GPS Buying Guides

December 20, 2009

GPS Best Bets - Garmin Nuvi 255W and TomTom XL 330S

As the holiday season goes on I continue to get questions about which GPS to buy and what features are important. So while there are a lot of buyers out there who are looking for something very inexpensive, and a lot who want the best, I wanted to pass along two great choices that are a very good buy for the money and have the features that I think are important. The prices are in the $120 range for these, and for most people, these will be great gifts, satisfying their needs for high quality, ease of use and a great user experience. They are in stock at this writing and still available for delivery before Christmas.

Both of these are from top quality makers of GPS, are wide screens for easy viewing of the details and data, and have text to speech so they say the road names that you need to turn on. For more details on why I think these features are important, see my feature guide for automotive GPS units.

For more models that hit other price points with other features, take a look at my Holiday Buying Guide to Top Rated GPS units.

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November 27, 2009

GPS Lodge Holiday Gift Guide for Top Rated GPS Units


Each year, we put together a list of GPS units that are great gift options for you to buy for a friend or loved one. I recognize that not everyone has the money to go buy the top of the line units, so I picked a handful of entry level devices to offer a good way to get into a GPS, help you get around without spending too much. I also step up the ladder of features so that you can choose for yourself what you want and what to pay.

Below I list the units that performed well for me in my reviews or have similar features to units that I tested and therefore I trust will give a solid performance. There are no duds here, and these are the top rated units that meet the criteria below, recognizing that there is no one size fits all when it comes to technology.

Please see my post on Must Have features and Nice to Have Features in a GPS - it will help you cut through the mess and learn about what really matters.

Entry Level - Start here if you can't afford Text to Speech

Standard Screen - Adds Text to Speech - OK Place to Start

Widescreen and Text to Speech - My Recommended Place to Start

Widescreen, Text to Speech and Lane Guidance - Nice Added Features for Better User Experience

  • Garmin Nuvi 765 - This unit also offers Bluetooth hands free phone calling as well as the above features. Usually priced right around $200. This particular unit at Amazon has a Traffic module included which does not need a subscription.
  • TomTom XL 340S - Continuation up the line with this TomTom unit. The Lane Guidance is good and still well below $200. More Information on the TomTom XL 340S

Extra Large Screen - Helps for larger Vehicles like an RV

  • Garmin Nuvi 1490T - This has a 5-inch screen, Bluetooth, Text to Speech, Lane Assist, and more. It's pretty packed with features and offers free traffic alerts where there is coverage

  • TomTom XXL 530S - Another 5-inch wonder with added features to make the ride easier. Does not have traffic, but does offer Text to Speech, and Lane Assist features.

Hope this helps you sort through the holiday buying squeeze to get the best GPS to fit your needs and your wallet.

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November 23, 2008

GPSLodge GPS Holiday Gift Guide - 2008 - Best GPS Gifts!

Gps Lodge Blogpire Gg-1

OK the economy stinks, but the deals on GPS navigation systems have never been better as the innovations continue to roll in and the prices continue to roll back. It's always tough to put together a concise guide to the best GPS units for the holidays every year, but I do come back to a couple of things each year that I stress: Pay for quality, and if you can afford it upgrade to Text to Speech (Says Street Names) and a widescreen. Beyond that, advanced routing capabilities, Bluetooth handsfree, voice commands and data feeds help round out the awesome splurge GPS units out there. Let's Start.

Solid Navigation at Great Prices - No Text to Speech, 3.5-inch Screen

TomTomONE125Front.jpgTomTom ONE 125 - $99+ - Special deals have this at $99 for a limited amount of time, and while it has no Text to Speech, and only US Maps, it is a solid device with good performance at a great price. See My Full Review

Garmin Nuvi 205 - $135+ - Garmin's entry level unit that offers a lot of quality from Garmin. No Text to Speech, and a standard 3.5-inch screen, but with a dead simple interface (recently upgraded) that start's out asking you "Where to?" or "View Maps" - yea it's that easy. See My Full Review

Add Text to Speech

Garmin Nuvi 255 - $169 - $189 - Adds Text to Speech and a great interface enhancements that makes the Garmin Nuvi 255 my pick for Best Entry Level GPS this year. See My Full Review

Navigon 2200T - $169+ - Has Text to Speech as well as a lot of advanced features like lifetime traffic feeds and help to show you which lane to be in when you are approaching complex highway intersections. I am finishing up my review on it and I like it, but its interface is not as straightforward as others. It's a trade-off on the advanced features, and control over a lot of configurable details. My review will be coming soon.

