The reason for writing this article was to take the many reviews of GPS devices/apps found on the internet and reduce them to a short list of choices to save you time finding a good to excellent GPS device to buy.
The GPS devices or GPS smartphone apps recommended in this article became available over this and last year (since the reviews for new models are posted either before, or at the time, they are ready for sale).
A handful of product review websites were reviewed to compile their managing technology editors’ favorite choices for the best GPS device or GPS application to shorten your search for buying one of them. These web sites included Consumer Reports, CNET reviews, navigadget , and PC Magazine.
From the research it was determined that six GPS devices (either car or handheld units) and three GPS smartphone applications were worth recommending at this time. Be aware that some GPS devices have an annual service fee (i.e, Insignia) and others charge for the annual uploading of new map data (i.e., TomTom).
GPS Devices (Car/Handheld)
The manufacturers that produce the better GPS devices include Garmin, Insignia, Magellan, Motorola, Pioneer, and TomTom.
As would be expected, the higher price unit usually is the better product but not always (as discussed by several editors of major product review sites which are accessible in the links below). Here is the ranking by list price of the better GPS handheld devices:
Garmin Nuvi 1690 ($399.99)
TomTom 740 Live ($349.99) + map data fee
Magellan Roadmate 1700* ($299.99)
Motorola Motonav TN765t ($280.00)
Garmin Nuvi 275T ($249.99)
Magellan RoadMate 1470* ($249.99)
Insignia NS-CNV43 ($199.00) + annual fee
Garmin Nuvi 265T ($179.99)
Magellan Roadmate 1340* ($149.99)
Garmin Nuvi 205W ($139.99)
* AAA members can be purchase all Magellan GPS devices for up to 15% off or max. $50 off their list price through the Magellan website by following these instructions.
Recommended models to buy are shown in Bold font, although some features may be absent iwhen compared to the other GPS devices in the same price range.
Editorial recommendations by at least two of three product review sites:
- Although Garmin Nuvi 1690 was the highest priced, the TomTom 740 Live was rated near the top of all handheld/car devices. Check out CNET’s appraisal of it, then if you have a Consumer Reports account, check out how it was appraised in this section.
For a good mid-range priced unit, look at the review for:
Motorola Motonav TN765t (or check Consumer Reports website for their evaluation), or the
Magellan RoadMate 1470.
[Author’s Note: I personally think the best mid-range GPS is the Magellan RoadMate 1700, even if the other editors did not.]
- For a lower priced model, look at the review of the Insignia NS-CNV43 , the Magellan Roadmate 1340 by Consumer Reports, or the Garmin Nuvi 205W.
Maybe the best in-dash GPS car unit from 2009 to check out is the Pioneer AVIC-Z110BT as reviewed by CNET Reviews. The reasons you should look at it (besides the great GPS navigation) are these distinguishing features: its multimedia and DVD playback, Bluetooth hands-free calling, automatic contact importing, and its voice control of most often-used features.
OK, now it’s the navigation app’s turn to shine, so let’s look deeply into our smartphone’s screens and wish we had one these on it. [Author’s Note: I do have one, it’s the VZ Navigator and it rocks. Always upgraded by VZW and ready to go on my Blackberry Storm.]
GPS Navigation Applications (Smartphone)
Not all three GPS navigation apps have been editorially reviewed yet, so one or more of these links will lead to the manufacturer’s description on how the application works or lead to another web site that compares the application to one used in the new class of smartphones (i.e., Android smartphones).
- VZ Navigator is installed on a Blackberry and other smartphones from Verizon Wireless (VZW) & Networks In Motion (NIM)
- Garminfone is installed on an Android smartphone from T-mobile (compared to other Android smartphone applications)
- TomTom 1.3 works with the iPhone OS from TomTom and is almost identical to the TomTom ONE 140-S. PC Magazine critiques this smartphone software app here. This review covers some definite pros and cons but overall the evaluation was strongly positive as a replacement for a handheld device.
Well, that’s the short list of choices for each category of GPS unit. Hopefully one of the GPS handhelds will fit your budget or a smartphone app’s monthly fee will be cheap enough to allow you to install it on either your Verizon Wireless Blackberry, T-Mobile Android smartphone or your AT&T iPhone.