Features to look for when buying a GPS

December 16, 2014

Choosing a GPS device comes down to figuring out where you're going and how you’re planning to get there. Here’s how to find one that will best suit your future travel needs.

Features to look for when buying a GPS

Types of GPS devices

While many people rely on their phones for navigation, GPS units are safer to use while driving, have better range and can be more up-to-date with maps, traffic and detours. What's more, there’s a GPS device for almost every kind of travel. Some of the more popular models include:

  • Car GPS: These models mount right onto your windshield or dashboard. They usually have a clear display and intuitive controls so you can stay focused on the road.
  • Marine GPS: Marine GPS systems are loaded with waterway maps and designed for boating excursions.
  • Sports GPS: Designed for hiking and other outdoor activities, these GPS systems are built with superior range and durability in mind. Some also come loaded with roadmaps, making them useful for motorcyclists as well.
  • GPS tracking device: If you’re more worried about where you've been than where you're going, a GPS tracker sits in your glove compartment and logs your past moves. These tracking devices can even tell you where your car is in a busy parking lot or if it gets stolen.

Features to look for in a GPS

When deciding which unit is the best for your needs, GPS devices come with a variety of different features to look for, including:

  • Display size: Devices with larger displays tend to be more expensive.
  • Map updates: GPS maps will come preloaded with roads and points-of-interest, but some manufacturers charge a fee for updates.
  • Live traffic updates: Many newer GPS models have live traffic reporting so you can avoid the traffic jams ahead.
  • Voice command: With voice command, you can enter in addresses on the fly without needing to stop to type them in.
  • Detour button: If you see construction or traffic up ahead, a detour button helps you avoid delays by providing an alternate route.
  • Casing: A waterproof and shock resistant model can go with you on all your adventures.
  • Channels: Especially important for sport GPS units, multiple channels help you find a stronger signal faster.
  • MP3 Player: Some devices will hold music files that can be played through your car speakers or headphones.
  • Bluetooth: Many models offer mobile phone connectivity for hands-free calling.

Additional factors to consider before you buy

  • Your GPS device needs to be easy to use so you can stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Look for a device with intuitive and user-friendly controls so you can operate it safely without unnecessary distractions.
  • If your GPS will be used for more than just driving, consider a case and GPS mount so you can take it with you.
  • Find out if it's easy to update the maps on your device. It's a good idea to update them once a year if you plan to use your GPS frequently. Also, you may want to enquire if the price includes the first update free.

When it comes to travelling, having a GPS device makes planning your route and getting to your destination a breeze!

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