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Old 12-11-2009, 10:25 PM   #1
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Hi Fellow Sunline GPS users

Thinking of getting a GPS for towing. The technology keeps changing so I’m asking for any updated info you might have. I see Garmin has a Trucker Friendly version. It only seems to be in one model.

When Towing, “The Camper 2” it does not always fit where a smaller camper goes or cars. Thus the thought of the truck routing verses car routing.

I have only used a GPS in Europe where they are fully integrated into the car dash right next to the Speedometer. And naturally it was a rent a car, not a rent a camper.

How do you folks deal with towing with “the box”?

Anyone ever use the trucker version? It sounds good for the towing things, but do not know what you give up to do that. Ideally they have a toggle to go in and out of truck mode.

Any ideas to help a GPS newbie make the right choice the 1st time?

The Nuvi 465T seems to have lane assist and turn by turn plus about every truck stop there is in points of interest. There is also suppose to be a hazards assist, wind, sharp turns, steep grades. There is also a traffic alert mode. All of these things sound good to camper towing.

Any input greatly appreciated.

Thanks

John
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Old 12-12-2009, 07:08 AM   #2
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I have a garmin streetpilot c340, it's just your basic unit with voice guidance and it works great,It has a mode for bus routing and that is what I leave mine set on,I have never been in a situation with the camper that I could not go somewhere or etc.I find mine to have plenty of poi's.the lane assisst feature does sound nice.you bring up a good point though John about technology changing so quickly and for what map updates cost,I think that the best option is to buy the cheapest unit that you can get by with and every 2 or 3 years just buy a new unit.I have had my unit now 3 years and the battery life is not that great anymore and my maps are starting to get outdate(due to highway changes etc.)so this year rather then spending $60.00 to update the maps and then whatever it would cost to replace the battery for right around $120.00 I can replace my unit with a brand new one and have a new battery,new maps and a more up to date unit.just my $.02
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:10 AM   #3
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" Thinking of getting a GPS for towing" John, I REALLY think you better stick with your F-350 as it WILL do a much better job of towing the 310.

Now, on the serious side, I have a Garmin Nuvi 360, it's probably at least 3 years old now, and I purchased the "lifetime" map updates when I was offered the chance to do so for a price of $129.00. A "one time" map up date was $79.95. Garmin appears to update 4 times a year, so after I do one update and start the second update I'm ahead of the purchase price.

My Nuvi has the lane assist which is one of my favorite features, nothing like being on a 3 or 4 lane interstate and know you are approaching you exit and have to wonder "which" side the exit ramp is on. Yes, I have had to deal with exit ramps on the left and been in the far right lane.

If I were purchasing a new GPS, I would not spend the $$ for ALL the bells & whistles. The choices are overwhelming, good luck with your search/decision.

PS: I still don't think any GPS WILL bring you directly to my house, HAHAHA, but you already know how to get here !!!!!

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Old 12-12-2009, 10:30 AM   #4
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John,
We have a Garmin 255; spoken street names; 3.5" screen. It's on sale this week in Canada for about US$100, about half what I thought was a good price last year. I have zero experience with the trucker version, but, FWIW, will still give some opinions If you haven't checked amazon, they have some interesting reviews to digest as well:
http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-4-3-Inc...0631093&sr=8-1

First of all, I am very happy with my GPS and even use it in the car for 1-2 hr trips even when I know where I'm going because I like the onscreen info. However, for a long cross country trip it is just one more tool, albeit a favorite one. We always travel with official DOT maps for every state/province we'll be in, a road atlas, campground directory and The Next Exit. You are traveling blind if you use a GPS to replace any of these other tools.

I suspect the trucker version is filled with as many errors and omissions as the regular one we have--they aren't going to use different maps, just different algorithms for plotting a route. The maps are not updated uniformly. My son's 3 yr old house in a 4 or 5 yr old subdivision does not have a single street, including the main access through street marked--it's just a big white space. Just to give you a couple of examples you'll be familiar with. Buttonwood is one of many private campgrounds not in the POI database. If you can play with the GPS in the store, plot a short trip from the east into Mexico,PA. The regular GPS will have you turn on that first 135° lefthander down to the river--or use any other close to home route you know you wouldn't want to be on. I'd give the trucker version one strike and it's out.

Our GPS paid for itself on a trip to Lancaster Co., PA. I don't mean to insult anyone--the former cowpaths and buggy roads that have been paved into highways are part of the charm of the place, but we've been there a couple of times without a GPS. The GPS navigated us around Lancaster flawlessly and we had complete confidence in lingering over dinner into darkness that simply punching the campground back into the GPS would take us back without any drama. Having said that, the Sight & Sound Theatre, one of the major attractions, is not in the POI.