Upgrade to Widescreen and Text to Speech

Garmin Nuvi 255W - $219+ - Again, a solid performer with an upgraded interface that I like a lot. Has maps of North America, widescreen and Text to Speech. All around easy to use and an easy gift that anyone will be able to pick up, and use easily. See My Full Review

TomTom ONE XL 330S - $249+ - A good GPS with a few more features that offer a nice bit of extra differentiation, including "A --> B" planning. This allows you to sit there in your living room before your airplane trip,and plan a route from from one other location to a different destination, save it and use it when you land. See My Full Review

Splurge - Advanced Features and Tricked Out GPS

Garmin Nuvi 765T - $450+ - Bluetooth Handsfree calling, Text to Speech, North American Maps, free traffic feeds, and a Lane Assist feature that helps to tell you what lane to be in when you get to key highway intersections. Optimized routing to multiple destinations. See My Full Review

TomTom GO 730 - $349 - Fun navigator that has a lot going for it with North American Maps, Text to Speech, Lane Guidance, and the ability to record your own voice (or someone else's) that plays when you need voice commands from the GO 730. The GO 730 also takes voice commands. See My Full Review of the GO 930 (GO 930 has extra maps as the main difference.


Garmin Nuvi 880 - $450+ - Voice Recognition on the Nuvi as well as Bluetooth, Text to Speech, and MSN Direct capabilities that offer gas prices, traffic and movie time feeds. Loads of capabilities, top of the line quality.

Going to Europe? Get Their Maps Pre-loaded

If you are heading over to Europe and need a GPS now, get one with Maps of North America AND Europe preloaded - get used to the unit here and make the seamless transition there.

Garmin Nuvi 270 - $160+ - compact with a small screen, no Text to Speech, but pre-loaded maps and high quality interface.

Garmin Nuvi 770 - $330+ - Widescreen with Text to Speech and Bluetooth Handsfree capabilities.

TomTom GO 920 - $325+ - Widescreen and text to speech with Bluetooth Handsfree. This is one generation older, and is a great value. See My Full Review. The latest is the GO 930 - See My Full Review.

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June 8, 2008

Father's Day GPS Recommendations - GPS Sales

A lot of people are emailing with requests for what to buy their Dad in their lives, so I thought I would put together a recommendations list. It's not comprehensive, but it will get a lot of folks taken care of. Part of this is to get you the most for your budget; a good value. To be a good value, you need to be able to use the unit and appreciate the features. If Dad can't figure it out; it's not money well spent.

There are a couple of things I recommend spending money on Text to Speech and Widescreen units if you can afford it. Text to Speech will say the road name ahead, and widescreen units allow you to see more of the map and it makes tapping out letters on the keyboard a lot easier.

Entry Level GPS Units - No Text to Speech or Widescreen

Text to Speech - No Widescreen

  • Garmin Nuvi 260 at Amazon - $223 Text to Speech, Maps of North America, solid interface. Same quality routing as Nuvi 200, just adds more maps and text to speech. At this point, I am recommending the Nuvi 260 with its updated interface, and newer design even though the Nuvi 350 is $199 this week; for more see: Compare the Nuvi 260 vs. the Nuvi 350.

  • TomTom ONE 130S - The upgrade to the TomTom ONE 130 that adds Text to Speech - pretty easy.

Widescreen AND Text to Speech

  • Garmin Nuvi 260W - $269 at Amazon; down $80 in the last few weeks; Text to Speech and a dead easy interface.
  • TomTom ONE 330S - Adds Text to Speech in a widescreen model. Now only a few dollars more than the non-text to speech widescreen TomTom ONE 330; a definite bargain.

And a few units for specific needs of features I like......

