Looking for a Good GPS

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
I've had a Tom Tom One with expandable memory for about 5 years. The price has dropped so much that I'm thinking about purchasing a new Tom Tom or Garmin and I'm looking for the following:

1. Inexpensive (if possible $200 or less)
2. Unlimited free map updates.
3. Traffic
4. Expandable/Interchangible Memory Slot. - it's real convenient if you want to switch maps. Not convenient if you have to erase and then download a map everytime you want to switch it.

I was all ready to buy a new TomTom XXL 540TM for about $150 although it does not include an expandable/interchangeable camera-style memory card. But then I started reading reviews and a whole bunch of people have had problems with updates and faulty units. So now I'm looking closer at Garmin. What do you like?
Thanks!
-Dave
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
Thanks Dawg. I've noticed that map prices have dropped substantially. A US/Canada map used to run $80. Now they are $35. I suppose that is due to competition. However, it's really hard to pass up free lifetime maps... It won't take long to come out ahead with that feature.

Lol, now I'm reading about Garmins, everything from advertisements on the screen to "lifetime maps" are only for 1 year- wtf?
 
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yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
Thanks Dawg. I've noticed that map prices have dropped substantially. A US/Canada map used to run $80. Now they are $35. I suppose that is due to competition. However, it's really hard to pass up free lifetime maps... It won't take long to come out ahead with that feature.

Lol, now I'm reading about Garmins, everything from advertisements on the screen to "lifetime maps" are only for 1 year- wtf?
I have a Garmin Nuvi 765 and it's great.

The advertisements on the screen are for the traffic service - you can either pay yearly for traffic (I think it's 60 bucks) and have no ads, or opt for free traffic and have an ad on the screen - and the ads are only on screen when stationary, once you start moving they disappear. I'm doing the free traffic, and I hardly even notice the ads are there.

Lifetime updates - I had to pay for those (I think it was $120, this was almost 2 years ago though) and they've definitely lasted for more than a year, and I'm still getting updates. I'm not sure where that 1 year thing you mentioned comes from. The GPS unit might only come with one year of updates, but lifetime updates means you get updates for as long as you own that device.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the Nuvi. It's been with me on several road trips, including one up into Toronto (Mine came with US and Canada maps), and has been perfect. I'll be taking it with me this weekend to Philadelphia since I'm not about to pay Hertz to rent one of their nav units.
 

dmr727

macrumors G3
Dec 29, 2007
8,621
22
NYC
I don't know if it meets all your criteria but I have the Garmin Nuvi 255W and I love it
I have one of these as well, and I love it. I don't think it's possible to go wrong with any version of Nuvi. Pick whichever one fits your feature requirements and budget, then enjoy!
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
I have a Garmin Nuvi 765 and it's great.

The advertisements on the screen are for the traffic service - you can either pay yearly for traffic (I think it's 60 bucks) and have no ads, or opt for free traffic and have an ad on the screen - and the ads are only on screen when stationary, once you start moving they disappear. I'm doing the free traffic, and I hardly even notice the ads are there.

Lifetime updates - I had to pay for those (I think it was $120, this was almost 2 years ago though) and they've definitely lasted for more than a year, and I'm still getting updates. I'm not sure where that 1 year thing you mentioned comes from. The GPS unit might only come with one year of updates, but lifetime updates means you get updates for as long as you own that device.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the Nuvi. It's been with me on several road trips, including one up into Toronto (Mine came with US and Canada maps), and has been perfect. I'll be taking it with me this weekend to Philadelphia since I'm not about to pay Hertz to rent one of their nav units.
Thanks for the info and clarifying when the ads are there.! I'm going to call Garmin tomorrow and verify that lifetime updates means that. Do you know how often map updates come out?

