These days, paper maps have gone by the wayside and technology has stepped in to save all of those men (and women) who don't want to stop and ask for directions. There are a variety of GPS units on the market, for a variety of consumers. What's the best pick for you? Here are seven tips for choosing the right GPS:
Budget. GPS units come at a variety of price points. Even if you can't afford one with all of the bells and whistles, you should still be able to get a GPS that does everything you need, and within your price range. Therefore, setting your spending limit is a great starting point for finding the right GPS system for you.
Map preloads. Most devices come with standard United States maps, but some come with maps of Mexico, Canada, and Puerto Rico. If you need more maps, then be sure to question the price of additional maps.
Map updates. Ongoing road construction makes map updates a necessity. Some GPS manufacturers provide regular map updates for free, while others charge for them. Find out how often your maps will be updated, and at what cost.
Screen size. While it used to be that most GPS screens were somewhere around 3.5 inches, today you can find screens upwards of 5 inches. However, you will pay for that extra inch or so. You also need to consider how much of your dashboard space you are willing to give up to your GPS. There are pros and cons to both larger and smaller screens, and your choice will depend on your needs.
Points of Interest (POI) database. Any GPS system you purchase will be equipped with a POI database. This is a searchable interface that enables you to find things like restaurants, auto mechanics, hospitals, and more in the area you are driving. POI databases vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, so be sure to consider POI interfaces when sizing up your options.
Traffic jams. Some newer GPS units can actually receive real-time traffic feeds and redirect your route as needed to avoid traffic jams. If you travel a lot, then you may want to consider finding a GPS unit with this capability.
Online reviews. Once you've found a few GPS units you're interested in, one of the best ways to compare them is to read online customer reviews. A quick Internet search will deliver a number of reviews that you can use to gauge the quality of any GPS in question.
When it comes time to purchase your GPS, consider this list of factors for choosing the best unit for you. You might even find that GPS systems make unique gifts for family members and friends - especially those who are navigationally challenged. Just don't get lost on the way there.
About the Author: Kit Lynum has never had trouble getting from point A to point B but knows plenty of people - including her husband - who can't drive around the block without getting lost. Consider a GPS for a holiday gift and you'll never worry about your loved ones again.