  • Garmin Nuvi 780 - $529 - Has MSN Direct, which is a service (with a annual fee of about $50) that allows you to get traffic and GAS PRICES feeds through the FM airwaves. Limited coverage to cities, but with Gas prices these days, you can save a bundle with this. I saw a dime or more difference before gas prices got out of control. Read my Full Review on the Garmin Nuvi 780 for more information.
  • Dash GPS - $299 ($100 off the regular price) - Connected to the internet while you drive. The Dash is unique right now that it has the ability to be connected to the internet while you are driving, which allows for a LOT of functionality that allows for better traffic reporting, better search and some features that just can't be accommodated without a data connection. It comes with a monthly fee of about $10-$12, which pays for the data and the cellular connection. Read my First Impressions Review of the Dash Express for More. Finally, the unit is not a flat unit; with all of those electronics in there, it is a larger unit.
  • TomTom GO 730 or GO 930 - these units add a fun feature that would allow Dad to record the kid's voices (or someone else's voice) for turn prompts. It's a lot of fun to get these recordings instead of some computer voice. Launched with the GO 730/920 series, it was one of the under rated features in my mind. See the "Custom Voices" section in my GO 720 Review for more information on this feature.

Most of these have a GPS case of some sort - leather, or hard sided, which can be a nice touch for those dads who need to pack the unit in luggage. There is usually a link right off the main product page at Amazon for a suitable case.

Finally, if you live in MN or CA, you need to have a dash mount for a GPS. All of these units come with an adhesive disk (permanent) that can help mount the GPS. I would recommend friction style mount - there are a couple of options in this post on Friction Mounts.

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November 25, 2007

Holiday Gift Guide Highlight: Nuvi 200/250

I thought I would walk through a few of the models on my GPS Holiday Gift Guide to offer a little more insight into them. GarminNuvi200sm.jpgToday we look at the Garmin Nuvi 200 and the Nuvi 250, a relatively new line of units from Garmin.

Both are entry level Garmin units, that are thin and flat. Prices online are generally <$250 for these, and reflect the best you can get in a top notch interface and trustworthy unit.

The Nuvi 200 has maps of the continental US + Puerto Rico and Hawaii. The Nuvi 250 has maps of all of North America (adds Canada and Alaska). Neither have Text to Speech, but they do have clear spoken voices and offer accurate turn indications at appropriate distances before the turns.

The unit is quick to calculate routes and grab a satellite signal. It comes in a slim sleek design with no pop-up patch antenna like the older Garmin Nuvi 300 series. The easy interface that greets you with a "Where to?" and "View Map" choices is an easy way to get into the unit and get going. Definitely my pick for easy to use and easy on the pocketbook.

See my full review on the Garmin Nuvi 200/250/270.

At Amazon: Garmin Nuvi 200 and Garmin Nuvi 250.

Compare Prices on the Compare Garmin Nuvi 200
or the Garmin Nuvi 250

For all more Holiday GPS Gift Picks see my

GPS Holiday Gift Guide USA, LLC
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November 21, 2007

Black Friday GPS Deal Recommendations

After taking a look at the models available for Black Friday, I have to say that there are a few good deals and a few bad deals. A deal isn’t any good if the GPS stinks, so know what you are buying. I mean things are so GPS Crazy, my local GROCERY STORE is selling a GPS for $99 on Black Friday! (Visco VSC-N530A - Ouch; see better ones below)

I know there are different objectives out there; so, here’s a quick rundown of the best deals on some of the better GPS units. Read my reviews to know what you are buying... please. Figure out what's important to you, read the reviews and then head on out to buy.

Take a look at all of the Black Friday GPS Deals if you want to see the full list. I recommend that you check the circular for positive identification of the model that you are going out after before waiting in line.

Update: As other stores drop prices on GPS models, Amazon is following the prices down so check out the Hot Selling Amazon GPS Models for great prices. You might just skip the lines!

Best Deal Under $100 - Mio C220 GPS or Navigon 2100
Mio C220 - An entry level GPS with a standard 3.5-inch screen and a SiRF star III chipset. Does NOT have Text to Speech (TTS). I like th eunit for its solid entry level capabilities. Interface is a bit rough to use, but I think that the data entry on the Navigon is just plain tough.

  • Pep Boys (Early Bird) - $79
  • Office Max - $99
  • Circuit City - $99
    I reviewed this unit earlier this year. See my Full Review of the Mio C220 GPS.


    Navigon 2100 - $99 at Staples. Has Text to Speech and the potential for free traffic at Staples all for $99. The unit comes with some downsides, so please go read my Full Review of the Navigon 2100. Tough interface and one that will frustrate some users. Know what you are buying; read the review.

    Step Up Entry Level – TomTom ONE 2nd or 3rd Editions or Garmin Nuvi 200
    TomTom ONE - Again, Entry Level GPS, no Text to Speech, but an easier interface than Mio. North American Maps.

