Getting from your house to an unknown destination used to be quite an adventure. Especially if you were traveling out of town, a road trip usually required a stack of maps, atlases, or directions printed from the internet. Now thanks to global positioning satellites, even the directionally-challenged among us can be sure of reaching our destination without getting lost. With a car GPS system, all you need to do is tell it where you are headed and let it give you turn-by-turn directions as you drive. If you’re looking for help finding a good GPS navigation system without paying too much, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more.
Do you still have questions about buying a GPS for your car? We’ve got you covered!
Why Do I Need a Car GPS System?
First and foremost, GPS systems make it simpler to get where you need to be without relying on maps, directions, or memory. Beyond this, they can make your drive more convenient, quicker, or even safer by avoiding traffic and other hazards. This last point is one to take extremely seriously: road injuries are among the leading causes of death in the world.
This is why safety experts worldwide have been working toward creating products that improve human beings’ safety who need to get places in a fast-paced world that only keeps getting faster. Some of these products, like GPS units, end up becoming revolutionary – and the standard for all safety-conscious drivers.
Is a GPS Expensive?
The best GPS suited to you is one that is as much a part of your car as your driving wheel, or rearview mirror is. Don’t look at it as a car “accessory.” You want to get a GPS unit that you can see yourself owning for at least a couple of years.
Often, a higher price generally correlates with higher quality. However, not everyone always has the budget for a more expensive GPS. Thankfully, many options on the market offer safety and convenience while still being a fantastic value, like the Garmin Drive 50 LMT. You can also consider a refurbished higher-end model to get more premium features at a lower cost.
What Is GPS?
GPS, short for Global Positioning System, is a network of satellites orbiting Earth. From their position 12,000 miles above the surface, they send signals repeatedly that are intercepted by a GPS receiver. The GPS can then determine how far away the satellite is (and your location is a result) by analyzing how long it took that signal to arrive.
What Should I Look for in a GPS?
When selecting the best GPS for your car, keep these factors in mind:
The size of your screen should be neither so small that you have to strain your eyes to check directions mid-driving nor so large that it ends up claiming too much real estate on your windshield and blocking a part of your view.
For cars of sizes ranging from coupes to SUVs, a GPS unit with a size of either 5” or 6” is ideal. 6” screens are better due to higher clarity, but they also cost more.
Larger vehicles such as RVs and trucks are better suited to GPS units ranging from a size of 7” to 9”, like the one featured in OHREX GPS.
The resolution of your screen is just as important as its size and is one of the definitive indicators of your screen’s clarity. A screen with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels will look significantly better than one with 480 x 272 pixels.
If you went through the product descriptions of all these devices in detail, you might have noticed “TFT” or “LCD” preceding the word “screen.”
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. LCD is a catch-all term for all basic screens.
TFT, on the other hand, is a special, optimized type of LCD. Standing for Thin Film Transistor, all the pixels on the screen are illuminated individually, resulting in a sharper and brighter display than generic LCD screens.
It is imperative that the GPS on your screen displays your location in real-time with precise accuracy.
At least once in our lives, all of us have missed a turn and ended up being punished with the chore of knowingly driving in the wrong direction for 10 minutes waiting for the next exit.
Your position is determined with a GPS based upon signals broadcasted by various GPS satellites and how your unit receives them. This is why you experience signal delays near tall buildings and forests. There is a myriad of factors affecting GPS accuracy, but for the most part, this can be mitigated with better receivers.
Real-time updates alert you about stuff you should know while driving to your destination. Driving as in the present participle – these updates are relayed to you in real-time. As you can probably tell, the timing of the information relayed is just as important as the information relayed.
The timing for these updates must be implemented in two ways:
- Appropriately ahead of time/distance. “In 200 meters, turn left,” as opposed to, “turn left in 50 meters.”
- With consistency. If the device takes 5 seconds to say, “turn left in 300 meters,” it should not take 5 seconds to say “turn left in 50 meters.”
Real-time updates can be relayed through the following methods:
- Text-to-speech voice prompts from the GPS that tells you about things you should know ahead of time, so you don’t have to check the display screen while driving.
- Lifetime map updates that update the details of the maps in your device to keep up with new constructions and alterations.
- Automatic route recalculation, to avoid heavy traffic or to set an alternative route with the shortest distance to your destination.
- Lane assistance lets you know ahead of time what lane of the road you should merge into when exiting a highway or approaching an intersection. This is most helpful if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area.
- Speed limit indications.
- Alerts that warn you about dangerous zones like hairpin curves or railroad crossings ahead of time.
Level of Map Detail
While GPS units already come with preloaded maps (especially for a particular country or region), the best ones have a much higher level of detail pertinent to your destination and the route you take to your destination.
One subset of these details is points-of-interest features. These are presented in the form of a database of locations and services such as gas stations, cafes, watering holes, and food outlets, among many other things.
Another feature that is often overlooked by those buying their first GPS unit is lifetime map updates. If present, this feature keeps the map routes and details up to date with all the changes incurred for an indefinite period. This dramatically lengthens the lifetime of your GPS device. Map updates don’t just add new roads and destinations to your GPS database but they also fix errors in street names, traffic directions, and points of interest.
Bluetooth: Bluetooth pairing with your phone enables you to answer calls and texts and tend to notifications from other apps on your phone like the calendar app.
WiFi: GPS units with WiFi can download and upgrade maps from the internet directly, saving a lot of time.
Camera: For visibility purposes to aid with the traffic updates and aid you in functions such as parking.
A GPS System Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a great GPS. By following our advice, you can choose a GPS that’s reliable, accurate, convenient – and affordable.
With the right GPS for you, the road becomes even more inviting. Wherever you dream of going, these systems can get you there.