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Larger screens can also be helpful if the ideal mounting location is far enough away to require squinting or neck-craning. Portability: Most portable navigators now are very thin, measuring from less than an inch to about an inch and a half thick.

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But this isn't always the case — think about how often you'll be taking your portable navigator out of the car with you, to use it for walking directions, to keep it safe, or to use in a rental after a flight. A larger navigator might be better for in-car use, but a smaller, more compact unit might be more convenient for carrying in your pocket or purse.

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Voice control: Voice-activated navigation is becoming increasingly more common, allowing you to initiate a search without touching the device. In most cases, you just say a keyword aloud and the navigator "wakes up" to ask you where you want to go. You may have to tell it what state, city, and street address in separate steps, or you might be able to say something like "find nearest Starbucks" in order to get directions to the next place you'll get your caffeine fix. Either way, it's a lot smarter and safer than trying to type a search in while driving.

Voice guidance: You'd be hard-pressed to find a navigator these days without voice guidance and a built-in speaker — but not all voice-guiding systems are created equal. Most of them will give you a list of accents and languages to choose from. If you're an Anglophile, perhaps you'd like to hear a British accent; if you're trying to learn Spanish, perhaps you'll want to switch it to the Spanish directions. Some navigators now feature voice directions that use landmarks and buildings to indicate the next turn, rather than street names and numbers — this is supposed to make the direction sound more natural and like how you'd get them from another person.

And if you don't like anyone else telling you where to go, some navigators even allow you to record your own voice saying key words and directions, which you can then hear as you drive. Text-to-speech: One of the most exciting developments in voice-guidance technology is called text-to-speech. This means that instead of a general directive like "turn left ahead," you'll hear a reference to the specific street name: "turn left onto Greenbriar Drive.

A navigator with this technology would be good for you if you know you'll often be driving in areas with confusing traffic patterns, or exploring unfamiliar areas. Extra features: Some portable navigators include additional user functions. Map updates: Each year there are thousands of changes to America's geography, from new buildings going up to businesses moving locations to roads changing directions.

Best Car GPS of - Navigation GPS Units Reviewed, Compared | Top Ten Reviews

If your navigator's maps go out of date, you might get just as lost as you would have without a device. Many maps are now updatable with a download from the manufacturer's website, but in most cases you'll have to pay a little extra for the navigator up front to obtain free map updates over the life of the device. Traffic updates: Some portable navigators can indicate on the screen where there are congested roads in your area or along your route. The receiver translates the data into visual cues on the screen, showing which roads are affected and how severe the congestion is.

Typically you can attempt to route around the traffic, which may take you on a longer but ultimately faster path. Traffic-info reports are usually available in and around metropolitan areas and sometimes require a paid subscription, but more and more navigators are offering free basic traffic updates. For more on traffic-info services, see our article here.

With many areas enacting regulations that require a hands-free device for phones while driving, this feature can come in very handy. Many navigators include a phone number with their POI information, so you can use the unit to find a destination, such as a restaurant or hotel, and then call ahead for a reservation. App compatibility: Some navigators with built-in Bluetooth can pair with your phone for more than just phone conversations. There are a number of smartphone apps that can convey information to your navigator via Bluetooth.

These apps can provide real-time search results for destinations as well as access to updated travel information, such as area gas prices, weather forecasts, movie times, local events listings, and much more. You'll be able to find out-of-the-ordinary spots along the way quickly, plus consumer ratings and other useful applications, all without touching your phone. One example of this is 3D building graphics, which depicts important buildings or landmarks realistically on the screen, to help you visualize your surroundings better as you follow the directions either by car or on foot.

Best Navigation System Reviews - Best GPS Units

These graphics are presently limited to buildings in major cities or other major attractions. Junction view and lane guidance: To go along with the graphics mentioned above, many newer navigators feature lane guidance, which indicates on the screen the proper lane to use on a multi-lane road to ensure you won't miss an upcoming turn or maneuver. This is especially helpful in unfamiliar areas or on busy highways with many exits in quick succession. Junction view provides a detailed and realistic look at complicated intersections, including highway signs, to help ease the confusion of "mixing-bowl" scenarios with multiple ramps and levels that would be harder to follow with a simple 2D representation.

Warnings for school zones and speed limits: If you miss a sign indicating a speed limit change or a school zone while driving, you might be speeding without even realizing it. Some navigators can let you know when there's a school zone up ahead or if you're driving over the posted speed limit, to help keep you safe and legal. Most navigators come with a windshield mounting bracket suction cup mount , which is one of the easiest and most easily viewable ways to install the device.

These work very well with the smaller portable devices. However, some areas do not allow devices of any sort to be mounted on the windshield, so be sure to check your local regulations. Another mounting option is a disc which mounts to your dash or console with heavy-duty adhesive backing. Or you can use a portable friction mount, which is a non-slip beanbag with a mount attached to it — perfect for uneven surfaces. Many of the in-car mounting and holding solutions available for handheld devices can be also repurposed for portable navigators.

There are many other features which could mean the difference between you choosing one unit or another, so be sure to read each product description before you decide which system is the best one for you. Our expert Advisors know the answers. Call, email, or chat with us today. Portable navigator with 7" screen for truckers — includes free lifetime map and traffic updates. Portable navigator with dash cam and 7" screen for truckers — includes free lifetime map and traffic updates. Portable navigator with 6. This seems to be hard to clarify with most advertisers.

Can you recommend a specific model? I would be most grateful!

Best car GPS navigation 12222: you’d be lost without one

Lost Linda. Shame you're stuck on Garmin. I personally prefer TomTom, mostly because of the software. Their City Center option for finding places is invaluable! I want a dedicated GPS device for grid soil sampling on my farm in Iowa.

This requires the exact location of a soil samples taken over acres and later mapped for application of fertilizer. What hand held device would you recommend? Thanks for your help, Lin Tate, Clarion, Iowa. How well do traffic advisory services work? There have been major holdups on the Mass Pike recently, and guidance to avoid them would be valuable. What about waypoints? I have to fudge somewhat.

Also, having found a nice route it would be good to be able to store it for repeat uses. What I didn't know about the TomTom was that it had no search capability. That's really irritating as I have to look up places on my cell phone and then key in the address on the GPS. I'm ready to chuck the TomTom. This really bites as you might know that a location is in a particular town but who knows all of these zipcodes.

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Again, I have to get out the cell phone to get the full address. The TomTom requires me to first set the state, then enter the zip code and then enter the street.

What a pain. I sometimes get all of the address loaded only to realize that the TomTom is searching the wrong state. That's when I have to start the entry process all over. Only buy a GPS with a powerful, easy and intuitive search. Ron, if you live in Canada, you can shop Crutchfield here. Very Informative documentation and clarifying information on systems in dash, etc. Do you ship to Canada? Thanks for that informative and succinct explanation. I now know which features to look for and which ones I consider optional. Your email address will not be published.

Comments will display after being approved by our moderators. Comments may be edited for clarity. Can't find your exact vehicle? Get real help from an expert like JC Contact us. Close contact box. Call All finished with your chat session? Close Continue chat.

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