  • Staples - $124 (3rd ed)
  • Radio Shack - $139 (3rd Ed)
  • hhgregg - $129
  • Pep Boys - $139

    Note: Watch Amazon for TomTom ONE 3rd edition sales; was $125 earlier today (Wed.).

    Garmin Nuvi 200 - Solid Entry Level GPS; Continental US Maps Only, no Text to Speech, but the simplest interface available.

  • Best Buy - $169 - My Full Review Garmin Nuvi 200/250/270 Update: Available NOW ONLINE at BB for $169

    Widescreen - Rock Solid - Garmin Nuvi 650 - $299 Costco
    Not even a Black Friday event; you could have already bought one of these. It's a great deal. See my original post on the low price where I cover its features.

    Widescreen Indulgence – Nuvi 660 or TomTom GO 720

    Nuvi 660 – Built in TMC traffic receiver, North American Maps, Text to Speech, super bright screen.

  • Best Buy - $399
    See my Full Review of the Nuvi 660

    TomTom GO 720 – Text-to-speech, MapShare technology for up to date maps, add your own voice commands for turns.

  • hhgregg - $399
    See My Full Review of the TomTom GO 720

    Happy hunting; I will report on what I went out for and got (or didn't get) on Black Friday.

    Stop back on Black Friday because other retailers will have online specials throughout Balck Friday and the Weekend!

    Finally, on Friday we will start to have sign-ups for our Holiday Drawing - GPS Lodge GPS Give-away.

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  • November 17, 2007

    Costco; Garmin Nuvi 650 - $299; Nuvi 680 $480


    Big discount on the Nuvi 650 widescreen unit at Costco. Garmin Nuvi 650 is $299 after a $150 "coupon" that redeems at checkout online. Offer is "While Supplies Last." and through 11/26.

    Great price on a great product. Not a Costco member? You pay 5% more; not bad. The current price of the Nuvi 650 at Amazon is about $365.

    Garmin Nuvi 650 is a widescreen unit with North American maps and Text to Speech. Very Good buy. You can read my Full Review of the Nuvi 660 for an idea on the unit performance. The difference is that the Nuvi 660 adds Traffic and Bluetooth capabilities, as well as the FM transmitter, that the Nuvi 650 does not have.

    Thanks Al for sending this in.

    Nuvi 680 - $480 Costco
    Reader John writes in that there is a special at Costco stores on the Nuvi 680 also. Unadvertised, and there for the asking. Often not on the floor, just as for SKU #249583 and pay for it; they have them in the cage in back. Compares favorably versus the Nuvi 680 at Amazon.

    I used the Nuvi 680 when it came out and liked the unit a lot for its MSN direct features (Traffic feeds, gas prices and movie times). Read my Full Review of the Nuvi 680 for more information.

    Thanks John for sending this in.

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    November 11, 2007

    GPS Holiday Gift Guide – The Best GPS Gifts

    Gps Lodge Blogpire Gg-1The GPS market has taken off in 2007, and it was just a year ago when a GPS first hit Black Friday and awoke a sleeping giant. Again this year, I am happy to share what I think are some of the best GPS units on the market coming into the holiday season. I have used all of the models below, with a few exceptions where I used a similar model, and I know them fairly well.

    I hope you can find a GPS that’s the perfect gift for someone you know (or maybe even yourself). I can’t tell you the one best GPS for you to buy, because people have different needs and different budgets, so I gave you a list of GPS units by price range. Check out the key features list at the end of the post if you need some help understanding the list.

    If you have questions, post them in the Comments section below and I’ll try to answer them the best I can.

    Need a GPS for a European Trip or with both Euro and US maps?: Check out my post on GPS Units for European Vacations.

    Entry Level Units – Standard Screen $150 - $250

  • Garmin Nuvi 200 or Nuvi 250 – Slim design and the easiest interface to use. Solid navigation capabilities and 5-6 million of Points of Interest. Nuvi 200 has continental US + Hawaii+Puerto Rico maps, Nuvi 250 has All of North America. Read my Full Review of the Garmin Nuvi 200/250. If you can, pay the extra ~$30 for the widescreen Nuvi 200/250 (see below); small up-charge for big experience boost with widescreen.

  • TomTom ONE 3rd Edition – Uses the new TomTom NavCore 7 software, which includes MapShare and Help Me! Capabilities, not found on the 2nd edition. Easy interface; no Text to Speech (TTS), and Maps of US and Canada, with 2+ million POI. Overall the 2nd edition is good, 3rd edition is better.

