Phones are quickly “getting smarter” and doing just about everything you can think of, but there is still something to be said for devices that only have one purpose.
GPS receivers are included in just about every gadget you can think of, and many people say the age of the dashboard GPS receiver is over. While these pundits may be correct, there is still something to be said for those blocky devices.
Stand-alone GPS devices from the likes of Garmin and TomTom are still widely available and just about cheap as chips. Although they may not be cutting-edge at this point, they do have larger screens, more powerful receivers and the ability to recalculate quickly when you stray from your determined path.
On the downside, most GPS dedicated devices are bulky and unsightly, and you may need to hook them up to a computer to download updated maps. Additionally, if you leave the country where you purchased the device, you’ll need to buy a new set of maps.
The plus side for smartphones in this debate, especially those running Google’s Android operating system, is that maps are constantly updated. During a recent trip to Europe, I never had to worry about where I was because my Android phone could quickly show me my location on a map. If you go online before a trip, you can look up locations, mark them, and never have to worry about remembering an address.
While all of this sounds wonderful, there are a couple of downsides to using your smartphone as your primary GPS. Even the most generous smartphone screen isn’t easy to see while driving, and incoming calls may interrupt your navigation. Of course, you should always be using a hands-free device while driving, but this still requires the device to perform multiple tasks. And don’t forget that this multi-tasking draws down power very quickly. Some smartphones have trouble holding a charge all day as it is–do you really want to speed up that process?
For my money, don’t rule out that stand-alone device quite yet.