Here's the problem: I have owned a Garmin Nuvi 680 GPS for several years and it has served me well. I named the GPS "Wanda." It helps if you speak with a New England accent, as in "It guides me as I Wanda all over the countryside in my cah."
The Nuvi 680 GPS includes a suction cup mount for the windshield and a power cord that plugs into the cigarette lighter. I travel a lot and always take the GPS with me. When I get to the distant city, I jump into the rental car, plug in Wanda, and let her provide navigation through strange cities and byways. Wanda has done well, providing perfect guidance on a 3-week driving trip in New Zealand as well as on several dozen trips all over the U.S. and Canada. Some of those trips have been for more than 2,000 miles each.
However, like many senior citizens, Wanda's hearing is fading.
In recent weeks, I have noticed that Wanda requires a long time to lock onto the satellites. Yesterday, I drove 375 miles, up to Maine and back. (I went to take pictures of a 3-story functioning outhouse. Really! But that's another story for another time.)On the way, Wanda kept saying "Lost satellite reception." I bet that happened 30 times on the 8-hour roundtrip. Sometimes she would recover within seconds, other times not for 15 minutes. One thing I hate about traveling with a GPS and no road maps is when the GPS quits while I am on an unfamiliar highway!
I grabbed my iPhone that has the CoPilot GPS application installed. It worked perfectly. Wanda was struggling to hear the satellites while sitting on the dashboard, but the iPhone never missed a beat when sitting in the cup holder under the dash, a much worse location. Therefore, I think Wanda's hearing is going bad in her senior years. Many of us have the same problem.
This morning I took a short trip across town and Wanda never did find the satellites. The iPhone found them within seconds.
Wanda has been out of warranty for years and I suspect it will be cheaper to purchase a new GPS than to repair the old one. So I went looking online and got confused. Most of the new GPS units seem to be about the same specs as Wanda (ignoring the cheapest units) but the prices certainly have dropped! So I'm looking. The problem is that I can't decide which one to choose.
I need a portable unit that I can use in each of the automobiles I own as well as in rental cars. (I rent cars ten to fifteen times a year and always need assistance navigating in strange cities.) A unit that bolts to the dash will be useless for me.
The iPhone with CoPilot installed is a good short-term substitute but a lousy long-term solution. For one thing, it runs the iPhone's battery battery down in a hurry. I can't use it on a long trip unless I also take along a power cord to plug the iPhone into the cigarette lighter.
Next, there is the question of where to put it. If I put it on the seat or on the dash, it slides around on every corner. It isn't unusual to take a sharp turn and see the iPhone go sliding to the furthest corner of the passenger's footwell.
I usually place the iPhone in the cup holder but, in the SmartCar, that's under the dash, next to the accelerator. I can't see it, can't hear it, and it doesn't work so well when the antenna is under the dash and cannot "see" the satellites. Both the Corvette and the Miata have cup holders in the console between the seats, right beside the driver. I can't see the screen if I place the iPhone in those cup holders. I never know in advance what locations will be available in a rental car.
Yesterday, I held the iPhone in my hand most all day but that's not a good long-term solution. Besides, any police officer who sees me holding the iPhone while driving will think I am talking while driving. That's illegal in most places. I don't want to argue, "But officer, I was only LOOKING at the screen." I doubt if that argument will work.
Next, the iPhone's audio isn't all that loud. I drove 375 miles yesterday with the top down in gorgeous weather but I couldn't hear the audio from the iPhone.
Finally, the iPhone screen isn't all that big. It's tough to see in bright sunlight while wearing sunglasses. The dedicated GPS units typically have bigger and brighter screens.
Of course, I can always get a windshield mount with suction cup to hold the iPhone but that doesn't solve the problem of the dimly-lit, small screen and low audio. Let's see, if I have to carry a power cord AND a windshield mount AND an audio amplifier, I might as well be carrying a separate GPS!
I would prefer a unit with maps that can be updated online frequently, plug-in maps can be added for travel in foreign countries, and a device that features live traffic reports. Wanda has all that and I have become accustomed to using those features often.Have you been following the GPS devices? Have you purchased a portable GPS recently? If so, do you have any suggestions? I need to get one before my three-hour cross-country trip across Tennessee and the three hours back next week and trips to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas the following week.
Your suggestions are appreciated.