GPS System Review

We spent 31 hours researching and testing 12 different types of GPS systems and found that accuracy, up-to-date information, and ease of use were most important. Garmin Nuvi Portable GPS system scored high above the other GPS systems we researched and is our top pick. The compact size of this GPS system is easy to carry around if you want to. The display is 5” in size and can be installed horizontally or vertically. This GPS comes pre-loaded with numerous maps of North America and it offers free lifetime map updates.

Introduction to the GPS System

Through our research which includes talking to experts in the technology field, we were able to compare many different devices against each other and come up with these three that just may be what you’re looking for. We’ve took customer comments into consideration as well as they have experience with the devices we’ve chosen here AFTER the purchase and know how they work.

In these three reviews of the top rated GPS Systems on the market, you can expect to learn about them in detail from the features they have to how they work and what you can do with them. We set up our reviews so we can give you a good overview of each of the choices on our list.

These overviews will tell you about these three products in particular so you can get an idea of whether they will work for you or not. If they do, terrific! Choose your favorite and go from.

If you don’t see one that meets your needs in Our top rated list, keeping reading after the reviews and learn how to understand GPSs and how to decide which is a good one and which is better left alone.

Top 10 GPS Systems

RankPictureGPSResolution
(Pixels)
Waypoints
1
Garmin 2597
480 x 2721,000
2Garmin 40
480 x 272600
3TomTom
480 x 272550
4Garmin 55480 x 272550
5
Garmin 2797800 x 4801,000
6
Garmin 760
800 x 4801,400
7
Garmin 65800 x 480650
8
Garmin 56
480 x 272550
9
Garmin 2495
800 x 480580
10Garmin 2798800 x 4801,000

Best Overall GPS System

Garmin nüvi 2597LMT 5-Inch Bluetooth Portable GPS

Garmin is a popular and very well known name when it comes to GPS systems.  This Nuvi PS portable device is the perfect size to carry around should you choose to.

The bright 5” display shows the movies and videos you want to see along with the capability of being dual-oriented. This means it can be installed vertically or horizontally.

One of the features of the Garmin 2597 has is that it comes already loaded with many detailed maps of North America.  There is also free lifetime map updates as well so you know that you will always have the latest information and maps when riving or using it.  In addition to the detailed maps, this Garmin Nuvi has points of interest that they will map out so if you want to go see them, you are all set.

You will be able to download new maps 4 times per year at no charge for the life of your Garmin device. This device offers users the ability to find information on addresses as well as millions of restaurants, businesses, stores, and other points of interest. You can even add customized POIs.  The Garmin 2597 features Garmin Traffic which is a program that keeps your driving map on the screen at all times.

You will get any traffic alerts on the side of the map and messages will be spoken as well.   Users will get beneficial information such as how long of a delay to expect and if there are detours the driver can access.  It will also tell you if the route you’re on is the fastest route to get to your destination.

With voice-activated navigation, you don’t have to take your hands off the steering wheel at any time.  If you are not driving, you can use the touch screen if desired. Your Garmin device is Bluetooth and Smartphone Link compatible bringing even more convenience to your road trips and commutes.

Garmin Nuvi 40LM Navigator

This Garmin Navigator is designed with ease of use in mind. With lots of premium features users will be able to enter an address and those features kick on including lane assist help you get there in the least amount of time.

You’ll be able to use features like the touch screen, the lane assist feature, preferred lane feature and much more.

The slim designed, 4.3” diagonal color display is easy to read and provides clear images that you can see at a glance.

There are speed limit indicators that will show you the speed limits for most of the major roads.

There is a popular “where am I”  feature that will alert you to the nearest hospitals, gas stations, and police stations in the event of an emergency of some kind, but will also show you nearest addresses, intersections and more.

Users have access to detailed maps for free for the life of the unit, along with over 6 million different points of interest such as restaurants, stores and other places you may want to go.

Your Garmin Navigator accepts microSD cards that you can buy separately and use and you will love the trip computer that records mileage, max speed, total time and other information about your trip.

Best Budget GPS System

TomTom START 55M 5-Inch GPS Navigator

TomTom is another popular and well known name in GPS systems. The objective is to make your journey as simple and stress free as possible. The 5” screen is bigger than many others giving you more display space to see your maps.

Users will enjoy the convenience of free lifetime map updates, so you can be confident that you have the latest information on the best routes.

TomTom is the first GPS system that created digital maps for their systems. Your maps will cover destinations all over the United States and Canada too. IQ routes and Map Share technology ensure that you are kept up to date on any road changes on a daily basis.

The advanced lane guidance will direct you to the correct lane in plenty of time to avoid last minute rush changes which can be potentially dangerous for you and other drivers too. The POIs range anywhere from restaurants to hotels so finding what you want and where you want to go once you get there is a sure thing.