What I like least about the GPS is that it has no intelligence--don't even try to put in a waypoint--few options and no overrides. We drove halfway across NE on US30 while the GPS tried to get us back onto I80 at every single interchange. If you select the fast route the GPS will take you miles out of the way to get onto an Interstate. If you select the most direct you'll be turning down every single gravel country road that knocks a couple of feet off your route--like I said, never drive blind.

A couple of issues to be aware of:
Garmin know the instant you unwrap that nice little package under your tree... and turn it on for the first time... and it acquires the satellite. Your warranty is now ticking and you have 3 mon. to log on and download the latest out of date map updates. Don't save money by buying an open box.

The cheapest US models do not have Canadian maps and the cheapest Canadian models only have the northern US states--not very useful for the typical RV'er.

Spoken street names and turns is a very useful feature. I found lane assist to be too rich for my first "let's try this out first" GPS as it is usually only on high end models where you pay for other stuff like bluetooth and MP3 that I didn't need. For anyone not sure of the difference: on an Interstate with a two lane exit ramp--spoken turns will tell you to keep right first; then once onto the ramp, it will tell you to keep right or left for whichever lane you should be in; or it says "keep right then keep left." With lane assist you will be positioned into the proper lane with beautiful graphics of the overhead interstate signs. Lane assist is not a big deal for driving through Cincinnati on I75, but check out a map of Nashville on I65 to see a huge benefit.

Lane assist is the only feature for which I would even consider the 4.3"; 3.5" is big enough for me.

Garmin, but not the older Tom Tom's at least, automatically magnifies the map as you approach a turn. This is a really nice feature as extraneous crossroads usually aren't even there, Interstate ramps barely show up, but when you come to your ramp it is greatly magnified to show the lay of the land.

The onscreen speed limit display is also very useful. Most of the time it changes exactly as you pass the sign beside the hwy.--pretty cool. However, that feature doesn't work anywhere in Canada and fairly often not in the US either.

My personal preference is not to attach the GPS to the windshield--illegal in MN and CA--and I really like this Garmin mat. It has a high friction bottom and is filled with shot. I adjust it a couple of times on a day long drive, but it has never fallen off or slid forward even in a panic stop, even in my Accord which has a downward slope on the dash.
http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-010-109..._tit_4_rsrssi1
This is a really expensive price, almost Canadian A friend recently bought one in VA in a large discount sports store--can't remember their name, Dick's I believe, for less than $20.

Henry
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Old 12-12-2009, 11:15 AM   #5
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As a technogeek (one that is facinated with "toys"), I have THREE GPS units.

The first is an old GARMIN GPSV. It was bought for $50 from a co-worker. Still works well... has routing abilities that my current GARMIN C330 does NOT have. Screen was TOO SMALL (it's basically a hand-held sized unit with automotive uses). Limited memory... could not load a lot on there. But I could build a basic route on my PC, taking the roads I chose and upload it to the GPSV via serial port, which was kinda slow.

Our current GPS, purchased about 3 years ago on Black Friday for less than $100, is the GARMIN C330. It does some things better. The 330 screen is color and larger. It talks to me. It has an SD card slot for additional storage capacity. It has POI info that the other did not. It connects to the PC via USB for updates. It does NOT have the ability to design and upload routes like the GPSV, but you can save your own "Locations" as waypoints. The re-routing capability has saved us more than once, routing us around traffic jams in unfamiliar locations.

The GARMIN updates are EXPENSIVE. And I agree with Henry about the GARMIN dash mat (mine is more like a small sandbag base for the GPS mount). It's a good option that keeps the GPS off the glass.

The 330 has not been updated at all, so new roads are not there. Neither are the POI updates... but we work around that. The Internet and GOOGLE are a wundermus thing! We find that the 330 is good for finding our way to a town or city but not always able to direct us to a specific address... as others know it sometimes aims you in the wrong direction. It's only as good as it's database. As mentioned by Henry, we carry road maps and a recent Atlas so we are not totally dependent upon one navigation method. BTW, the 330 is always with us, towing with the truck or taking a road trip in the car... it's 3.5-inch size is perfect.

With these experiences, I decided that the features I really liked to have were: easy to read color screen... ability to upload routes... expanded storage capacity so updates with POI's are not an issue.

Since the purchase of a netbook computer, I have decided to try out one of the USB GPS hockey-pucks. I bought a DeLorme LT-20 that came with a 2008 version of Street Atlas software. The netbook has a 10-inch screen and a real hard drive, so the "easy to read color screen" and "expanded storage capacity" preferences are easily fulfilled. I have not yet played with the software enough to deterine if I can build my own routes, but I'll figure it out soon enough.

