Recommend a GPS navigation system

My mom is driving to Yellowstone in a few weeks and she wants to get a portable GPS navigation system…the kind with, say, a 4-7" screen that you would take in a car with you (not one of the smaller handheld ones.) Any recommendations?

I’d like to know too. In the UK, Tom Tom units are king of the third-party automotive GPS navigation systems. But I don’t know if that is the same here in the US.

A navunit is only as good as it’s dataset, and it’s much easier to provide accurate data for a small country like the UK than it is a large one such as the USA.

Depending on your budget and whether backcountry hiking will be a part of the vacation you might look into the Garmin 60CSX. You do need to purchase the additional auto kit (window mount and road maps) if you want to navigate local city streets.

Well both Garmin and TomTom covers much more than just small countries - their most expensive units cover most of the Westerne world.

I have recently tested the Garmin Nüvi 300 and the TomTom Go 910 and both are excellent - I haven’t used either in the states, but I would be surprised if their maps weren’t good. The Garmin was the only one giving me map troubles by trying to get me to drive on an unfinished freeway - but that was one road. Otherwise it was excellent and it’s small size (brilliant for walking, using as calculator, small dictionary, MP3-player, currency converter etc.) and lower price made it the best GPS I’d tried in a long while (it’s brethren with higher numbers have bigger maps - Northern Europe as opposed to just Scandinavia - I don’t know what the difference are in the States)

But the TomTom Go 910 blew it away. So much I had to buy it. 20 GB hdd and it does everything the Nüvi does and more. Widescreen, remote, handsfree mobile set etc. And it came with maps for the US, Northern Europe and Australia. Only downside is price and the fact, that it’s a bit big for a pocket - I did use it walking the streets of Barcelona too, and it was great.

Cheapest solution is an Ipaq or other PDA, but in my experience they’re a bit too slow and has lousy screens for the job. Go with Garmin or TomTom and you won’t regret it.

In the US, TomTom’s maps are dated in many areas. People have had real issues in the Seattle area, for instance, with bad routing and many newer roads missing. Which is s hame, because TomTom’s user interface rules.

Go for a solution that uses Navteq map data. Garmin does. Navteq has by far the most up-to-date map data for North America.*

  • However, if you’re looking at GPS solutions for PDAs, etc., check to see when the map data was updated. The CoPilot program for the Pocket PC, for instance, uses Navteq data, but their Washington map data is four years old – they apparently haven’t licensed or updated to the newer map info.

I’ve been doing this research myself, I’m going to be getting one of these as a birthday gift for my father-in-law to be.

I suppose the answer to your question really all depends on how much you’re willing to spend, and just what functions do you need. Which is true of almost any technology purchase.

Some of the things you’ll want to consider, functionality-wise:

Do you want a unit that speaks the directions to you? If so do you want a unit that not only tells you to “turn left in 0.2 miles” but also says “turn left in 0.2 miles at Emerson Street”?
Do you foresee needing other maps in the future (e.g. Europe if you’re in NA, or NA if you’re in Europe)
Do you need the unit to be portable for hiking?
Do you need the unit to be waterproof for use hiking/boating?

With a pretty decent budget, I’ve narrowed my own choice down to the Magellan Roadmate 760. I like it because it does the voice navigation with street names, and it uses the accurate Navteq maps. I also considered, and it was close, the Garmin Quest 2.

If you drive in the city/ to the city everyday then don’t forget that newer models (more expensive) gets uipdated traffic info, which really makes a difference in your daily commute (if alternate routes are avaliable).
Garmin uses a FM radio addon and TomTom uses a data enabled mobile.

I’m considering getting a TomTom, and need to make the decision in the very near term.

Has anyone tried mounting the Rider on a bicycle? And the hard disk - would bumpy terrain be a significant risk? I’m not planning much off-roading, if any, but I do anticipate occasional speedbumps, curbs, gravel and rocky areas. And how much water can it actually take (I’m in Oregon)?

I plan to use it for both car and bicycle, so I should be able to go back and forth fairly easily.

And finally, is there anything new on the horizon I should watch out for, before I blow ~$900?

I ended up buying the Garmin Nüvi 360 for myself.
The TomTom was so heavy with it’s 20GB hdd, that every bump in the road made the screen tilt downwards (should bge fixed now) and it insisted on recommending a not yet built freeway when visiting my parents.
The Garmin came with a free TMC-module and SiRF for better coverage in densely built areas (should I ever encounter that).

Regarding the Rider, I haven’t tried it (not a biker) but the TomTom site states it’s water resistant (not proof - but the subjected it to a constant jet of water according to their site) and only has 32 MB (no harddisk). It’s looks like a solid mount, but really bumpy biking might make it tilt - it is an arm connected to the handlebars.

Everyone seems to think the new Garmin Nuvi is the bee’s knees. It’s super portable and has all kinds of jazzy features like bluetooth, mp3, sat traffic, etc.

Well, you guys have me leaning toward Garmin again (Zumo 550). The price is substantially higher, but you’re right in that they appear to lead the pack.

The Zumo appears to be targeted at motorcylists (not sure what features make it different).

Take a look at the Nuvi.

Oh I love the Nuvi, very slick. My only issue with it is it’s not water-resistant or -proof, and doesn’t come with bicycle mounting hardware.

I’m happy with my Garmin i5.

TomTom’s US maps are dated. Go for something that uses Navteq maps, and try to find out what year the maps were updated.