Choosing a GPS

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  1. #1
    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Choosing a GPS

    Okay, last month I obtained my driving license, more than half a decade after I was eligible to do so. The main reason for the delay is that I am usually clueless about how to get to various destinations (which would be especially embarrassing when friends ask for a ride back and I cannot even figure out the route to their home using a map).

    Lucky for me, GPS technology is available. Before going to a nearby tech store today, I did some online research which indicated that among others, Garmin was a reputable brand for GPS intended for automobile use. At the store, the sales staff member confirmed my research (other brands available were Holux, Shinco and Tibo). A few models were available:
    Garmin nüvi 205 (189 SGD; 136 USD)
    Garmin nüvi 255W (319 SGD; 229 USD)
    Garmin nüvi 500 (489 SGD; 352 USD)
    Garmin nüvi 1460 (489 SGD; 352 USD)

    Now, have you used a GPS from Garmin's nüvi range? If so, how did you find it? Easy to use in practice? Is the pricing reasonable?

    In terms of basic features, I am looking for something easy to use, and which reads out both the directions and the street names; I think street names would be useful since some turns here in Singapore could be potentially so close that just having directions could be confusing. This would rule out the nüvi 205.

    I understand that the GPS, when mounted in the car, would make use of the car battery, so battery life is not actually a factor? On the other hand, these models appear to be quite portable, so in theory I could go walking around with them, upon which battery life would matter.

    The other features that stand out for me are:
    Waterproof: 500
    Routes: 500, 1460
    Lane assist: 255W, 1460
    Qwerty or ABC keyboard: 255W, 1460
    ecoRoute: 1460

    I suspect that the "rugged" features of the 500 will be wasted on me, in which case it looks like I should choose between 255W and 1460. Do the extra features of the 1460 sound like they are worth the price difference? I wonder how useful will being able to plan up to 10 routes (and have them automatically sorted for the shortest net route) be in practice, and if the ecoRoute fuel saving route selection feature actually works given that none of these models have access to traffic data.

    Any other comments/suggestions?
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    I have a Garmin Nuvi - and I'll also confirm that it's a very good choice. They're high quality, easy to use, and very popular. Exactly which model I have, I'm not sure - but it's a good line, for sure.

    Waterproof: 500
    Routes: 500, 1460
    Lane assist: 255W, 1460
    Qwerty or ABC keyboard: 255W, 1460
    ecoRoute: 1460
    I'm not sure I understand what some of these features are. Waterproof, I understand - but you're probably right - it might be wasted on people like us! As for routes, lane assist, and a qwerty keyboard - I must be misunderstanding something because it seems like it's been years since I saw a GPS that didn't give you routes, tell you what lane you should be in, or have at least an on-screen qwerty keyboard. My nuvi is a pretty bottom-of-the-range one, and it has an option to optimize the root based on fuel usage. So... If you end up going with the more expensive one, I'd be very careful to check that cheaper models don't have that feature anyway.

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean
    As for routes, lane assist, and a qwerty keyboard - I must be misunderstanding something because it seems like it's been years since I saw a GPS that didn't give you routes, tell you what lane you should be in, or have at least an on-screen qwerty keyboard
    From what I understand, the route feature is a route planner thing where you can set several destinations (up to 10), and it will come up with an optimal path - if this is what you understand by it, then we are either looking at a lag or regression in technology, or... marketing tricks? The lane assist feature seems to be exactly what you said, which means that both the 205 and 500 do not tell you what lane you should be in (which would be strange, according to what you have observed). Apparently, the 500 has a keyboard with a non-qwerty layout (and not dvorak either: the keys are in alphabetical order).

