How to Buy a GPS Unit – What to Look for

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In this GPS buyers guide we’ll look at tips for buying your first portable GPS unit, as well as discussing what the best GPS brands are.

While all brand name portable GPS devices (such as Garmin’s and TomTom’s) will get you from point A to point B, so devices do it better than others.

I have outlined a few things that you should look out for when buying a portable GPS unit:

  • Portable GPS units usually come in one of four screen sizes (3.5”, 4.3”, 4.7” and 5”). If you’re planning on using your GPS unit in a small car, I recommend sticking to the 3.5” or 4.3” devices, as anything bigger will obscure your view and get in the way.
  • Visit your local electronics store to test out a few different brands of GPS devices. Each brand of GPS will have a different style of interface, so it’s good to test out a few to see which you like the best.
  • When testing out portable GPS units, try entering in a few different destinations. On smaller models (3.5”), the touch-screen keyboard may be too small for your fingers. Also, stick to devices that use the standard ‘QWERTY’ keyboard layout (that you’ll find on PC’s and Mac’s).
  • Look for GPS devices that have ‘Text to Speech’ functionality. This enables them to speak out street names, making it easier to direct you. For example: “Turn left in 200 meters onto 2nd Street” is far better than “Turn left in 200 meters”.
  • Traffic messaging and traffic alerts can be a nice feature, but GPS units with this functionality are typically a lot more expensive than ones without, so really consider whether you’ll actually use it before paying extra.

GPS Unit

What is the best GPS brand?
‘Garmin’ and ‘TomTom’ are the most well known brands in the industry, and they are also to two best. So far as my experience goes, Garmin devices are more user-friendly, whereas TomTom devices work faster. In truth, you can’t go wrong with either brand.

Hopefully this GPS buyer’s guide will help you when it comes to purchasing your first GPS device. If you have any more tips regarding buying GPS units, feel free to leave a comment below!


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