GPS navigation has got to be one the best life-improving purchases you can possibly make. If you haven't taken the plunge and bought yourself (or someone else) a GPS yet, there's no better time. They're cheaper than ever, highly accurate, and most ship with an impressive set of features that used to cost a lot more. So which GPS devices would I actually buy today?
1. Garmin nüvi 3590LMT . Garmin's top-of-the-line. This 5-inch screen navigator packs just about every feature available: lifetime traffic and map updates, Bluetooth, voice commands, 3D maps & landmarks, smartphone compatibility for online services (Android only), and a whole lot more. If you can afford it, the is Garmin's current best automotive GPS.
2. TomTom GO 2535TM World Traveler . TomTom's premium 5-inch navigator comes with HD Traffic (updates traffic conditions every 2 minutes), It comes pre-loaded with worldwide maps, 7 million POIs, voice recognition, Bluetooth, and access to TomTom's LIVE services (local fuel prices, local search powered by Google, and more).
1. Garmin nüvi 40 the nuvi 40 is a lot of GPS for the money. It sports the same excellent easy-to-use interface and map screen found on Garmin's more expensive units, a 4.3-inch color touchscreen display, lane assist with junction view (3D-like renderings of complex highway exits that show you which lane you should be driving in), text-to-speech speaks actual street names, 5 million points of interest (POI) pre-loaded, and the map even displays the speed limit for the current road. Essentially this GPS gives you everything that would have cost $800 2-years ago for $79. Sure, there's no Bluetooth, mp3 player, voice commands, traffic data, or free map updates, but if all you need to good, basic GPS navigation, you can't beat the nuvi 40.
2. TomTom START 45M . Like the Garmin nuvi 40, TomTom's Start 45 is an incredible value at $79, offering a 4.3-inch touch screen, advanced lane guidance, spoken street names, and complete maps of the US & Canada. Also like the Garmin nuvi 40, no real-time traffic data. But hey, at this price you can replace the GPS every year and it'll still be cheaper than buying the model with lifetime traffic updates included...
3. Magellan RoadMate 2230T-LM . It's the most expensive unit in out "budget but still good" category, priced about $20 more than the Garmin or TomTom, but that buys you lifetime map updates and traffic -- both of which cost a lost more than $20 more in Garmin's or TomTom's lineup. Magellan's RoadMate also includes traffic camera alerts, and some nifty features unique to Magellan.
If you really don't think you need a dedicated GPS, but still want to have a GPS in a pinch, your iPhone or Android phone can be easily converted into a fully functioning GPS navigator by installing either of these recommended Apps:
1. Garmin StreetPilot for iOS or Android - Currently my favorite smartphone based app. Looks and operates just like a dedicated Garmin GPS, and even adds the ability to lookup business names via Google.
2. TomTom USA - pricey at $50, but basically gives you an entire $300 GPS on your phone.