    Quote Originally Posted by sean
    My nuvi is a pretty bottom-of-the-range one, and it has an option to optimize the root based on fuel usage. So... If you end up going with the more expensive one, I'd be very careful to check that cheaper models don't have that feature anyway.
    I would appreciate it if you would check the model so I can compare. Do you remember how much you paid for it?
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    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Microsoft Streets and Trips with the PCMCIA GPS unit is a better choice if you intend to do any travelling. Garmin suffers from inaccurate information sometimes and the smallest laptop screen I've seen is bigger than the largest Garmin screen which means its easier to read on the go. A lot of truck drivers use MS Streets, none of them use Garmin that I know of.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abachler
    Microsoft Streets and Trips with the PCMCIA GPS unit is a better choice if you intend to do any travelling. Garmin suffers from inaccurate information sometimes and the smallest laptop screen I've seen is bigger than the largest Garmin screen which means its easier to read on the go. A lot of truck drivers use MS Streets, none of them use Garmin that I know of.
    Wow, that sounds interesting. Do those drivers really use their laptops when driving? If so, it may be impractical for me since I will be driving a car, not a truck, thus my laptop cannot fit on the dashboard.
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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    I don't know why Microsoft Streets would have more accurate information as they both use Navteq as the GIS. I won't pretend that I know a whole lot about GPS, but from what I understand, anything using Navteq's data is giving the exact same information regardless of what device it's on. The difference might fall into where the software determines the end-location is positioned based on data they receive (for instance one might say it's on the left side of the street, the other might say it's on the right). If you feel Garmins are inaccurate, then the more reasonable option is to switch to a Tele Atlas device, a.k.a. a TomTom.

    Anyway, I could be wrong... but I'm sure if I am, then someone would surely enlighten us on the details.
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 11-19-2009 at 10:56 AM.
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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laserlight View Post
    Wow, that sounds interesting. Do those drivers really use their laptops when driving? If so, it may be impractical for me since I will be driving a car, not a truck, thus my laptop cannot fit on the dashboard.
    I'm pretty sure there are ways to attach those mini-notebooks to your dashboard. I've seen cars with them (this one is on my brother's car. Notice it already comes with a GPS receiver.) Of course, this does make your car one grade more enticing to thieves.

    It's been 5 years more or less since I last been to Singapore. It's an incredibly busy city and most districts are a jungle of small roads. Driving experience can be summarized in one word: "Turn!". There's also a lot of construction going on and roads/lanes closing all the time and -- I'd expect -- traffic rules changing all the time. But of course, you know all this. But this isn't in fact different from Lisbon; Another chaotic city.

    And this is why I could never get to grips with a GPS inside the city. Especially on a small screen. I used one for some time and ended up removing it. But a bigger screen may make things easier on you since you can get a wider picture of your surroundings. In any case, I don't think Microsoft Streets serves Asia. As is, it's only North America and even the European version was discontinued. But there are others.

    If you do end up going with a smaller screen, I'd suggest you get one that reroutes immediately if you miss a turn.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 11-19-2009 at 11:41 AM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  8. #8
    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laserlight View Post
    Wow, that sounds interesting. Do those drivers really use their laptops when driving? If so, it may be impractical for me since I will be driving a car, not a truck, thus my laptop cannot fit on the dashboard.
    Nothing goes on the dashboard in a truck either, you keep it on the seat next to you or some guys have a little table or cooler they set it on. Most of them don't need to look at it constantly, its just useful for planning and rerouting around traffic. There's actually a high end software specifically for trucks that has a lot of features like avoiding train tracks for HAZMAT, low clearances, maximum bridge weights etc. Things a civilian would never use.

    As for a civilian vehicle, I suggest Velcro, lot and lots of Velcro, and make sure you put the soft fuzzy part on the laptop so it doesn't get worn out. Check the positioning before applying ti too, to make sure it wont interfere with your vision.

    That reminds me, I need to find a little pink laptop for my daughters xmas present.
    Last edited by abachler; 11-19-2009 at 02:54 PM.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

  9. #9
    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    > Things a civilian would never use.
    Last time I checked, being a truck driver doesn't make you more or less than a civilian

    > I need to find a little pink laptop for my daughters xmas present.
    I'd suggest an MSI Wind. I've had one for well over a year (U100), still running strong and they're cheap. The pink ones can be a bit hard to find though.

