Buying Guide to Personal GPS Systems

As technology continues to advance, the average person now has many tools at their use which would have been out of reach just a few years ago. Personal GPS systems are coming down in price and whether you are planning a week long hike, or a trip to the grocery store, they have definite uses. However, there are several things to consider before purchasing your own personal GPS system.


If you plan on using your personal GPS system for hikes or other outdoor activities, you will need to find a model that is very durable and waterproof. Several models now come encased in durable and watertight plastic that will last for several years. Beware of personal GPS systems that do not come with screen protectors or feel flimsy to the touch. They will not hold up over time and you may end up having to purchase a new one right away.

For personal GPS systems that will be used inside of a vehicle, durability is not as important, but it should still factor into your decision. The interior of your vehicle is subject to extreme temperatures, and this can wear heavily on sensitive electronics. Try to find a personal GPS system that was made exclusively for vehicle use rather than a handheld unit.

Storage Capability

Newer personal GPS system models now come with small hard drives where you can save maps, destinations, and information about specific locations. In this case, bigger really is better, but it may drive the price up. Try to find a model that offers at least 20 megs of storage to ensure that you’ll have enough room for your locations. If you plan on hiking or traveling frequently, a larger model will be able to store more information, which can come in handy on an extended road trip or outdoor adventure.

Battery Life

Each different personal GPS system model will have a different battery life, but try to find one in your price range that combines all of the above features with a long usage time. The last thing you need when you’re in the middle of nowhere is battery failure. Personal GPS systems that offer the ability to recharge on a regular electrical outlet are also useful and can extend the life of a regular battery. If you do plan to travel a great distance, or will be unable to recharge your personal GPS system, remember to purchase and pack extra batteries to avoid any unnecessary outages.

Screen Quality

A new personal GPS system will typically offer the choice between a color or black and white screen. If you can afford it, purchase one that offers a full color display. This can truly make the difference when it comes to reading topographic maps. The size of the screen should be large enough to easily read without having to squint. The screen of a personal GPS system is very much like your monitor. You’ll need to find one with a good resolution ratio to ensure that you are getting the highest quality image. This is one area where you should not scrimp. A good quality screen on your personal GPS system may end up saving your life.

Planned Use

Manufacturers are now making personal GPS systems for many different uses. Some are geared towards local trips and come pre-loaded with gas station, restaurants and scenic locations for your area. You will need to consider how you plan to use your personal GPS system before you make your purchase to ensure that you are getting a model that is tailor made for your planned use. In the event that you plan to use a personal GPS system for a variety of trips, both in your car or on your feet, try to find a model that combines the two uses for greater functionality.

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