What To Look For
When shopping for a GPS unit, look for devices that come loaded with maps, but also give you the option of downloading different and newer maps when needed. If the route changes, a new road appears or a road is closed, then you'll want to have the option of adding this new map into your system. You'll also want a GPS that has a larger screen, which is easier to see as you're driving down the road. Also think about purchasing a unit that includes features such as a spoken system, which keeps you from checking the screen constantly, and the option to look for detours if the road is blocked.
The use of a GPS unit can be dangerous, especially if you find yourself staring at the screen constantly--this causes you to lose focus on the road ahead. You may find yourself causing an accident. You should also beware of GPS units that lack a detour function or the ability to detect secondary routes. If the road is closed ahead and you have no access to an alternate route, then you may find yourself lost in the middle of nowhere without any way to find your way back.
Where To Buy
The best place to buy a GPS unit is through a retailer specializing in electronics such as Best Buy or Radio Shack. The workers at these stores are knowledgeable on how the units work and the features of each unit. The staff can also answer any questions you might have and help you find the best unit for your needs. Additionally, you have the option of returning the unit to the store if it doesn't work properly and if you purchase an auto unit, the store can usually install it into your vehicle. When shopping online, try retailers like West Marine and Target Direct, which have cheap shipping costs and low prices on units.
GPS units retail for $100 to $300 for the most basic of the models. The more elaborate models and those with more features sell for a significantly higher amount. A marine or boat navigator, for example, may cost $1,000 and some models cost up to $4,000. The extended warranty on the unit, which covers damages and repairs for a period of up to three years, costs an additional $300, though some companies base the price of the warranty on the price of the product.
A great accessory to purchase if you're shopping for a GPS is a mounting kit. These mounting kits cost anywhere from $10 to $100 depending on the material and durability of the kit. It includes everything you need to mount the unit inside your car, or on your boat if you're purchasing a model for that purpose.