Dave: Hello 911! There’s an emergency. My father here just had a stroke and I need an ambulance. I live at 5, Park Street.
Operator: I have noted that down and the ambulance is on its way. Meanwhile I want you to…
(An hour later)
Driver: Hello Mr. Dave, I’m not able to find your location. Could you guide me more precisely?
Dave: Take a right turn from the big tree that you see. Or do you see a red dustbin? My house is in the same lane…
Driver: Sorry sir, I can’t see any of them…
Sadly Dave Sr. is at his worst. Long gone are the days where you could find your way by asking pedestrians or following the bill boards alongside the roads. The cities and society are growing exponentially and these conventional methods of navigation have almost become futile. Marcus Buckingham once said, “The best way to find out whether you’re on the right path? Don’t look at the path! “, though it really doesn’t work that way. Keeping up with the society is the key to survival and a major aspect isto know where to find the right things.
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) is the technology that guides you to your destination through the darkest corners of this infinite world. Invented in the 1990s, it is a space based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information about all the parts of the world, in all weather conditions. It was built to satisfy the long standing – ‘Information’ fetish of the US Department of Defence but through the years has witnessed applications in almost all aspects of life.
From finding a grocery store to visiting distant relatives, GPS has made travel much more efficient in terms of time and effort. Not only individuals but businesses have also benefited from this technology as it enables them to reach out to customers in remote areas as well. GPS technology has seen immense development over the years and the most popular application of it is “consumer automobile” such as cars and buses.
The GPS provides a host of facilities over your generic driving experience:
- Worry about losing your way while going to a new place for vacation or getting lost before an important meeting in a new town? GPS Navigators will guide you with the directions and help you reach your desired destination in time.
- Getting late to office, don’t know which route to take? Voila, you have the God’s eye. GPS will track the traffic on the possible routes and will help you choose the one which takes the least amount of time.
- Not sure if the place you’re travelling to is accessible and not affected by a landslide, flood or hailstorm? GPS helps you identify the blocked routes and gives you constant weather information to help you make an informed decision.
- Insurance companies are now supporting cars with GPS through low cost premiums and bonus incentives. GPS also helps identify accidents and is crucial in notifying the local authorities in case of any such unfortunate instance.
- New GPS systems also have a built-in feature that notifies you in case of vehicle theft or any damage to your vehicle. They help you track your vehicle from remote locations which come in very handy when you’re at office or on a vacation far away.
Some of the most popular GPS systems used around the world are:
1. Garmin Nüvi 2589LMT
The Garmin Nuvi 2589 LMT provides a rich feeling due to its sleek geometry and its compactness. The Garmin Nuvi 2589 LMT’s screen mount is specially designed so that it folds away to facilitate operation in compact cars as well. It is install-friendly and robust to go through the rough patches of roads. The Garmin Nuvi 2589 LMT’s glass screen looks quite classy when it’s taken out of the box but appears to be quite reflective when used during a sunny day.
- Preloaded Maps: Canada, Mexico and USA.
- Voice Recognition System.
- Estimated Traffic Stats.
- 10 Million Point of Interests (POI).
- Route assistant, Speed indicator and Lane assistant.
- 5 Inch display with capacitive touch, pinch to zoom display with dual-orientation
- FOURSQUARE – Search million of additional new and popular restaurants, shops and more with Foursquare
- Direct Access – Simplifies navigating to select complex destinations, like malls and airports
- LIFETIME MAP UPDATES – Businesses open and close. New roads are built. Be confident your routes reflect the latest map data available.
- LIFETIME TRAFFIC – Free lifetime traffic avoidance, no ads or subscription fees
- Bluetooth with capability to link with smartphone and Voice Activated Navigation
- Maps for most of the continents are available as updates on the product’s official website. For some maps you may need to buy a nüMaps Lifetime subscription (sold separately) if it is not bundled with the product you buy.
- If you encounter any issue, in diagnosing the product then you can view common FAQs here.
2. TomTom Go 500
It’s a small black and silver device with a 3.5 inch LCD screen. The screen displays at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels and has a colour depth of 4096 colours. Its physical size does make it bulky to carry in pocket and so might not be the solution for those looking for usage outside car.
- Lifetime TomTom Traffic – Always drive with real-time traffic information for the lifetime of your device.
Lifetime Maps – Always drive with the latest map at no extra cost.
- Advanced Lane Guidance – Clearly see which lane to take at key junctions.
- Quick Search – Find your destination faster with intuitive search results. Quick Search starts to find your destination as soon you start typing.
- Fully Interactive Screen – Simply pinch, zoom and swipe the interactive map to find places and explore more of the world around you.
- 3 Months TomTom Speed Cameras – Get alerts for speed cameras. Avoid speeding fines with accurate and timely speed warnings.
- 3D Maps – See buildings and landmarks in stunning 3D. With 3D Maps, you’ll always know exactly where you are.
- Smartphone Connected – Drive with real-time traffic information via smartphone.
- Maps of Mexico, USA and Canada are preloaded. Countries for other maps can be downloaded for free or subscription fee depending on your plan.