Another popular feature of this TomTom system is that it will help you find the places that have the lowest gas prices.  It doesn’t matter if you are out of town or in your own neighborhood; you’ll always know where the least expensive gas stations around.

If you ever get stuck, TomTom has a roadside assistance that will connect you to a customer service specialist that will help you in whatever way they can. It’s great to have that peace of mind when you are traveling.

Top Rated GPS System Summary

All three of these top rated GPS systems have excellent features that make traveling of any kind, simple and easy, whether it is a daily work commute or a long trip out of town. Garmin and TomTom are both well respected and well known names in GPS technology. They are both dedicated to provide drivers with the best directions, maps, POIs and other features possible.

The days of old foldable maps are gone and they were never convenient. Not to mention you could never get them folded back up! The invention of the GPS brought convenience, added safety and better directions to the forefront and it has only continued to grow over the years as technology increases.

These two great companies and the three top rated choices we have brought you are excellent examples of what is available in today’s market. One of these three units is sure to provide what you are looking for when it comes to GPS technology and options. Continue reading below to learn even more about GPS systems and how to choose the perfect one for your needs.

GPS System Comparison Chart


Garmin nüvi 2597LMT
View

Garmin Nuvi 40LM Navigator
View

TomTom START 55TM
View

Garmin nüvi 55LMT
View

Garmin nüvi 2797LMT
View

Garmin RV 760LMT
View

Garmin nüvi 65LMT
View

Garmin nüvi 56LMT
View

Garmin Nuvi 2495LMT
View

Garmin nüvi 2798LMT
View
Display
Resolution
(Pixels)
480 x 272480 x 272480 x 272480 x 272800 x 480800 x 480800 x 480480 x 272800 x 480800 x 480
Waypoints1,0006005505501,0001,4006505505801,000
Physical
Dimensions
(Inches)

3.30 x 0.80 x 5.400.70 x 4.90 x 3.105.20 x 0.10 x 3.500.80 x 5.50 x 3.404.50 x 0.90 x 7.404.50 x 0.90 x 7.400.80 x 6.60 x 3.700.80 x 5.50 x 3.403.30 x 0.80 x 5.407.40 x 4.50 x 0.90
Weight
(Ounces)
6.605.309.006.4012.5012.508.606.406.609.00
Warranty1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year

 

GPS System Buying Guide

GPS System Reviews

What is a GPS System?

Getting lost in an unfamiliar city is not fun at all. For some people it can even cause panic to set in. A GPS is a great way to reassure people that they are going to know where they are at all times, or if they don’t know, they can easily find out. There are many different capabilities that a GPS system can include. You need to understand what they do and the different features each has before you purchase one.

A Little Bit of History

GPS System1The original first GPS system was used in the military. Because of the pinpoint positioning that it was capable of, having a GPS gave them a decided advantage over other ships at sea in the 80s. Up until the invention of the GPS, the military had relied on the sextant which was fine in its day, but was now 300 year old technology.

In the 90s, GPS units were able to fit right in the palm of your hand making them a crucial item for travelers, changing the way people reached their destinations, and making it much easier and less stressful. As time has gone on, GPS systems have added more and more features and become even more streamlined.

Things to Consider before Purchasing a GPS

Buying a GPS is an investment so making sure you get one that will meet all of your needs and preferences is very important.  You don’t want to spend money on a device that doesn’t have all the features you’re looking for because that is a waste of your money.  Make sure that you ask yourself the following questions before you purchase a GPS system.

  • How often do I travel and How far? – If you are the type that wants to look up every address on your GPS and you are on the road a lot with either long distance or around town driving, investing in a good GPS system will be worth it to you. If you very rarely drive or find that you only seem to go to places where you already know where they are, a GPS doesn’t make much sense.  Decide how often you will be using a GPS and make the decision as to whether it will be used frequently. If you are a salesman or delivery driver of some kind, a GPS could save you a lot in time and gas.
  • Will you use your GPS on foot, in a vehicle, or other outdoor pursuits? – With handheld GPS systems being the norm nowadays, you can use them in other places besides your vehicle. Do you like to hike? How about mountain biking or boating? The handheld units on the market today are perfect for those activities.  It is important that you know ahead of time where you will be using the GPS so you get one that has the capabilities you need.
  • How often are updates offered? – If you travel for business a lot or use your GPS to help with a delivery job or business, you want a device that has the most up to date maps possible.  If you’re just looking for the occasional coffee shop or store, frequent updates are not as important.

Common Features of GPS Devices

Features are another area where the user needs to know what they will be doing to choose the right ones. Different units will have similar features but then some have additional features that you may find very handy to have. We have outlined a list of the most commonly found features in today’s GPS systems.

Good Map Coverage – Handheld GPS units that are sold in the United States typically offer detailed street maps for all of the United States. Most offer coverage for Canada as well and some will even include Mexico.  Users sometimes have the option of purchasing extra maps in digital form for other foreign destinations as well. Make sure that the unit you choose has a detailed maps feature and that it offers updates for free and on a regular basis.