No, I will not be putting the netbook on the dash... but I am looking into various methods to mount and secure it so I and my navigator can see it.

The USB GPS was cheap... bought it on Cyber Monday via Amazon.com for $18. The LT-20 is a basic GPS receiver according to reviews and if it isn't sensitive or quick enough for me, I can look into other NMEA compliant receivers. We'll have to see if the LT-20 w/netbook will supplant or supplement the GARMIN.
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Old 12-12-2009, 01:40 PM   #6
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WOW… Thanks everyone!!

You folkd are the best. Thank you for taking the time to type. Searching around I found this site. OMG….. Just type in the brand and model you are looking for an whammo…. there is a full report, 13 pages on the Garmin Trucker one… showing how it is used, what comes on the box, and the authors description on how they rate it.

http://www.gpsmagazine.com/

If you are after a certain model, hunt around on line and read the reviews. While every ones view is different, it brings up good questions to then yourself further search out.

A few comments to those who have already posted.

Rich, yes I know what you mean about going the cheaper one and just plain upgrading every few years. Good point. Sort of like travel luggage. I use to buy the heavy duty Samsonite hard cases, for those that remember them…, the airlines would beat them to death. Wheels come off, handles etc. Then my buddy at work said he gave up on buying the good ones, he now buy a cheap one every year as they still get beat up…but he always have a working one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kanyonkitty
" Thinking of getting a GPS for towing" John, I REALLY think you better stick with your F-350 as it WILL do a much better job of towing the 310.
There’s one in every crowd…LOL OK I have been looking but I can’t yet seem to find the port on the back of any GPS to put the 2 5/16” ball in?? ha ha…

Thanks for feed back on lane assist. Now to get to camp Sunny in Gerrardtown… well I can find the long and lat and put it in. Just I have to find a web site where it can give me long and latitude…. The only on I know of is Terraserver. I thought the other sites like Bing, Mapguest etc use to give that out, but I can’t seem to find that option any more. If I can see you from the air, I can find you….

Henry, I’m too old fashion to give up hard maps. The 1st detour that comes up using a Google maps etc and your stuck. Same thing when we went out into the wilderness canoeing or back packing. Topo and compass and I can nail it dead on. What do you do if the GPS dies???

I agree the GPS is a tool and use it as such. Even when I was in Germany, and they live by these things over there, you can drive for 6 hours and it be right on, then get to within 1000 feet of your destination and the address is way off. They are only as good as the data base. In town we where heading to a restaurant, it took us to within 10 feet of the entrance door….

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkasten39828
As a technogeek (one that is facinated with "toys"), I have THREE GPS units.
Dave, thanks and good things to think thru. And LOL!!!. Well I must be a Toollo-geek (One that is fascinated with tools) ….

Yes having had 3 of them now this long I’m sure you know the in’s and out of them and can create your own custom setup.

Well, the search continues on what to do. With each one being the “best” as declared by marketing, it’s hard to figure this out. But I’m gaining “I think” on what is important to what we need for when the “F350 tows the camper.”

Well back to more research.

Thanks and any more replies welcome.

John
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Old 12-12-2009, 03:52 PM   #7
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John,

Happy Shopping Gary or I can give you our long & lat when you need them.

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Old 12-14-2009, 01:46 PM   #8
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Henry - I assume your Garmin is available at Canadian Tire?

Our dtr bought a GPS for us for Christmas, but God only knows what kind. Money talks to her for sure, so it'll be a cheap model. Should we try it out before we leave, in case it's no good and we can exchange it for a better one??
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Old 12-14-2009, 03:17 PM   #9
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I believe the Garmin 255 is sale priced at both CTC and Future Shop and just about any store today will price match the competition if you prefer someone else.

I would hesitate to turn on a GPS that there was a good chance I'd return it simply because they know when it locks onto the satellite.

As far as I know the 255 has always had complete NA maps. The cheaper 205, and I believe latest 1200 and 1300 do not. You can do a lot of research on the Internet and while that most likely will be for US models, it's a good bet if the US model lacks Cdn maps, then the similar Cdn model will lack the complete US maps--that's how they get the low price. And, by the way, the ones that lack Cdn maps also lack Alaska and instead of pointing that out are most likely to just say lower 48 states.

Last Dec. issue of Consumer Reports rated most GPS pretty much equal overall, but did say their surveys showed Garmin and TomTom users were the most satisfied.

