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GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers are becoming increasingly more popular and affordable. Developed by the US Department of Defense, this worldwide radio navigation system relies on a network of 24 orbiting satellites to identify and track a GPS receiver's precise location anywhere on or near the surface of the Earth. Whether you're, driving cross country, hot-air ballooning or trying to find your favorite fishing hole, having your GPS receiver along will give you the added comfort of always being able to answer the age-old question, "Are we there yet?". Jump to: GPS Units
What Will You Need it for
Keep in mind that because GPS devices communicate with satellites, they need to have access to the sky. They will work in heavy cloud cover or inside of a car, but not in a dense forest with a heavy tree canopy or inside of a building. Once you have a GPS device, you can use it anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also GPS devices don't require a subscription to any kind of service, you can access the GPS satellites for free. For travel, hiking, biking and running Handheld GPS devices are ideal for the frequent traveler. They are designed to be portable and compact enough to fit inside your back pocket. Many handheld GPS receivers come equipped with a mounting kit for use on the dashboard of your car. When buying a GPS device for adventure sports, you may want to consider models that have altimeters and compasses built in. Runners should look for wrist-mounted devices, some of which come with extra features like heart rate monitoring. Price: $70 to $370 A basic model with black and white display and no mapping features will be less expensive than a top of the line model with color displays, maps, etc. For boating Marine GPS systems are designed to be waterproof and float in water. Many marine GPS units are equipped with an MOB (Man Over Board) function that is designed to help navigate back to the exact location where a person or object was reported to have fallen overboard. The convenient chart plotting functions and offshore/onshore mapping will help you navigate out of shallow water while avoiding any submerged objects. Price: $125 to over $2,000 Some of the more expensive devices have built in sonar fish finders and allow you to download nautical charts via your computer. Be sure that the GPS device you buy for boating is actually "waterproof", and not just "weatherproof". "Waterproof" means that the device can be submerged in water.
For driving Auto GPS devices can be mounted on your vehicle's dashboard for convenient navigational assistance, ensuring that you'll always have up-to-date driving directions. Most models feature easy-to-use touch screens that display directions on a map and a voice-guided feature, which speaks directions aloud and allows you to keep your eyes on the road. Look for devices that feature multiple ways to enter your destination, like choosing a destination directly from a map, keeping a permanent address book, entering the names of streets in an intersection, etc. Before purchasing your auto GPS device, check to be sure that the mounting kit is compatible with your specific vehicle and be aware that some models require professional installation. Price: $225 to around $1,500 The pricier models include some really cool features like allowing your device to keep track of where you are even if you've lost contact with the GPS satellites, sorting multiple destinations into the most efficient routes, and the ability to tell you which roads to take to avoid accidents and traffic jams. For flying Avionic GPS systems assist your aircraft with additional guidance needed for all precision approach procedures, which are especially useful under low-visibility conditions. Features such as VNAV (vertical navigation), flight plan routing, and Datalink help you define your climb and descent parameters with greater accuracy. Avionic GPS systems come equipped with a rack mounting case for your aircraft. Look for models that have automatic logbook functions that you can download into your computer and topographical terrain mapping to alert you to any potential terrain hazards. Price: Expect to pay around $1,500 There aren't many specialty avionics GPS devices on the market, so your choice will be limited.
Features to Consider
Compatibility GPS devices often use Bluetooth, USB or serial port cables to connect to your personal computer. If your computer isn't compatible with your device's connection you may need to buy an adapter. Maps Most handheld and auto GPS devices have a version of U.S. street maps pre-installed. You can buy additional software if you're traveling off-road or internationally. Look for mapping software that provides turn-by-turn directions. Some mapping software also lets you input your own maps with waypoints and points of interest.
Be sure to buy software that is compatible with your GPS device and your computer system. Mac users will be limited in the types of software they can use. If you're a Mac user, be sure to do some advance scouting before you buy a GPS device to determine which programs you can use on your computer and which GPS devices they work with. Voice Guidance Many GPS systems have voice-assisted guidance which allows you navigate without having to look back at the unit's video display, which is an excellent safety measure when you're driving. Display GPS display screens are available in color or black & white. Color is a great feature if you'll be viewing maps. GPS systems that are designed exclusively for drivers often have larger display screens. Data storage Frequent travelers wanting to save map information for many different areas will want a GPS unit with sufficient memory or storage space. Generally, a metropolitan area map requires about 8MB of space. PDA GPS units Some GPS device manufacturers are starting to manufacture PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants). These are a great solution for business travelers who need to keep track of schedules and contacts as well as where they are in the world. Power Source Look for GPS devices that use rechargeable batteries, which will save money in the long run. Some devices come with cigarette lighter power adapters for your vehicle, which are a big help if you'll be spending long stretches of time away from a wall outlet.
Points of Interest (POI) These are suggested locations on the map such as restaurants, movie theaters, banks, etc. Look for GPS devices that allow you to connect to a computer to download points of interest for the area in which you'll be using your device. Waypoints Waypoints are specific locations marked by latitude and longitude. Think of them as very accurately defined landmarks. The higher the number of waypoints your GPS device can store, the more accurate it will be. Many GPS devices allow you to connect to a computer to upload and download waypoints. There are several free databases on the internet that allow travelers to share waypoints they've collected.
WAAS A GPS device that supports WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) generates a more accurate location reading (within 3 meters 95% of the time) than a GPS device that does not support WAAS. It is often used to assist aircraft with precision-instrument runway approaches in bad weather. PRODUCT SOURCE: For all your GPS needs: (handheld, auto, bicycle, motorcycle, exercise and accessories) see my website for more. http://www.ezgpsonline.com
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