3D Map Coverage – Depending on the unit, it may offer 3D map coverage. This can also be referred to as a bird’s eye view. I n many cases, a 3D map view can be much easier and faster to interpret and quickly becomes a favorite viewpoint for the user to utilize.

Spoken Directions, Step by Step – The handheld GPS units will usually offer spoken directions that come through a built in speaker the unit has.  Other units may feed the spoken directions through the vehicle’s radio.  Almost all GPS units offer the voice function/feature and it is worth paying for.  Having the spoken directions prevents the driver from having to constantly take their eyes off the road to look at the map.  With spoken directions, they can watch for the turns the GPS voice is telling them to look for.

GPS System2Points of Interest – POI or points of interest include places of business that the user may want to do to.  These will include gas stations, hotels, parks, coffee shops, and other places of business.  These can change fairly frequently so make sure that the POIs include phone numbers as well so you can verify if needed.

Screen Size – Screen sizes in GPS units will vary, typically measuring anywhere from 3” to 7”, measured diagonally.  Some of the handheld devices are even smaller. Larger screens are going to be easier to read, especially if the user is driving.  You can usually expect to pay more for a GPS unit that has a larger screen. Since the smaller units with smaller screens are lighter, they might be a better choice for someone who is getting one for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Real Time Traffic Updates – Some GPS units have the ability to receive real time traffic reports which can be very beneficial for commutes back and forth to work. Traffic jams, accidents and delays can show up on the map and the GPS system can provide the driver with an alternative route. There is usually a subscription fee charged for these real time updates but if you drive a lot, it’s definitely worth it.

Media Card Slots – There are two ways that GPS units store their data:  memory card slots or a built in hard driver.  Hard drive GPS units will usually calculate directions faster than the units that have a memory card, but memory card GPSs are usually more durable and last longer. Media card slots are very useful for those who want to back up information and can also be used for playing music or using a photo view feature if your GPS has one.

Channels – The number of different satellite signals your GPS system receives information from are called channels.  For the less expensive models, users can expect to have about 12 channels available.  More expensive units can have as much as 24.  The more channels a GPS unit has access to, the more accurate it will be.

Waypoints – This is an essential feature of handheld GPS devices.  A waypoint is a specific geographic location that is defined by latitude and longitude and is inputted into the GPS device.  GPS users can record a path they may be taking on a hike and be able to find their way back to the vehicle.  Just be sure to start recording (by pressing the waypoint record button) at the beginning of the trail.  More expensive GPS systems can hold more waypoints.

Tracks – Backtracking where you’ve been is a good way to retrace your steps if you get lost. That is what the Tracks feature will provide on your GPS system. As you’re taking that hike or mountain bike ride, your path will be displayed on your screen and a trail of breadcrumbs will show where you’ve been.

Benefits and Uses of a GPS

For Work – GPS systems are used daily in many work situations. These include rescue organizations, firefighters, geologists, archeologists, pilots, dispatchers, tour guides, military personnel and more.

For Leisure – GPS systems can be very helpful in many leisure activities including camping, hiking, snowmobiling, fishing, flying, hunting and other outdoor activities.

For Traveling – Get directions for any city you are in across the United State and Canada. It can also provide POIs and the best route to take go get to your destination.

Different Types of GPS Systems

There are four basic types of GPS systems that you can choose from. Each one has its benefits and drawbacks.  The best way to decide which type you need is to determine beforehand what you will be using your GPS for.

Recreational – Recreational GPS systems are small enough to fit in your hand or pocket.  They can also fit on your dashboard as well. Some even come in a wristwatch style that is great for runners.  It is very compact and lightweight.

Automotive – These GPS systems are specifically designed for vehicles and most often have built-in maps, voice directions, touch screens, different mounting instructions and map downloading capability.

GPS System3Marine – These GPS systems are used for boats and other watercraft. They typically have waterproof designs and in some cases can float as well.  Many have both offshore and onshore maps, chart plotting capabilities, and a screen that you can still see clearly in the bright sunlight. Depending on the model, some may offer tide information or locate fish.

Cell Phone – Many cell phones have GPS capability just in smaller form.  There are many apps that one can get to use on their cells and turn them into a hand held GPS device.

Conclusion

When it comes to getting a good GPS system, one of the best things you can do is analyze your own needs and preferences and make sure that the models you look at have those capabilities and features that you need. There are a lot of different styles, sizes and models on the market today which can make choosing ONE a big challenging but if you take the time to research them a little by reading this guide you will find that the field could be narrowed significantly. This will make your choice much easier.

Having a good quality GPS system with the right features for your needs will make travel of all kind, whether on foot or in a vehicle much easier. Gone are the days where you have to drive around finding the destination you are seeking. Now you can input the information for where you are going and let the GPS guide you right to it.