Which Garmin GPS is best?
Mobile phones are jam-packed with technology, including a global positioning system (GPS) for getting around. It works by determining your position on earth and visually representing it on a map, but it does have a downside.
Mobile phones often require a mobile data signal to display the information. On the other hand, a GPS doesn’t need a data connection. Like the Garmin Drive 52 GPS Navigator, it will show you where to drive even if you are hundreds of miles away from the nearest cell tower.
What to know before you buy a Garmin GPS
Includes lifetime maps
When you are out in the field or far away from other people, you must trust your device to provide accurate information. Garmin GPS systems provide complete coverage of the U.S. and Canada to ensure that you never get lost, and map updates are available for life. That means you will always have the latest routes for navigation.
GPS devices charge through USB
A GPS can use a lot of battery power, and being stuck in unfamiliar territory with a flat device will not do you any good. That is why Garmin makes all their GPS models with a USB connection so that they can easily connect to a port in your vehicle. If you don’t have one of those, the USB cable can also be attached to a power bank.
Affixed to the windshield with a suction cup
A GPS that sits on the dash might fall over, especially if you are driving in harsh terrain. The best solution is to attach the GPS to the windshield through a powerful suction mechanism. Luckily, Garmin includes the suction cups, but you can also rest them in a cradle.
What to look for in a quality Garmin GPS
Updated traffic and Points of Interest (POI)
A good-quality GPS will automatically update the latest traffic situation in your area and suggest alternate routes. Several Garmin GPS devices can also display crowdsourced POI and reviews. Most Garmin devices also come bundled with a database of notable historic sites provided by The History Channel and TripAdvisor traveler ratings.
A clean design with a modern interface
GPSs have come a long way since the bulky designs from a decade ago. They are much sleeker now and feature modern interfaces that navigate easily. A Garmin GPS uses the company’s proprietary display software, making for an easy-to-use interface with minimal distractions in high definition.
Bluetooth connectivity is standard in a good quality GPS. You can connect your phone to the device to take and receive calls and view text messages. It’s a hands-free kit that helps you focus on what’s important. Some models also feature Garmin Assist Voice to ask for directions by speaking.
How much you can expect to spend on a Garmin GPS
The average price depends on the model and the functions of the device. For example, an entry-level GPS retails for $80-$150, while bigger models can retail for $200-$300.
Garmin GPS FAQ
How do you update the maps?
A. When the GPS connects to Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection, it will automatically update the latest version of the relevant maps. Updates are usually free and provided for life. However, keep in mind that you could incur data costs when doing it through a mobile connection.
Will the GPS warn you about dangerous situations?
A. In addition to providing driving directions, most Garmin models will warn you about school zones, upcoming speed changes or sharp curves ahead. The alerts make it easy to plan your movements and adjust your driving as needed.
What is the best Garmin GPS to buy?
Top Garmin GPS
What you need to know: One of the most popular Garmin devices, this GPS will get you around safely with an easy-to-use menu and driving alerts.
What you’ll love: The 5-inch WQVGA color TFT display features resistive touch, making it easy to input the correct details. It includes the latest maps of the U.S. and Canada as well as plenty of landmarks from The History Channel. The GPS ships with a vehicle suction cup, power and USB cable and an instruction manual.
What you should consider: When not connected to a power source, the GPS has a battery life of just over an hour.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top Garmin GPS for money
What you need to know: An affordable GPS, the Drive 51 will get you to your destination with no frills or fuss.
What you’ll love: The Garmin Drive 51 LM features a 5.5-inch color screen capable of dual orientation. It comes preloaded with lifetime maps of the U.S. and alerts you to any hazard coming up. The GPS also uses Garmin Real Directions to navigate you like a friend. So, instead of giving specific instructions, the GPS will direct you using recognizable landmarks. This bundle includes the Drive 51 LM, a 12V car charger, a protective case, microfiber cloth and screen protector.
What you should consider: While it should last a few years, you can’t replace the internal battery. Once it reaches its life span, the GPS won’t work anymore.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This Garmin GPS has an 8-inch screen, making it easy to follow navigation suggestions while keeping your eyes on the road.
What you’ll love: The 8-inch screen displays maps and directions in high-definition through WXGA Color TFT technology. The built-in Bluetooth connection lets you pair a smartphone with the device to make hands-free calls, and Garmin Voice Assist enables you to ask for directions with your voice. Other than directions, it can also give you live traffic updates, fuel prices, weather alerts and parking information. A great function to have is the built-in Amazon Alexa virtual assistant. You can use it to listen to music or audiobooks and catch up on the day’s news.
What you should consider: The Amazon Alexa app only works with compatible smartphones with the Garmin Drive app installed.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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