Whether you are a car owner, a truck owner or into RV’ing, having a good GPS device in your vehicle will go a long way to pointing you in the right direction when on those long commutes or vacations around the country. So… I thought I would offer up my thoughts on GPS devices and give you my top 5 choices.
GPS devices have come along way since the U.S. Department of Defense launched the system way back in 1973 for the use of the military. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the public was allowed to use it. The first Cell Phone to use GPS was built in 1999 and was a simple addition. They weren’t all that accurate and many found themselves lost or somewhere else they didn’t want to be.
Twenty years have seen a lot of changes and they now come with a wide range of features. Because of all these features, some are more versatile than others and it’s hard to make a decision on the right Navigation system for you.
Hopefully, what you read from here on will help you make an informed decision. Everyone has different needs and preferences so, here goes…
Features to Consider
- Is It Easy To Use – The more user-friendly a GPS device is, the fewer distractions there will be when you are driving. I Can’t really say more than that. We all know that driving distracted can have some very serious consequences.
- Does it have Extra Alerts? – Some GPS devices come with extra alerts that help drivers get where they are going easier, things like traffic patterns and warnings for speed, where the next street lights are and, school zones. Do the warnings give ample time?
- Maps and Directions – Are the maps easy to read and understand. Are the voice directions that you hear, accurate and clear.
- Updates – These are important from time to time. It’s the only way that one can trust the reliability of the information the device is providing.
Are GPS Navigators Better Than Phone Apps?
Anyone who was using their phones with a navigation app a few years ago would have said yes. The phone processors were much slower in those days and couldn’t keep up with the info they were receiving so people were turning to the more accurate GPS Navigators for their reliability.
Phones have improved greatly now and are pretty much even in capability when compared to Navigation devices.
Here are some other reasons that I found during my research that make using a dedicated Navigation device a practical solution:
- Your phone battery will last longer. Of course, you could plug it in but who remembers to do that all the time. When you have a GPS device you don’t have to worry about that anymore.
- And, what about data $$$? Most phone contracts have a data limit and when one goes over that limit it can start to get expensive. Has that ever happened to you? A GPS device will, for sure help those who are using up their data too fast because they are using an app for navigation.
- No interruptions – If you are using your cell phone with a GPS App, the app will probably be interrupted when you get a phone call or text and this may cause you to miss an important turnoff which could mean you may have to drive a fair distance to get yourself back on the right road. With a dedicated GPS Navigation device this will not be an issue.
For me, any of these would be excellent reasons for having a dedicated GPS device.
Disclaimer: Before I go on I should let you know that this post contains links to these products and, If you choose to purchase through one of these links I will receive a commission which WILL NOT add anything extra to the cost of whatever it is that you purchase.
Other Qualities to Consider When Purchasing a Navigation Device
- Does the system receive regular updates about the traffic situation around you? Things like: traffic issues, speed zones, traffic lights, school zones. If you have the right information, you will be able to get to your destination more carefully and safer.
- How about Points of interest and landmarks. These will help with your navigation in unfamiliar territory.
- And, of course, the maps and the voice directions are probably the most important aspect, especially when navigating in unfamiliar territory. As I said earlier, no one wants to miss a turn and end up driving who knows how far to get back on track.
- Do you want a small or large screen? The thing to remember here is that the bigger your screen, the bigger the blind spot will be if you mount it on your dash.
- Extra Storage Capacity. This could be very important if you want to travel to other countries, especially ones that allow the use of these devices. Most devices sold in your country will already have those maps downloaded onto the device but, some navigation units have extra capacity so that one can download maps for other countries like for your trip to England or France.
I might have missed something but, I think you get the idea and I have said a lot here without telling you which ones are best. So, I hope you have stuck around and have gotten to this point and realized that, in order to choose an item like this, we need to have as much information as possible. I also want to say at the onset that these devices are some of the best on the market and are available on Amazon, however, after reading through some of the reviews I think one has to make up their own mind as to the product they want.
