Since I can’t find my 4 year old Garmin. Garmin does have some new models, but reading the Amazon reviews is rather daunting (typically over 20% of the reviews are one stars). There’s also Magellan and something called “Tom Tom”, but their reviews aren’t any better. Prefer a newer state of the art model but am not too picky.
Do you have a smart phone? I leave my Gamin behind and just take my HTC Incredible II.
I’ve got 4 different Garmin units, and I’m pleased with all of them.
If you’ll look carefully, they will have some interesting features that you may or may not find useful. For example, bluetooth connectivity to your cellphone. Lets you make hands-free calls, or answer hands-free. Useful in and of itself, but vital if you’re traveling through an area that requires it by law.
You said highway. My son’s unit changes to a pictoral view of the road ahead when you come to a major highway intersection and highlights the lane to stay in, so you head for Dallas and not Witchita when you get to Oklahoma City. It also has live traffic info, so it can guide you around wrecks, construction, and traffic.
If I were getting one for me today, thisis what I would look for. You may not want all the features, but do look at the entire line and consider the models that come with a Lifetime Update on the maps. I spent 80 bucks each to get LTU on two of mine, so the $20 premium at purchase is well worth it.
I don’t know if other brands support this, but when you want to drive somewhere besides North America, you can load maps you find on the interwebs. Garmin - and everyone else - is woefully lacking in mapsets for the Caribbean for example. I was able to find a mapset for St. Croix that someone had created and uploaded it to my Garmin unit so we didn’t have to fumble with some colored, cartoon of a map to find our way around the island. A little overkill for the island as it turns out, but still - better safe than sorry!
Seconding the smartphone idea. Google Maps works great on Android, and I think the navigation on iPhone is fine too. Just be sure to bring along a car charger.
At least on Android you can actually speak to it; “Navigate to 123 Main Street” and a few seconds later you’re on your way.
Relying on your phone’s navigation can be a problem if you hit areas with little or no cellular service, though. There have been times on road trips where I wished I has a standalone GPS unit.
iPhone + TomTom app is simply the best GPS unit I’ve seen.
I don’t have a smartphone-well it’s a Verizon semi-smart phone, and it does have a GPS service that I can DL, but I was thinking that a dedicated GPS unit might be better (perhaps I’m wrong).
I’ve got a Droid and use it occasionally for navigation, and it has been very good. My issue is that Murphy’s law always seems to kick in at just the wrong time. I’ll drive 595 miles on a straight 600 mile path and have the last 5 where I actually need to know where to turn and what lane to be in etc. Guess when my wife decides to call to ask “are you there yet?” I’m not kidding, this has happened three times.
I just recently upgraded my old Garmin to a new one. My old one was out of date by about three years, and it was $99 for new maps. I decided to spend $180 for one with lifetime updates and live traffic updates. It also has the photos of exits and exactly which lane you need to be in. I recently took a 12 hour drive and fell completely in love when it suddenly “binged” that there was an “incident” 5 miles ahead and suggested an alternate route. I thought it might be crazy since we were in the mountains in Tennessee, but I tried it. I took the exit just as I saw all the brake lights going on. About a quarter mile from the exit I took a country road, 3 or 4 miles on that road and a quarter mile back to the interstate. I got back on and noticed that there were no other cars going my direction. I found a local radio station and found out that the entire interstate was closed for 1.5 hours to clean up the tanker truck wreck. Took me 5 extra minutes to get around it.
I would have paid twice what I paid for the Garmin just to have saved the 2 hours or so I would have otherwise waited to get past the incident.
Which model is your new Garmin?
I think the LM stands for Lifetime Maps.
The cord allows it to receive a HD radio traffic signal which it uses to alert and re-route against delays. You can look at it before you decide which is good because it wanted to route me one time around traffic in Chicago and there is no way I would have exited into that part of town.
My experience is Garmin is simpler easier and more intuitive user interface, Tom Tom is better with traffic if you have a unit that does traffic.
My son got a nifty GPS app for his phone. One of its features was voice activation. Unfortunately audiobooks cause it to respond, so he’s going to have to find another app or have nothing to listen to on long trips.
Another vote here for the Smartphone. I have a Droid X and a Samsung Galaxy III. My wife has an HTC Incredible. All three run Google Maps with the Navigation component, which is free by the way.
Maps is the most accurate navigation tool I have ever used. Also, the maps are always current, so no need to update maps manually.
We tested our Android nagivation against my sister’s Magellan stand-alone unit, and my wife Mio stand-alone unit. We even compared it against the iPhone. Google Maps blew them all away. The traffic monitor adjusted our routes correctly when heavy traffic was up ahead.
I used to be a stand-alone GPS fan myself, but once I got my Android phone I was instantly hooked. How much more simple can a navigation system possibly be than one that understands when you simply say “navigate to 83 Hawthorne Drive in Bethesda” and it does?
I have to admit I also have been very impressed with the navigation on my Droid. Especially being able to speak “Map of Panerra Bread” and I can quickly find a place for lunch nearby (Panerra seems to be a favorite of Soccer Girls). Like I said though while driving it is frustrating to get a call or text at the worst possible time while trying to navigate. I still prefer my new Garmin for ease and size while driving, but if I don’t have it with me I’m fine using my Droid. Also, my Droid has told me of traffic delays but not given me an alternate route to choose from.
Another thing the Garmin does that I don’t think the Droid does is tell me what is at each exit. Some are generic “flags” for gas, food, restrooms, or ATM’s. Some appear to be sponsored so it actually shows a BP gas station, Wendy’s, etc.