Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - GPS

I'm late to the party with owning a GPS device. I don't travel very far from my hole, and never thought I would need a device to get me there and back again. Recently, Himself had to rent a car while his was in the shop. The rental car had a GPS device. It also happened that we had a trip to take where we have never been before. The female voice of the device was pleasant, and gave us turn by turn directions. After getting there and back, I thought it would be cool to have one of these gizmos, and we had an Amazon gift card that was burning a hole in our pocket.

Researching which brand to buy was a different matter. Magellan, Tom Tom, Garmin Nuvi. All had strings of numbers. Some had lifetime maps. Some gave live traffic updates (how to avoid congestion due to construction or accidents). some did both.  Comparing brands was like comparing apples and oranges.

Erica Vetsch told me she had a Tom Tom XXL 550 TM. Her husband had done a thorough research. She said when looking for a device to make sure it had the letters TM after it for the lifetime maps and live traffic. Some devices you had to pay a fee to download updated maps. The device also allowed you to download different character voices to use.  Cool! Since her husband did the research, I was all set to purchase this device when Himself emailed me with a special he received from Amazon on

Magellan Road Mate 5045-LM. It had the same 5" screen of the Tom Tom, lifetime maps and live traffic. It was also ridiculously priced on this special sale and when combined with the gift card, our out of pocket expense was $19.

Overall, I've been pleased with the device performance. Easy to use out of the box. Intuitive main menu. The female voice is pleasant though I am disappointed I can't have an alternate guide like Yoda providing directions. It would be very amusing to hear Turn left at Walnut, you must. You can store locations you routinely travel to. You can also find thousands of POI (points of interest: museums, dining, shopping, gas, ATMs) In settings, I programmed the device to show dining, gas, and ATMs. It's fun to see logos of some of the restaurant chains glide by, and it's comforting and reassuring to hear "You have arrived Home."

The device is sitting in a Bracketron GPS Nav-Pack. I purchased separately from Target. The nav-pack is a combination weighted dash mount and carry case.  Some of the reviews of a lot of the devices complained the suction cup windshield mount was not very secure and the device fell while driving. The nav-pack  fits neatly in the change console (as the gear shift in my jelly bean of a Taurus wagon is located on the steering column). The device sits securely and doesn't rock and roll. The nav-pack wouldn't work in Himself's Toyota Corolla as he couldn't position the pack on the dash so he could glimpse the screen and he has a console gear shift. Himself ended up using the suction cup dash mount that came with the Magellan. Haven't heard any complaints yet. The weight in the pack can easily be removed for carrying around. The device zips neatly into the case, has a handy carry strap so you can take the device with you.

Do you have a GPS device or do you like the thrill of being a real explorer?


  1. Twice I have opted for no SatNav in England and only got a little lost a couple of times. No big deal. I have not really noticed any time that I needed one here. I continue to be gadget-less! and likely will not bother in September when we go again. I do have a road atlas for my 'navigator' that has a scale of 1" = 2 miles. It pretty much shows every road on that island.

  2. I use GPS on my cell phone, since I already overpay for that, why use another device? There was a GPS in the rental car in Japan. Restaurants were marked with a knife & fork symbol. Shouldn't that have been chopsticks?