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Best Walking GPS for Rome?

LTCSZ 81 Points
edited June 2014 in GPS Recommendations
We are taking our first ever trip to Europe this fall...We will be in Rome and the surrounding area for two weeks...Is there a good, portable, easy to carry and accurate GPS unit that would assist us in walking around Rome? It would have to be light weight and easy to put in a coat pocket and have decent battery life...Not worried about driving directions, as we will not be renting a vehicle...Thanks for your advice!



  • sussamb 829 Points
    If you have a smart phone download the ViewRanger or similar app and download free maps before you go.
  • LTCSZ 81 Points
    We do not have a smartphone, but thanks for the reply!
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    edited June 2014
    I would also have to say that a smartphone is the best solution for this - and I have 7 different GPS devices! 😊

    I used my iPhone with the streetpilot app as a pedestrian in Athens recently and it worked well. For one thing, if you use a phone you won't stand out as a tourist, because everyone walks around staring at their phones. One of the "outdoor" model GPS units will look consipicuous.

    Maybe it's time to consider getting a smartphone? If you don't want the latest and greatest trendy device, there are plenty of choices that are inexpensive or even free when you sign a two year contract.

    But if you really don't want to go that way, you might look for a Garmin Nuvi 3750 or 3450. They have 4" glass multi-touch screens and look like a smartphone. Very thin so it easily fits in a pocket. The 3750 is an older model but you might still find one at a good price. The 3450 looks the same but has newer software and (possibly) better hardware. models/nuvi-3450/prod99838.html

    These would include US road maps, so you would have to add City Navigator EU (or one of the regional subsets that covers the area your plan to visit.

    With a real quick search, I saw a refurbished 3450 for $120 at Newegg. If it's an official Garmin refurb, it would have the same warranty as a new one. When you include the EU map, you would end up around $200.

    Now this is still primarily an automotive device, but I have used one as a pedestrian and it was fine. Battery life is limited, but clicking the power button puts it to sleep and wakes it up instantly, so you can conserve power this way.

    These units have a special pedestrian mode that can route you via mass transit with the correct map. Unfortunatley, Garmin stopped making the correct map and have discontinued the pedestrian mode on the newer devices.
  • LTCSZ 81 Points
    I hope you guys will appreciate that I am a novice at this stuff...So, if I were to purchase a smart phone of some type to use in Italy, wouldn't I need some kind of data plan to use it for street maps? I have heard that those data plans for Europe can really be expensive...On the issue of battery life for the nuvi series, how long do you think I could nurse the battery along using the "sleep" feature you describe? Thanks for all of your advice...I really appreciate your patience!

  • Boyd 1999 Points
    You don't need a data plan *if* you have the correct kind of app and maps. Some of them require a data connection and only send you a portion of the map in your immediate vicinity. Others install a full regional map on your phone and can function on their own with no data connection. Now, some features won't be available without a data connection however, such as traffic, weather, mass transit schedules/routing and social networking.

    You probably shouldn't be too scared of international data charges unless you are going to be away for a long time and are going to do a lot of web browsing, music streaming, etc. I have AT&T and purchased a one month plan that covered the whole EU. I think it was $50. I was there for 10 days and only used a fraction of what was allowed. Even if I had spent the full month there, I would not have hit the limit at that rate.

    If you decide on the smart phone, spend some time reading about your providers different options for international travel. It gets confusing, but the information is all there if you are patient.

    For a standalone device like the Nuvi 3450, it would completely depend on how you used it. I had my Nuvi 3790 in NYC as a pedestrian back in 2010 and didn't have a probelm getting through a day. But I only clicked it on for brief periods to get my bearings, then again when I was getting near the street I had to turn on.

    Really, my iPhone 5s with the StreetPilot app isn't all that different. The screen at high brightness for daytime use and GPS chip put a lot of drain on the battery. But I would guess the iPhone could go maybe 4 hours continuous use at full brightness. The Nuvi would be more like 2 to 3 hours.

    There are external batteries that can be used with either device if you're concerned, and you could also carry a charger to "top it off" at a cafe during lunch.
  • LTCSZ 81 Points
    Wow, thanks for the detailed explanations...Gives me a lot to think about...Our daughter has been trying to get me into the smart phone era for several years...Maybe this is the time! Again, thanks and I will let you know what i decide...

  • Boyd 1999 Points
    edited June 2014
    Glad to help. Just to be clear though, a smartphone may not be the cheapest option, depending on the software. I think I paid $90 for the StreetPilot Western EU app. That's almost as much as a standalone GPS would have cost, or I could have just purchased Garmin's EU map and installed it on my Nuvi or Montana for that much.

    But I didn't want to bring a separate device. I wanted to have my phone, and also used it as a camera. The iPhone 5s has a very cool camera - especially the panorama feature. I have some very expensive professional still and video cameras but didn't want to lug them around.

    So I was willing to pay the extra cost to have everything on my phone. Also, this might be a factor for you, with Apple, you can install any apps you purchase on all devices that are registered to you (this is determined by your "Apple ID" which is linked to your credit card and used to purchase apps and media). So if you and your wife both had iPhones, you would only need to purchase one copy of the app. If you shared an Apple ID with your daughter, she could also use it. In the Fall, Apple will roll out "family sharing" which extends this ability further, such that multiple Apple ID's in your family can also share everything.
  • LTCSZ 81 Points
    Found a good deal on a Nuvi 3490LMT so I decided to go with a dedicated GPS instead of the smartphone...Maybe after our trip I will move into smartphone land...Thanks for all of the advice and for helping me decide...
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