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Old 06-06-2013, 01:02 PM   #1
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GPS Selection Help

I am thinking about buying a GPS. I have never owned one, really have never used one. My DW has a smartphone with some capabilities. I know the phone has more capabilities than she uses, and she never plays with it so, when she needs it, she struggles with it. It is not my phone so I am not really allowed to play with it to get good using it while driving (in MN it is illegal to do while driving anyways). She has used it a few times while we are traveling, usually in construction areas where we are trapped in detours, going away from where we want. Most of the time I plan ahead and print out maps of my route, stapled and organized, and it works. I feel I am fairly lucky as I am a good map reader and do a good job knowing where I need to go, and once I have been somewhere I am fairly good at getting back, even years later with no maps.

I would like some assistance in knowing what to look for in a GPS. I think I would use it mostly for traveling with the TT. I doubt I would use it much around the twin cities. Rand McNally has a RV GPS (RVND 7720 LM) that looks very promising. I like the idea that I can program in my truck and trailer, and it will help find appropriate routes for my combo, and I can press a button and instantly find where gas stations are along my route, and I do not have to rely on having cell phone coverage. They also have an I-Pad app that looks similar, I just do not own an I-Pad, but have been thinking about buy one. I am just not sure I would want to carry an I-Pad in the front of my truck as it is huge, and I do not foresee a good way to mount it, or securing it while away from the vehicle.

What are peoples thought about GPS units and what units work good for RV traveling?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 06-06-2013, 01:16 PM   #2
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One thing to look for is one that comes with lifetime map updates. So many things change and if you have to pay for an update, it can cost almost as much as a new GPS. I've had Tom-Tom and Garmin and like them both. My new vehicle came with Nav System by Garmin. They are really nice to have.

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Old 06-06-2013, 01:56 PM   #3
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I love my GPS. They are an excellent tool but a GPS is not a substitute for good sense and a map. I've read a lot of accounts on RV.net where an RVer followed the GPS chosen route based on the height of his rig and still had clearance issues. And even with current updates, maps are often up to a year out of date. That said, I'd stick with a Garmin or Tom Tom. They are among the most reliable and have the best reputation. I can tell you that Garmin has excellent customer service that it is also US based. We've had 2 Garmins. Lifetime map updates are available on Amazon for $70.
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Old 06-06-2013, 03:00 PM   #4
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OK, so I might be the lone dissenting voice here.

I have a GPS (Garmin ~3 yrs old), initially I used it a lot, then realized I often know better ways to get places than it did. Example in California we have I5 and Hwy 99 that basically run the length of the central valley. When traveling it would often pick one route and never get off it. Many times I knew the other option would be better becasue of traffic patterns, time of day, constrction, etc...in this case it rarely figured out my intention but rather continues to recaluclate and ask I make turns/UTurns and basically spends the entire time trying to change my route vs changing its route to match my progress. I'm sure there is some setting I could access to change this on the fly, but to me it hasn't been worth the hassel.

Since CA has gotten so agressive with hands free cell law, I started using the search feature on my GPS to locate ATM, Fuel, Food, etc oppsed to my iPhone...The search on my GPS is terrible. So slow and limited in what it shows, I am better pulling off the road and using my iPhone then getting back traveling. Maybe a new one is better, but in my experience search isnt' what they are good for.

I find my GPS is often slightly wrong. Understandable mistakes like address on wrong side of road, or focusing on the shortest route via milage and not the best route based on actual travel time. These things are understanable, especially for how affrodable GPS have become, and the amount of information they need to have. I think they are getting better but a long way from perfect. That said I wouldn't trust it to route me with an RV -- even the RV specific ones are subject to limitations.

IMO, if you are totaly lost when it comes to directions a GPS is a decent tool. On the other hand if you have some sense of direction and can actually read and recall a map, the 10-20 minutes trip planning you do will always be better than a GPS.

If you are set on getting a GPS, I would suggest using you wifes smart phone first or getting yourself a smart phone opposed to a single purpose GPS. I know you mention the laws regarding phone use, but if you simply program your destination before traveling and don't touch it you are legal and basically that is what you do with a Garmin or Tom Tom.
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Old 06-06-2013, 04:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by clubhouse View Post
OK, so I might be the lone dissenting voice here.

