Do I need a GPS?
All my friends who do not travel as much as I do have bought GPS units. They keep saying it is very useful.
So, do I need one? I mostly travel to the wilderness areas and not sure if a GPS would work there.
If it is useful, I do not mind spending a few hundred dollars for one. Which GPS would the gurus recommend?
I don't need the MP3 and photos capability. I just need one that speaks clearly, and tells me the name of the street where I need to make the turn (One of my friends unit does not say the name, just says turn right here). Nice big bright screen is a big plus. I was browsing amazon and Garmin 660 seems to be a good bet.
I don't have one and really don't have any desire to get one.
This recent thread has a pretty good conversation on the subject.
A GPS will work in Wilderness areas. I have a small hand held unit I use for backpacking and hiking primarily, but I can definitely confirm it works there.
A GPS works by getting signals from a constellation of satellites. If it can see 3 or 4 satellites (there are about 40 in the constellation circling the earth) then it can very easily find your location with amazing precision -- anywhere on the globe. My handheld unit can give repeatable locations down to about 20'. But, the GPS unit has to see the sky -- so you need to either put it on the dash or near the front window somewhere, or put the antenna (if it comes with a separate antenna) where it can. The GPS signals are pretty high frequency -- they are blocked by metal, or even if there is enough folliage or tree cover, or inside a building. I'd had a unit drop it's signal lock in a dense forest, but then pick it back up when I came into a meadow. It also typically takes a minute or two for the GPS to find the satellites and compute your position -- particularly if it hasn't been on for a while, and has to find a new spot.
There are a number of good brands out there, with an amazing number of variations on the products. I'd check out some reviews and features and figure out what you would like for your use.
But.... basically the GPS units in a car are digital maps, with the sat nav function only being used to say where you are on the map. As the sat nav unit updates the position, this lets the little computer with the digital map say "Turn right at next intersection" or the like. You don't *need* a GPS to navigate a car -- but you do need a map, usually. I still have a stack of paper maps and guidebooks I take -- but then I, or someone else with me, has to figure out the route and where are are along it. And then they say "Turn right at the next intersection..."
There are several variables that should determine if you want/need a GPS...If you do a good bit of prior planning of the route you will be taking, it will be useful.....not as much map reading. One comment: make it a section by section trip and have the sections less than 50 miles. This is because most of us vary what our original route is and the GPS will try to direct you back to the way you had planned/input. I input the route for old route 66 that i wanted to travel and it did an outstanding job of trying to keep me on track....on mistake was with me making the sections too big.
The only two "extras" that are nice is the "Text to Speech" option and the largest screen you can find.....
There are many fine brands out there.......Garmin is one of those. I chose the TomTom but not the cheapest model........Another plus to the tomtom is that the military (special forces) use it and are pleased but they may have better maps than you and i can buy.......
And added comment is to use it a while before you leave so you will become accustomed to it giving directions and be able to keep your eyes on the road more..............Also have not found a place yet where i did not have coverage (on the road that is---no coverage inside my home).
Can be useful
The more I think about it, I'd say the best feature is the restaurant listing feature in most units. In fact, just today on a business trip, it kept my cohort and me from losing our minds from hunger.
Thanks guys. Still a bit unsure. I know that the prices are gonna keep falling, so the longer I wait, the better it is. But I will spend a longer time without one.
So from what you guys say, it can be useful, but is not necessary. That was my impression as well.