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Recommend me a Portable Vehicle GPS

Old 11-22-08, 09:45 PM
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Recommend me a Portable Vehicle GPS

I've seen several deals for Black Friday on Portable Vehicle GPS, but I'm clueless about which ones are good. The main thing I want is a GPS that is accurate, that has a good battery, that can be recharged in the car and that I can update the current maps. Any help would be appreciated!
Old 11-23-08, 06:38 AM
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Better to ask that question on a site that specializes in GPS, like this one: http://www.gpsreview.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9258
Old 11-24-08, 07:56 AM
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Garmin. I think the 780 is the highly rated on Consumer Reports. The 680 is another good Garmin loaded with features and you can get refurbs on Buy.com for under $200. That's a good deal if you don't mind a refurb.
Old 12-22-08, 09:07 AM
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I am down to my final 2, and would like to buy before driving next week. I will probably got to Best Buy, as I have some gift cards and such to use.

There is the 255W kit, at Best Buy. It has set-ups for 2 cars, and the friction mount for setting on the dash.
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1218030454370

Or, if the extras in the kit aren't necessary, or useful, meaning the suction mount is good, and switching cars isn't a hassle, then I will probably stick with the 205W.
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1210378664176

Any opinions on this? Thanks!
Old 12-22-08, 10:12 AM
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The 255W has TTS. The 205W doesn't.

Check out this nifty flow chart.
Old 12-22-08, 12:58 PM
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Yeah, I know about TTS, I just don't know if it was worth the extra $100. Some people sounded annoyed by it.

I read some places that when the Nuvi approached a road named like " Oak Dr." the TTS would say "Turn left on Oak doctor"

I don't know how common this was, or if it had been fixed.
Old 12-22-08, 02:35 PM
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I have a 255W. It still says Dr=Doctor, but you quickly learn to understand "Garmin" so it's really not a big problem.

TTS is most useful when you are in a place with several cross streets close to each other, so when you hear "turn left," you don't know which left to take and you want to look at the road instead of the screen. For me, it's mostly for peace of mind. I get confirmation that I am on the correct road.

I really like the friction mount. The windshield suction cup works fine, but I don't like the fact that it leaves a ring on the windshield, which supposedly thieves use as an invitation to break in and steal your GPS. I also have 2 vehicles, and I usually just leave the GPS snapped into the friction mount, disconnect the cigarette plug and move everything over in one shot. I don't think that a duplicate set-up is necessary.

I'd get a 255W and one friction mount. I assume you already have a USB cable (does not come with the 255W). You might want to get an AC cable, but that's optional. Get the friction mount made by Garmin - there are other designs cheaper but maybe not as good. All of that is around $230-240 online.
Old 12-22-08, 06:01 PM
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I have some BB cash I was going to use.

All the extras seem like only $10 more than the basic kit.

Does the Nuvi charge from the USB cable, so an AC wouldn't be necessary? It doesn't sound like it.

thanks for the input!

EDIT: if i buy this from amazon, does it come with the suction mount included, or is it extra?
http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-255W-4-...998618&sr=8-1#

Last edited by jonw9; 12-22-08 at 09:34 PM.
Old 12-22-08, 11:47 PM
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You can charge by USB cable (not included, but it's the same as your camera cable), or by AC charger (also not included). While you are charging by USB, the unit thinks that you are in "storage" mode, as if you want to download something through the computer, so the GPS is not usable and you cannot do anything with it. There is a trick to get around that, but it's... tricky, and usually I'm not good at it. With an AC charger, you can charge and use it (enter addresses, simulate routes) at the same time. So it's optional, but very nice to have.

There are two types of mount that come with the GPS. A suction mount for the windshield, and a sticky pad in case you want to glue the bracket to your dashboard. If you buy a friction mount, the GPS is usually placed on the dashboard, but not glued to it.

I see on your amazon link that you can buy a 255W, a carrying case and a Garmin friction mount, all for $254. That's a very good price.
Old 12-23-08, 08:51 AM
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Yes, that was what I was looking at, although it is up to $266 today!
However, in order to get it delivered in time for a trip next week, it would be almost $300.

Thanks for the input.
Old 12-23-08, 11:47 AM
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You can order a 255W from PCNation for $218 (reliable store, I buy often from them). They offer free Fed Ex 3 business day delivery (I would allow 2 extra days, depending on when tbey start counting). You can get the friction mount and cables later where you can find lower prices.
Old 12-23-08, 04:46 PM
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Awesome, thanks a 4th time!
Old 12-23-08, 05:00 PM
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2 questions:

Is the older Garmin 350 out of date or still worth getting? It used to be the hot diggity dog for a basic GPs. Any newer features that it's lacking? The price has dropped at lot so it's tempting. It seems to have a longer batter life than the newer models. Does this mean it's not as bright, perhaps?

