There are scores of GPS devices and half a dozen manufacturers of GPS products. The customer is often lost when he goes to buy a GPS device. It is therefore important that you know how to choose the right GPS device. There are four factors that must be kept in mind. These are: purpose, portability, features and mapping.
The purpose for which a GPS is being bought is most important. A GPS device must meet specific requirements of the user – be it vehicle navigation, hiking or maritime needs.
If you are buying a GPS for a car then you need a unit that is accurate, reliable, and contains details of roads, addresses and points of interest for the given region. Your GPS can be a part your car’s entertainment system, or installed under the dashboard; but the drawback is that they are fixed. They cannot be moved to another vehicle.
If you ant to switch GPS units to different vehicles, then you need a portable GPS. But the downside of portable devices is that the voice commands are drowned in music being played by the car’s entertainment system. Portable devices also have a limited road database.
Another option can be to go for a PDA with a GPS antenna. These units are not as rugged as fixed units but can provide useful information.
If you need a GPS for maritime work then you should look for features like waterproofing and information on nautical charts. Similarly, maps should give undersea elevations as well as navigable channel information. Devices such as ‘fish finders’, are useful for locating schools of fish.
If you want to buy a GPS unit to ensure that you are not lost during hiking expeditions then you can go for devices ranging from mobile phones to watches. These radiate a signal that can be used to locate you.
The next factor you need to look at is updating. Each GPS unit is updated differently; so you should choose a device that updates easily and economically. You can go for vehicle units that update information via a CD or you can go for PDAs and handheld devices that are updated via a PC.
Finally, you should look at features that make usage easy and convenient. The features that you should be looking at are screen size, route planning and route recording capabilities and display facilities. You should also check if the unit is waterproof and shockproof. These features will increase the life of your GPS device.