How to Choose a GPS System

Avoid making mistakes when buying a GPS by following this advice

Do you really need a GPS? Do they really work? How? Are they worth the money? If you’re considering buying one of the many GPS systems on the market, you probably have many of these questions racing through your mind. After all, you don’t want to waste money on yet another fancy electronic gadget that isn’t really up to snuff. Read this crucial information before making any decisions.

How Do GPS Systems Work?

GPS is the acronym for ‘global positioning system’. Using satellite technology, information to GPS systems update as these satellites circle the earth every 12 hours, updating location and time data through Navstar or Navigation Satellite Timing and Ranging satellites.

The high-tech satellites, equipped with atomic clocks, transmit a signal GPS systems pick up and is accurate to within 15 feet. When GPS systems first came out, they were limited and signals were often not accurate due to things like tunnels, weather conditions, buildings, and heavy foliage. Thanks to technology, manufacturers overcame most of these issues.

GPS systems come in two types, auto and handheld. These systems are completely different and serve different purposes. Although auto GPS systems are portable and waterproof, you don’t want to take them on a hike. These systems are strictly meant to provide driving directions. Heavier, larger, and with a short battery life, auto GPS systems are meant only for use in your car.

Portable GPS systems are for outdoor and hiking enthusiasts. These systems have smaller screens so you can hold them in one hand as you hike. They are durable, waterproof, and have a long battery life so your time usage isn’t limited on long hikes.

Choosing the Best Auto GPS for the Money

When considering an auto GPS, you need to think about your driving conditions, how often you actually need directions, and what features are important to you. If you only drive in town to run errands or commute on the same route every day, your probably won’t use a GPS system very often.

However, if the route you usually travel on often has traffic problems or congestion, you may still get use from it as it can direct you to less congested routes and can suggest alternate ways to get to your destination. If you travel frequently, whether for business or pleasure, a GPS can be a lifesaver for you.

Check your local laws to make sure the GPS system you’re interested in is legal in your area. Some states have outlawed windshield-mounted GPS systems. Also consider battery life. Most GPS systems plug into cigarette lighters so they stay charged. But if you plan to use your system out of your car, you need to buy the system with the longest battery life.

Consider these points when buying an Auto GPS:

If you don’t travel often, the GPS on your smartphone may be all you need
Check the amount of maps available for your system and if they update
Make sure the system features automatic destination routing to help you navigate traffic congestion
Check mounting requirements
Check for battery life
Check for screen size

Choosing the Best Handheld GPS for the Money

Handheld GPS systems are used for hiking and outdoor activities. With this in mind, you need the look for a lightweight, waterproof, and durable system. Most handheld GPS systems meet these requirements and have many more features you should consider.

Look for a handheld GPS with a 12-channel parallel receiver system. This system gives you reception even in heavily wooded areas. Any system you plan to use for hiking should come with waypoints. These help guide you along your hike. Good systems come with 500 waypoint setting capabilities.

Be aware that different ‘waterproof’ ratings mean different things. A waterproof rating of IPX-4 means you can splash water on the system, but not drop it directly into water. If you think there’s a possibility of this happening, go with a system that has a IPX-7 waterproof rating.

It often gets confusing and complicated when trying to buy the best GPS for the money. But by following these tips, reading GPS reviews, and knowing what you need in a GPS system, you can weed through all the systems on the market and buy the GPS that’s best for you.