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Old 11-25-2008, 10:17 PM   #1
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Hematite
Portable Nav unit suggestions

I'm thinking (dangerous thing to do) that a portable Nav unit would be a good idea. I'm looking pretty hard at the Garmin Nuvi 760.

Does anyone have experience with a Nav unit they can recommend? I'm particularly wondering about how these units work out when towing a travel coach. Can they be made to accomodate towing needs?
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Old 11-26-2008, 05:42 AM   #2
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We purchased a Nuvi last year and are getting dangerously reliant on it. It's not perfect; it doesn't always recognize a one-way street for example, but it's got us most everywhere we wanted to go. What I appreciate most is the fact that it can recalculate your route almost instantly. So, if you miss your exit, say, it will update the route and tell you where to go next to you get back on track. I also appreciate the time-remaining function which calculates when you should reach your destination. The address database in our unit is pretty good: it knows where most locations are. We've had some trouble with plugging in addresses of RV parks near interstate interchanges. They seem to have addresses off of frontage roads which the Nuvi doesn't always recognize. However, more parks are publishing their GPS coordinates which the Nuvi recognizes, so street addresses are becoming less important.

This summer we took our first trip without a triptick, we just had our Rand-McNally and the Nuvi. I felt a little lost without a detailed itinerary, but we did just fine.

For voice directions, we started out with the female Austrialian voice but she became irritating so we settled on the female American voice. We had been calling her the "GPS Lady" but changed to "Lola" which is what Robin Williams called his GPS Lady in the movie "RV." Interestingly, a friend of mine has noticed that men tend to prefer a female voice with their GPS units while women tend to prefer a male voice.

Of course, the Nuvi does a lot more things than give you driving directions but that's all we use it for. It does have the ability to tailor its routing to the type of driving you do.

Hope this helps.
Don
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Old 11-26-2008, 07:12 AM   #3
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I have two different Garmin units. I have an older streetpilot and a newer nuvi. The nuvi is one of their least expensive models while the streetpilot was a low-midrange model.

I believe the street pilot performed better routing than my newer nuvi though I have not taken the time to perform a detailed evaluation. (My son has the streetpilot at the moment.)

I believe most units are good for getting you close, but they are not always perfect. My streetpilot has an option for 'truck route' which might be good to use when towing, though I really do not know what it does differently.

Take into consideration how maps are updated. Lower end units tend to not have good update options. Higher end units may have the option to pull down updated data on the fly. Some units even obtain traffic info, but usually require some type of subscription. What you need depends on how much, how often, and where you drive.

I have seen some good deals on various models at both Stapes and Best Buy in their black friday ads.

Good luck!
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Old 11-26-2008, 07:15 AM   #4
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We have two GARMIN GPS units... an older GPS-V and a year old Streetpilot C320, both BTW are discontinued models.

The 320 is our GPS of choice right now. Like Don says, we find that it can direct us to most places fairly well. It has an SD memory card slot which can provide additional memory capacity for the unit, which is important if you use it alot. Updates can be a key issue with a GPS. Ours came with code that was a couple of years out of date so new roads, subdivisions and places moving or simply going out of business are annoying.

While GARMIN is a leader in GPS tech, some friends of mine are really liking their TOM TOM GPS units. They are techies like me and comment that they find updating the TOM TOM is easier & cheaper than the GARMIN. TOM TOM units can be on sale right now for VERY LITTLE, comparatively speaking.

We'ved used our GPS in the car and when towing with the truck. Our GARMIN has settings where you can specify the type of road to use (or avoid) which can be very helpful if you're towing a long rig behind you. The more expensive models like the NUVI you're looking at have more abilities than our basic 320, so it would be even more flexible a unit.

The NUVI 760 lists for about $100 more than the 750 and the only difference is Bluetooth... the 750 doesn't have it, the 760 does. If you don't need the Bluetooth, you can save some $$.

I'd go out on the web and check GARMIN and TOM TOM sites and compare the units having the feature sets you need and the features you WANT. Then check your local pricing. Either of these manufacturers will provide you with a GPS you'll find very useful when travelling.

Good Hunting!
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Old 11-26-2008, 08:56 AM   #5
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We have the TomTom one, which is a rather inexpensive model. In fact, I just read that it can be had this Friday for something like $60, that is, if full-contact shopping turns you on.

Being an entry level unit, it doesn't speak street names, instead it says things like "Turn right in 200 feet" or "After 100 yards, take the highway right." Street names would be nice, but not having it hasn't been a problem either - on those few occasions I needed clarity, a quick glance at the display shows the street name clearly.

As others have said, they aren't perfect, but are helpful and nice to have. We have used ours quite a bit, including a 2000 mile round-trip we took out to Iowa and back this past summer. It is great that they automatically re-calculate if you miss an exit or a turn, and having the nearest restaurant/gas station information available with the tap of the screen is a very nice feeling.

One thing I wish it had (and it very well might, I confess I've never read the manual!) was the smarts to know about road restrictions - Such as tunnel prohibitions for propane. If we're taking the trailer on a road I know has tunnels/bridges, I do a quick sanity check online before we leave.

