To map or not to map
In terms of features, probably the biggest decision you’ll need to make is whether to get a GPS receiver that displays maps. If you plan to use your GPS receiver for on-the-road navigation, you need a mapping model. If you’re primarily using your GPS receiver for outdoor activities, you need to decide whether to spend the extra money and get a model that displays maps. Quite honestly, no matter what a salesperson might tell you, a GPS receiver with built-in maps isn’t required for activities such as hiking, geocaching, fishing, bird watching, kayaking, or other outdoor pursuits. Using waypoints and tracks are all you need to navigate and successfully stay found. (Of course, you have a paper map and compass with you, and know how to use them, right?) Even though your GPS receiver doesn’t display maps, if it can interface with a PC, you can still download information on where you’ve been and have it show up in a digital mapping program. That said, mapping GPS receivers are pretty handy because they give you a quick, big-picture view of where you’re located in relation to other features. And just the sight of a map, even though it’s tiny and lacks a lot of detail, can be pretty reassuring at times; even for a seasoned outdoors-person. Although I’m a firm believer that a mapping GPS receiver should never take the place of a paper map and compass, if your budget allows a mapping GPS receiver along with the digital maps to load with it, I’d say buy it. I personally use a mapping model for outdoor navigation and treat the map feature as just another tool in my bag of navigation tricks.
If you’ll use your GPS receiver primarily in a car or truck for road navigation, your feature criteria is a bit different than a GPS receiver designed primarily for outdoor recreational use. Although any GPS receiver with a base map or uploadable street maps can help you stay found on the road, some models are more suited to automobile navigation. And although some GPS receivers are designed primarily for automotive use, I prefer handheld GPS receivers that offer versatility because they can be used in a car or for outdoor recreation. Some important features to look for in a GPS receiver that you’re going to use for road navigation include:
Automatic route selection: A GPS receiver designed for street navigation allows you to find addresses, street intersections, and highway exits. Just enter where you want to go, and the receiver calculates the shortest or fastest way to get there. Pretty slick, isn’t it? The selected route is highlighted on the map screen, and your progress is displayed as you travel. If you encounter a traffic jam or other road problem, you can instruct the receiver to recalculate a new route from your present position and avoid the problem.
Turn here directions: The GPS receiver lists all the streets and roads in your route at which you’ll need to make turns, including the street name, an arrow that points to the correct turning direction, how far ahead the turn is, and how long it’s going to take to arrive at the turn. The GPS receiver gives an audible or visual signal prior to when you need to turn.
Points of interest
: Maps that are used with road navigation GPS receivers have databases of information about gas stations, restaurants, freeway exits, hotels, attractions, entertainment, shopping, and emergency services along your route. These are dubbed Points of Interest (POIs); theGPS mirror
can display information about specific POIs.
External antenna support: Because the metal body of a car or truck might interfere with satellite signals, an external antenna might be required to connect to the GPS receiver. An external antenna also provides you with more mounting location options because only the antenna (and not the GPS receiver) needs to be mounted someplace with a clear view of the sky. Note: Some heated windshields can block satellite signals. In cases like that, you’ll probably need to use an external antenna with a magnetic roof mount.
If you’re a GPS road warrior, you’ll definitely want a 12-volt cigarette lighter adapter so you don’t go through a lot of batteries during a trip. And finally, if you’re more of an urbanite (versus an outdoors) adventurer, another option is to use a PDA, such as a Pocket PC or Palm with GPS hardware and street navigation software. Chapter 6 discusses the ins and outs of using PDAs with GPS.
Matching GPS receiver features to your activities
Aside from a few portable, specialized, single-purpose automotive and aviation GPS receivers, most GPS receivers are pretty versatile and can be used for a wide range of activities. However, some features make some GPS receivers more suited to certain activities than others. The picture below contains a list of activities in which people typically use GPS receivers as well as a list of features that could be useful for each activity. Just remember that these features aren’t necessarily required and that a bare-bones GPS receiver will serve you equally well for basic navigation needs.
Electronic car alarm systems Car alarms produced ma\ Declassified into three tvpes. based on modulation: amplitude modulated (AM), frequency. Some models can be connected to a PDA or in-car TV to serve as an in-car rearview mirror monitor . A tracking device emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics,” which combine GPS and smart rearview mirror to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.