  • Mio C230 – Basic navigation with a decent map set (continental US), ~1.7 Million POI and Text to Speech. The interface is good, but a little more challenging to get used to than the Garmin interface. Worth the step up from the Mio C220 for the TTS feature. Read my Full Review of the Mio C230, or the older C220 Full Review

    Widescreen Entry Level $250 - $399

  • Garmin Nuvi 200W or 250W – Again dead simple interface in a widescreen version, 5-6 million POI. Generally only a few dollars more than the standard screen versions; worth the upgrade. Nuvi 200W has continental US + Hawaii+Puerto Rico maps, Nuvi 250W has All of North America. Read my Full Review of the Nuvi 200W/250W

  • tomtomONEXLsm.jpgTomTom ONE XL or TomTom ONE XLS – Widescreen Version of the TomTom ONE regular. The TomTom ONE XLS adds Text to Speech for about $50. Includes the upgrade to NavCore 7, this adds Help Me! and MapShare. See my Full Review of the TomTom ONE XL.

  • Mio C520 – Good navigation with some good features to boot. Includes Text to Speech, 6 million POI, a nice split screen navigation that gives you map on about 2/3rds of the screen and data like your next turn series on the other 1/3rd of the screen. Six Million POI. Read My Full Review of the Mio C520.

    A Step-up - <$400

    Want Text-to-speech in a Garmin? Try these two:

  • Nuvi 260 – Thin no flip up antenna, North American Maps, 6 million POI.Nuvi350sm.jpg
  • Nuvi 350 – Older design that set the standard for flat units; very popular, very solid, North American Maps, 6 million POI.

    TTS on a Widescreen Garmin?

  • Nuvi 650 – Beautiful bright widescreen with Text to Speech and North American Maps; cheap upgrade from the Nuvi 350, 6 million POI.

    Higher End Units >$400
  • Garmin Nuvi 660 – Adds TMC Traffic capabilities and Bluetooth Handsfree to the widescreen and North American Maps, 6 million POI. See my Full Review of the Nuvi 660
  • Garmin Nuvi 750 – New slim design with Where am I? and multi-point route optimization capabilities. Six Million POI.
  • Garmin Nuvi 760 – Adds Bluetooth and TMC Traffic capabilities, six million POI. Read my Full Review of the Garmin Nuvi 750/760 TomTomGO720sm.jpg
  • TomTom GO 720 – widescreen, MapShare, Bluetooth Handsfree and optional TMC Traffic. Also, record your own turn voices. Read my Full Review of the TomTom GO 720

    Garmin vs. TomTom vs. Mio [vs. Magellan]

    A lot of people want to know which to purchase, and I tell them that they will have to decide for themselves. Read my reviews, and think about the GPS user and what is important to them. You cannot go wrong with a Garmin, and TomTom is very good. Mio is still a value play, and for that savings you give up some ease of use.

  • Garmin has the easiest interface and with that they shed some features that add a bit of complexity to the user experience. It’s like an Apple design mentality vs. a PC.
  • TomTom is still a good interface and getting better, and then have recently added some features like MapShare or record your own voice for turn prompts (GO 720 and GO 920) to units that are hard to resist.
  • Mio has a lot of features and is often about 15-20% lower in price than the other two. The interface is better than most other lower priced brands, but not as clean and easy as either Garmin or TomTom. I have no problem recommending Mio for those who are not “Technically Challenged” in understanding how to do things on a computer. Me no problem, my grandmother, not so much.
  • Magellan, I leave out of my list this year, as I am not happy with their interface these days. Features are compelling, but the interface is a drag on what could be a great product. Sorry Magellan, maybe next year.

    Features and Attributes to consider when buying a GPS

  • Text to speech (TTS) – this helps with driving in urban areas or where roads are close together; speaks street names for better awareness in making turns. More on TTS.

  • Interface Quality – Mio is good and better than “no-name” brands. TomTom and Garmin are better. If the user is technically challenged, move up to Garmin or TomTom.

  • High Sensitivity Chipsets & Flat Form Factors – All of my recommendations this year have high sensitivity GPS chipsets and are flat. I am not recommending the Garmin StreetPilot C300 series this year because it has neither. Instead, spend the extra $40 or so and move up to a Nuvi. The Nuvi line is great, and the performance and your satisfaction will be much better. Money well spent.

