View Full Version : GPS advice

Scott Donley
03-12-2009, 6:40 PM
Time to enter the gadget age. Been looking at the Garmins but man are there a ton of models. I don't need bluetooth,mpg's, or see my photos. I just want it to tell me in a nice sexy voice how to get from A to B. Seeing as though I just bought a new truck, just got the dog back from the Vet, and have to see the dentist in two week, I am near broke. Can anyone recommend one 300.00 or less ? Thanks

John Fricke
03-12-2009, 6:47 PM
I have used many different models of GPS. I'm not up on the current models, but I think any of the name brands will serve you well. I would stay away from the off brands. I have found that their software can be glitchy and route selection is sometimes odd. I love traveling with GPS, especially in unfamiliar territory. They have many great uses in familiar territory also. Finding house numbers and road signs in the dark is one that comes to mind.

John Shuk
03-12-2009, 7:00 PM
I have a Tom-Tom 125. It's pretty basic but it works great. I have no issues with it at all. For about $100 I can't see needing more. I'm a phone guy and when I was in a strange city for 2 months it took me from home address to home address with no mistakes.
For a bit more you can get ones that speak the name of the street and have a bit larger screen. I could be convinced to bite on that if I didn't already have what I have.
I like the Mio models also. A few friends bought them and they are very nice.
Can't speak about the Garmin . I've never used one.

David G Baker
03-12-2009, 7:07 PM
Not sure if it still is but the Garmin 350 was a well thought of choice and the price has come down quite a bit. Since I researched the 350 there has probably some technology improvements.

Jon Behnke
03-12-2009, 7:11 PM
Any of the Garmin 200 series will do the job for you. I have a 260 and it works very well.

Scott Shepherd
03-12-2009, 7:16 PM
Another Garmin user here. Happy Garmin user. One thing I'll say is that you can get just about anything for under $300. Do yourself a favor and spring for the "W" model of one of them (the wide screen option). We got my Dad that one for his birthday last year and I have a model that's about the same, no wide screen. I love using his when I go somewhere with him. The widescreen and text-to-speech are two things I'd be looking for if I was buying another one.

David Christopher
03-12-2009, 7:29 PM
scott, you can buy a refurbished model cheep....I called Garmin and talked to their tech guy and he said if one comes back they through all inside away and replace with new..and they have the same warranty as the brand new....so I bought a refurb and its been working great for over a year ( garmin 760 )

Rob Cooper
03-12-2009, 7:48 PM
I have owned two magellen's. They are very easy to use and reliable. I had an $1100 unit (it was stolen) and now a $200 unit. The $200 model does point a to b just as well as the most expensive units.

John O'Brien
03-12-2009, 8:34 PM
I have the garmin Nuvi 350. Has worked great for about 2 years now.

I would get one that has the text to speech option so it says the street name you want to turn on. Helps a lot at night.

I think the new ones also have a "Where am I" feature. In case of a breakdown or if you have to tell someone your exact location, it tells you what street you are on and the closest house number and probably GPS coordinates for your location. I'm thinking of getting one for my wife that has that feature.


Cliff Rohrabacher
03-12-2009, 9:17 PM
There's a difference between the satellite service providers.
I don't know which is which but I'm told one is much better.

OnStar can not find my house. Neither can most of the aftermarket and hand held units. They place the user about 5 miles down the road in the next town.

Ray Dockrey
03-12-2009, 9:22 PM
I have the Garmin 205. Nothing fancy but it sure gets me where I need to go. It has only missed once and that was by about a half a block. I was told that I wouldn't be able to use the GPS due to being a new neighborhood and their factory GPS couldn't find it so missing by a half block wasn't bad.

Lance Norris
03-12-2009, 9:27 PM
I have a Garmin nuvi 205W and its great. I bought mine on Amazon and it was $156. I wont be without one ever again. I drive tractor trailer, and although I cant rely on it completely (because it wants to run you down skinny roads), its invaluable. There are models specifically for trucks, but they are $600 and I needed something fairly cheap. For a four wheeler, they are mistake free. Now is a good time to buy because the technology is mature and the prices have really come down.

Jim Becker
03-12-2009, 9:35 PM
There's a difference between the satellite service providers.
I don't know which is which but I'm told one is much better.

OnStar can not find my house. Neither can most of the aftermarket and hand held units. They place the user about 5 miles down the road in the next town.

If I'm not mistaken, Cliff, the problem you describe is in your GPS unit's software. All of them use the same global positioning sats, so your physical position is correct, but not notated correctly in the mapping software.

