Completely confused about gps units

Camping Fever

Active Member
Mar 5, 2011
I am looking for a gps car unit and am totally confused. Just when I think I found the right one I read the reviews and change my mind again. I keep going back and forth on garmin vs tomtom vs magellan. Who has the best routing? Which units have the easiest map updates?

I have tried to use a gps app on my tablet but it does not cache the maps well and sucks up battery power. So now i am looking at dedicated gps units. I am just looking for a unit that will get me from point a to point b and to point out gas stations and campgrounds/stateparks. I would like to stay within the $100-150 price range

Any advice or input is appreciated.

Rodger D.

Active Member
Sep 29, 2010
Rich and Lisa

You asked for advice and input...
Why not just look at the Green Colored Signs showing the long distance information until you see
The Brown Colored Signs which give the National - State or County Parks. The cost is more effective
and if they are wrong they have an Road Crew attending to it before you reach that area.


Waterford Ct.
Oct 3, 2007
Waterford, Ct
We have a Garmin GPS and it will run circles around our factory nav system in our Jeep. Not the best one 4.5 inch, but works great, tells me how fast I am going, which lane to be it ........ for us ... perfect. Don't pay for bells and whistles you will never use or are hard to work with.

Camping Fever

Active Member
Mar 5, 2011
My main focus isn't finding state parks. I'm a small town girl that is directionally challenged. I have to travel for work and it would be nice to get to where I'm going without having to constantly backtrack because I missed my turn. And we travel for vacations all over the US so it would be nice to not worry about how to get where we are going.

I realize this isn't a need to have just a nice to have.

Camping Fever

Active Member
Mar 5, 2011
Thanks raycfe. Which unit do you have? I really don't want anything fancy - it just makes it more confusing to use.


Waterford Ct.
Oct 3, 2007
Waterford, Ct
Just today while traveling a road we have been on many, many times, my DW says "I wonder where that goes" I just look at the GPS map to make sure it would be a good way to try.

I have a 2 or 3 year nuvi 1350 no lifetime maps, no traffic ......... really not needed


Waterford Ct.
Oct 3, 2007
Waterford, Ct
. The background is blue at night and gray during day.


Active Member
Apr 7, 2012
Garmin Nuvi with free lifetime map updates.I have a magellan and it works great,however its very difficult to set your own route.As an example i just took a trip from Tennessee to Maine and i couldn't pick a custom route with the magellan.I wanted to avoid NYC and go up thru Buffalo to Niagara falls. I was able to combine routes and get to my destination going the way i wanted.I think i read that some TOMTOM units let you use your pc to plot your route then download to your gps. Sure the Magellan will get you there but i want more control over how it gets me there.


Active Member
May 6, 2012
I have a Garmin nuvi 1300 that I paid about $100 for. The more expensive units have stuff like bluetooth and mp3 players built in, but the basic ones like mine will get you where you're going just as good as the higher priced ones. Mine came with free lifetime map updates too. You can usually find some good deals online from Sams Club or Walmart. Usually lower prices online than in the stores.


Well, there's your problem!
May 20, 2008
Seattle, Washington
I also have the Garmin nuvi with free lifetime map updates. It's fine. All of them have some advantages and disadvantages. The Garmin has always got me where I wanted to go in urban areas or on main road areas in the countryside but it has selected a quirky route now and then. It can be powered from the vehicle or used on battery when you are walking around a strange city. It's small and light. OTOH, it's not much good when you are out in the boonies. When I went to the Arizona Spring Rally we were many miles off the paved road. I clicked the Garmin on to check my location and just got the car icon in the middle of a blank white screen. On balance I think it's decent value for the money.