  • TMC Traffic – Traffic is still young and evolving, but it can already help a lot in urban areas where traffic and commuting headaches are a constant struggle. Garmin 660/670 and 760/770 have the TMC receiver built into the power plug. Others (TomTom 720, Nuvi 350/360) have it as an extra cord that is an optional add-on. All TMC subscriptions are about the same cost per year (~$60) after a free trial period. More on TMC Traffic.

  • Points of Interest (POI) - More is better, but due to costs and space issues, some of the entry level units don't have a lot. At 1.3 million or less you won't get all the stores sometimes due to manufacturer's decisions on what to cut and what to keep. Sometimes you get plaza names but not the stores in that plaza. See More on POI

    Looking for more amazing gift ideas? Check out our extensive set of holiday shopping guides on electronics, fashion, cooking, and more.

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  • June 10, 2007

    Father’s Day GPS buying Guide

    Father’s Day is right around the corners, and judging from the ad fliers, a lot of people are betting on Dad wanting a GPS. There are a lot out there, and I have been reviewing models for over two years now and have boiled the market down to a few models for easy consideration. There are dozens of models to choose from but there are some important features that make moving up in a product line worth it if it fits your budget. I’ll offer the picks and then the technology explanations after that. The industry has moved to flat form factors, as they are easy to pack and carry. I will only offer those models here.

    Entry Level Model – Mio C220

    This small wonder performs well and gets a quick fix on satellites. Mio may not be the first name in GPS units that most people known but they manufacture a lot of units for other brand names. They decided to market their own brand of GPS units and really came onto the US market last year. The Mio C220 is a new entry that is a solid little performer. It comes with maps of the US pre-loaded, works right out of the box and has verbal directions (“Turn Right in 400 yards”). This model can be had for <$200. For more information see me Review of the Mio C220.

  • Mio C220 at Amazon

    Text to Speech Model – Garmin Nuvi 350
    This is the most popular GPS model in the US right now and for good reason. It is from the largest manufacturer of GPS unit in the US, and it has an excellent interface. Garmin is one of the models that you would buy for your grandmother and not fear that she can’t use it; it’s that intuitive. The Nuvi 350 offers Text-to-Speech (TTS), which speaks the road names: “Turn right on Maple Street in 400 yards”, instead of “Turn right in 400 yards”. This is a great technology and helps out if you are navigating in semi-urban or urban areas where streets are tight and you could use the name of the street to be sure you are turning onto the correct street. You can add an optional Traffic adapter to this unit for a little over $100 (If you know you are going to do this, consider the Nuvi 660 below). The Nuvi 350 is about $370 online.

  • I most recently reviewed the Nuvi 360, which is the step up for the Nuvi 350. The only additional feature is the ability to integrate with your Bluetooth mobile phone. I liked the feature, but if you want a recent look at how the Nuvi 350 performs, read my Review of the Nuvi 360.
  • Garmin Nuvi 350 at Amazon

    Widescreen Model – Garmin Nuvi 650/660 or TomTom ONE XL

    The Garmin Nuvi line went wide last year and is an excellent choice for a slightly more upscale GPS. I believe that widescreen GPS units are a lot better experience from a usability and readability standpoint. Read more on this in my post on widescreen GPS units where you can see superimposed screenshots to see how much difference the larger screen makes. The Garmin Nuvi 650 has maps of North America, text-to-speech capability, and an extremely bright screen. The Nuvi 660 adds the ability to receive TMC traffic updates so that you can see traffic jams ahead and route around them. This is a subscription service that costs about $70 a year after the 3 month free trial period. I live near Boston and think that it’s worth it. The Nuvi 650 will cost a little more than $500 online and the Nuvi 660 will cost a little more than $600 online. Finally if you need to travel to Europe, consider the Nuvi 670 that has North American and European maps pre-loaded.

  • See my Review of the Nuvi 660. Again, the Nuvi 650 is identical except for the traffic capability, so you can get a good sense of its features from my Nuvi 660 review.
  • Garmin Nuvi 650 at Amazon
  • Garmin Nuvi 660 at Amazon
  • Garmin Nuvi 670 at Amazon

    The TomTom ONE XL is a more basic navigator from a well-respected company. Not as well known in the US, but #1 in Europe. They are a top-shelf manufacturer, and the TomTom ONE XL comes with Maps of the US, but not Text to Speech. The unit gives very good directions and the widescreen is very nice, not as bright as the Nuvi 650/660. There is one small blemish on the TomTom ONE XL – The interface to get find businesses and addresses as your destination is not as easy at the Garmin units. When finding a “Point of Interest” (POI) or an address to navigate to you have to wade through some screens that are harder to navigate. The maps are solid and the unit is a great price; less than $399 online.

