Getting Around With A GPS Device

Alison Young
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December 06, 2006
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Some people have a GPS (Global Positioning System) in their car, or carry one around for directional help. It’s a cool thing to have, but that wouldn’t really do much for me here at home.

As do most locals, I navigate using our mauka/makai sense of direction. Our lush mountains and blue waters are in eyeshot from just about anywhere, so it’s simple to at least know in what direction you’re headed.

Driving on the Mainland is a different story.

During my last visit to Texas, I was so disoriented because everything looked the same - one big, dry desert with nothing but cactus everywhere. I couldn’t tell north from south, east from west (especially if it was cloudy or nightime). If I had a good GPS gadget during that time, it would have been ultra-helpful in finding my way around.

There are a couple of these devices that caught my attention - the Garmin StreetPilot c550 and the TomTom ONE - for the next time I travel.

Garmin’s StreetPilot c550 GPS was named one of TIME magazine’s top eight gadgets.

It comes ready-to-go right out of the box, including pre-loaded maps of North America (with Alaska and Hawaii).

It delivers the same easy-touse affordable navigation as Garmin’s popular c300 series, along with multiple enhancements such as Bluetooth with hands-free calling, an integrated traffic receiver (FM traffic receiver notifies you of construction or weather delays/suggests alternate routes), mp3 player and, of course, the actual GPS navigator (maps with 2D or 3D per-spec-tive and turn-by-turn voice directions).

A highly sensitive GPS receiver provides faster acquisition times and maintains the signal under heavy foliage or tall buildings.

Perfect for the car, it uses an automotive-grade, sunlight-readable anti-glare display, which makes it easier to see. If you leave it in the car, the Garmin Lock anti-theft feature disables the unit from performing any functions until you type in a four-digit PIN, or take the unit to your predetermined location. Optional software available on plug-in SD memory cards allows you to add new features to your c550 (Travel Guide or Savers Guide).

Very similar to Garmin’s little wonder is the TomTom ONE - it was named the “Best GPS Unit” at Europe’s Awards. It’s ready to use right out of the box - just plug it in and go. It gives you clear and accurate turn-by-turn voice directions in more than 30 languages and 50 voices. The interface itself is available in 18 languages. You can display a compass on the screen to give yourself directional orientation (perfect for me - I always want to know in which direction I’m headed).

As with the Garmin, the TomTom ONE is physically slim, has 2D and 3D graphics, uses Bluetooth, has an anti-glare screen and an SD card slot. Additionally, it has touch-screen technology, itinerary planning, thousands of points of interest available and a car speed-linked volume (goes up or down depending on speed of car).

You can find the Garmin International StreetPilot for $700 and the TomTom ONE for $450 at CompUSA ( Although both are excellent GPS products, considering the huge price difference, you might be better off with the TomTom.

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