What I want in my next GPS
Some material is very old and may be incorrect today
© November 2008 Anthony Lawrence
At You want a GPS I confessed that I bought a GPS unit (a Garmin Nuvi 250) only because we were planning a cross country trip.
Well, we never did take that trip and as the stock market has pretty well destroyed our retirement funds, we likely never will. By the time the market recovers our losses, we'll surely be far too old to even think about it.
If Bill Gates happens to be reading, you could send me a few hundred thou to put me back where I was. The PayPal "Donate" link is down at the bottom of this post, or you could just send me a check.. Yeah, I know I've said some pretty harsh things about you, and sending me the cash won't change my opinion, but hey: you know you owe me. Don't forget to include enough to cover the taxes I'll have to pay, OK? Then we could take the trip next summer, and yeah, we'll call you for lunch while we're in Seattle.. yeah, right.
Anyway, back to the GPS. That little gadget was absolutely hands down the best piece of electronics we ever bought. My wife and I are in complete agreement: we love it, we use it constantly, if it breaks we'll rush right out and buy another the very same day. No kidding, it's become that important to us.
Even so, there are improvements I would like to have. First off, I wish that it could learn. There's a roadway out of our community that my GPS is unaware of. When I go that way, the Nuvi nags at me to "Make a U-Turn!". It would make sense that if I have gone through what it thinks is unpassable terrain once, I can do so again, so learn that.
Next, give me a customizable display. The speedometer on my Subaru Outback isn't easy for me to read - there's a nice digital speed display available on the Garmin, but to get to it I have to give up the map display and go to a screen that shows a lot of information I don't care about. I'd take the compass display off the front screen and put speed in its place. This customization doesn't have to be built into the unit - I'd be fine with bringing it to my computer to run a customization app.
But really, why should I? The unit is already talking to a satellite, why can't I talk to it from my computer? Aside from display customization, I'd like to be able to send it destinations from my computer. My wife just found some vase she wanted at a store 30 miles from here in a town she's never been to in her life. I had to go out to the car to program the GPS (she knows how to program it; I was just saving her the trouble). We do things like that frequently, being able to send an address would be very convenient.
Back to speed for a second. Obviously the GPS units have some idea of road speed limits - how else could they guess arrival time? So why not show me that, too? I realize it might not be 100% accurate - there are always small sections with lowered limits that might not be worth programming in - but it would give me an idea and could even optionally warn me if I was traveling too fast.
I wish it were easier to make route comparisons. That's particularly true when there is a stop we need to make on the way. Let's say I'm coming down Rte 24 heading home but need to stop at BJ's. There are two BJ's, both of which are slightly out of my way. Given that Home is my ultimate destination, which one should I go to?
I would also like the GPS to be aware of time. Again, let's say we're headed for the Galleria Mall. Normally we'd head West on 44 and take 24 South, but if it's rush hour, it's far smarter to take 105 to 79 to 140.. because of traffic. I don't mean because of traffic reports (I know that feature is available) but because of normally expected traffic.
I don't know if all these features are available yet or if they are, if you can get them all on one unit at a reasonable price. That's OK: what we have is good enough for now. These are just features we'll look for when it is time to buy.
What else should we be looking for?
Got something to add? Send me email.
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