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GPS Navigation? nüvi or not nüvi, that is the question - Nothing to See Here

Jul. 2nd, 2007

08:56 pm - GPS Navigation? nüvi or not nüvi, that is the question

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Hey readers of my LJ (I am sorry I'm not keeping up as a reader of anybody's LJ :/) ... I'm considering a GPS navigation system.

The title's a little disingenuous, but it amused me. Sorry. ;)

Costco has the Garmin nüvi 660 available for $600 until the end of the week, and I like buying from Costco because of the strength of their return policies/additional warranty coverage to 2 years for products which have shorter manufacturer warranties than 2 years. That said, however, in this case it's not necessarily the best deal, as Amazon.com has it for $591.20. Additionally, one has to consider that buying it from Costco it's really ~$650.

Then I did a little research and found that there's a newer model, the nüvi 680, which the review makes sound even better than the 660 (see also their list of reviewed GPS navigation units and ratings/accolades).

The 680 is available on Amazon.com for only $675, which compares awfully favourably to Costco's price on the 660. Alas, Costco doesn't offer the 680.

I've never owned a GPS navigation system, or any form of GPS actually, so I'm a newbie, and I figure there's folks on my flist (heh) who know GPS kit well. Advice? Suggestions? Comments?

Current Mood: busybusy

Comments:

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From:maeglin73
Date:July 3rd, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC)
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I'm personally happy with my StreetPilot i3, that one I had in Boston, but I have to admit the traffic report receiver sounds like a nice feature :-)
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From:mavjop
Date:July 3rd, 2007 04:40 pm (UTC)
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Well, the 660 and 680 both have traffic report stuff. The 680 also has the gas price thing, the movie time thing, and various bits and pieces like that.
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From:wy
Date:July 3rd, 2007 01:56 pm (UTC)
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Do you have a PDA, otherwise?
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From:mavjop
Date:July 3rd, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
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I have an old clamshell Sony CLIé. I don't carry it around.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 4th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC)
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http://www.tomtom.com/products/category.php?ID=2&Language=4

Was something I was going to suggest. Get that along with a nice PDA-phone :P
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From:mavjop
Date:July 4th, 2007 01:35 am (UTC)
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I don't know that I really want a PDA phone.
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From:wy
Date:July 5th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)
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All in one device is nice.

Still, might be cheaper / nicer to get a PDA + tomtom software than a standalone GPS unit, if both will be running the same stuff.
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From:mavjop
Date:July 5th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
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I'm actually somewhat more inclined towards simple, sharp tools than general purpose things which I can use to do many things. The former tend to just do what they're meant to do, and the latter tend to require me to do work/spend time.

Admittedly, the fact that the nüvi can act as a bluetooth interface for one's phone and play music and stuff makes it slightly less so, but I'm kind of keen on having as a navigation system something for which the primary purpose is navigation.

While price certainly comes into it, it's not really the most important factor.
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From:wy
Date:July 6th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
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Fair enough. I'm a multi-tool sorta guy, so a 'best of breed all in one' would suit my style more. Anyways, point is, you can do the TomTom at a cheaper price than a car-gps.
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From:mavjop
Date:July 6th, 2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
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*nod* :) A good point, certainly.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 3rd, 2007 04:53 pm (UTC)
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i've been consistently dissapointed by the lousy software quality from garmin. of course, magellan's given me a decent amount of heartbreak as well. a friend of mine recently got one of the newer tomtom units for her dad and they seem happy with it- the tomtoms are generally a bit less expensive than the garmins and magellans.
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From:mavjop
Date:July 3rd, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. That's at odds with all the stuff I'm reading which tends to agree about Garmin being the leaders in this stuff.
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From:bizzy_
Date:July 3rd, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
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oh oops that was me but i was logged into another browser

but yeah, i base my comments on the magellan i've used for a few years now (roadmate 700) and the garmin iQue thing i got my brother two years ago. i guess things could have possibly changed since then...
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From:mavjop
Date:July 3rd, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
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Ahhhh... that was you. :-)

I'll take your datum into account.
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From:surpheon
Date:July 4th, 2007 12:24 am (UTC)
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Just to confuse things, I've been happy with my Garmin. But it's a generation old now (Streetpilot 2620) and things have changed a good bit recently. Garmin is going towards a smaller form factor altogether.

A few features you may want to consider: I like the synthesized voice ability to read street names (not just say left and right), the larger screen size, and the ability to carry a nation wide map internally (if you don't travel much you may not care, but shifting files in and out and worrying about megabytes open is just so 1998). I think the interface beats Magellan with a big gnarly stick, but this could simply be a matter of which I learned first. You may want to look at the availability and cost of European maps if you hope to travel a bit; map packs can be expensive ($100).

As for bad things to look for, my first Garmin's touch screen failed after about 2.5 hard years in the car, which is not so impressive for what was a $1300 unit at purchase (it was my 'gold watch' when I left my last job). The remote control is pretty useless. Works great, but has no purpose in life at all. Unless you touch screen fails. A battery backup would be very nice, my gps currently turns off when the power socket goes dead, such as when starting the car. This is very annoying at times, but something the small form factor units seem to have addressed.

Overall, an auto gps is massively useful. I just don't get lost anymore. Like a dishwasher, I view it as a way to purchase a few more minutes to add to my day.
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From:mavjop
Date:July 4th, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
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Smaller form-factor is nice, if the reduction in size is surround, not screen. :)

I don't know if the 660 and 680 read street names. I'll see if I can trawl around to figure that out. [trawled a little] Ok, so https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=213&pID=8579 suggests that it does say street names and exit names and stuff.

The screen size of yours according to the PDF specs for it is, by my calculation, 3.7" diagonal (it gives it as 3.3" x 1.7"), compared to, I believe 4.3" diagonal on the 660 and 680.

660 and 680 both contain nationwide maps.

I haven't looked into maps for other areas, but that is a good point. I figure I'll look into Europe and Japan at least. [looked around a bit] Hm. https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=134&pID=8579 doesn't make it look like Japan info is even available (boo!) and there's so many different European things available that I have no idea what I'd need. Oy. Expensive. The prices seem a lot worse than the $100 you mentioned.

Regarding lifetime of touch screen, that's not something I think I can judge without getting it and seeing what happens, unfortunately.

Regarding battery backup, the unit apparently has a battery that lasts "up to 7 hours". This means that it shouldn't have the problem yours has with cutting out when you start the car, and it means I can put it in my pocket and take it with me and use it while walking around if I wish.

Aaaanyhow... still pondering.
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From:lessachu
Date:July 3rd, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
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I just received a TomTom as a graduation present last week. I quite like it; except that the routes through the City are quite terrible (it always wants me to take 80 and I haven't quite figured out how to tell it not to do that). Worked well to Monterey and back, however. Things I notice that are different from my mother's Garmin:

* has a suction cup for attaching to the windshield instead of weight for the dash - I prefer the weight, the suction cup comes off occasionally.
* doesn't read out the street names, only the direction of the impending turn and a rough measure of distance. You have to glance at the screen to get the distance.
* does allow me to enter information while the car is moving, although it admonishes me not to.

But really, I've had it a week. I think it has all sorts of fancy features that I haven't even discovered yet. I do have it speaking with an English accent, however.
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From:mavjop
Date:July 3rd, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
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Interestingly, I read somewhere that suction-cup-on-windshield is illegal in California, and the nüvis come with a suction cup mount, but I think one may in fact have to purchase the friction mount separately.
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