Garmin, in general: Can you preview a trip, i.e. enter an address and pre-drive/visualize the route? I couldn't find such a feature the last time I demo'd it at a Circuit City. I know the cheap Tom Tom One does this and I find it useful.
Old 12-23-08, 05:28 PM
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Quick question - do these travel GPS units allow you to input lat/long coordinates - in other words, could I use it for geocaching?
Old 12-23-08, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by dleedlee View Post
2 questions:
Is the older Garmin 350 out of date or still worth getting? It used to be the hot diggity dog for a basic GPs. Any newer features that it's lacking? The price has dropped at lot so it's tempting. It seems to have a longer batter life than the newer models. Does this mean it's not as bright, perhaps?
If you buy a 350, make sure you're getting the newest maps. If yes, then it's a really nice GPS. I still have and use a 360, though I'm eyeballing the 765T and also just added the Garmin software to my Blackberry. One older style feature on the 350 is that it has a flip-up antenna. The newer units have internal antennas. It's also a non-widescreen model, which makes it more pocketable but also means that the on-screen buttons -- and especially the letters on input screens -- are smaller.

Originally Posted by dleedlee View Post
Garmin, in general: Can you preview a trip, i.e. enter an address and pre-drive/visualize the route? I couldn't find such a feature the last time I demo'd it at a Circuit City. I know the cheap Tom Tom One does this and I find it useful.
Yes, but you have to watch the trip in real time and can't speed it up at all. I think you can also see a 2D route overview, but that feature might only be on newer models. For example, my Blackberry Garmin software does it, but my 360 doesn't. However, I can do the trip simulation on my 360 and then poke the screen to see a 2D view and then zoom out. Sort of works for what you're talking about.

Originally Posted by C-Mart View Post
Quick question - do these travel GPS units allow you to input lat/long coordinates - in other words, could I use it for geocaching?
All Garmin Nuvis allow you to enter coordinates to navigate to a destination.
Old 12-23-08, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by stevevt View Post
All Garmin Nuvis allow you to enter coordinates to navigate to a destination.
Just a quick follow up, but I assume that they will work out of the vehicle on battery power as well as in a cradle/dock. Sorry, I'm very green with GPS
Old 12-23-08, 08:05 PM
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Yes. You can use the handy Compare function at the Garmin site to compare battery life, among other things.

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=134

What % of the time would you be using it for geocaching versus car navigation?
Old 12-23-08, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dleedlee View Post
Is the older Garmin 350 out of date or still worth getting? It used to be the hot diggity dog for a basic GPs. Any newer features that it's lacking? The price has dropped at lot so it's tempting. It seems to have a longer batter life than the newer models. Does this mean it's not as bright, perhaps?
There is a newer series with model numbers that end with a "5," like 205, 255, 765, etc.

There are 2 main improvements in the new models that I find useful: The first is what they call "HotFix" which gives you faster satellite acquisition, 5 sec instead of 30 sec or longer, so you don't have to wait long before you start driving.

The second is a "next-turn arrow" which is a little box at the top left of the screen that shows the direction of the next turn, and your distance from it. You still get instructions for when to turn, but at any time, you can glance quickly at the GPS and know for example, that in 1.7 miles, you have to make a soft left, and that can help you get in the correct lane. It's a simple thing, but immensely helpful.

As for maps, the latest maps are 2009 (they are like cars, 2009 maps came out in 2008). If you get a Garmin with older maps, you have 60 days to update to the new maps for free.

Battery life depends on many things so it's hard to compare: the battery itself, screen size, brightness setting, etc. I think if you get 3+ hours out of a fully charged battery, that's adequate.
Old 12-23-08, 11:17 PM
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Thanks, for the responses guys.

On the battery life, I was looking at Amazon's Garmin model comparison chart, so presumably they came from Garmin. I'm not too concerned about battery life but noticed the difference when eyeballing the quick summary so I was wondering.

The pre-view is more important to me and from what you describe I'm not sure how much I'll like it. I'll have to get my hands on one and try again now that I know it's possible, sort of.

Also, good to know about the improvements. I recall now that it was hard to get a lock on the satellite when I checked out a colleague's Garmin in the office. Don't remember the exact model, I think it was one of the 2xx but it could barely lock on, it may have been due to the building we were in.
Old 12-24-08, 01:58 AM
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You have to be outside, or if inside, near a window to get a good satellite lock. And in some buildings, I can't get a signal at all (for example airport terminal buildings when I travel, maybe because of the amount of steel around me).

stevevt was slightly exaggerating when he said that the simulation (preview) mode is slow. They do make it realistic by taking your "vehicle" through the roads, but it's not really in real time. You just can't change the speed though. If you just want to know which route it will recommend, you can quickly jump to the list of turns, similar to what you get with google maps.
Old 02-04-09, 10:46 PM
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Re: Recommend me a Portable Vehicle GPS

go to eopinions.com and get reviews on best one

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