To the OP...one of the Nuvi from Garmin products would be my choice for a portable, although the Magellen I have for portable use (like business travel when I don't want to pay for NeverLost) has been pretty decent, more or less. The built-in units in our Toyotas have been spot-on 99% of the time.

Rod Sheridan
03-13-2009, 7:00 AM
I use mine both on the motorcycle and in the car, so it's a water resistant smaller model. (Garmin Quest).

I'm on my second unit as the first was stolen.

Great machine, small enough to drop in my pocket and use when wandering around.

Regards, Rod.

P.S. Make sure you get one that can accept map and route downloads from your computer. My BIL looked at price only, and bought one that wouldn't.

Joshua Culp
03-13-2009, 7:05 AM
For hand-held GPS while hiking I use an older Garmin e-trex and love it.

For the truck, I have a $99 TomTom One and love it also.

I would buy both again in a heartbeat.

Jim Kountz
03-13-2009, 8:30 AM
Garmin Nuvi 360 here. Its a great unit and I cant think of any problems Ive had with it. Got it on Amazon for about $129 I think during one of their big blowout sales

Scott Donley
03-13-2009, 10:30 AM
Thanks for all the input.So now I have been able to narrow it down to about any of the Garmins, Magellens, or Tom Toms ! I keep reading the Amazon reviews on all the models and can't find one that does not have some sort of negative comments. ( can't find satellite, short battery life, can't understand the speech ) I think I shall just close my eyes and pick one. Thanks again for the info.

Neal Clayton
03-13-2009, 10:40 AM
i used to have a tomtom, which got stolen outta my truck, and replaced with a garmin.

i'd pick the garmin again any day of the week. the tomtom for having lots of features, was tedious to use. the garmin interface is much more simplified, and has less annoyances, imo.

Lee Schierer
03-13-2009, 11:21 AM
I have had a Garmin for about 1-1/2 years now. It has the North America map set. I just got back from Mexico and it worked there and it has also worked in Canada. There are a few map glitches, but it will get you where you want to go. I have the Garmin Nuvi 660, with the wide screen, bluetooth and ability to play MP3 through the car radio via the antenna. That is a really nice feature. I can load 13 hours of my favorite music on a 2 Gig card and have my music anywhere I go and still get the directions from any number of different voices and languages. Most of the Nuvi seaies now come with lifetime traffic alert service

Get one with more features than you think you need because you will like what you get.

Paul Ryan
03-13-2009, 11:53 AM
Scott I use GPS's daily. I generally put on between 1500-2000 miles a week on. I started out with a TomTom that I would never ever buy again. The problem with the machine wasn't the maps but the fact that it didn't know the speed limits of the roads where I live. The only speed limits it knows are major 2lane(each direction) or larger roads. When you drive as much as I do, I want the quickest route there. Since the tomtom didn't know the speed limits it would always try to get me to a road the it the speedlimit on. Sometimes that ment 20-30 miles out of the way. What i started doing was plotting my course with a map first to get me to the general location with in a few miles and then turn the tomtom on. I have since switched to a gramin nuvi 760 that I bought as a refurbished off ebay for 189 and at the time got the 25% cash back on. It is much better the maps are better even though with the tomtom suposidly I got a free update in early 08 but it still didn't know about some road changes and upgrades that had occured back in 05. The tomtom is easier to us in general the garmin I think is more fineky. But I would buy the garmin 1000 times before I but another tomtom.

Frank Hagan
03-13-2009, 12:21 PM
I'll add my voice to those suggesting Garmin. We love ours. We did get a wide screen version (250w, I think).

When we bought ours a year ago, one of the defining features was the turn by turn directions; on ours, you see the map with the street names, and then the voice says "Turn left in 500 feet". On the more expensive units, it will say "Turn left on Main Street in 500 feet."

Scott Shepherd
03-13-2009, 3:07 PM
On the more expensive units, it will say "Turn left on Main Street in 500 feet."

That's called "Text to Speech". Make sure you get that. It really helps a lot. It almost ends the need to even look at the screen any more.

Paul Fitzgerald
03-13-2009, 4:21 PM
Garmin Nuvi 200 here, and I love it. Sounds like anything in the 200 line would work for you.


Brian Kent
03-13-2009, 9:57 PM
If you are a member of AAA Roadside Service, the Magellan Maestro links with them for free traffic updates (free meaning your AAA membership already ciovers the service) and AAA provides free map updates. My magellan was a refurbished unit that I like very much and cost under $100.

Craig Coney
03-13-2009, 10:32 PM
I have two Garmin Nuvi 760's one for myself and one for my wife. The 750/760 can do routing, and optimize your trips. If you subscribe to the MSN traffic service, you can also send addresses from maps directly to the unit if you are in coverage from microsoft maps.