  • See My Review of the TomTom ONE XL
  • TomTom ONE XL at Amazon

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  • January 4, 2007

    Buying Guide: Outdoor/Handheld GPS Recommendations

    The current crop of GPS receivers are generally small and affordable for entry level GPS units. If you would like to get a lot of bells and whistles, you can easily pay up to $500 for a handheld GPS when you start adding on the latest features. So while the prices of GPS units have dropped, to a little more than $100 for a decent entry level GPS, the feature sets have gotten better too.

    Updated: Jan 4, 2007

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    November 15, 2006

    Holiday GPS Buying Guide - Best GPS Gifts

    It's that time of year again when big things come in little packages. Here's to all those presents that have your name on them, and maybe even those that you wrap up for someone else. Here's a list of GPS units that I think are sound units and a good value for what you are getting. That doesn't mean that they are the cheapest models, just that they are solid and offer a lot of features for the money. I prefer flat models and I think that the industry is moving in that direction. There’s a premium to pay for that convenience, so check out some of the non-flat models if you want lower prices or other features. Finally, there are a few great handhelds and fitness models out there for gifting; see below.

    Best Automotive GPS Overall
    nuvi660sm.jpgIt's the one I would want to rip open as my present: The Garmin Nuvi 660. I loved it and it worked very well - read my review. The screen is the brightest and best I have seen. It's top of the line features like Bluetooth integration and traffic alerts sit atop a platform of solid navigation in a beautiful flat form factor. At Amazon and GPSNow.

    Flat Form Factor GPS Units I Recommend
    Mio C310x - yes, this little beauty with a recently upgraded interface running a Mio version of the iGo software is an inexpensive, but decent little GPS. (Read my Review) If you are fortunate, you might snag one on Black Friday in what I think is the best deal this year on a GPS. $149 on Black Friday; ~$400 everyday.

    tomtomonesm.jpgTomTom ONE (if you have a data connected phone) - has a flat form factor and it offers TomTom PLUS services (like traffic feeds and weather forecasts) through a data connection on your mobile phone. (Read My Review of the TomTom ONE) $449 on Black Friday and about $499 everyday.

    Garmin Nuvi 350 - (Compare the Nuvi Line) Well designed and solid. No traffic (optional add-on antenna for traffic), and no handsfree Bluetooth connections, but flat, and a great navigator at a decent price. At Amazon and GPSNow.

    Non-Flat GPS units I Recommend

    If you want an inexpensive GPS and are considering an i-series Garmin (i3, or i5), I very much recommend moving up to a Garmin C-series product; the experience is better with the larger touchscreen. I say this because a lot of readers have returned them and bought the C-series after using the i-series for a while. While I think that the i-series is a good navigator, the slight upcharge (~$40 from i5 to C330) is worth it for the C-series, consider one of these two below.

    Economical GPS for the Computer Savvy
    c320sm.jpgOutright best value is to buy the Garmin StreetPilot C320 and add a 1GB SD card. The user will need to download the maps from the included maps disc to the 1GB SD card. This will cost you under $300 for a very functional easy to use GPS. At Amazon and GPSNow

    Economical Out of the Box Navigation
    Garmin StreetPilot C330 - (Compare the SteetPilot Line) has preloaded maps so you don't need to worry about downloading data to an SD card. Turn by Turn directions, preloaded maps, millions of Points of Interest. At Amazon and GPSNow

    Best GPS Navigation Software
    DeLorme StreetAtlas 2007 - this is great software for the PC. I love the interface and the long list of capabilities and features. I am finishing up my review on this, but I will tell you this is a great way to plan and go for long roadtrips. Best handled with a co-pilot as you can really get a lot out of the software with this while driving.

    Best Handheld All Around

    Garmin GPSMap 60CSx – this model line recently got upgraded to include the SiRF star III chipset and add-on memory cards to increase the amount of map data you can carry. Big screen, altimeter and electronic compass make this the top of the line and it’s built on a good base of features that make a handheld GPS worth having. I am using this model right now and will write up a review in the coming days. $50 Rebate through 12/31 - At Amazon and GPSNow.