I only have experience with Garmin so really can't say how to judge for best value compared to other brands--just read the fine print to make sure it has all the maps for NA. This amazon page is very specific about pointing that out:
http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-255-3-5...8-1#Where_Am_I

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Old 12-15-2009, 09:07 AM   #10
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Thanks Henry. Before I open the pkg, I will read the fineprint. Our dtr wouldn't know what to look for, that is for sure.

Also, our other dtr went looking at Cdn. Tire for a weather radio I had asked for (for Ron of course, lol). She had no idea what/who NOAA was, so she was on the cel with me (she is in NS, I am in NB), talking to the salesperson and reading boxes & labels to find what I was looking for. Thank goodness the salesperson was aware of what she wanted...
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:15 AM   #11
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Alternatives

We have a weather radio in our motor home and have never used it. We bought it after we were in ND and heard a warning about a pending storm in a particular county. Of course we did not know what county we were in, but I could see the storm coming. So we bought a radio for safety.

There are many alternatives to a weather radio. For example our Blackberry almost instantly finds the weather for where ever we are. It automatically provides alerts for our exact location. As well the same ability exists using our laptop.

Obviously in our little SUnline we don't have room for everything.

As well we don't use a GPS. Ginny doesn't want to be replaced and loves her maps. In 10 years we've only been lost twice and only for minutes.

We do scope out our route on Streets and Trips before we head off. We do have an absolutely great GPS Sensor for Streets and Trips that I bought with our little laptop. I've never seen anything that picks up the satellites faster, even in my living room.

Of course the Blackberry also has a GPS system which I've used once when driving with someone who did have a GPS system but really didn't know how to use it. (When we signed on with the Blackberry I had no idea how powerful it is.) Of course the new Droid and IPhone have similar capabilities to the Blackberry and I expect will become real competitors to all the primary GPS companies. In an interesting competitive advantage of the Blackberry is that it continually produces new maps, no updates to download.

I should say my training is electrical engineering and I do love electronics but I find there's much redundancy betwen my Laptop and all these extra little goodies and space......
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Old 12-15-2009, 04:26 PM   #12
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I just installed an app in my Blackberry that allows me to listen to NOAA weather via the Internet. It also gives me access to police, fire, and ems scanners all across the country. www.bbscanner.com if anyone is interested.

But one drawback of relying only on a smartphone for weather info, whether a NOAA radio broadcast or an internet page, is that the smartphone needs an available cell signal to get this information to you. The radios that receive the NOAA signals directly via VHF radio transmission have a greater range than a cell signal. Depending on the cellular provider, that coverage will vary greatly. The NOAA weather broadcast transmitters are placed strategically in all 50 states. There are about 1,000 of them presently. Each has a typical broadcast range of 40-60 miles depending on terrain. NOAA's Weather Service also provides emergency alerting for all types of emergencies, natural and man-made.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/ for more info.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/usframes.html for coverage maps of the US.

My trusty old handheld scanner has all the weather channels in it, and goes with us everywhere. I have an external antenna on the truck for the scanner that greatly improves reception over long distances.

There's probably no single source that is 100%, but between the BB and the scanner, I feel pretty comfortable.
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:16 PM   #13
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John and all,
Rich mentioned that his old Garmin has mor capabilities in some respects than a newer one. Garmin has been criticized heavily for removing features and dumbing down their products.
Garmin still has a lot of nice and capable units, and they and TomTom are the two biggest players. Feature for feature a TomTom is usually cheaper than a Garmin. TomTom has been using Tele Atlas maps, where Garmin uses Navtec. There are overall very little difference between them, but one may be better than the other one in one area, and reverse in another. (Information gleaned from "gpsreview")
We bought Microsoft Streets and Trips to use on our lap top with a Globalsat BU-353 GPS antenna, and it works very well. In a compact vehicle it is a little cumbersome, but on the center console in the Ram 2500 TW it works great.
We have used it in Europe too with Microsoft Autoroute, but Microsoft is not doing updates for that any more, so we bought a TomTom Go920 with maps for Western Europe as well as North America. That is the one that gets the most use. Ordered a TomTom XL3330S for $100 shipped for DW for Christmas, so we are obviously fairly happy with the TomTom. DW decided she needed her own with her most popular destinations programmed.
I have had my son's Magellan side by side with the TomTom in the truck, and they come up wih remarkably similar results, but I have read that Magellan's customer service is terrible.
I also just ordered a Delorme Earthmate GPS LT-20 bundled with Street atlas USA 2008. That way, for $12.99 we will have a more up to date map, and I was curious about how it works compared to Microsoft.
I much prefer the big view you get on the lap top screen over the 4.3 inch GPS units. Yes, you can zoom in or out on the small screens,
but on the big (14 inch) lap top screen you can see a lot more of your surroundings in much greater detail.
Garmin has the Nuvi 5000, which has a 5.2 inch screen, and therefore more readable in a larger vehicle, when the viewing distance is typically greater. It does not have a battery, so it only works plugged into your cigarette lighter. Nice unit for about $195.
Garmin also has the Nuvi 465T, but now we are over $400, but with nice features for truckers. I think I read somewhere that you can program in the height of your rig.
If big screen really is important, you can still find Garmin 7 inch 7200, or may be even the 7500. Some of these also can be connected to a back up camera, but a close check of the specifications of a unit you may consider, is in order, so that there are no surprises.
Some of the more expensive units come with a traffic information receiver, but in many cases you can buy that separately at a later time, but there is usually subscription cost associated with this service.
There are a lot of refurbished units out there at very attractive prices.
My TomTom is one of those, and I have had no problems. Got the unit for the cost of the maps alone, however, the maps may not be as up to date on these, and promised free update does not always work. My Konica Minolta A2 digital camera was also bought as refurbished, and with no issues so far.
Another place to look for reviews is "gpsreview".
Just another point of view.
Merry Christmas to you all!
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:31 PM   #14
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Thanks Folks on the extra info.