You can also load custom waypoints, which was the main reason I chose the 760 series, since I have approximately 400+ locations that I may need to visit at any given moment when I receive a phone call.

I would estimate these features alone saved me enough fuel and time last year to pay for both units.

You can also add an external antenna to the Garmins to add to your mounting options, not sure about the other brands.

Their customer service and support is outstanding, and based here in the US. I wouldn't consider anything but a Garmin for a GPS.

Paul Ryan
03-13-2009, 11:01 PM
As someone that has had a unit with out text to spech and one with it. I think it is personal preference. I really don't care if it tells me what the street name is. For example many many times. The voice will say turn right on county rd 58 but when I get to the turn it is hwy 71 and ct rd 58 combined. Or worse yet turn on to johnson memorial highway, which I had never heard of before, but in fact it was the well known hwy 169. So again depending on where you are driving rual or urban areas the text to spech can be more hassle that it is worth. And those units usually cost more. Honestly if there is one feature in my nuvi 760 I could turn off it would be that.

Karl Brogger
03-13-2009, 11:07 PM
I hate the voice prompts. Very, very annoying.

Scott Donley
03-20-2009, 7:25 PM
OK, down to two, the Garmin 255w or the Garmin 760. The 760 is only 30 bucks more is it worth it ? Anyone own either one and have an opinion ? Thanks again. Scott

Paul Ryan
03-20-2009, 7:35 PM
I have the 760 and I am not sure of the differences. but this one has a fm transmitter and can play mp3's. that is kind of a stupid gizmo part if you ask me. I bought a naviagtor not an ipod. So i dont think that should sway you. Mine you can also preprogram routes into it. Which for me isw nice becuase I will drive 600 miles some days and make 7 stops in different cities. So before I head the night before I program the stops in so i dont have to worry about it latter. To be honest for me that is nice, but for the normal person I dont think it would be that important either. You will probably use it to go from point A to point B one time a day or trip. It isn't hard to type in where you want to go next either. When I had my TomTom I had a habit of typing in the new address as I drove which isn't very safe. But for $30 if you like those go for it. If it was me I would save the $30 and buy a case of beer to drink while I use my garmin. I mean while I LEARN to use my garmin on my couch.

Scott Donley
03-20-2009, 7:39 PM
Can you use the TTS through the FM also if you need more volume ? The case of beer sounds better I must admit :D

Dave Halter
03-20-2009, 7:55 PM
I have the 255WT and it's great. It pronounces the street names, which is very handy, and is very intuitive to use.


Scott Vigder
03-20-2009, 8:22 PM
After years of having the wife call me and ask me where she was and how to get where she was going, I bought her the garmin Nuvi 750 @ Costco for Xmas. We tried the onStar service, but they never seemed to be able to get her on the right route.

The Nuvi is simple to use...we didn't have to read the instruction book and were using it within ten minutes!

In three+ months I havn't received a single call! 'Nuff said.

I love you, Garmin.

Paul Ryan
03-21-2009, 7:03 PM

To be honest I dont know if the TTS works or not. I think it would but I have never tried it. I played music off my memory card in my cell phone for craps and giggles once and that was it. Come to think of it while the music was playing it did talk to me throught the FM transmitter.

Scott Donley
03-21-2009, 7:26 PM
Thanks Paul, I see the 700 series has been discontinued, although still available, and the 255w does not support usb for updates. I am now back to square one, I think I shall just stay home.:mad:

Lance Norris
03-21-2009, 8:16 PM
and the 255w does not support usb for updates.

Scott... are you sure about that? I find that hard to believe. The nuvi 2x5 series are basically all the same and the 205 sure supports usb. Stop wringing your hands. Go buy the 205w or the 255w @Walmart and try it out. If you dont like it, return it. Geeze already.:rolleyes:

Scott Donley
03-21-2009, 8:34 PM
Geeze already.:rolleyes:
According to the Garmin website I see nothing saying USB. Does not include a usb cable and does not list it as an accessory as all the other models do. I could be wrong, please let me know if you know other wise. I do know I am over thinking this but don't know about you but a few hundred bucks is a lot of money to me. Thanks

Jim Barrett
03-21-2009, 9:31 PM
I recently purchased the Garmin 255w and took it on its first test run up to Vancouver, BC this morning...worked like a charm....no fuss or muss...just plain worked...plus I got up to Lee Valley before it opened so I looked up where the closest Starbucks was .8 miles away and it took me there no problem...

