Remember those old days when you had to toil hard to reach from one place to another without any GPS device to provide help in the whole ordeal. In those days road maps and phone numbers had their own special importance. Of course, the person travelling was very vigilant in knowing the know-how of the whole journey well in advance. But getting stuck in some place was a real nightmare and thankfully the advent of modern gps units has resolved that problem. Today apart from providing directions, GPS Units are being used for a wide variety of activities. Modern day navigation devices can ensure that you have the best Chinese meals in your neighborhood without asking friends and relatives about the issue. In car attached gps navigation units as well as portable ones are hugely popular but portable gps units are the ones occupying a far greater share of the limelight simply because of the increase in usability that comes along. And of course you don’t have to invest on multiple fixed units.
If you are in the hunt for a great portable gps unit that will solve navigation problems along with providing other important features such as POIs, traffic updates etc, make sure that you pay close attention to the ten most important things being discussed below.
Size of the screen & Screen properties
If you are going to use the gps for personal use then you certainly don’t want to have an extra large screen to deal with. There is no denial to the fact that modern day gps screens keep increasing in size when there is so much competition among all the manufacturers. However, having a large screen gps unit inside the vehicle may increase the driving comfort since information will be displayed clearly and eyesight will not be strained. For personal use the ideal screen size should hover around the 4 inch mark.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a big gps screen will surely have a crystal clear display. Screen resolution is an important factor that determines how the overall quality of the screen is, when information is being displayed. Cheap model makers will usually lure customers through big screens but the resolution is poor in most cases. Take a look at all the options and go for live demos to be sure regarding the overall quality of the gps display screen.
How The Is The Inherent System for Mounting the Device And Getting Power
For portable gps units you must have a clear idea regarding the effectiveness of the mounting system since the device will be used in vehicles. In most cases there is a suction cup that goes along with the windshield. This is a standard option and most of the gps units that you will find in the market have this type of mounting system. The only problematic condition is when the windshield is very steep, just like you have in sports cars. In steep angles the suction cup may not be able to work well. Some other options when suction technique is not working are friction mounts and bean bag ones.
Power to the navigation unit is provided via adapters and in such cases one must opt for adapters having smaller plugs. Bigger plugs will not only look clumsy but also create unwanted obstructions. Constant plugging requirements are headaches and hence many users opt for rechargeable units that need not be plugged for long duration.
A very important and useful feature for those facing stressful city traffic on a daily basis. Avoiding traffic jams in the sole motto of this service and it really is something that saves time and loads of frustrations. Best suited for large cities since you have several alternate routes that can be used in traffic jams. Some of the gps units will provide traffic info only and some will suggest alternate routes too. The speed with which traffic updates arrive is also an important factor. Some devices come with lifetime free subscriptions but in most cases there will be charges to received traffic updates. So pay for the feature only if it’s really important.
Voice based instructions ( For those who don’t want to read the text)
To avoid distractions while driving many of the units will have the facility of text to speech conversions. If you are someone finding it difficult to look at the screen and drive well, then there are ample benefits via this feature. In a sense you have a gps navigation unit that is talking to you. Special accents via “sound packs” are also being provided by several manufacturers.
While different types of voices may sound as fun, this feature is of paramount importance since you never know when those driving concentration levels are down and you need help while driving in the form of voice based instructions.
Lane Assist features
If you are going for low end models this feature may not be there. If you are someone routinely going out in highways then this facility will be of great help in getting the right lance. Some highly diversified features have been developed along lane assist facilities and driving on the highway is really a piece of cake now.
Preloaded Maps and future downloads
The effectiveness of the gps device rests largely on the kind of map database that is there. Living in US and Canada? In most cases maps will be preloaded. For specific locations maps have to be downloaded via manufacturer’s website for which charges will apply. Map updates may be provided free or in most cases there will be yearly payments. Depending on the kind of investment required you have to ascertain the total charges that will be required for map updates. Otherwise you may end up spending more than what was planned initially.
Connectivity by Bluetooth
Connecting the gps unit to your cell phone will require Bluetooth. Cell phone connectivity implies that you can answer calls using the audio interface of the gps unit and send data to and fro between the device and the phone. However, the flipside is power consumption and you are likely to end up having exhausted batteries within a short span of time.
Instead of the standard map like view, most of the gps units have switched to the “reality view” system wherein you are presented with a friendlier colourful view of the map which has a lot of cartoon type attributes. These are pleasing to see and sometimes may ease out confusion.
Talking to your GPS ( Voice Recognition)
While this technology is not fool proof, yet it eases out several hassles of actually typing out the addresses and other details. Its improving with every generation and the latest ones have quite a friendly version of voice recognition facilities.
Chances of theft
Those who want to minimize the chances of theft should opt for completely portable units that run on rechargeable batteries. This implies that the gps unit does not have to be plugged in the car charger when you are moving out of the car. Several cases of theft have been reported where thieves have been able to take out the gps unit from the car while it was plugged in the charging system of the vehicle.
Last but not the least, your fast processing smartphone may have all the power to get transformed into a really good gps unit. There are several apps out there in the market for this conversion process. Android users have special advantages in this case. GPS manufactures have launched dedicated apps for iPhone and several other hot selling smatphones in the market.