- Languages available may differ per country.
3. Magellan Smart GPS 5390
It has a sleek and stylish design that integrates local, social, and mobile content and helps you to navigate to your destination.
It has a 5-Inch LCD screen and comes with a cloud system that connects your mobile phone, tablet and Smart GPS. Even after all these features it succeeds in providing a competitive price versus its competitors. It also has Yelp and Foursquare pre-integrated that help you to choose the right restaurants in your local area allowing you to read reviews before you eat.
Many add-ons, like the Road Mate 5295T LM Smart GPS Battery, Quick Start Guide, Windshield Mount, Micro USB Cord, Vehicle Power Adapter, USB AC Adapter, and a Smart GPS App Download Card are included in each Magellan Smart GPS which enables you to make the optimum use of the GPS.
- Huge 5-Inch, High Resolution Screen
- Premium Car Connectivity.
- Huge Points of Interest Database
- Driving Information such as Lowest Gas Prices, Traffic & Traffic Camera Alerts, and much more without additional subscription plans.
- Smartphone Connectivity – Search and transfer destinations and contacts from your smart phone to Smart GPS.
- Cloud Connectivity
- Includes Smartphone App
- Yelp and Foursquare Integration
- Travel the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada with all the maps you need, pre-loaded on your device.
- Other maps are downloadable at a nominal fee once you make an account on their official website
4. Garmin Nüvi 68LMT
Garmin Nüvi68LMT has a 6-inch dual-orientation display. It also provides turn-by-turn spoken direction feature and is easy-to-use. It does not rely on cellular signals and is unaffected by cellular dead zones. It comes preloaded with detailed maps of the U.S. and Canada with free lifetime map updates. Spoken Garmin Real Directions™ guides like a friend and uses landmarks, billboards and traffic lights to give you a better driving experience.
- Display type: WVGA color TFT with white backlight
- Preloaded City Navigator® NT U.S. and Canada
- Foursquare: Search millions of additional new and popular restaurants, shops and more
- Garmin Real Directions guides like a friend using landmarks and traffic lights
- Speaks street names (e.g. “Turn right ON ELM STREET in 500 ft.”)
- Direct Access simplifies navigating to select complex destinations, like malls and airports
- Lane assist (guides to proper lane for navigation)
- Lifetime traffic updates (receive free lifetime traffic updates)
- Junction view (displays junction signs)
- Route avoidance (avoid highways, tolls etc.)
- BC™ 30 Wireless Backup Camera compatible (purchased separately)
- Trip Planner
- Additional: This USB mass storage device is compatible with Windows® XP or newer and Mac® OS X 10.4 or later. Making it easier to add new maps from any system configuration, whether Mac or Windows.
5. Garmin Nüvi 58LMT
Garmin nüvi 58LMT helps you navigate through your trip with confidence and ease! This version also comes pre-loaded with detailed maps of the U.S. and Canada, and you are entitled to free lifetime map and traffic updates so that your GPS reflects the most up-to-date information. Garmin’s Real Directions give you easy-to-understand directions using recognizable landmarks, buildings and traffic lights to guide you, no more struggling to read street signs! Integration of Foursquare allows access to 10 million Points of Interest (POIs).
- 5″ (480 x 272 pixels) dual-orientation display with touch screen control
- Includes Foursquare points of interest
- Preloaded with maps for the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, plus U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Bahamas
- Text-to-speech voice prompts announce actual road names at turns
- Direct Access provides door-to-door directions to destinations within select malls, airports, and universities
- Real Directions gives instructions using landmarks, buildings, and traffic signals
- Real Voice announces directions in human-like voice
- Up Ahead feature informs of nearby services
- Lane assistance and junction view
- Speed limit and school zone indicators
- Multi-destination routing: Allows 1,000 waypoints
Author’s summary for choosing the best GPS for your car:
The Garmin Nuvi 2589LMT is the leading car GPS in the market. All the features you expect from a GPS are present. Also the customer service provided by Garmin is reported as the best so far.
The TomTom GO 500 is a close after the Garmin Nuvi 2589LMT.Its only setback is the lack of a built-in traffic receiver. It does receive traffic updates through a smartphone app (included). It’s also less expensive as compared to the Nuvi.
The Magellan Smart GPS 5390 is place third. It almost has the same feature as the TomTom GO though its screen has a slight upper edge with regards to resolution. However, Magellan’s customer service is not as trusted as TomTom’s or Garmin’s.
If you’re on a budget crunch, the TomTom Go 50 (not reviewed here) is the recommended car GPS for you. It’s almost at par with the inexpensive units in the market, and includes lifetime map updates. It isn’t a complete package though as it lacks certain premium features like voice activation touch screen etc.
Lot of people around the world use Google Maps for navigation. Though it is not the best choice as it is not as regularly updated and also host of features like Foursquare, Yelp, Points of Interest (POIs) are lacking. Thus GPS systems are gaining prominence as they are specialized and frequently update to keep you running.
Hope this guide helped you identify the key features of each of these products and thus understand the best product suited to your needs.