Auto GPS Devices

I took a road trip to Flagstaff, AZ this past weekend and borrowed a GPS.  I’ve used one before and this trip confirmed how useful they can be.  The technology is getting better and better.  In fact, it’s really fun to use.

I first saw this technology in 1985 in a Lincoln Mark IV.  It was installed in the car, mounted on the floor between the driver and passenger.  The display was very crude and there was no voice technology (at least that I can remember).  It was hard to read and operate.  Man, has this technology changed!

The Magellan 3250 Maestro that I used this weekend was very easy to operate and had lots of features including a very complete POI (Points of Interest) database.  At one point I was looking for a Post Office in Needles, CA.  It directed me to one that was just around the corner from the restaurant when I stopped for lunch.  Finding it without a GPS would have taken much longer (ok, maybe asking a waitress at Denny’s would have worked too).

There are lots of advantages to using a GPS.  Here are some of my favorites.

  • It plans your route.  You can decide if you want the shortest time or shortest distance.
  • It provides are very accurate ETA.  As you stop along the way, it adjusts the estimate.  It’s fun to tell people that you’ll be arriving “around 5:43″ and watch their reaction.
  • It prompts you as you drive.  It’s great for people like me that get talking and forget about the next turn.  It could save a marriage. 
  • If you make a wrong turn it simply says “re-calculating” and plans a new route.  You will never get lost.
  • You can program one button that will always take you home.
  • It always tells you what direction you are traveling and how far till the next turn.
  • It’s very handy for finding the closest location of any store, restaurant, etc.   Perfect for answering questions like, “I wonder if this town has a Target or Costco?”.  The database is very complete.
  • It can find restaurants by type of food.  For instance, you can find the nearest Chinese food restaurant or steakhouse.  It really gives you confidence to venture out and explore in a strange city.
  • It saves previous destinations which are very easy to re-select.  Great for venturing out in a strange city and easily finding your way back to the hotel without having to re-enter the information.
  • The model that I tested had the AAA Guidebook build into it’s database.   Much easier then referencing a book.
  • It provides traffic alerts and can even re-route you.
  • It easily mounts to the windshield or can be used as a handheld device. 
  • It has a color display and even adjusts the colors for night driving.  How does it know? 
  • It connects to the cigarette lighter or can run on battery power for up to 3 hours.
  • It has a voice activated option and integrates with a cell phone through Blue Tooth.

What a great invention.  It’s right up there with wireless laptops, cell phones, DVDs, and “dippin dots” ice cream!  Now that I’ve used one, I’m hooked.

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