The GPS technology may not be very old but already the market is flooded by several kinds of GPS receivers. These include: the Standalone GPS receivers, Bluetooth GPS receivers, Compact Flash GPS expansion cards and Combo devices. Each has its own characteristics and needs to be understood, before making a purchase.
1. Bluetooth GPS receiver: The Bluetooth GPS receiver needs a PDA, laptop or even a Smartphone to display routes and maps. This is because the receiver does not have a display screen, and can work in unison with another device, provided the display device is loaded with the requisite software.
But it delivers good results, and is increasingly becoming popular with the tech-savvy generation since it can interface with different types of Bluetooth-enabled computers and provide high quality voice directions, color screens and color maps. It is ideal for steering and driving instructions, but not for cross-country hiking.
2. Standalone GPS receiver: The standalone GPS receivers are available in diverse shapes and sizes and range from the basic monochrome screen types to full-color handheld and car navigation systems. They are built to work in tough and trying conditions.
Being water resistant, they can be used during hiking expeditions and in water sports like sailing. They can also be used for activities like jogging and cycling. A strong point of these receivers is that they can be used to monitor time, distance, speed and heart rate. This makes them very useful for people who want to shed weight or improve their fitness.
The first thing that you need to check while buying a standalone GPS receiver is its memory. Receivers with 1 MB to 4 MB memory capacity are of little use because the majority of maps take up from 2 MB to 5 MB of space.
3. Compact Flash GPS expansion cards: These cards were very popular before the arrival of Bluetooth GPS receivers. They could be plugged into the Compact Flash card slots on handhelds and notebook computers. They also did not cost much, and could perform most of the functions that Bluetooth receivers could do.
Their only limitation was availability of card-compatible devices. They could work with only those devices that had a Compact Flash slot. The positive side was that they worked very well with PDAs, especially when the aerial pointed skywards. The popularity of GPS expansion cards has been going down in recent days.
4. Combo devices: Several manufacturers, like Mitac, Holux and even Garmin, have introduced GPS chipsets for devices like Pocket PC. This makes these devices similar to standalone GPS receivers but more versatile. They can be used as a personal diary as well as a GPS receiver.