Lance Norris
03-21-2009, 9:35 PM
Scott... It has the feature to send a location from Mapquest to the Gps unit. It also has the same power cord as all the 2xx series which is the mini-usb connector. I really dont believe all the other Garmin GPS units are usb supported, except the 255. That just doesnt make sense.

New -- Send Addresses Directly from Google Maps or Mapquest

tching to try out a new restaurant, or setting off on a road trip to locate the best toffee apples on the east coast? Now, it's easy to search for locations on Google Maps or Mapquest, then transfer the addresses directly to your Garmin GPS navigator.
Hook up your Garmin to the computer via it's USB port
Search for the location you want
Click the Send link in the info window for the address. That will bring up a popup "Send to" form.
Pick GPS, then pick Garmin and hit the "Send" button.
The address will instantly transfer to your Garmin device, The point will be saved as one of your favorites, and you can navigate to it or view it on a map just like with any other favorite. The process does require a small plugin, which you can get at Garmin's website (http://www8.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=3739) at http://www8.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=3739. You can send business addresses to your Garmin device from these countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.
Search for the location you want.

Pick "Send to GPS".

This is from the product description of the Nuvi 255w on Amazon.com

Scott Donley
03-21-2009, 10:50 PM
Thanks for taking the time Lance. I had read that also on Amazon. I just don't always take Amazon's description as fact. I have read the manual and it is a generic for the 205. I guess I get confused "cause most times there is a feature that needs something that is not included it would say something like"USB cable needed, not included " and the what is in box does not list the cable. So, would I also order the cable or hope it is included and just not listed ? Again, Thanks

Lance Norris
03-22-2009, 5:05 PM
Scott, first of all... why do you need the cable? Up-to-date maps are installed and the device doesnt really need any upgrades. As far as a cable being included... no. But it is a very common cable, usb on one end and mini-usb on the other end. This cable can be found in almost any store that carries electronics. Once you HAVE a cable, you can transfer photos to the nuvi and charge the battery with your computer(why you would want to, I have no idea) and the mentioned Mapquest and Google Map addresses(this might be useful).

Scott Donley
03-22-2009, 5:23 PM
The cable would be nice for any firmware updates, according to the Garmin site not all are shipped with the most current maps at the time of sale and will allow you to download the most current within 30 days of sale. The Google map thing would also be nice. If it is just a generic usb cable then thanks for the info, I just did not know if it might be a special cable just for Garmin. Like I sad, I am new to this stuff, so thanks again.

Dave Halter
03-22-2009, 10:05 PM
I incorrectly posted that I have the 255WT, when I actually have the 265WT (bought from Amazon). I looked at the 255 and don't remember what the differences are. On mine the package contained: The GPS, Preloaded maps, Suction cup mount, FM traffic receiver/vehicle power cable, USB cable, Dashboard disc, and the Quick start manual.
I believe all the Garmins come with everything you need to operate right out of the box.


Neal Clayton
03-22-2009, 11:16 PM
The cable would be nice for any firmware updates, according to the Garmin site not all are shipped with the most current maps at the time of sale and will allow you to download the most current within 30 days of sale. The Google map thing would also be nice. If it is just a generic usb cable then thanks for the info, I just did not know if it might be a special cable just for Garmin. Like I sad, I am new to this stuff, so thanks again.

it's just a mini-usb cable i think. if you have a motorola phone cable for your computer it'll work with it.

Scott Donley
03-23-2009, 1:25 PM
Dave, thanks for clarifying, the only difference I can find is the bluetooth and fm traffic and the fact it has worked well for you was a big help.
Neal, no usb on my cell, the only usb I have is for a printer. Even my Camera uses a serial cable. (first generation Nikon )
I ordered the 255w, now if I get lost I have something other than the dog to blame. Thanks all :)

Scott Donley
03-27-2009, 6:52 PM
Well I got the 255w, shipped without a usb cable, should have ordered it at the same time and it would have been cheaper than buying one at Radio Shack. It was needed as I was able to update the firmware from 4.02 to 5.0, seems to find the satellites a bit quicker. Also got the 2009 maps update and a couple other things such as a fuel cost per trip function that was not there before. I wish they would include a manual with it other than the quick start one, had to download it off their site. I like it so far, does everything I want and then some. The TTS is very easy to understand and if you miss a turn it is very fast to redirect you. Still finding other things I didn't know were there, but so far, I like it. Thanks again for the advice, just send me your address and I might show Up;)

PS: If you download the map update, make sure you have a lot of time. 1.9 GB to download plus install. You can order rather than download for 10 bucks, still better than paying the 75 they want at the store for the 2009 maps.