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Newbie having a tough time deciding...

rorygentry 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Recommendations
Another newbie here, who has never owned (or used) a GPS unit before, so I’m pretty clueless as to what features I should be looking for. I've been doing some research online, but it's tough to decide what is the best fit when you've never used one before.

I would mainly like a unit that I can program to use in the USA when I take roads trips, BUT, I also need to be able to program it for use in Scotland. (I will be hiking around Scotland on an upcoming trip.) I would like to be able to program about 20 locations in it, so that I can use it while hiking from castle to castle in Scotland. (I will also need 2 chargers- one for the USA, and one for the UK.) The Scotland trip will probably be my first real use of the item, and it is mainly going to be used as a "safety net" since I'll be hiking everywhere. (I'll be hiking through cities/ towns, so seeing roads is much more inportant than "topo" stuff.)

I won’t use this item very often, so I don’t need the top of the line, but I do want something reliable and easy to use. Can anyone make a recommendation for a hand-held unit that would be capable of my needs?

I looked at the Nuvi 370 (WAY too expensive) and the TomTom 910 (not as expensive, but still a bit pricey). I do like the "pedestrian" option I heard about on the TomTom, but I don't see it mentioned specifically on their website.


  • Tim 1481 Points
    Hi rorygentry,

    Are you looking for a handheld GPS, or a portable (auto) GPS? Perhaps you don't know yet, and that is okay. A handheld GPS is traditionally used for outdoor activities such as hiking. You can put maps on them (typically topo maps). They are typically waterproof and rugged enough to stand up to outdoor use.

    Portable auto GPS devices are designed primarily for use in a car, navigating from one address to another. They are not as small, not as rugged, and not even close to being waterproof.

    After reading your first three paragraphs I would have thought you were looking for a handheld GPS. But then in your last paragraph the two models you mentioned were auto GPS devices.

    Some GPS devices will do both types of functions, however you would typically either purchase a handheld GPS which only has the most basic auto navigation functions or you purchase an auto GPS which only has the most basic outdoor functions (if any at all.)

    Yes, The TomTom devices (all auto navigation devices) offer a pedestrian mode. This will take the basic street information used for auto routes, but not force you to obey traffic situations a car might. For example if the fastest way for a pedestrian to go from one address to another is the "wrong way" on a one-way street then the GPS would allow you to go that way in "pedestrian" mode. While it wouldn't in auto mode.
  • I am looking for a hand-held version, which is capable of having street maps loaded into it. If I'm out wandering in Edinburgh, Scotland, I want to be able to use it to find my way from Edinburgh Castle to Rosslyn Chapel... that sort of thing. I just want some help getting around the cities and finding locations.

    I am more interested in seeing streets than outdoor/ offroad features, although I'll be using it while on foot.
  • Tim 1481 Points
    I would start by looking at the Garmin eTrex Venture Cx. It is Garmin's most basic handheld with a color screen that is capable of adding auto maps with auto routing onto it.

    The retail price is about $250, but you should be able to find it online for under $200. You would then need to add City Navigator North America (retail $139.27) and/or City Navigator Europe ($300) for auto routing in those respective areas.
  • I went through this well before Xmas. I wanted to get a GPS simply because I didn't have one. Didn't need one, I just wanted one. :D

    So, I started with a Caliber P3500. It was on sale via Office Max. I used it for a couple weeks. Sent it back because I couldn't download and install the updates no matter what I tried :cry: . They (Caliber) offered me a F5300 w/5.3" screen, MP3, video, still pix at a really good price. So I bought one.

    The first time I used it, I was sent to the wrong address. Had I followed the instructions I'd still be headed north. I called Horizon Nav, the name to call on the screen. They said to call Navteq. No help from any of them. I contacted Sphereteq/Caliber several times and got no solution to the wrong direction problem. Also, the voice volume was so low that even when I had the unit connected to the driver-side window I could barely hear it. No answer for that problem, either, from the company. So I sold it.

    TomTom One became available recently for $299. I bought one. It does everything I need a GPS to do, and I can hear it. Mounting was a problem in my car, a Buick Rendezvous. The windshield's a long way from the seat.

    So I made an adaptor. A piece of 1/16" aluminum, 3" wide x 6 1/2" long. I shoved it into the crack at the top of the heater vent, between the movable vent and the frame. It fit. So I attached the TomTom suction cup to the plate, using the edges of 4 washers as clamps, attached to screws and nuts, and spaced about 90 deg apart around the suction cup base. I bent the plate down about 10 degrees to get the One at eye-level, plugged the cord into the lighter socket and away I went.

    Also, rather than buying the $24.00 a/c adaptor TomTom sells, a quick visit to Fry's Electronics got me a 1000 ma A/C - D/C cigarette lighter adaptor for under $10.00. There's a built-in voltage/amperage regulator in the plug supplied with the unit. The one I bought works just fine.

    So after all the baloney I went through (and I really searched the more inexpensive units), I bought the one I should have bought to begin with. And what's really great is that it's now $200 under the price it started at. What a deal :o

    Hope this helps someone.
  • You mentioned that you bought a TomTom... which model did you buy?

    Just as a reminder, I'm looking for one that I can use as a hand-held unit while strolling through a city (not in a car). Would the TomTom that you bought be good for this purpose? What kind of battery life does it have? Is it rechargeable, or will it use normal batteries?
  • I bought a TomTom One. Battery life is about 2 hours, based upon what I've read. I guess you could carry it around - it's small enough and light enough. There is no external battery provision though. When it dies it's over. You could carry along a charger and while having a cool brew plug it in and recharge :lol:

    I must say though, that I really like the unit. It's real simple and for my purposes, accurate enough.

    Tom Flanagan
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