IMO, if you are totaly lost when it comes to directions a GPS is a decent tool. On the other hand if you have some sense of direction and can actually read and recall a map, the 10-20 minutes trip planning you do will always be better than a GPS.
I totally agree with this. My Garmin has taken me in the wrong direction numerous times. Last week it told me that my destination turn was 1/2 mile ahead when I was actually right at the destination. It occupies a nice safe place in my glove box now.

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Old 06-06-2013, 05:43 PM   #6
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Well I have the Garmin Nuvi 465T which was one of the first out with the trucker capability. No matter which one you decide to get be sure to get one where you can program in the length, height, etc of your setup. Many people that have big issues using a GPS with an RV try to use the ones made to be used in a car. They will get you into hot water in a heartbeat...thanks Magellan for teaching me that one. :-) Now they are by no means perfect and I always review my route on Delorme Street Atlas or M&S Streets & Trips as well. If the GPS and I disagree then the GPS loses. Get one where you can load your own POI files in as well. poifactory.com is an excellent source. As others have said also get the lifetime maps. The best use of my GPS is when I get to my destination I get the GPS coordinates and save it as the home base. Then when I go out wandering I don't really pay much attention to the thing until I get ready to go back to camp. Them I tell James to take me home. Just don't bet the rent on a GPS and use it as a tool and you will get along fine with it. HTH Just an FYI I have used a GPS ever since Delorme came out with the first model that used a serial port. I have used mapping software when the DOS version Automap first came out.
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Old 06-06-2013, 08:08 PM   #7
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I have the Rand McNally RVND-5510, RV specific GPS. Yes, a few times the GPS is wrong on some minor stuff, but it has helped us out several times also. Like another said, use it as a guide, but use your head if something doesn't make sense. Always pay attention to road signs, plan your trip ahead to get an idea of what the GPS has in store for route selection. I also like the fact you can readily find your way back to the CG when out on a day trip.
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:54 PM   #8
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I currently have 3 GPS units, one for each auto and a handheld model for hiking, geocaching etc.

My GPS units are all Garmin, I have had great luck with Garmin, at work, we have all Magellan GPS units. I really despise Magellan, compared to Garmin, they are much more difficult and less user friendly.

Here is my advice, based completely on opinion and my experience...

Buy a Garmin Nuvi, they make several models (my most recent is the Nuvi 2455 LMT), as stated make sure it includes the lifetime maps. Place it in your daily driver vehicle, preferably on a power source controlled by the key (auto on and off).

Now, begin using it all the time, set your own waypoints for work, home, common places. Use it to search for food, gas, shopping, and then learn to understand how it is routing you. Learn how to change the preferences (i.e. fastest, shortest, least/most freeways) and how to set avoidances.

Then, when you understand how the GPS works you will be very comfortable with it while travelling, you will know the weaknesses, you will realize the GPS is a great tool/adjunct to your travel plans, it is NOT something to replace maps or planning your route prior to your trip.

Keep it smart and keep it safe... blindly following a GPS has literally resulted in death. (and not by causing an accident)

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Old 06-07-2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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We happen to have a TomTom and really like it.

My favorite feature is the live Traffic Updates. As congestion/construction back ups/accidents occur on your route, my TomTom will give me an alert. It will also estimate how long the delay will be and adjust arrival time. If the issue is bad enough it will suggest an alternate route. This is got me out of a jam on more than one occasion where I-85 was blocked due to an accident in a construction zone. My TomTom had me exit, navigate through a few larger secondary roads, and put me back on the highway on the other side of the accident

Like others have said, it is always good to have a general idea of your route to be traveled just in case it tries to go astray, but I like having a GPS to help out if things suddenly change.

Best of luck!!

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Old 06-07-2013, 07:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Power247 View Post
We happen to have a TomTom and really like it. My favorite feature is the live Traffic Updates.

(1) Tom Tom = A
(2) Garmin = B+
(1) Magellan = C+
(1) Insignia = D

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