Looking for an entry level GPS system.. (standalone or laptop-based?) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 13 Old 05-07-09, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Aug 2007
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Looking for an entry level GPS system.. (standalone or laptop-based?)

Hey everyone.. went on a business trip last week and took Karen along with me, did some sightseeing, and had a fun time playing with my boss' GPS (Garmin Nuvi or something like that?) ...

We're really curious about these GPS systems, and if there are inexpensive ways to get one..

I've found a couple USB-based GPS modules for around $30 online, but I'm not sure what kind of freeware software (if any) is available to pair with the modules?

$30 is a far cry from the $150+ of a standalone GPS module, which is why I'm interested in a laptop-based USB approach. (Bluetooth is another laptop option, but they are a little more expensive and I don't have a bluetooth cellphone anyway so it doesn't really offer any real benefits that I could utilize.)

I have not attempted to price used standalone earlier-generation GPS devices, but given my low price target I'm sure I'd have some less fun replies about me asking for charity handouts.. :fryingpan: (that said, if you have an old one that's collecting dust, let me know! )

cellphone-based GPS isn't an option, I've got an old text-only Nokia that can barely send SMS messages. GPS just ain't gonna happen on it (no bluetooth either)..

PDA-based GPS MIGHT be an option, but my PDA is also an older handmedown (bought off my bro-in-law)... it's a Sony Clie TJ25 (a model without bluetooth capabilities).. Runs PalmOS though. At one point I heard about a bluetooth adapter for the Sony Clie but I have been unable to find any, so I don't even know if that's really an option..

SO --

Anybody know of any decent freeware GPS softwares? Or any other ideas for me to look into?

dane is offline  
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-07-09, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
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I have no idea about software, but my one recommendation with a laptop based system would be to go bluetooth or get a USB extention cable. My experience with the units is that they only work well when the GPS receiver is in the front or rear window dash. I have a friend who owns one of these, I will ask him about the software. The advantage of the bluetooth approach is that you can put the "puck" as I like to call it in the rear window dash and not worry about it sliding around on the front window dash. This is of course assuming you have a non van/suv.

I also think it goes without saying that you will need a car adapter of some sort to power the laptop, but thought I would mention it anyways.


Check www.woot.com www.ecost.com and www.newegg.com for specials, they frequently have models that are being replaced by newer ones in the $75-$100 range.
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-07-09, 11:14 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 15
Also, with regards to the cell phone GPS, its kind of , or at least mine is. I have the LG Dare with Verizon, and it downloads the maps as you drive, which is convenient in that you have very current maps, but if you don't have a good data cell reception, it can't download them and thus won't work. This happened to my wife and I while driving through BFE NC on our way to the outter banks last fall.
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-07-09, 11:26 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Pilot Point, TX
Posts: 21
Look into the cost for software updates, I have friends that say the MAP updates are nearly the cost of a new unit.
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-07-09, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the replies so far..

I can get streets and trips 2009 w/ GPS for around $75... I can get a standalone USB based GPS (with 5' USB cable for dash placement) for about $30...

ubid.com searching for "gps" shows TONS of stuff... some in the $50-75 range for standalone units... But I have no idea what are good/bad/new/old models...

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post #6 of 13 Old 05-07-09, 04:06 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 78
I haven't had any experiences with laptop based GPSs, but I can help with a standalone GPS. IMO standalone products are much more capable than something that's an add-on/all-in-one (applies to cameras, printers, and various other electronics). It comes at the price of one device for everything, though!

Anyways... recommendations for a GPS:

Magellan Maestro 4250 $120
This is an older model, but it is still high capable, fast, and has text-to-speech (says the names of the streets, not just "Turn right in 0.5 miles")

Navigon 2200T $120-$130
This item got some pretty good reviews from PC Magazine and Cnet, but some consumers have been saying that it takes about 5-10 minutes (or sometimes longer, depending on weather) for it to lock in your position. It's definitely a YMMV GPS, and comes with free map updates and free traffic updates. Depending on where you live, it might be a good option.

Garmin is a great brand to check out, and it's pretty safe to say that they are the king of GPSs. One of their older top models, the Garmin 760, can be had for about $200 (the original MSRP was close to $600 or so, if I remember correctly..). If $200 is still too much, take a look at their budget models such as the 255W or 260/260W.

Hope that helps!
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-08-09, 07:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 15
If this is in your price range I would highly recommend it: $79.99 (refurb)
I have never purchased anything from Tiger Direct, so I can't vouch for their customer service.

I got my sister in law one for Christmas last year and payed $178 for it. Big advantages are the large 4.3" widescreen, and the fact that it actually says road names out loud (a feature that at the time only came in more expensive units).

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post #8 of 13 Old 05-09-09, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks blackzarg and Fancypants ... I will look into all of these options.. $80 isnt' too far off from microsoft streets and trips 2009 + GPS, and I always enjoy standalone units ... might be a nice fathers day gift..

keep those recommendations coming, folks...

dane is offline  
post #9 of 13 Old 05-09-09, 07:34 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: NJ
Posts: 45
My System

The TomTom One XL-S is a 4.3" with text to speech and one free map upgrade. I had the smaller TomTom without TTS and it worked fine. Just picked the XLS up when the first one was ripped off. $105 for a refurb which is almost always brand new.

TomTom and Garmin seem to be the class of GPS units. Either one will work fine. Amazon has a lot of User Reviews you can skim thru for more info.
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-13-09, 03:59 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
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Not sure if other brands offer this now, but when I was in the market a couple of years back, Garmin's standalones were the only ones I saw offering text-to-speech capability, meaning they will announce the street names when giving turn-by-turn navigation. Very helpful feature IMO.
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