Best GPS system?

Old Jun 30th, 2014, 08:28 AM
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Best GPS system?

We will be renting a car and driving across Europe (Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France) in September. I've been looking into getting a portable GPS to take with us as we've never been to Europe and will rely heavily on the GPS to get us from point to point.

The Garmin Nuvi seems like a popular one. Any particular model you'd recommend?

I assume we'll also need to buy an SD card with European maps. Is this what I need:

Will the Garmin Nuvi with a Europe map card fit my needs?
traveler8586 is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2014, 01:16 PM
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I prefer TomTom but everyone has their likes and dislikes. But no matter which you buy start using it at home and use it often. Even on the way to your local mall... the more you play with it the more comfortable you will be with it when it counts... on a strange road in a rented car in a place where you don't speak the language! ;^)

Half the time the reported "GPS problem" is a case of the human not knowing how to operate it properly!
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2014, 03:34 PM
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Garmin is an American GPS and has difficulties with the European concept of towns. Many towns in Europe are not recognized by Garmin. While Garmin is superior to European GPS systems in North America, in Europe European-made GPS generally work better. TomTom is just one of several European GPS.

The difference is not the maps, it is the algorithms.
traveller1959 is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2014, 04:03 PM
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You have framed you question as:
Garmin GPS unit + Europe map SD = solution
However, you also need to mount your unit. It is complicated by having to deal with rules across many different traffic jurisdictions. Here is an example from Switzerland:

However, isn’t your need really a navigation aid? In which case, Garmin/Tom Tom GPS units are not the only options. Some other possibilities are:

Smartphone + offline map + mounting kit + car charger/external battery
Smartphone + data plan + online map + mounting kit + car charger/external battery

Whatever unit you use requires setup before your trip as well as on the fly route changes. Different implementations make these tasks maddeningly difficult by requiring you to go through many screens. You have to play with units to make sure you are comfortable operating the unit.

For mounting I have been using a compact vent mount like this one:

Since you are traveling through many countries, if you choose to use a smartphone plus online map, you need data plans. If you used local SIMs, you would have to procure several SIMs. If you have T-Mobile Simple Choice plan with European frequency capable GSM handset, you can just take you smartphone as a navigation unit and use the included data roaming capability. Even if you don’t use T-Mobile USA now, you can just use it for one month and cancel it. You also get a two-in-one benefit of being able to use internet, phone calls, and send text on your smartphone. I found out that I can use google map navigation with just the 2G connection included in the T-Mobile free international data roaming.
greg is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2014, 04:08 PM
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Our Garmin Nuvi worked well with the Europe map mini SD put in the slot on the side.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2014, 04:09 PM
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You should be able to buy a Garmin Nuvi with the maps built in, then just log on to Garmin and update to get the latest.

A newer model should have enough memory for you to load maps for the USA plus all of Europe.

I just went through the hassle of updating an older Nuvi (circa 2006) for a trip to France (this is free if you've bought the right model originally). This Nuvi only has 2 GB of memory so I could no longer get all the maps in (I think they've added gigs of advertising since 2006, no?), so I had the option of either putting the data on a card or just downloading the parts I needed, which worked fine because all I needed was France and it let me do a single country.

I think you'd be OK with an 8 GB model, for sure with a 16 GB model, meaning you wouldn't have to hassle with the card.
Bill_H is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2014, 04:09 PM
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I've been very happy with my TomTom.
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