Portable GPS vs. in-car GPS

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Randy Savicky
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Portable GPS vs. in-car GPS

Garmin Nuvi 660The debate of whether portable GPS units are better than in-car GPS units has raged for a few years now. I've always been a big proponent of portable GPS units, ever since I installed Destinator1 on a PocketPC 5-6 years ago. It was a heck of lot cheaper than spending $2,000 for an in-dash navigation system in my car. Well, Marketwatch apparently came to the same conclusion that portable GPS units often trump in-dash units in an article written today.

According to the article, Consumer Reports gives the highest marks to the Garmin Nuvi 660 at about $700. The Garmin Nuvi 350 has almost identical features but it $200 cheaper and with a smaller screen, came in a close second. When TMC went looking for a GPS unit to share with traveling employees, I recommended the Nuvi 350, since it is one of the best portable GPS units on the market and it is very reasonably priced. The Nuvi 360 is also pretty good and it adds Bluetooth hands-free calling functionality to your cell phone. Best of all, the Garmin's use NAVTEQ maps, which I still say is far superior to TeleAtlas maps used by TomTom GPS receivers. NAVTEQ maps are much more accurate in my opinion.

Nevertheless, Consumer Reports gave best bang for your buck goes to the TomTom One. They also gave best bang for the buck to the Magellan Roadmate 2000 and the Garmin Street Pilot C330, all for $300 or less.

Consumer Reports does give the advantage to in-car GPS systems for having voice recognition functionality and for having larger screens. Yes, but try walking around Disney World and mapping attractions, restrooms, etc. with an in-car GPS unit - it can't be done!

But with a portable GPS, not only can you map interesting Disney attractions, you can even map where you parked your car to quickly find your car and minimize the risk of being stuck in the park's mass exodus at closing time! Now that is a sweet use of GPS!


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