Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to Choose a GPS Receiver

How to Choose a GPS Receiver
By []Catherine Tower

One of the hardest decisions you will face when purchasing a GPS Receiver is finding the right GPS Unit for you. There are many different types, from Garmin to Magellan. Choosing the right one can seem like an enormous task. However, it does not have to be difficult if you know what you are looking for before you buy.

You can ask both retailers and GPS experts what the best units are. However, when choosing a GPS Receiver, your needs may differ from the needs of another, so, you should determine which unit you want to use on your own, based on exactly what your GPS specs are..

For instance, depending on what suits you best, you may wish to use a handheld GPS Unit. If you want to take your GPS everywhere you go, then a handheld GPS Unit is a great option. There are various types of handheld GPS Units on the market, so once you determine what type of GPS receiver you want you may want to examine and compare the features of each unit. Garmin makes excellent handheld GPS Units such as the Garmin Etrex Legend CX. Magellan has its own variety of handhelds as well, including the Magellan Explorist XL.

The other option you can choose from is the Portable GPS Unit. Portable Units are the ones most people use in their cars. They are convenient because the can attach to the side of the dashboard or another nearby location. Some Portable GPS Units even have places that are built in to the cars, where they can fit during the ride.

Both Magellan and Garmin make Portable GPS Units. The differences are seen in the technology and sometimes the features. Depending on what you are looking for, you may want to go with a Garmin Portable GPS Unit such as the Garmin Portable StreetPilot C320 or a Magellan Portable GPS Unit such as the Magellan Roadmate 3050T.

How GPS Works

In order to understand what kind of GPS Unit you want a brief overview of how they work is necessary. A GPS receiver uses a triangular technique to pinpoint your exact location on a map. The triangular formation uses three or four satellites at one time to send a signal to and from the GPS receiver. It does not matter whether you are using a Portable GPS Unit or a Handheld GPS Unit, you will need to be able to make contact with the satellites in order for the GPS receiver to work.

Once the satellites and the GPS receiver send signals, the distance from each of the three satellites to the receiver is computed and a location is determined. This happens quite fast, since these signals travel on radio waves. In fact, it must travel as fast as a nanosecond in order to work sufficiently and alert you as to your exact location.

The receiver is able to save information and it offers the location in a convenient, easy to use way. Often, this may mean a map is displayed or directions are listed. Other GPS Units use palm pilots or PCs to display the location information.

GPS Receivers are designed to look familiar. The maps are displayed exactly as the maps you use online to receive directions are displayed. GPS Units sometimes include speedometers, which resemble those in cars. Some look like mini computers with an operating system type of setup. This makes GPS Units both appealing and easy to use, since you can mimic these applications when using them on your GPS.

Choosing Based on Features

The first GPS receivers were attractive to a wide variety of individuals and they all had the same or similar features. Now, GPS Receivers still cater to a wide variety of people, though rather than having to deal with every single feature you may not use in one GPS Unit, the GPS Units have been divided into brands (Magellan, Garmin, tomtom, etc.), types (portable GPS Units, handheld GPS Units, GPS PDAs, etc.) and uses (driving, hiking, etc.)

You may still want a universal GPS Unit or you may want to pick out a specific GPS Unit based on why you are using your GPS. If you want a portable GPS Unit you can use for driving, you may want to consider the Garmin StreetPilot C550. If you want to use a handheld GPS Unit for hiking, you may want to consider purchasing the Magellan eXplorist 200. Of course, if you prefer a GPS PDA, why not check out the Garmin iQue M3 Bundle w/2gb memory card?

When picking out a GPS receiver to suit your needs consider asking both yourself and your GPS retailer the following questions:

·What specs are you looking for, and does the GPS you want to purchase fit those specs?

·Is it easy to use and can you find exactly what you need?

·Does it have voice-controlled directions functionality (if this is something you want)?

·How often must you change pages?

·Is it easy to configure?

·Can you change formats?

·Does it allow for computer interfaces?

·Is the screen resolution to your liking?

·Are you going to need an external antenna?

·Is it waterproof?

·How long do the batteries last?

·Are the maps accurate?

·Can you upgrade your unit if necessary?

Does it use WAAS?

Catherine Tower of Gottronics, is in charge of the research department, where she gathers information and reviews different []portable GPS units, whether it be good or bad and stays up to date with all of the latest developments of the products.

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