I have one of these as well, and I love it. I don't think it's possible to go wrong with any version of Nuvi. Pick whichever one fits your feature requirements and budget, then enjoy!
Thanks! :)
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
Thanks for the info and clarifying when the ads are there.! I'm going to call Garmin tomorrow and verify that lifetime updates means that. Do you know how often map updates come out?
AFAIK, there's no set schedule or number, but I seem to get around 4 updates a year.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
AFAIK, there's no set schedule or number, but I seem to get around 4 updates a year.
The comment I saw about one year of lifetime maps appears to be bogus. :)

I have decided on a Garmin nuvi 1490LMT with lifetime map updates, free traffic, and a SD memory slot. I could have purchased a TomTom for all most half the price, but it did not include the SD slot and as I said there are tons of negative comments about new Tomtoms online.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
If you have an iPhone, I vote for Motion X GPS...
I've heard conflicting stories about GPS in phones as in there is no real GPS unless it's a garmin phone, most phones use cell tower triangulation. So if you you are not in cell coverage...

My brother in law has an earlier generation iphone and is not impressed with it's performance going down the highway. It's fine for walking around town though.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
I assume you'll be traveling a lot internationally? That's really the only reason I can think of to use an SD card. There's plenty of space on the internal memory for North American maps.

Mine has an SD slot and I've never used it.

I've heard conflicting stories about GPS in phones as in there is no real GPS unless it's a garmin phone, most phones use cell tower triangulation. So if you you are not in cell coverage...
All iPhones since the 3G and most (all?) other recent smartphones do have an actual GPS receiver built in.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
I assume you'll be traveling a lot internationally? That's really the only reason I can think of to use an SD card. There's plenty of space on the internal memory for North American maps.

Mine has an SD slot and I've never used it.

All iPhones since the 3G and most (all?) other recent smartphones do have an actual GPS receiver built in.
Thanks for the info, good to know. Those receivers must be pretty small. I would not say I travel overseas alot, but I do have a United Kingdom map I used about 4 years ago. England to Ireland and back. There were roads in Ireland with no names. It was a real life saver. It was completely worth an $80 map purchase because I no longer feared driving away from my hotel. Having to pour over a map while driving especially in the city...shutters. ;) Reinstalling maps, especially if you are having to download them is a pain.
 
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grapes911

Moderator emeritus
Jul 28, 2003
6,943
3
Citizens Bank Park
I've heard conflicting stories about GPS in phones as in there is no real GPS unless it's a garmin phone, most phones use cell tower triangulation. So if you you are not in cell coverage...

My brother in law has an earlier generation iphone and is not impressed with it's performance going down the highway. It's fine for walking around town though.
I have a GPS built in to my car and my wife has a Nuvi, so I don't need to use my iPhone 4 for naviagion that much. I do use Navigon for business trips and emergencies. It works well and is very accurate. Just as accurate as my other units. That being said, I like the Nuvi better. Its not tied to my phone so we can keep it in the car and the battery life is better (because its not sharing battery with my phone). I'd pick the Nuvi that fits your requirements.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
Thread Revival May 2018

After replying to another car navigation thread today today, I realized that although I have a portable Garmin and a unit hardwired in each car (Garmin, TomTom), that I have been exclusively using my iPhone for navigation for the last couple of years.

It makes me realize that stand alone GPS units maybe a dying breed. I also wonder what this means for stand alone unit pricing. I think I would continue to have one as a backup as long as the prices remain reasonable, low purchase price and lifetime maps. No more $80 for a map update.
 

tobefirst

macrumors 601
Jan 24, 2005
4,029
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St. Louis, MO
It makes me realize that stand alone GPS units maybe a dying breed.
Except in specialty use cases, they are. We just bought a car last fall, and we wanted CarPlay instead of a built in nav system. Apple Maps and Google Maps are updated far more often (and for free) than the built in (or external) units.

I don't love CarPlay in general as much as I hoped I would, but the navigation ability is the show stopper.
 
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Mousse

macrumors 68020
Apr 7, 2008
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The traffic feature on a GPS isn't all that useful, even in a big city like Houston. I've had two GPS with traffic features, generally they do tell you when traffic is slow, but that's about it. It takes too long for an update--most of the time you'll be stuck in slowdown before the GPS notifies you of a traffic slowdown.:rolleyes: Outside a big city, the traffic feature is useless since you get no service. I use Google Maps for a traffic snapshot and plan my route from that.
The good thing about Houston roads is that we have a lot of highways so there are plenty of alternate routes.:cool: The bad thing is that we have a lot of traffic and those routes are usually packed as well.:mad:
 
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NoBoMac

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 1, 2014
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Except in specialty use cases, [standalone units dying breed] they are.
And even with specialty cases, they are also getting less needed. For example, I use a GPS app on my phone, Galileo, that you can sync maps to, for back-country driving (ie. car camping trips). Download free USGS maps for regions I will be visiting, stitch together on the computer, sync.
 