    Best Pocketable Handheld
    Garmin eTrex Vista Cx – this smaller handheld GPS has a lot of the same features that the GPSMAP 60CSx has, only in a smaller package. The smaller screen is not hard to read, and the smaller screen means longer battery life. I have used a vista for a long time and like them a lot. $50 Rebate through 12/31 - At Amazon or GPSNow.

    Best Entry Level Handheld
    Garmin eTrex Venture Cx - Skip the monochrome units and move up the color unit with expandable memory and a USB connection for faster map downloads. With the rebate this is within range of the older generation monochrome, serial connection eTrex Legend; spend the extra money it’s worth it.
    $50 Rebate through 12/31 – At Amazon .

    Fitness GPS
    GPS for Runners

    Forerunner 305 – Improved heart rate monitor and watch-like fit on the wrist. Tracks progress and helps you train. I reviewed the Forerunner 205 and liked it; I would love the extra that the heartrate monitor adds. At Amazon .

    GPS for Bikers
    Edge 305 Bundle – similar to the Forerunner, this bikers GPS is sure to thrill. I know I want one. This will track your progress and has bike specific capabilities. Can be bought with heart rate monitor and a cadence monitor. I want it all, but you can get a less expensive combination with only one or the other. If that’s the case, I would drop the cadence and go with only the heart rate monitor version. At Amazon .

    Note: Both Mio and TomTom use Teleatlas maps which are currently less accurate than the NAVTEQ maps that Garmin uses (my experience). I know that Teleatlas is working hard to catch up, but this may be an issue for you if you live in an area where roads are rapidly changing and you absolutely need the best maps. Teleatlas has launched initiatives to get better map data and they are in the process of doing that now, so I think that the gap is closing.

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

    September 22, 2006

    Buying Guide: Best Automotive GPS

    There is huge growth in the mobile GPS segment and for good reason – people are getting tired of being lost, and being stuck in traffic. The other big reason that the market is growing fast is that the quality of the products is way up, while the price is coming down. You don’t need an advanced degree to run one of these things; most of the time these things are dead simple to use and work well right out of the box. There are about three levels of units on the market right now, the lower end entry models that offer basic navigation and not a lot of add-on frills, the mid-tier that has rock solid feature sets and a lot of ease of use features and then the high end units that offer a lot of screen real estate and a lot of extras that make life on the road easy. If you can afford to enter with a Mid-Tier model, do so. The larger screen and easy input of a touchscreen will help out a lot.

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    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    August 14, 2006

    Back to School GPS Buying Guide

    Going back to school for the navigationally challenged can be tough – new location, lots of places to go and no one around to help out with directions. Well, a nice GPS navigation system can help out. Here’s our Back to School Buying Guide recos:

    Best GPS Navigation System Below $350
    The Garmin StreetPilot i5 unit. It’s small, comes preloaded with maps for the US, and gets you to where you are going, reliably. The scroll wheel is decent, but if you are going to do a lot of searching for POI’s, or data entering addresses, a touch screen in a mid-tier model is nice.

    garminc330.jpgBest GPS Navigation System below $400
    Garmin StreetPilot C330 – Good sized touchscreen capability. Voice prompted directions, Pre-loaded maps and Points of Interest (POI’s), internal battery.

    Best GPS System for the Student in the traffic clogged city
    garminc550.jpgGarmin StreetPilot C550 – Pre-loaded maps& POI’s, text to speech capability and built in traffic alerts. It also adds Bluetooth hands free calling through your mobile phone, and MP3 playback.

    Best GPS for the iPod Nut
    tomtomgo910.jpgTomTom GO 910 – With this GPS system you can control your iPod via the GPS touchscreen and route audio to the stereo, very cool. It has a wide screen (touch screen) format, adds text to speech directions and enhanced Bluetooth hands free calling as well as the added compatibility with your PC to manage data (TomTom HOME software).

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    July 28, 2006

    Buying Guide: Best Outdoor/Handheld GPS

    The current crop of GPS receivers are generally small and affordable for entry level GPS units. If you would like to get a lot of bells and whistles, you can easily pay up to $500 for a handheld GPS when you start adding on the latest features. So while the prices of GPS units have dropped, to a little more than $100 for a decent entry level GPS, the feature sets have gotten better too.

    Updated: July 28, 2006 to reflect new Garmin Rebates on Handhelds.

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    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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