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2005 Outback H6 3.0 LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey aftermarket GPS owners--simple question. What features of your GPS do you find most useful? I'd like to know what things, when shopping for a new GPS, you wouldn't want to go without.

I've been looking at them and don't know where to start...they all seem pretty much the same to me, and I'm a computer engineer.

I would be using said unit for both long highway drives and in the city when needed.
 

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2009 Outback 2.5i Special Edition 5M/T
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166 Posts
One "feature" that is often overlooked is operating system. In my experience, and based on feedback from customers (I work for a company that sells several brands, including Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom), Garmins are the most intuitive.

Different drivers will, of course, have different preferences re: features. For example, some people want (and will pay extra for) a system that speaks street names aloud. I personally prefer a system that just says "Turn right" instead of "Turn right on Main Street", largely because local names would often be mispronounced (think how "Saltillo Road" would be pronounced in the Midwest, and then how it would likely be pronounced in Los Angeles) and that would bug me.

Another example: I'm a veteran of the Baltimore, Washington, and Atlanta beltways. Gridlock is common on all three, especially at rush hour, and the most frustrating part of it is finally reaching the end of a jam and seeing that the reason for the jam was...nothing, or at least nothing apparent to the normal human observer. :3: In these situations, an FM traffic feed can be useful, maybe even worth the price of a subscription. But where I live now, in Nebraska, such a feature would be essentially wasted.

One feature that does have me considering an upgrade is the "EcoRoute" feature on some of the newer Garmins (and, I assume, other brands as well): In addition to the "shortest route" and "quickest route" options, the GPS unit will calculate the most fuel-efficient route--which is also likely to have the least stop-and-start driving, so it's good for the impatient driver as well as the environmentally-conscious or frugal driver.

Another feature worth having--and, again, one that I know Garmin offers but may be available from other manufacturers as well--is lifetime map updates. Although the upfront investment will be greater, this option is much more economical in the long run than buying a new CD-ROM every year or two.

Let's hear from some other folks--what are your favorite features? Maybe we can all put them in bold for quick reference...
 

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2009 Outback 2.5i Special Edition 5M/T
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166 Posts
Had a chance to test-drive a nuvi 765 alongside my StreetPilot today, and can now recommend another feature to look for: non-glare screen. It really did make a huge difference. Surprisingly, the wider screen on this nuvi--which I had thought would be a major improvement--was less noticeable than I had expected.
 

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Soon to buy
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I have had both Magellan and Garmin ... The last two Magellans I had both had quality issues so I took them both back ... The Garmin I have now has had zero issues and I am well pleased. Good luck with your search.
 

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2009 2.5i, H4, Auto.
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842 Posts
I've got an older Garmin. The unit works well, The maps are several years out of date on it and an updated pack is $60. I am actually about half heartidly in the market for a new one.

Some things that I have seen: Lifetime map updates can be very helpful. My current one is useless with any construction that has been done in the last 10 years. The sad part is my model is only 4 years old.

Next, I've seen some Tom Toms units advertising a lifetime traffic subscription included in the price.
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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I've had a Magellan unit that an old neighbor gave me. It had too many buttons for him. Maps are out of date, can seem to justify spending $80 for an update. Power cable died on road trip to PA this weekend, couldn't find a Radio Shack to buy a power cord. Bought a Garmin Nuvi 205W from Target in desperation. I liked it better than the Magellan. Eventually found a Nuvi 255WT that included Canada and Free Traffic for $129 at Best Buy.

Some of the Tom Tom units have Lane Assist but I'm not sure what that is or how it helps you.

Best to go to a store that has a lot of them and play around with some to see what features you might like. Everybody has their own preference so choice best left to you. My vote is for Garmin units. But it's kinda like the Ford/Chevy/Dodge or AMD/Intel arguments, depends. :)
 

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2020 Outback Magnetite Grey, 2009 Outback Quartz Silver Metallic
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175 Posts
The features that I find most valuable are the abilities to add/remove/customize POIs, and integration with GoogleMaps. For me, Garmin is the best at these.

I've owned Magellan products and Garmin products. I'm sure others could counter this comment with anecdotes of their own, but I found that Magellan has the worst attitude towards customers, the worst service, and the poorest built units.
A trifecta of suxors.

Whatever you end up choosing, be sure and check out the POIFactory.
 

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2005 Outback H6 3.0 LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #8
Well, I ended up with a TomTom XXL 540S. It was on sale at Best Buy for $150 out the door, which just seemed too good to pass up. It has a massive 5" touchscreen, speaks street names, and does lane assist.

So far I like the interface and their TomTom Home software. It routes quickly, and seems to choose reasonable routes thus far. I haven't given it a thorough test yet, but I will do so over the weekend on an 800+mile road trip.

Plus, since it runs a bunch of GPL'd Linux code, the possibility to develop custom software for it is tempting to me as a programmer :)

They also have a feature called MapShare where the user community can submit and download map corrections for free. There is a simple interface to mark and correct map errors that you find. This is a good idea in theory, but I'm not sure how it works with their paid map updates.

HawkWagon, you're right about the pronunciation--it's far from perfect. It nails some street names, and mangles others. This is just the nature of text-to-speech :( Still, it may save me from looking at the screen if what it's saying matches up with the road signs.

echelon3, the POIFactory looks cool, thanks.
 

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2020 Outback Magnetite Grey, 2009 Outback Quartz Silver Metallic
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Nice choice.
You'll like the Google interface capability, too.
 

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I have a garmin I use on rental cars when traveling for work I’ve had it for 10 years never had a problem. Get one that comes with free update if possible. Mine didn’t have it but somebody gave me a code that gave me free updates for life. One nice feature in mine it let conn with my phone via Bluetooth so I could talk handfree in the car. Remember I only used it in rental cars that pretty much were base models with not many extras.
 

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2017 Outback 2.5i Limited
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I purchased a Garmin Nuvi 2797LMT GPS - Factory Refurbished a while ago. The best parts are the: 1 - Bright 7.0" high-resolution display, 2 - Detailed maps of North America with free lifetime updates, and 3 - Free lifetime traffic alerts. I would not hesitate to buy it again or recommend it to anyone. You may not be able to get the exact model now but I would never buy another one without items 2 and 3.
 
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