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Old 11-26-2008, 09:55 AM   #6
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Hematite
Wow, thanks for the great responses! We would like to do more traveling next year so the idea of the Nav unit is very appealing. I suspect that using the Nav unit does dull personal navigation skills because it is too easy to rely on the unit. I would think that appropriate maps for a backup would be prudent.

What really appeals to me about these units is the capability to find points of interest, restaurants, hospitals, and repair facilities while in an unfamiliar area. I feel that this function, alone, is worth the price of admission, particularly in an emergency situation. Does anyone know if either the Garmin or the TomTom units are better in this respect than the other? Reliability is another factor that I'm interested in getting more info on.

Thanks,
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Old 11-26-2008, 01:51 PM   #7
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I'm looking for a GPS this year too--Santa should have it in his bag--so bought the Dec. issue of Consumers Reports. I haven't read CR in a few years and was a bit disappointed at the lack of overall info, but there were some useful pieces. Garmin and TomTom owners are the most satisfied with their purchase. All 14 models were check rated from an $800 Nuvi 880 to the cheapest Nuvi 200. The Nuvi 255W was the most expensive "best buy" at $280 and the Nuvi 200 the least expensive "best buy" at $150. Two other Nuvi's and the TomTom One 130 were also "best buys".

My conclusion from reading all this and checking online prices is that there are several pretty good Garmin and TomTom units out there for well under $200. I'm thinking of moving up one step from the cheapest to either a wide screen and/or spoken street names. I haven't decided which is the most important and will leave that up to son #2 who is a tech junkie and has Santa's ear as well.

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Old 11-26-2008, 02:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
What really appeals to me about these units is the capability to find points of interest, restaurants, hospitals, and repair facilities while in an unfamiliar area. I feel that this function, alone, is worth the price of admission, particularly in an emergency situation. Does anyone know if either the Garmin or the TomTom units are better in this respect than the other?
The reliability of the information you get from the POI database on a GPS is totally dependent upon UPDATES. Catch a GPS on sale and it's likely last year's model with last year's database. At least that's how it's worked with the GARMIN. Some places experience little change, like where I live. Other places have LOTS of changes, like the Atlanta area. If you don't update the GPS, you can't keep track of the changes and you may get sent to a place that's no longer there.

The base C320 we have requires a USB connection to a computer so you can run the update CD. And it's almost $80 for that update CD unless you catch it on sale someplace. I do not know about the TOM TOM's but I have heard it's cheaper and easier.

Something else you may want to keep in mind is the display on the GPS and how well it works in bright sunlight, like the kind you have when it's sitting on your dashboard. Our basic 320 kinda washes out some in really bright light. I assume that the bigger better faster models do this better, but you know assumptions work...
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Old 11-26-2008, 06:57 PM   #9
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I have a Nuvi 350 and one thing I know is that I would not have one that DID NOT tell you the name of the road to turn onto. I did not like the "turn right in 250 feet", I want the street name or route number. I seldom look at the 3.5 inch screen on my nuvi. I have my unit mounted on the windshield as low as I could get and as close to the window pillar as possible. This makes it very easy to look at should I want to, it does NOT create a blind spot like those mounted under the rear view mirror with the windshield mount, and it doesn't seem to get much glare on it. I just need to dig up the $$ to do the mapping upgrade

There are so many choices, you'll make yourself dizzy trying to decide.

Good luck in your decision,

Kitty
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Old 11-28-2008, 12:54 PM   #10
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The newest Garmin unit actually listens to you, and has voice activated commands. I saw it at Sam's Club, great safety addition, but very pricey.
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Old 11-28-2008, 05:15 PM   #11
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OOPS, hehehe
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Old 11-28-2008, 05:17 PM   #12
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Rick,

Radio Shack has the Garmin Nuvi on sale for $159.00, heres the link.

I have this unit and I'm quite pleased with it. And trust me I paid a lot more for mine.

Hope you get one you like for a good price,

Kitty


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Old 11-28-2008, 07:42 PM   #13
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Hematite
Kitty,

Thanks for the link, that's a smokin' good deal!

Even though this isn't the greatest time to buy a GPS since you can't use it for a while (at least in the Northeast), it IS a great time to get an excellent price!
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Old 11-28-2008, 10:23 PM   #14
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This has been a very interesting read. I keep trying to decide weather or not I need this or just want it. I drive big rig for a living and even though I am a"Guy" I do not mind stopping to ask directions. As far a vacation travel I find planning the trip is half the fun. Before we went to Disney last May from Windsor ON. we spent a lot of time on the PC Using Google earth to plan our route. We didn't leave at the time we had planed but with just State maps picked up at welcome centres we had never have any trouble finding our way. In 1978 we did a trip with a brother pulling a TT, a sister with a car only and we had a PU We came across a low train bridge. I would suppose that a GPS might help with that. But I have never come to a point where I and the wife say "We really should have a GPS" If that happens then we will have to start looking
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