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Is there a GPS that doesn't drop signals? Traveling now-frustrating!

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Sep 23rd, 2012, 09:50 PM
  #1
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Is there a GPS that doesn't drop signals? Traveling now-frustrating!

We're in Italy now and this is the first time I'm using a GPS abroad. Glad I also have a map because I can't completely depend on my GPS. Using Tom Tom and most of the time it's okay but there have been a few times at home and here where I've lost the signal at a critical juncture.

Is this common?
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Sep 23rd, 2012, 10:54 PM
  #2
 
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It certainly is with us.

Worse, it's not rare in built-up Europe for signals to arrive a second or so late, causing you (if you're dumb enough to trust the satnav blindly) to miss crucial turnings.Something similar can happen in hilly areas too, though the odd second rarely matters there, and your instinct in the countryside is (or ought to be) to rely on roadsigns much more than in towns.

It's worth making sure your software (that is, the basic satnav operating system, as well as the maps) is up to date, because we've occasionally found some of these blindnesses are the result of operating system glitches, and occur less often after updating. You ought to be able to do this from any internet cafe if you've not got a web-connected computer with you: yet another reason for never travelling without one.

But satnavs are just a crutch. OK in their place - but never a substitute for a decent map and an alert driver.
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Sep 24th, 2012, 12:27 AM
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This happens to us even in the States.

What is happening is that the signals either don't get through or else are delayed.

The signal from your handset goes to a "tower" somewhere on earth, which tower then transmits or receives signals from the satellite.

When you're in the countryside, those "towers" may be scattered and you will not get a signal going, especially in valleys. That's why signals are so much better in populated areas where there are more towers.

It's not the Tom Tom's fault. It's just that you are in an area where there are few towers and your signal may have been dropped between the time it left your handset and the nearest tower which may be too far away.

The same with your cell phone - not enough towers.

Best to travel the old-fashioned way - with a good map.
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Sep 24th, 2012, 01:24 AM
  #4
 
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I'm in Prague, and I just finished a few days driving around South Bohemia, Czech Republic with my Garmin Nuvi 1390LMT GPS.

I never once had a dropped signal. This thing got perfect reception, everywhere, even driving through the woods!

And for the first few days, driving through many small towns, the Garmin was extremely helpful and reliable: it gave timely prompts and directions. It helped me find many obscure castles and places that would have taken a lot of time to find with a map. I got complacent about just trusting it.

Driving up to Kutna Hora on Saturday (on the way to Prague), though, the Garmin suddenly lost its mind. It started when I hit some road construction near the town of Tabor. They are doing a lot of freeway work there, and there are detours, so the Garmin not surprisingly got very confused. Understandable. However, after that it went wacky, even when I got back to areas without construction. It started telling me to turn left when there was nowhere to turn, or it would give me quick successions of "Turn Right - turn right!" which made no sense. I tried to drive and let it guide me back to the main road, but it just kept getting me more lost. Eventually I turned it off, got out my (small) map, and navigated back to the main roads. Then I found a sign for Kutna Hora and just followed it. I turned the Garmin back on for the drive back to Prague and it seemed to work again, but I never trusted it completely after that!!!

A GPS can be very helpful in Europe, but you still can't completely rely on one. You should really have some sort of map and basic common sense: know what major towns are on your route ahead of time, be able to look for signs, etc.
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Sep 24th, 2012, 04:16 AM
  #5
 
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I've used both a Garmin and a Magellan in Europe (UK, France, Italy, Germany) and all my vehicles here at home have built-ins (and I live in a built-up metro area) and I have never ever had a problem with "lost" signals.
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Sep 24th, 2012, 05:18 AM
  #6
 
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Some devices work better than others.

Some windscreens on cars have a thin layer of metal in them, which affects the signal and can cause you to lose it. An aerial is then a good idea - it sits in the area by the rear-view mirror which is metal free.
In-builts will always be better than portables.

Things like solar activity can affect the signal. Clear view of the sky is needed by some devices.

GPS is not fool proof, and a map is always a good idea.
Besides on a map you can see if there is a nicer alternative the route(s) suggested by the Sat-nav. When last in the UK if we'd relied on the in-built sat-nav we'd have taken less scenic, and less direct (though possibly quicker) routes to some places we visited. Because we knew the area though, even though we had the destination in the Sat-nav, we usually went our own route. It was fun to see how quickly it would agree with our chosen route.
Plus I enjoy navigating.
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