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which brand is the best


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Initial post: Mar 3, 2009 8:47:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2009 9:07:06 AM PST
I would like to know from long time users which brand is the best to buy. I would like to have the bluetooth connectivity but most of the topics I see do not support the palm centro (my mobile phone). Are there any that do support this bluetooth connection?

I would also like to have one with voice recognition, but want to know how good the recognition is...does it understand you or do you have to keep repeating yourself several times?

I am leaning towards the garmin 885 (because of bluetooth

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 12:09:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2009 12:15:36 PM PST
dsrussell says:
Best brand? Wow, that's a loaded question (and impossible to answer). Since there are far more Garmin owners than any other brand in the U.S. (especially on Amazon, it appears), a poll wouldn't do much good (except to hear a lot of "buy Garmin"). Each manufacturer brings something to the table and each GPS has its own set of quirks.

For instance, TomTom has map share and IQ routes, and is extremely customizable. Magellan has some nice features and has AAA guides. Navigon has the most complete lane assist (one long-time Garmin user thought the Navigon 8100 blew his Nuvi 765t out of the water). Garmin is the easiest to interface with. And on and on. I don't know too many people who have 3 or 4 GPS units from different manufacturers, except for perhaps Warren Merrill (hopefully, he will see this thread and give his comments).

As far as Voice Recognition, I've heard that Garmin has one of the better voice recognition interfaces in the market (check the review at gpsmagazine.com -- a pro-Garmin site, but it has several movies about this feature).

Check each site's accepted phone list as far as Bluetooth is concerned. Many people have had problems (not only on Garmin units). Also, go visit a place where you can look and listen (and "talk") to them (some manufacturers, such as Garmin, don't exactly put in a high quality speaker).

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 2:29:27 PM PST
Mystic says:
I think the 885 would be an excellent choice. I just used a Navigon 2200t along side a Nuvi 265wt for a few weeks and would recommend a Nuvi anyday. The navigon had a horrible UI, and graphics that made it almost impossible to see street names. The 265wt was super easy to navigate through the menus, and the map graphics were easy to see while glancing at them while driving.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 8:51:57 PM PST
dsRussell, you covered it fairly well. There is no "best". Customer service-wise, I've found Garmin to be tops, followed by TomTom, Navigon then Magellan. But most users will never need them, so I wouldn't make that my top concern. Instead go to Radio Shack and look at the Navigons, hard to find anywhere else. Then Best Buy to check out Garmin, Tomtom and Magellan. Ignore whether you get any satellite lock inside the store. For any number of reasons, you may not, and it's not intended for use indoor anyway. Instead pay attention to how easily you can use the PND (personal navigation device), how easy it is to see at a glance. In general, as dsRussell said, Garmin has been the easiest to use right out of the box, very intuitive. TomTom's don't really have more features (some different ones), but the information displayed on the screen is more customizable, with quite a few more menu options, some useful and others not so much. Mapshare is not as useful as TomTom leads you to believe, and yes you still have to buy maps. Both Navigon's and Magellans are just as customizable as TomTom's, and Navigon's will take about as much time, if not more, to really understand. Magellan is a little more straight-forward. But with Navigon and Maggie (owned by Mio/Mitac now) you get a lot of features for the price. I would avoid any other brands you come across since device updates and maps will probably be few and far between (with the possible exception of Telenav if you happen to see one). As far as cost after the sale, both Garmin and Navigon offer free traffic and very good map subscriptions, making them very economical to keep up to date. TomTom's have the highest map prices of any of the portable gps manufacturers, no map subscription available, and traffic is a paid yearly subscription. Magellans's map and traffic prices are less than TomTom's, but still not cheap. My usual recommendation for someone who's never owned a gps is go with Garmin. You'll spend a lot less time frustrated by features and operation. Once you've got some experience with them, you'll understand more what the usefullness of some features are and make it easier to find your next device in a couple of years, whether Garmin or someone else. But I'd certainly consider TomTom and Navigon along with Garmin. I might give Magellan another few months to sort out the new ownership and their model line.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2009 5:11:21 PM PDT
Warren stated:

My usual recommendation for someone who's never owned a gps is go with Garmin.

Thanks Warren, I needed that bit of info.

Posted on Mar 11, 2009 5:20:36 PM PDT
And you can always buy a Road Atlas for 5 bucks.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 9:00:55 AM PDT
I agree that a Garmin is easy to use and I love my Nuvi 255W but my Navigon 2000S beats the Garmin badly when it comes to navigation instructions. The reality view, lane assist and advanced TTS has made it nearly impossible to miss a turn whereas my Garmin can leave me guessing at a complicated intersection.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 11:52:41 AM PDT
FWIW I think Garmin 'wins' because of intuitive interface. Features are just features but if you can't get to/enter information what's the use of any unit. I sold gps units for a while in Sharper Image a few years ago and Garmin was easier to learn and Garmins didn't come back.