  10. #10
    Malum in se abachler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacs7 View Post
    > Things a civilian would never use.
    Last time I checked, being a truck driver doesn't make you more or less than a civilian
    Truck drivers call regular drivers civilians, as opposed to a professional driver. Remember, I'm probably one of the few software engineers with a CDL too.
    Until you can build a working general purpose reprogrammable computer out of basic components from radio shack, you are not fit to call yourself a programmer in my presence. This is cwhizard, signing off.

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    Me too! Whooohoo!! In Canada CDL (Commercial Driver's License) is designated by letters - in my case "AZ" - meaning Class A (up to 53-foot 18-wheeler types) and 'Z' means air-brake endorsement. That's what I was trained for. But I got a job again in the IT industry. So I let my trucking license lapse... I didn't want to shell out for another doctor's checkup. I'm demoted down a bit.

    As for GPS I use a Magellan RoadMate 1412. It was on special for $90 or so "refurb" - but is in fact new. 4.3" touch screen, text-to-speech... fairly basic but does everything I need. Has rechargeable internal batter that's claimed to last up to 2 hours.

    You might want to give Magellan a quick look. They would be comparable to the Nuvi's.

  12. #12
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Extending the off-topic a little, I can't imagine what made you guys go into IT or software development. Freaking horrible profession.

    On the other hand, I find truck driving (long course) one of the most fascinating professions. Being on the road and getting payed for it? There's this drifter in me that always wished that life. Sure it can be tough. Truck drivers I know do not only have great stories to tell. But by far and large they are great stories.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  13. #13
    A Banana Yoshi's Avatar
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    Get the 255W -- I used them all and the multi route planning is... meh at best.

    The 1460 and the 255W is the same size -- PSP screen.

    Or you can think completely differently -- UMPC with GPS
    Last edited by Yoshi; 11-19-2009 at 08:54 PM.
    Yoshi

  14. #14
    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F.
    It's been 5 years more or less since I last been to Singapore.
    Remember to arrange to meet up with me should you ever come visiting

    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F.
    And this is why I could never get to grips with a GPS inside the city. Especially on a small screen. I used one for some time and ended up removing it. But a bigger screen may make things easier on you since you can get a wider picture of your surroundings.
    I had the impression that the text-to-speech feature means that I would rarely have to look at the screen other than for destination/route selection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F.
    If you do end up going with a smaller screen, I'd suggest you get one that reroutes immediately if you miss a turn.
    I do not know how immediately they do so, but apparently all four of the Garmin models that I listed have "auto-reroute".

    Quote Originally Posted by abachler
    Nothing goes on the dashboard in a truck either, you keep it on the seat next to you or some guys have a little table or cooler they set it on. Most of them don't need to look at it constantly, its just useful for planning and rerouting around traffic.
    Yes, but I cannot keep it on the seat next to me when I have passengers, and I need it during the journey itself: planning is one thing, but my poor direction sense means that I will need more handholding than that.

    Quote Originally Posted by abachler
    Truck drivers call regular drivers civilians, as opposed to a professional driver.
    Maybe "civilian" sounds less insulting than "amateur", heheh.

    Quote Originally Posted by nonoob
    You might want to give Magellan a quick look. They would be comparable to the Nuvi's.
    They seem to be available in Singapore, but I have not seen them in stores; maybe they are just available online.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yoshi
    Get the 255W -- I used them all and the multi route planning is... meh at best.
    I'll keep that in mind.

    Apparently, my father is using a Garmin as well, but with Papago for the software. He obtained it from some small time vendor. It sounds rather dubious to me, especially since there are online reports on Garmin/Papago counterfeit products on the market.
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  15. #15
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Sometime next year or the year after that.
    But will most probably be on my way somewhere else. Still can stick around for a day or two.
    I love Asia. My favorite continent. Can't stay away from it for too long.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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