2011 GPS Buying Guide

GPS Basics

If you’re completely new to GPS, the first thing you should know is that none of these devices require a service plan, unlike what you might be used to if you’ve tried to use a smart phone for navigation. GPS devices are normally placed on the window of your car and it locates satellites that allow them to determine your position on a map.

The next few things you should know are the common features shared by of all the GPS devices being advertised on Black Friday. First, all the units come pre-loaded with maps of the continental United States, so it will be functional right out of the box. Also, all the devices feature touch screen interfaces and have text-to-speech, so there are no buttons to press , as all of the street names will be read to you as you’re driving. They all include DC power adapters for your cigarette lighter as well as suction cup mounts to attach to your windshield (the only exception here is Walmart’s Magellan 3120-MU, which does not specify that these are included).

Lastly, let’s explain a feature you’ll find included with several GPS devices available on Black Friday: “Lifetime” map and traffic updates. Despite the name, this does not mean you will get free map updates for the rest of your life. All of the manufacturers of these devices define “Lifetime” as the “until the product’s useful life expires.” This means once the manufacturer decides these products are obsolete, the Lifetime maps and traffic updates will end. You should definitely keep this in mind when weighing your options, because these lifetime updates don’t necessarily mean you’ll never have to purchase another GPS again. Generally, these updates will cost you anywhere between $50 and $150, so a GPS with lifetime updates is the way to go if you can find a good deal.

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November 15, 2011
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