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A Look at the Top 5 Best Value GPS Units

written by: KennethSleight•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 5/18/2011

These GPS units may not have all the extra bells and whistles but have excellent coverage, support and software while providing a nice clear readout. Basically its what you need, to do what you want to do, without a bunch of extras.

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    GPS Navigation for Dummies

    GPS for Dummies The best values in GPS devices may belong to the people who were the brains behind the “For Dummies” books. This well known format has been translated into the easy to use GPS Navigation for Dummies FD-420 unit. At around $100 at Amazon, this unit is a great value. It includes a two dimensional and three dimensional display with a roving feature that allows you to scan around near your location. The 4.3-inch touchscreen display is large enough to be easily read but not so large that it takes up a lot of space on your dash. The user interface is more than intuitive as it is done in the “For Dummies” style. There is an SD card slot and USB connection for easy connection to a PC for downloads and charging. The unit also has a four hour battery life when not in the car so you can take it with you on the go. Just plug it back into the car charger when you get back from your journey. The voice and visual directions are completely complimentary and work on all of the installed maps (they cover the contiguous United States – Hawaii and Alaska are available in their respective regions or via download at the website).

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    TomTom XL 335TM

    TomTom XL 355TM The TomTom XL 335TM is not only a great GPS system but it offers unlimited lifetime map updates for the preloaded United States and Canada. On top of that, they also offer unlimited traffic updates for life as well. TomTom uses the IQ route system to calculate the fastest route from your point to your destination using voice prompts including street names and addresses to make your trip even easier. This unit also offers the 4.3-inch touchscreen display for easy reading and interface. One of the most overlooked features of this little dandy is the fold and go mounting system which weighs in at under seven ounces. The unit fits easily in a backpack pocket so it can be ported between cars so you don’t have to buy separate GPS units for all of your vehicles. The price is right and you can get it at Amazon for $149.00, making this one of the best value GPS units available today.

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    Garmin nüvi 265W/265WT

    Garmin Nuvi One of the top names in GPS quality has always been Garmin. The Nuvi 265WT only makes this more evident. The Nuvi, found at Amazon for around $113, is a great budget GPS unit. This unit is Bluetooth enabled so it can sync with cell phones for hands-free calling. It has the new standard 4.3-inch touchscreen display but still keeps a slick, small form that is easy to carry around in your pocket. The display includes elevations (which might give it a leg up on the competition) making it the perfect choice for hikers and geocachers. This unit also has a few more bells and whistles than the others, tailoring it directly to world travelers, including a JPEG picture viewer, world travel clock, automatic time zone transition, currency converter, unit converter and a calculator. Of course if you’re staying in the States the turn-by-turn voice navigation system with preloaded City Navigator North America NT will get you where you’re going with ease. In the car or in the woods this is the best value GPS for the avid traveler.

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    Sony NVU94T

    Sony GPS Unit At around $200 and available at Amazon, the Sony NVU94T is the highest priced unit on the list of best value GPS units. The 4.8-inch anti-glare display is great for seniors and anyone else who may have trouble with the tiny type on the smaller screen units. It also includes a text to speech mode for even easier use. One Amazon reviewer put it succinctly, “the user interface is crisp and responsive, route calculation is very fast, as is re-calculation when I drive off the recommended route. The unit boots up and acquires satellite signals in seconds.” This unit is fast. Not only fast but spot on in its accuracy. With the latest firmware update, this unit is just as accurate as the Garmin. The most interesting feature, and the reason it is on this list, is the learning feature. After you have chosen to ignore suggested routes (say on a daily commute) for several drives the unit will automatically adjust to your preferred route! The other cool feature is the split screen option that not only shows your immediate route but the distance to your destination and the full route on the other side.

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    Nextar SNAP7

    Nextar SNAP7 For around $180 you can pick up the Nextar SNAP7 at Amazon. This unit’s display comes in at a huge seven inches making it the largest screen on the list. The Nextar is an in-dash unit with a magnetic mount that is easily installed. The unit has a text to speech mode and built in MP3 player as well as voice guided, turn-by-turn, directions. The Nextar comes with a 2 GB SD card full of maps of the United States and Canada and a 3D building display mode to further enhance the navigation. The SNAP7is a great, not so little, GPS unit that offers all the utility as the others as long as you can find a place to put it on your dash. The largest of the best value GPS units, this one will be right at home in an RV or work truck.

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    All images and product information courtesy of Amazon.