Nov 6, 2012
Just bought the Garmin Nuvi 50 that was a Black Friday (Thursday night) special at Walmart for $69. It seems to have several features that our Magellan did not have.
When I registered the unit online with my PC, I got a message that my unit needed a critical software update, I tried to do the update and got an error message. I contacted support through the online link on Saturday morning and by Sunday afternoon I had a response and solution in my email. I thought that was pretty decent response time considering it is Thanksgiving weekend. [2C]


Aug 9, 2011
Central WI
I find Garmins are very slow to access the satellites. I even set-up a new one for a friend and it seems like it's sleeping or something. I have an old Magellan that was given to me for Xmas years picks up within a minute and I'm not sure why the difference! [2C]


Super Active Member
Aug 23, 2009
I like my TomTom One...had it for 5-6 years now. Got one free map update and did it immediately...(don't do that its a waste unless you are buying a unit over a year old) it does let you plot your course on the computer though I've not done that. It is as accurate as anything else out there since the all use NEMA data for the actual maps. No traffic,small screen,works.

Screw it let's camp !


I thought you packed the flashlight!
Sep 28, 2009
Modesto, CA
When it came time to replace our old Magellan my wife insisted on getting another one. Shortly thereafter I decided to get one for my car and bought a Garmin. Now the Garmin is in my wife's car and I have the Magellan. A couple of years ago I bought my daughter a TomTom and she wants the Garmin too. Bottom line, my family prefers the Garmin. However all of them will get you to your destination.


Super Active Member
Jul 14, 2006
Sudbury, Ontario
We also have the Garmin Nuvi and it works pretty well. We have had some instances where it did not make the best choice of route I.e. obscure ferry in winter or a connector between two interstates that was shorter in distance but took a lot longer. I checked the settings for fastest route but you can't always trust the technology. Always double check the route before committing and it's helpful to have a map or printout with you.


Active Member
Jan 24, 2011
one more opinion:
I have used Garmin for a number of years. My first Garmin is now in my spare car used by my son - still working great, almost no features besides the mapping. Still connects to satelites no problem, but takes a minute or two to connect.

got a new GPS a coouple of years ago - larger screen, lifetime map updates, free traffic information and blue tooth for the phone.

I don;t really liek the phone, as the speaker is awful and everyong sounds distorted - I use my bluetooth ear bud mostly.

Features I lvoe with the enw Garmin and would strongly recommend:

ensure you get a GPs with lifetime map updates.
I love the traffic information - It has saved me hours and hours fo travel time by avoiding a major accident or road closure, and there are always alternate ways to get from A to B.

Screen size - that's personal preference - mine is a 5" I beleive.

Great time to get one, tons of sales today with cyber Monday

BEst of luck - let us know what one you get


Jun 12, 2008
We've used a Garmin and a Tom Tom. I prefer the Garmin. You can have several different lists of your favorite destinations. It's also easier to see the screen when the sun is shining on it.
I'll say the same thing that everybody else does. Be sure to get lifetime map updates. It would cost almost as much to update the old one as getting a new one.
One thing we learned the hard way is that the smaller screens work fine in our car, but in the truck it's farther away and hard to see with my old eyes.
Sometimes it will find a short rout that I never would have thought of. I'm sure that we've saved a fair amount of gas by finding shorter routs and not getting lost as often. If it hasn't paid for itself in gas, it sure has in frustration.


Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2011
We've had Garmin and Mio units; they both worked fine. But we've quit using them. The navigation apps on our Smartphones are awesome, and being able to just press an address on a link and get a map is awesome. We also like that the addresses are updated constantly; we don't have to wait for an annual upgrade. And the real-time traffic information has saved us hours of time.

On my former iPhone, I used to have to have a good cell signal for a lot of functions. On my new Android (a Samsung Galaxy SIII), I have good map coverage everywhere, though I obviously can't use Google search, etc. away from a signal. And I love driving in Street View, you see the buildings going by as you go down a street, though for some strange reason, the cars parked out front aren't always correct!

Standalone GPS units are going to go the way of the dodo except for specialized units for aviation and marine use. Just like iPod sales are declining. People like not having to carry a lot of devices if one will do the same function as others. That's why Garmin, TomTom, etc. are devoting more resources to app development, and less to standalone devices. Some makers have exited the market altogether.

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