You see them at retailers like Best Buy, Radio Shack and Circuit City as well as at local electronics stores and auto parts and accessories stores. You may even read product descriptions and product reviews to learn how other consumers rate functionality. But while floor displays may promote newer or popular GPS systems, not all are top-rated GPS systems. CNET.com provides a 2009 ranking of the five best GPS systems on the market.
On June 26, 1993, the U.S. Air Force launched the 24th Navstar satellite into orbit. Forming a network of 24 satellites known as the Global Positioning System, or GPS, this new technology allowed users to learn their exact location on the planet using a GPS receiver, according to GPS.org.
Top-rated GPS Features
Beyond a user-friendly and attractive design, top rated GPS systems provide a cross selection of features. For example, Garmin Nuvi 880 and Navigon 7200T, ranked respectively as the best and second best top-rated 2009 GPS systems according to CNET review, provide accurate speech recognition and voice-access entry systems. Both products contain audio buffers that correspond with programmed locations. These features allow users to speak a location and interact with the GPS without manual access entry (i.e., a system that is comprised of manual commands such as "search," "go," or "look up," all of which must be entered manually and cannot be transmitted through speech).
Interface and Product Features
Top-rated GPS systems like the Magellan Maestro 4370--ranked as the third best GPS system in 2009 according to CNET reviews--offers one-click access to system features. The text-to-speech function available on the Maestry transmit each manual entry made into an audio translation of the location or command entered by the user. This allows the user to maneuver from one screen to another more easily than a lower rated GPS system would. Users can also use voice recognition and access entry systems to transmit sequential information about trip details. Top-rated GPS systems in 2009 generally provided additional features like 3D landmark renderings, road simulation maps and integrated Bluetooth.
A GPS system scores higher in functionality if it provides an option to reroute a trip, exclude highways or tolls from a trip route, and obtains a map of current roads and highways. Inexpensive or basic GPS models may restrict map options or fail to provide re-routing options in the event of traffic, for example. If the command system is limited to only address entry, the user will not be able to enter intersections, which could limit functionality if the user becomes lost or does not have a complete address.
The best way to determine navigation options is to test the interface. Read the product summary carefully and ask sales associates about how the command system works. Be sure the system meets your needs and avoid making a bad purchase by asking to use a demo model before making the purchase.
- Photo Credit John Tomaselli from 123rf
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