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Tomtom vs. Nuvi: Which Should I Buy?

written by: KateG•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/30/2009

In the market for a GPS and having having trouble deciding between a TomTom GPS and a Nuvi GPS? We found that price is not the only issue. Follow along as we line the devices up feature-by-feature and try to pick a winner.

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    If you are in the market for a new (or a first) car based GPS system then you may find yourself in the middle of a debate. Should you get a TomTom GPS or a Nuvi? It may seem like it is an arbitrary choice, or one that you should make based solely on price. It is not, it is a decision you should base on well thought out research. Luckily for you, there is no need to spend hours scouring the web for that data. We have done somel of the basic leg work for you, with a head to head comparison of two of the basic models.

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    Why These Models?

    The models that were chosen are a TomTom One and a Nuvi 1200. Granted, this is not a top of the line model for either of these brands. That choice was deliberate, since very few people are going to invest in a top of the line model for their first GPS. Not to mention that top of the line models can cost up to and over 500 dollars.

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    Screen Size

    Screen size will be a factor for anyone who is worried about having vision problems. If you are vision impaired or simply nearsighted then you may want to make this a major factor. In this case however, both have a 3.5 inch screen.

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    Emergency Help

    Your GPS should be able to help you get out of a jam. If it does not have some kind of emergency help, you should put it back on the shelf. Luckily, both the TomTom and the Nuvi model have a built in help feature. For the Nuvi model this is called, “Where am I” and it can help you to find hospitals, police stations or gas stations close to you. TomTom’s version is know as Emergency Menu and can help you find these facilities or get roadside assistance.

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    Compatability Issues

    One factor that sips most people’s attention is compatibility with your computers operating systems. This may seem trivial, but if you want to be able to update your maps or use software compatibility. Luckily for you both the TomTom and the Garmin Nuvi are compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and any Mac OS 10.4 or above.

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    Route Calcualtions

    Both models allow you to select a route by either shortest time or shortest distance, which is good to know. It is also good to know what is unique. The Nuvi has "eco route," which allows you to get the most fuel efficient route. The TomTom model has a feature know as, “Beat the traffic” which helps you to find alternate routes when you encounter a sea of brake lights.

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    So Which Should I Pick?

    With so many useful (and similar features for both models, you may have a hard time choosing. That is why we will look at some differences. The Nuvi weighs less then the Tom Tom, and is slightly smaller. That means a space conscious user should choose the Nuvi. The advertised battery length is the same for both models. Since the Nuvi also allows for MSN Direct support and lets you make custom map changes, it may just be the way to go for everyone.

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    Now you can make an informed decision about which GPS model to buy. Go with what you feel would be best based on that information and anything else you feel is relevant.