go

And if it means anything, Microsoft Sam's voice doesn't bother me so I can probably deal with anything.
Any experiences, recommendations, avoidances, etc... are appreciated.

Whew... that was a lot
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Old Sep 23, 2007, 07:36 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pr3tty F1y View Post
I'm trying to figure out the difference between models that have voice and those that have text-to-speech. I'm assuming that the voice models only would say stuff like "Turn left on M-A-I-N Street in 500 feet" and text-to speech would actually read "Turn left on Main street in 500 feet". If someone could clarify that for me, I'd appreciate it.

Also I see bluetooth wireless abilities (which amazing, my cheapass cell phone has). Would this just mean that the GPS has a microphone/speaker in it that would hook up to my voice dial type software on the cell phone so I can make hands free calls? I drive a manual transmission car so I'm not on my phone when I drive (well, rarely and on very straight, flat roads).

Is the traffic system really worth it and is it really accurate? I see that it's only available in select cities in the US, but it might be a nice feature to have.

Anything else I should look for? Is it worth it to get one with an SDCard or USB interface so I can download my own maps? I really don't want to pay for a subscription being that I'm not going to be vacationing with it often. But I am going to be getting a new job then moving across the country in a few months (and probably transferring that job) so I would just want something that is fast, accurate, and will yell at me (aka be loud enough) and tell me where to go

And if it means anything, Microsoft Sam's voice doesn't bother me so I can probably deal with anything.
Any experiences, recommendations, avoidances, etc... are appreciated.

Whew... that was a lot

I'd get a TomTom One. It's the cheapest of the major brands, but it has everything you could want in a GPS. The MP3 players, video players, and other such features are useless and not worth the money and you've stated you don't want them.

Text to speech means that the device will say the names of the streets. Without it the device will say, "Left turn ahead" and then "Turn left". With it the device will say "Turn left on Maple Avenue ahead" and "Turn left on Maple Avenue". I don't think it's worth the money. You can see the 3D map and you know you're turning onto the correct street AND the street name is listed on the screen. Highway exits are also listed onscreen. Besides, it's a GPS device, so it will automatically correct and update your route if you do make a wrong turn. Also, you can read directions before starting the route if you want to preview the street names and such. Plus you can even view the route at 400% speed in the 3D view beforehand.

The TomTom One has Bluetooth, but doesn't let you receive phone calls with it. It uses the Bluetooth to download content from your phone, like the traffic data. I don't think paying more for the traffic updates is worth it; if the highway is busy, simply take the first exit and use the "avoid part of route" feature to find an alternative. The advanced planning features are nice. You can avoid highways, avoid tolls, find walking or biking paths, or simply avoid parts of routes.

Extra maps are available on SD cards. It also connects via USB for updates. I added a Dunkin' Donuts map pack to mine so I now see DD icons as I drive. I also added an additional retail map pack which added many Best Buy, Walmart, and similar store locations. Both were free. The default map is for the US and Canada. You can find points of interest (stores, ATMs, hotels, airports, hospitals, places of worship, casinos, restaurants, etc.) based on your current location, your destination, or along your route.

There are a bunch of voices to pick from. They are all pretty typical computerish male and female voices. I actually paid like $12 for Mr. T because my wife thought we should get him.

Don't let some idiot at one of the major retailers tell you that other interfaces are better. I started playing with the demo unit in store before I bought it and had no problem intuitively using all the advanced features. The employee was either a meathead or biased becaused he bought a different brand. I even started showing some other customer how to use it and basically sold him on the device. I honestly can't see the need to pay more for useless features.
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Last edited by Crazy Legs : Sep 23, 2007 at 07:40 PM. Reason: spelling and POIs
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Old Sep 23, 2007, 10:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pr3tty F1y View Post
I'm not going to take it hiking, spelunking, sky diving, scuba diving or on dates to nude beaches. I just need it to get me from A to B as smoothly as possible. No need for MP3 capabilities or any of that jazz, I have a car stereo w/ usb flash drive support for that.
I just picked this one up and it's worked great so far:

http://www.amazon.com/Magellan-Maest...8922220&sr=1-1

It's got the SiRFstarIII chip and it gets the job done well.
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Old Sep 24, 2007, 09:03 AM   #4
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I'm a big fan of Garmin, magellan and Lowrence. They have been doing the GPS thing since the beginning and they're trusted brands used in industry. The TomTome One is a nice affordable unit but I've known a bunch of people who have had massive issues with different TomTom models.

Take a look at the Garmin Streetpilots, they're right up your alley
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Old Sep 24, 2007, 10:06 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the info guys.

Yah, my brother and his friends had a rental car for a while and said the Tom Tom kept telling them to get off at every exit as they were on a 1500+ mile trip. He said it had no idea where it was going. It could have just been a dud (I've read reviews on gpsreview.net and seems that there are probably going to be duds of just about every brand).

I'm torn between a cheaper Magellan and a slightly more expensive Garmin.

The StreetPilot c550 looks to be pretty sweet (it as the SiRFstar III chipset that seems to be able to get a better signal lock than the cheaper c3xx series). I was just checking out the map packs on Garmins site though and $140 for an 'upgrade' seems a tad expensive. Hopefully anyone I buy will be up to date when I get it (although I've heard Garmin is excellent with giving you a free upgrade to the latest with your initial purchase/registration).