My personal use is limited. I asked around 12-13 years ago when I was getting ready to purchase and was steered to Garmin - a Color Street Pilot unit with much the same interface as today. I still have it but there has been such advances that I just want to try a new one. The 378, although a couple of years old, is at the top of my list so I can use it on my boat but it is being challenged by the Nuvi 500 & 550 models (newer and touch-screen but *apparently* lacking the easy waypoint-dropping feature of my venerable StreetPilot. (I'm checking on this.)

A couple of years ago I disregarded by own advice and bought an integrated gps-audio-video unit from a stereo manufacturer for my MK IV Supra when I rebuilt it. Having a 'Double-DIN' sized touch screen is pretty cool and the stereo sounds great but the unit is mounted at the bottom of the 'center column' of the instrument panel just an inch above the transmission hump (and behind the shift lever). Not having it on or near the top of the dash makes it hard to view when driving.

I'm comfortable with the integrated unit now mainly because I don't enter data underway and expressly rely on the voice instructions (street names and distances are announced) to get me to an address. The system has auto-zoom but it's basically useless to me. If I want information about a POI I have to pull off the road to look it up. One nice feature is the steering wheel-mounted wireless remote - mandatory even for simple tasks like changing stereo bands/stations. Interior noise makes voice commands unpredictable.

A single use button to drop a waypoint is missing from this integrated unit and for me this feature is 'mandatory' because I sometimes travel on roads that aren't shown on the map updates - say when I am following 'popcorn' home but need to have a record of the trip to follow when I return sometime later. My Color Street Pilot has this feature and drops serial numbered waypoints with a simple two-button push as I slow for the turns. I later label them in English. I'll avoid buying a GPS w/o an easy-to-use 'drop-a-waypoint' feature because maps aren't updated very well regardless of what the manufacturers tell you. Sometimes the street is there but the numbers have been reassigned and the update doesn't pick it up for 10 years.

Summary: Garmin for better user interface; Single use to get it to the dash top if possible; Easy drop-a-waypoint feature. Largest screen you can afford that won't block your driving. FM Transmitter or a good speaker to hear the voice instructions.

Posted on Mar 27, 2009 6:46:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 27, 2009 6:46:53 AM PDT
Grumpy Tech says:
After using a TomTom for over a year I would NOT recommend it. I would get a Garmin. In fact I am planning on getting a Garmin 760(discontinued but still available) or newer model next month.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2009 8:01:05 PM PDT
M. D. Herren says:
I have used a Gps for about 3 years. I have a Magellan Roadmate 760. The maps got old so rather spring for an update, I bought a Garmin street pilot C340. That was a big mistake. The Garmin had the newest maps but it was terrible on routing( only choices were shortest distance or fastest time. I tried it out locally and it constant wanted to route me through the hood in Memphis. Went back to My Roadmate. About 4 weeks ago I bought a refurb Magellan Maestro 3250 2007 maps but it was a bargain at $89.99 it has voice command(limited and can require repeat of commands sometimes) but it has blue tooth, AAA, announces turns by street name and one touch location. Also give you altitude. $ ways of routing shortest distance, quickest time, most use of freeways, least use of freeways and also allows you to avoid toll roads. maps for the Magellan and Garmin are made by same company. Hertz rental cars use Magellan. So my choice Magellan. Amazon has a fantastic price on a New 4250

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2009 10:20:13 AM PDT
T. Dooley says:
Warren,
I'd like to thank you for the non biased remarks about all of the major brands. Very informative!

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 4:29:49 PM PDT
Mrs. Mac says:
I'm in the process of returning my Nuvi 750 - I gave it my best shot and I cannot get it to work. Maps totally outdated (about one and one-half years). Garmin support never responded. I am VERY disappointed and not sure where to turn at this point. I don't need or want bells and whistles - I just don't want to get lost!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2009 5:23:16 PM PDT
I don't have a financial interest in Garmin's but I think this might help: A step by step guide to installing the 2009 map update: http://www.gpsmagazine.com/2008/05/how_to_install_garmins_map_upd_1.php

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 6:17:15 PM PDT
Mrs Mac, did you you purchase your 760 new in the past 60 days? If so, Garmin will give you the latest maps completely free of charge. Simply register your nuvi at Garmin.com, then check to see if it qualifies.

Posted on Apr 6, 2009 9:16:35 AM PDT
A. Yee says:
Folks, this was very helpful. Having my heart set on Garmin 760, then Magellan has this 4250 on sale for $50 less than 760, again, I'm not sure whether to consider another company as a new GPS owner. If anyone has particular thought of 760 vs. 4250, do tell, as Amazon just advertised this at $150, and the re-furb Garmin is $200. I care about wide-screen, ease-of-use and bluetooth to my Sony Ericson. The notice of when to turn is also important for someone that doesn't want to cut someone off unintentionally. thx.

Posted on Apr 6, 2009 11:23:46 AM PDT
Mastiff Mom says:
It will be interesting to see where Magellan is in a couple months, and if the need to repeat commands has identified and resolved.