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Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
The traffic feature on a GPS isn't all that useful, even in a big city like Houston. I've had two GPS with traffic features, generally they do tell you when traffic is slow, but that's about it. It takes too long for an update--most of the time you'll be stuck in slowdown before the GPS notifies you of a traffic slowdown.:rolleyes: Outside a big city, the traffic feature is useless since you get no service. I use Google Maps for a traffic snapshot and plan my route from that.
The good thing about Houston roads is that we have a lot of highways so there are plenty of alternate routes.:cool: The bad thing is that we have a lot of traffic and those routes are usually packed as well.:mad:
Check out Waze.
 
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tobefirst

macrumors 601
Jan 24, 2005
4,029
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St. Louis, MO
And even with specialty cases, they are also getting less needed. For example, I use a GPS app on my phone, Galileo, that you can sync maps to, for back-country driving (ie. car camping trips). Download free USGS maps for regions I will be visiting, stitch together on the computer, sync.
I was thinking more of non-car solutions. I could have been more clear. But you're probably still right.
 

ejb190

macrumors 65816
Speciality cases?

I have worked in the Natural Resources/Invasive Species field for the last 12 years. When I started, I was given a Garmin GPS 5 (which, for some reason, is still in my work vehicle). When you turned on the GPS unit, it might take 5 minutes to locate itself. And it still has 2001 maps on it. You could record a point on it, but if you wanted to do something with that point, you had to write it down and transfer it. Then someone in central office would print these gigantic maps on the plotter that were impossible to use in the car.

Today I have ArcCollector, Survey 123, and custom GPS linked FileMaker Pro apps on my iPad and iPhone. The accuracy is just as good as most dedicated GPS units (except for $$$$ survey grade equipment) - usually 15 to 40 feet - good enough for us. With a cell connection, I can record points and update maps on the fly. No extra work when I get back to the office and no risk of transcription errors. And the data at my fingertips! I can find organic farms, identify property owners, and even look at 10 years of trapping data all from the field.

My iPhone/iPad has replaced carrying a GPS, digital camera, clipboard, reference materials, and a notepad. And it even makes phone calls!
 
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Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains
Speciality cases?

I have worked in the Natural Resources/Invasive Species field for the last 12 years. When I started, I was given a Garmin GPS 5 (which, for some reason, is still in my work vehicle). When you turned on the GPS unit, it might take 5 minutes to locate itself. And it still has 2001 maps on it. You could record a point on it, but if you wanted to do something with that point, you had to write it down and transfer it. Then someone in central office would print these gigantic maps on the plotter that were impossible to use in the car.

Today I have ArcCollector, Survey 123, and custom GPS linked FileMaker Pro apps on my iPad and iPhone. The accuracy is just as good as most dedicated GPS units (except for $$$$ survey grade equipment) - usually 15 to 40 feet - good enough for us. With a cell connection, I can record points and update maps on the fly. No extra work when I get back to the office and no risk of transcription errors. And the data at my fingertips! I can find organic farms, identify property owners, and even look at 10 years of trapping data all from the field.

My iPhone/iPad has replaced carrying a GPS, digital camera, clipboard, reference materials, and a notepad. And it even makes phone calls!
Are you a State or Federal employee or on whose behalf do you conduct surveys?
 

jdechko

macrumors 601
Jul 1, 2004
4,059
198
I’m looking at some of the hiking/backpacking-oriented units. I’ve started doing more day hiking on well-established trails, but I think it would be fun to get “lost”. I’ve had my eye on the Garmin inReach series with the benefit of being able to message my wife (and a map & compass for backup cause I’m not a complete idiot, and I don’t want to make the news)
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,054
16,542
The Misty Mountains

ejb190

macrumors 65816
One of the biggest problems with the iPhones as a GPS is the loss of cellular coverage. They do just fair as a GPS without a cell signal, but without a data connection you loose all ability to update your base maps. That's where a stand-alone unit shines.

That and there's always the issue of battery charge when you are relying on it!