Portable GPS systems have come a long way since their introduction into the mass market. Prices have come down, features have improved and the overall value for the price has drastically improved with new features such as Bluetooth, lifetime traffic updates and larger screen. Heavy travelers rely on accurate GPS systems with easily visible screen and easy to understand navigation.
Garmin nuvi 265WT $175 (Link)
The Garmin nuvi 265WT made the top of our list due to its incredible ease of use, map accuracy and cool extras. The GPS features a large 4.3″ touch screen, Bluetooth, traffic receiver and voice prompt directions. The preloaded maps are for the most part very accurate, but should be updated every four months on the Garmin website. The built-in Bluetooth allows for hands free calling via the built in speakers. This feature is a cool extra for older vehicles; however, many newer model cars have built-in Bluetooth technology that works much better. Overall, the GPS works well, is easy to use, has a great price and has cool features such as traffic updates and Bluetooth.
TomTom XL 335LE $100 (Link)
TomTom, Garmin and other portable GPS brands are competing with smartphone based GPS systems for market share. This is great for the consumer because prices have come down drastically and features have improved. The TomTom XL 335LE features a large easy to use 4.3″ touch screen, real-time traffic updates, accurate maps and slim design. The real-time traffic updates is a step above the traffic receiver on the Garmin; it provides real-time traffic patterns and displays that on the maps screen. This feature is very useful for avoiding an accident that caused an hour in delays on the highway, or avoiding construction. Unfortunately, the XL does not have a built-in MP3 player or Bluetooth. Overall, this GPS sticks to the basics, provides accurate maps and has a useful traffic updater.
Garmin nuvi 255WT $140 (Link)
When it comes to offering the basics at an affordable price, the nuvi 255WT excels. I purchased this particular GPS due to its low price and advanced features about six months ago. The 255WT features a speed limit indicator, free lifetime traffic updates (similar to the TomTom), large 4.3″ touch screen, photo viewer and turn-by-turn directions. The speed limit indicator is a great feature on this GPS system; it updates current speed limits immediately as you pass a speed limit sign, give or take one to two feet. The traffic updates are also a cool feature that helps avoid traffic, but works best near metro areas, but fails to provide updates for less traveled roads. Overall, the GPS provides accurate maps, is easy to use and is a great value for the price.
Magellan RoadMate 1424 $100 (Link)
The affordable Magellan RoadMate 1424 features a large 4.3″ touch screen, accurate maps, easy to use menus, AAA TourBook and a thin design. The AAA TourBook feature is unique to Magellan, which is a great feature for AAA members that get discounts at particular hotels and destinations. What’s not so great? The battery life lasts a mere 1 hour before having to be plugged in. Overall, the RoadMate 1424 provides accurate maps, is easy to use, comes at an affordable price, but battery life is well below par for similarly priced models.