My uncle has a Magellan but I've read some reviews that some models just act wonky. I'm thinking Text-to-Speech is something I'd rather have because I'd like to hear the name of the road I'm supposed to turn on to so I can be looking for street signs.

Now only if I could get one for free
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Old Sep 24, 2007, 02:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pr3tty F1y View Post
My uncle has a Magellan but I've read some reviews that some models just act wonky. I'm thinking Text-to-Speech is something I'd rather have because I'd like to hear the name of the road I'm supposed to turn on to so I can be looking for street signs.

Now only if I could get one for free
I understand. How about trying to pick one up at a place that will let you return it if you don't like it?

PS: Thanks for the rep.
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Old Sep 24, 2007, 10:51 PM   #7
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I didn't read your whole post, but the Garmin Nuvi line are still pretty much the best GPS systems going.

Fast satellite lock-on, easy interface, great up-to-date maps, voice instructions, etc...

The Nuvi 350 is probably their most popular. Available on sites like Amazon for well-under MSRP.

They really are an amazing device. Check out some reviews and you will see heavy praise.
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Old Sep 25, 2007, 09:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pr3tty F1y View Post
Thanks for all the info guys.

Yah, my brother and his friends had a rental car for a while and said the Tom Tom kept telling them to get off at every exit as they were on a 1500+ mile trip. He said it had no idea where it was going. It could have just been a dud (I've read reviews on gpsreview.net and seems that there are probably going to be duds of just about every brand).

The StreetPilot c550 looks to be pretty sweet (it as the SiRFstar III chipset that seems to be able to get a better signal lock than the cheaper c3xx series). I was just checking out the map packs on Garmins site though and $140 for an 'upgrade' seems a tad expensive.
we've had the C550 for a year, it's great. Problem with Tom Tom's is first the maps are not as good in the US, and 2nd they keep drooping or falling off the window. The Garmin does that too, but it's much worse with a Tom Tom. Lots of people return Tom Toms, but everyone seems to love their Garmin.

The Bluetooth answers your phone and then you talk to the GPS - sound quality is not as good as a Bluetooth headset, so I'm not sure I'd use it.

The map update is free to registered owners, but we requested a new one by mail (only way to get it legally), and it still hasn't shown up a few weeks later. There's always bit torrent.

The Nuvi might be the way to go - identical to the C series, but it's thinner, so you can put it in your pocket. I didn't want to pay $100 extra just to have a thinner GPS though.
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Old Sep 25, 2007, 11:09 AM   #9
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we've had the C550 for a year, it's great. Problem with Tom Tom's is first the maps are not as good in the US, and 2nd they keep drooping or falling off the window. The Garmin does that too, but it's much worse with a Tom Tom. Lots of people return Tom Toms, but everyone seems to love their Garmin.

The Bluetooth answers your phone and then you talk to the GPS - sound quality is not as good as a Bluetooth headset, so I'm not sure I'd use it.

The map update is free to registered owners, but we requested a new one by mail (only way to get it legally), and it still hasn't shown up a few weeks later. There's always bit torrent.

The Nuvi might be the way to go - identical to the C series, but it's thinner, so you can put it in your pocket. I didn't want to pay $100 extra just to have a thinner GPS though.
Cool, I don't care about bringing it with me outside of the car so much and being that my car is going to have near nil resale value I don't care if I have to put bolts in my dash to mount it. Hell, my MP3/Stereo w/ flash drive didn't have the right mounts so I used my dremel tool to covert some wood brackets for framing 2x4's to stereo mounts
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Old Sep 25, 2007, 09:00 PM   #10
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I didn't want to pay $100 extra just to have a thinner GPS though.
The Nuvi 350 is heavily discounted.

Just a few dollars more than the C550 on amazon ($353.50 compared to $348.79 -- better prices may however be available for either product).

The screen size is no different, so I feel the extra bulk is not warranted.

But... I am sure you will be happy with either one.
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Old Sep 25, 2007, 09:10 PM   #11
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I'm only speaking from my personal experience and not spreading heresay, but I've never had an issue with connecting to a satellite, with the maps, or with the unit falling off.

I get a GPS signal within 30 seconds or so. I updated the map for free with the included software via USB. I stuck the window mount on the windshield and it hasn't budged since. I take the device on and off the mount at least twice a day, too.

TomTom has been making GPS devices in Europe for quite a while. They're newer to the US. Magellan and Garmin have been in the US longer, but they're newer in Europe.

As long as you're not a slave to the directions, you won't drive off any unfinished roadways or into any rivers.

I do believe that the Garmin units may have more points of interest built in without adding an extras.

I don't think $150 is worth a few extra restaurants or hotels and maybe a faster signal. I just can't see spending the extra the money for what amounts to a basic upsell sales pitch.
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Last edited by Crazy Legs : Sep 25, 2007 at 09:11 PM. Reason: Math; 350-200 = 150, duh!
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Old Sep 25, 2007, 09:35 PM   #12
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Go to CC and try both, I think you'll find like most people that the Garmin interface is the best.
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