I'm now on the fence to go less expensive or go for the higher end Garmin Trucking GPS with the towing features. I can see both sides of the equation.

I'll most likely beat this to death a few more days and then "do it" what ever, it is.

The friction bean bag mount Henry suggested seems to be a popular choice to remove all traces a GPS was in the truck when you go somewhere. That much I have decided on.

Since this is a tool, and I take my tools serious…. I know if I get the less features one and find I don’t like it, I’ll be kicking my self for not getting the higher end one. And on the same token, if I get the higher end one and find I don’t use half of it, well that bugs me too. I’ll overcome.

FYI on the weather. We have an old weather station radio that lives in the camper. Had it for maybe 20 years now and never turned in on in the house any more, so it moved to the camper. We have used it a few times when the weather was questionable. Now that I have my B Berry for work glued to my hip all the time, doing weather.com on the zip code works too.

How did we ever camp before all these gizmos….

John
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
How did we ever camp before all these gizmos….

John
That's one of the things, that appeals to me about the Matthew's Arm CG on Skyline drive. It's far enough away from everything, that none of my usual "Gizmos" work!
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:55 PM   #16
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We wouldn't have either a GPS or a weather radio, except our dtrs are buying them for us as Christmas gifts. Better than getting another gift certificate from someplace I never shop anyway.

At home, we don't have a cel phone or a TV, so it should be interesting to see if we use either of the above. And myself, like Ginny, like my maps. I like to see how far we have come in a day, etc.
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Old 12-22-2009, 03:28 PM   #17
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Sunline1
JohnB

Not much time and maybe this unit is not what you are looking for but:

Yesterday i purchased a Garmin 255W at Staples. Long story short. Target (35 miles away from me),has them on sale for $119 this week in their flyer.

Staples (10 miles from me), has a price match policy. I called and spoke with the manager at Staples and was told (after he checked on the computer),they would gladle match the Target price.

Also staples website had a coupon 10% off instore purchases good 12/20 -12/24 ??. Anyway i printed it and took it along and got 10% off the $119, Got it for $107.10 plus tax.

This unit has a 4.3 in screen as well as spoken"street" names which were both important to me.

Don't know if this helps you, or anyone but thought I would at least pass on the info. My nephew whom travels alot has this unit and he really likes it.

Used it today to go to walmart and the hardware store pretty neat.

Good luck in your decision.
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:54 AM   #18
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Two quick points...

There's a Garmin Nuvi 255W waiting for us under the tree. Mrs. Santa was quite firm when she informed me that it would stay in the box and wrapped until Christmas morning. We like the features/price combination about as well as anything we saw in the general price range.

Second, I found an app for the BlackBerry (GPS-enabled models only) which essentially turns it into a hand-held, high precision GPS unit like the ones that geocachers use.

There are also several apps that allow GPS-enabled BlackBerries to function pretty much the same as many of the Garmins or Tom-Toms. No voice that I can find yet, but directions are good.
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:08 AM   #19
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Steve,

What's the name of the Blackberry app for geocaching?

Thank you,
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:17 AM   #20
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Sunline1,
You got a good break. I did the same thing with Staples price match, but they wouldn't except the 10% coupon. I questioned it, but I read it in their policy that they will only match the lower price and no other discounts apply. It was still a good deal. Now both vehicles will have GPS instead of moving the unit back and forth.
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