Posted on Apr 6, 2009 2:25:36 PM PDT
Roadrunner says:
Does anyone out there have experience and/or recommendations for a GPS to be used on a touring motorcycle?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2010 3:22:31 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 22, 2010 11:14:04 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2010 3:26:10 PM PST
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Posted on Dec 22, 2010 7:16:48 AM PST
I have both a magellan and a garmin and mixed feelings about the difference between the 2
Pros for Garmin: I had a great experience with customer service--got to a live person in less than 5 minutes who sent me a replacement connector. I like the way it displays traffic problems
Pro for magellan: I like the earlier warning of when the next turn is coming. Garmin gives you much less warning so you need to pay much closer attention to the screen to see when the next turn is coming so you don't get stuck in the wrong lane

Posted on Dec 25, 2010 10:58:45 PM PST
Louie D says:
My Tom Tom gives plenty of notice before a turn or exit, more detailed verbal info on traffic and jams (without looking at the screen) and allows for choice of auto reroute if desired. Magellan has the bell "gimick" before the turn, but falls short to the others everywhere else, especially on routing. TT big complaints are about the mount and customer service, though I had a good experience the one time I needed to call. Garmin is the most simple to use but allows for the fewest optional settings by far. I rate it best for super-seniors.

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 7:15:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2010 7:16:42 AM PST
Bob Call says:
It's TomTom all the way around for me. Most flexible and easy to understand when it is making route changes to get you back on track to your destination. I won't even consider another brand. Mapshare IS as good as they claim it is. Easy to add POI's which are also shared with other TomTom users. You need only purchase a new map about every three years and the upgrades to the enitire basic programs alone are worth the cost of the map upgrade.

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 10:05:19 AM PST
Louie D says:
Bob Call, Which TT do you own ? I went away last weekend and around the bend of the highway I saw tons of traffic ahead. I looked at my TT and it had already rerouted me to the next exit where I later reentered the same highway just slightly ahead of the still stopped traffic, which I saw in my rear view mirror ! TT to the rescue again.

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 6:52:43 PM PST
It would be great if there was a simple "this model is best" or "this manufacturer has the best gps's". But i't nowhere near that cut and dried. Take traffic. For every "tons of traffic around the bend and my TomTom saw it", there's probably at least two "my TomTom (or Garmin or Magellan) said there was a delay, but there wasn't", or "my gps didn't warn me of this backup and now I'm stuck". I wouldn't base any gps purchase on traffic reporting alone. You're going to be disappointed if you think it's at all reliable. It serves only as a heads-up that there may be a problem ahead. Or maybe not.

Each of the major manufacturers has their own special features. For instance, no Tomtom will warn of potential traffic unless you have a route set to a destination. Several Garmin's will. No Tomtom has free 3rd party maps available, or can use topo mapping. Nor can any TomTom route you to an off-road destination such as areas of a park, or saved fishing spot favorites. No TomTom includes a tracklog or travel stats, or offers multi-stop route optimization. No TomTom has autonomous Quickfix, satellite location prediction for fast lock. But Garmin offers each of these. But at the same time, you can't correct a misnamed street on a Garmin. Or . . . ummm. . . I can't think of another feature right off that Tomtom has but no Garmin does, but I'm sure there's others. In any case, some buyers will find tomTom to be a good match for them, while others might find them miserable to use. The same goes for Garmin, with some believing TomTom's are more customizable and thus more features (not really IMHO). Personally I'm of the opinion that the less I have to tweak my pnd the better. I prefer Garmin. Lucky obviously has an extremely high opinion of TomTom. And depending on your personality, expectations and use, you may agree with one or the other of us. Or maybe neither. If you've never used a portable gps device before, try a couple before committing to a purchase. Borrow one from a friend for the day. Stop into a Best Buy and try a couple display models (ignoring whether it gets a satellite lock inside a store). If you can afford to and you're still confused, buy your top two choices and return one after trying them out. Amazon has a great return policy. I can't tell you which model is best for YOU, nor can anyone else. We can all recommend, but you're the one who's going to be using it, and you probably won't be driving where or how we do. There's going to be things/features you think important that others may not care a thing about.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2010 7:11:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2010 7:13:25 PM PST
Louie D says:
I think we all recommend models but insist that people try out the units in the store before just picking a few from Amazon. I tried the Garmin 755T and had problems with very late first notification of turns, sometimes right as I approached the street. TT has more customizable features, but does not offer many of the other features Garmin does which many people might never use. I chose Tom Tom because they had what I wanted, which is much like the older Navigon 7200T I gave to my wife. Garmin as Warren said, has less available to "tweak" which IS a perk for many people who just want to get from A to B.
TT has itinerary planning which I always optimize before a trip on my home PC (though if it had it I would use it) and more POI, but I do a lot of checking at home before going away so POIs are not as important to me as to many others. TT traffic reporting is safer with detailed verbal info, but all the non-"live" models report the traffic at around the same intervals. One needs to decide what features are deal-breakers and then compare models from Garmin.
Warren, have you or anyone you know tried the Garmin 295W with free wifi? I wonder if its worth getting as it is down to $79 now.
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Initial post:  Mar 3, 2009
Latest post:  Jun 3, 2012

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