What To Look For
Finding a global positioning system (GPS) to suit your needs is a matter of your intended use. GPS units typically come in three forms: as add-on functions of smartphones, as car directional units and in stand-alone form for outdoor use. Regardless of type, you will want the ability to easily input new data, including waypoints and destinations. You will likely want functions specific to your use, such as nautical data for sailing, exit data along highways or the ability to read in topographic form for hikers. In addition to software options, there are hardware considerations, including screen readability, color fidelity, sound and ease-of-use.
When it comes to GPS data, information is money. This means that you can expect to pay extra for updated data. Reception can vary from unit to unit as well, meaning that navigation can fail you at a critical time. Poor reception is more likely to occur with smartphone add-ons, since they often depend upon the coverage of cellular networks. Outdoor GPS models are the kind most likely to have reliable reception. Many buyers also assume that turn-by-turn instructions are part of every GPS unit, but that is often the case only with car models.
Where To Buy
GPS units can be purchased at dedicated outdoor outfitters and at most electronics stores. While a number of online retailers sell GPS units, you will likely want to use models in person before making an online purchase.
Compare screens, features and methods of input before purchasing. An additional consideration is software options that come packaged with a GPS unit, such as computer input software or online updating.
A protective case is one of the first purchases you will want to make for your GPS unit. You may also want additional storage capacity, typically in the form of an SD card. For car models you will want a mounting kit for your car dash.