In almost all cases, over 50% of all reviews were very positive while others ( a small minority) were quite negative. Nothing in this world is perfect and I’m sure that the companies that make these instruments are doing everything in their power to improve their products. One thing is for sure, these instruments are way better than they were when they first appeared on the market.
So… without further a due and in no particular order
Let’s Get To It
Price – $158.95 U.S. $27.85 Shipping & Import Fees Deposit to Canada
- Extra-large 7-inch touchscreen display. It has daytime and night display to make visibility easy. Perfect for all vehicles
- Traffic Camera Alerts from Phantom ALERT. Audible and onscreen visual warnings for red lights as well as other warnings for school zones, railway crossings, dangerous curves etc.
- Lifetime Map Updates at no extra cost. Your maps will never be out-of-date and you can download the latest information for the life of your device up to 4 times a year.
- Warnings for Speed Limits. Has optional settings for audible and visual alerts.
- Landmarks. Get directions using landmarks like gas stations and grocery stores, (versus street names), which can help with easier navigation in those places you are less familiar with.
Price – $179.00 + $31.50 Shipping & Import Fees Deposit to Canada
This device comes with lifetime maps/traffic included, live parking, Bluetooth, WiFi, smart notifications, voice activation, driver alerts and more.
- 7-inch diagonal screen size
- detailed maps of North America with free lifetime upgrades
- real-time services like live traffic and live parking
- Bluetooth calling, smart notifications and voice-activated navigation for hands-free driving.
- Outsmart traffic jams with time-saving alternate routes or you can avoid them altogether. Great to have during those long commutes.
- Parking – viewing pricing and availability trends for on-street public parking. You get live information that will help with spending less time driving around the block
- Hook up with your friends and other drivers with the Smartphone Link app that lets you share your location with others
- Other great features are available when you hook up your smartphone via Bluetooth to the Garmin DriveSmart. These features let you stay connected without taking your hands off the wheel.
- Built-in Wi-Fi helps you keep the maps and software all up to date.
There are 509 customer reviews and 54% of them are 5-star reviews.
Price – $329.99 + $51.45 Shipping & Import Fees Deposit to Canada
Rand McNally (for me) is best known for their map books that are available all over North America and now are growing in the GPS arena. This particular Navigation device has:
- Vibrant High Definition 7″ screen
- Advanced lane guidance and lane assist
- Over the air map updates with truck-specific routing and FREE lifetime map updates
- Lane assist as well as advanced lane guidance
Over the air map updates. I presume this means through a satellite hookup.
Price – $114.94 + $22.40 Shipping & Import Fees Deposit to Canada
This navigator is Amazon’s choice and has many of the same options as the others which include:
- Driver Alerts for sharp curves, school zones, upcoming red lights, sharp turns/curves as well as changes in speed and speed cameras.
- uses recognizable landmarks such as buildings and traffic lights as well as direct access to millions of popular and new stores as well as restaurants all pre-loaded from FOURSQUARE
- Shows current street, speed and speed limits as well as estimated arrival time.
Price – $249.99 US + shipping and duties to Canada
This device has all the options as the previous device as well as:
- Hands-Free Navigation which Includes Bluetooth calling and voice-activated navigation which allows your hands to remain on the steering wheel as you navigate and make or receive calls
- Lifetime maps of North America (Canada and the U.S.) and HD traffic
GPS devices have come such a long way since the early days and even using cell phone GPS apps has gotten a lot better.
That said, GPS devices offer many advantages over cell phones as I have listed above. In fact, the newer GPS devices now allow for our cell phones to connect via Bluetooth for a totally hands-free experience thus keeping us and our families safer on the road because we, as drivers, are less distracted and can be more aware of what is going on around us.
Have you had any experiences with GPS devices? Good or bad, I would like to hear about them. I hope that this post has been helpful and if you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you and you can leave them below.
Until then, as always, I hope you have many great memories as you RV with your families and furry friends and please remember to always DRIVE SAFE.
Owner and writer for this website