Selecting a GPS or Satnav

GPS or Satnav or whatever you want to call it

So where to start ? Well, first up, I’ll call them all a GPS which’ll make life a bit easier for my typing fingers.

We have, available to us, GPS’s that are for cars, trucks (size and weight limitations), marine use, motorbike use, etc. The are big and small, they’re built into most smart phones and increasingly the car “infotainment” system, some can have all sorts of maps loaded, some can only use the vendors maps, you can press a tablet – either Android or iOS – into service with the appropriate app or you can just give up on the whole can of worms and just use paper maps and be done with it – after all paper maps don’t need satellites or batteries or a power connection. Given that you have some sort of internet available you also have Google Maps and the like which can be very handy.

If you’re using a GPS

If you’re going to be using a GPS what are your options ? The first thing to be done is to work out what you’re going to use it for. Will you be using it solely for urban navigation ? Navigating in remote areas ? What about regional and rural areas ? What are you driving ? Heavy vehicle, bicycle, normal car  or something in between ?

There are a truly confusing number of types of GPS. If you want to be confused to distraction then have a look at the number of brands of GPS.

And now to add bewilderment to confusion some GPS’s can use different maps. One of ours has built in point to point street maps but we can add Hema maps, Ozie Explorer maps and even the Australian Survey maps to it and probably others as well but I’m confused enough, thank you so I’ll stick to what we have. Some maps are free and some maps can cost quite a lot.

You guessed it, there is a GPS with appropriate maps and facilities for you and the trick is to find it.

Finding what suits you and your usage

So, where is the major usage going to be ? If you’re a taxi driver in a large city an up to date point to point street map GPS with the ability to download traffic updates would be ideal. Just enter your destination either via the touch screen of by voice and follow the instructions that it gives you. Easy. We have an old TomTom Via that isn’t real smart but it allows us to navigate the more esoteric bits of Melbourne without a problem. It may not give us the best route but it will accurately steer us to our destination. In fact we used it today to get from Moe (Eastern Victoria) to the far Western suburbs of Melbourne and back home again with no problems. That simple, cheap and old GPS is good for what we wanted today and there are many such units on the market from the likes of Tom Tom or Garmin  or Navman or one of the whole heap of others.

They’re pretty inexpensive, serviceable and will do the required job well. Just make sure you get a unit with lifetime map updates with speed camera updates thrown in.

If you’re driving a heavy vehicle you’ll need a unit that can can avoid weight limited roads and bridges as well as height limits. Just tell your GPS how much your vehicle weighs and how high it is and the route it calculates will avoid roads with limits that you exceed.

If you’re travelling in regional areas the normal point to point GPS should suffice. Just check it out before you hand over any cold, hard cash.

If you are going to venture off the beaten track into remote areas then a mapping GPS loaded with contour maps is what you’ll probably want. We have a VMS 700HDX which has lots of maps – offroad as well as street maps. We have discovered one problem with it though. It’s a bit sensitive to heat and once it gets hot it shuts down. Seeing as it is mounted to the windscreen it spends a bit of time in direct sunlight getting hot. I think that when we decide to get another GPS we’ll get either a HEMA or use an Android tablet with a GPS app loaded.

Buying a GPS

Research, research and more research is the way to go. There is a bewildering number of GPS’s on the market to choose from ranging from cheap with very little on top of street mapping to mind bogglingly expensive with more bells and whistles than you could ever master and use in several lifetimes.

Read the reviews, talk to retailers and listen to people who use a GPS in their daily lives to try to get a handle on which unit suits your budget and purpose. Make sure that you get lifetime map updates and speed camera updates.

There are some good deals out there and your job is to unearth the best one for you.

Well there you go. I hope I’ve managed to give you a bit to consider when you’re selecting your unit.



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