Here is a list of many commonly available features on different brands of GPS navigation portable systems:
Widescreen- 4.3 inch or larger screen measured diagonally (vs. a standard 3.5 inch screen)
Includes Europe Maps- Comes loaded with both North American as well as maps of Europe.
Speaks street names- Announces names of streets and exits, for example, “Turn right on Main St.” instead of “Turn right in 500 ft”.
Speech Recognition- Operates the gps device with spoken commands rather than having to enter the information by touching the screen.
Lane assist- Realistically displays road signs and junctions along your route and shows arrows that indicate the proper lane for navigation.
FM Traffic Compatible- Add-on an optional FM receiver and subscription to avoid traffic congestion.
FM Traffic Included- Avoid traffic congestion with and included FM traffic receiver
MSN Direct Compatible- You can add an optional receiver and subscription to MSN Direct to get traffic, weather, gas prices, stock quotes, news, and more.
MSN Direct Included- Receive MSN Direct content including traffic, weather, gas prices, stock quotes, news, and more with the included receiver.
Bluetooth®- Connect to your phone to make and receive hands-free calls
MP3 Player- Built in MP3 Player
Emergency Locator- An emergency locator that shows your coordinates, nearest address, and closest hospitals, police and fuel stations
Multi-mode Function- Provides driving, walking, bicycling and boating modes such that the device can be used for any of these modes of travel.
Multiple point routing- Sorts multiple destinations to determine an efficient route for deliveries and sales calls.
If you are a more or less “normal” driver who would only use your GPS portable navigation system occasionally, either from home or while on travel, you certainly don’t need all the bells and whistles mentioned above. A couple of things should be noted for this type of driver, however. One should certainly consider purchasing a unit with the “speaks street names” feature. You have much more certainty when you know you are turning onto the correct street than if you are not sure of that, and in addition you don’t have to be continually looking at the odometer. Another consideration this author would suggest is to purchase a unit with at least a 4.3 inch screen rather than the current standard 3.5 inch screen. You can see the screen much more easily, and more importantly, the buttons for making address entries, for example, are larger. I found that the smaller buttons on the 3.5 inch screen were too small. I would think I was pressing one button only to find that the wrong letter showed up on the screen. For example, I wanted to push the letter “u”, and “v” , which was next to “u”, came up on the screen. So this obviously had to be corrected. I would definitely suggest that these two features are worth the extra money. The speech recognition feature would be nice to have, but this almost immediately puts you into the very high end systems with prices in the $600 and up range. Entering addresses or other destinations by touch screen is really pretty easy and quick once one gets the hang of it.
If you drive long distances often, or if you are a professional delivery person who needs to choose the most efficient routes to make your deliveries, obviously the more advanced features on the list might be useful for you. Certainly if you might be using your gps navigation portable system in Europe, you would want to consider purchasing a unit that has Europe maps loaded as well.
As for updating maps, this is normally necessary only every 3-4 years or so. The major brands usually release official updates approximately once a year, and there is a cost to obtain these new maps. Of course new neighborhoods and new roads are included, and new points of interest, like gas stations or restaurants are also updated. These don’t change that much from year to year, so one can afford to wait a while before purchasing updated maps for your gps portable navigation system.
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Article Added on Monday, October 13, 2008
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