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Budget GPS: A Comparison of Features

written by: KateG•edited by: Heather Marie Kosur•updated: 7/27/2010

Before you buy a budget GPS, you should take a look at the features that come with the models. That way you can make the best possible choices for your life and driving style.

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    Budget GPS

    For too many people buying a GPS on a budget can feel like a Spartan experience. After all, budget shopping is all about the price right? Wrong. If you are putting out even one dollar of your hard earned cash, then you deserve to get the best possible product. Of course, the best possible product for you may not be the same as the best product for your neighbor. Picking the best model for you will be based on both the available features and your lifestyle. After all, a model with thirteen features that you will not use but lacking the one that you really need is just a waste. That is why today we are going to look at some common features that you may need (or want) in a budget GPS. Then we will make some recommendations for the best models for several common types of users.

    For the purposes of this piece, a budget GPS device is any GPS that has a non-sale list price of $300 dollars or less at the time of the writing of this article.

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    Models to Consider

    The models we will be considering for this comparison include:

    • Garmin NUVI 855 4.3" Portable GPS
    • TomTom GO 630
    • TomTom XL 340S
    • Garmin Nuvi 275T
    • Motonav TN30 by Motorola
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    Larger Screens

    The elderly and those with poor vision will find a large screen GPS to be a life saver. Models with a big screen include:

    • Garmin NUVI 855
    • Motonav TN30
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    Phone Calls

    Some models will make calls with the use of Bluetooth technology. If you want to be able to make a receive hands free calls then try one of these models:

    • TomTom GO 630
    • Garmin Nuvi 275T
    • Motonav TN30
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    Hands Free Use

    Using the device without having to take your hands off of the wheel is always a sound safety idea. Models with this feature include:

    • Garmin NUVI 855
    • TomTom GO 630 (for address input)
    • Garmin Nuvi 275T
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    Emergency Assistance

    Being able to get help if you crash into a tree in the middle of the night is always a benefit. Some budget friendly models with this feature include:

    • TomTom GO 630 (via the help me menu)
    • TomTom XL 340S
    • Garmin Nuvi 275T
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    Recomendations

    There you have it: some of the common features. Now lets move onto the recommendations of which models would be best for some of the common types of drivers on the road.

    The Long Distance Traveler

    As a long distance traveler, your priorities probably include emergency help if you need it and an easy to view screen (to avoid eye strain). If you are traveling for work, you will probably want to be able to make calls without taking your hands off of the road as well. Some good models include:

    • TomTom GO 630 (for address input)
    • Garmin Nuvi 275T

    The Local Traveler

    Hands free use will be good for multiple use, and emergency service is practical since statistically most accidents happen close to home. Try one of these models:

    • TomTom GO 630
    • TomTom XL 340S
    • Garmin Nuvi 275T

    Regardless of the model of budget GPS you choose, always remember that your GPS device should fit your needs.