If you've never taken a trip with a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit, you've
probably spent too long getting where you're going - and missed a lot of interesting
stuff along the way. GPS has taken a lot of the stress out of the typical road trip,
and many of the new features are making GPS
navigation systems a fun and essential accessory to pack along.
In a nutshell, a GPS receiver relays information to and from satellites positioned
in orbit around the earth. This information is then applied to the mapping software
on the receiver itself, which tells you where you are, where you want to go, and
how to get there in real time and with impressive accuracy.
Owning a GPS receiver has numerous benefits including not getting lost, planning
a trip, and knowing gas stations, restaurants, tourist attractions and emergency
services are close by. Some even have features like Bluetooth® for easy hands-free
calling and multimedia playback, so you can listen to your MP3s or view pictures
from a memory card. With this guide, we'll walk you through some of the basics of
GPS, the latest technology they offer, and some of the cool extras you can find
on some receivers.
Do you want a GPS for your automobile,
motorcycle, marine vessel, or for hiking and other outdoor activities? Since hitting
the consumer market, GPS navigators have been designed to suit different purposes,
from being weather-proof for marine or motorcycle applications to including a two-way
radio and trail maps for hiking or back-country skiing. Newest to the market are
GPS trackers – small devices that you put in your car's glove compartment that let
you track where your car is and has been if it's stolen. As these different kinds
of GPS receivers are suited to different purposes, not all features and technology
listed below apply to all receivers.
The majority of GPS receivers have 3.5 to 4.3 inch widescreen displays which is
usually sufficient for basic navigation. However, it's worth it to consider larger
screen options (up to about 7 inches) for better map detail, easier to navigate
touchscreen menus, viewing pictures and using some of the GPS navigator's extra
features. Some larger GPS screens even have an input that lets you connect a camera
that's attached the rear end of your car, which makes backing into spaces much easier
– especially in larger vehicles.
Most automobile GPS navigators come with pre-loaded maps of Canada and the US. Be
sure that any GPS navigator you consider comes equipped with at least a map of Canada
out of the box. On these maps are various points of interest (POI) like hospitals,
gas stations, hotels, restaurants, amusement areas, tourist sites and more, so you'll
always know where to get something to eat or fix a flat tire. You can even add your
own POIs to reference for future trips.
Marine GPS navigators have maps of bodies of water, seabed depths, and are often
able to track schools of fish, making them a must-have accessory for any sport fisher.
Trail GPS navigators are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who are as comfortable
off the beaten path as they are on it. They provide accurate navigation in all sorts
of terrain, mapping location and elevation, so you always know where you are.
Additional maps can be added through a download or purchase of a DVD map upgrade.
While all GPS receivers help you get from A to B, many offer additional features
for enhanced navigation, safety and entertainment. Consider some of these features
if you're looking to get more out of your experience than just simple navigation.
You'll find basic voice guidance capabilities in all automotive GPS navigators,
but one of the features available in newer units is Text-to-Speech technology (Also
called 'Spoken Street Names'). Instead of having to constantly glance down at your
screen, Text-to-Speech audibly tells you where to turn using real street names.
For instance, when coming up to a confusing or unfamiliar intersection, the GPS
receiver will announce "Turn left in 50 metres onto Barclay Street." This feature
lets you concentrate on when and where you need to turn, rather than peering at
the on-screen map. Often, this feature comes with multiple computer-generated voice
Voice Address Input
Don't feel like typing out your destination's address? With Voice Address
Input technology, you don't have to. Just say where you want to go and the Voice
Address Input function updates your maps with the information.
Major metropolitan areas can be major headaches to drive through – especially
if you've never been there before. But all that changes with Lane Assist. Lane Assist
lets you know when you need to change lanes in order to exit at an off ramp. This
feature is a must-have if you often find yourself in large cities with multi-lane
expressways, one-way streets, roundabouts, jug handles and other complicated routes.
Reality View takes 3D maps to new levels, displaying true-to-life graphics
of actual structures and landmarks as reference points when driving through an unfamiliar
area. Reality View also provides a realistic image of complicated intersections
to help you navigate your way through, complete with the signs you'll see on the
GPS doesn't end with navigation. If you're looking for something with a little more
under the hood, GPS delivers. Many manufacturers equip their navigators with lots
of robust additional features that go beyond simple navigation, delving into the
world of multimedia, communications and more.
Some units feature a memory card slot that allows you to play music, pictures, and
in some cases, video on the display. With this feature, you simply slide in a compatible
memory card loaded with your media into the card slot and listen to music through
your car's speakers, flip through pictures, or watch a video. Some GPS receivers
even let you connect your iPod, MP3 player or satellite radio receiver. Because
GPS navigators are portable, they make it easy to share your media with others,
Find out where the traffic tie-ups are, in real time, and tap the screen
to find an alternate route. It's now available in a few Canadian cities with more
coming. The feature usually requires a subscription, but a few models offer the
service for free.
This is a truly useful feature that more and more manufacturers are starting
to include. With built-in Wi-Fi all you need to do is find a hotspot and download
new maps, find additional points of interest and more.
Future Shop offers a variety of GPS
accessories that help enhance functionality, prolong the device's life and
even give you additional features.
Because most GPS navigators are portable, having a case to keep the screen
and body safe from minor scratching and bumps is a great way to protect your investment
and keep it looking like new.
Since most GPS navigators use a simple touchscreen interface, they're constantly
interacting with your fingers. A screen protector not only shields the LCD display
from scratches, but also the oils from your fingers that can deteriorate the screen
surface over time.
In some regions, windshield mounts are considered a visual obstruction
and are not legally permitted. If this is the case in your area, Future Shop carries
different mounting options – like on-dash mounts – for your GPS receiver.
Travelling abroad? In most cases GPS navigators sold in North America only
come equipped with maps of North America. Future Shop carries additional mapping
DVDs for your European vacation or Australian expedition, so you can expand your
navigational capabilities no matter where you go.
You've folded your last map. GPS is the only way to go. Take a look at our online
selection of GPS receivers, or print the helpful checklist below and bring it to
the nearest Future Shop and a Product Expert
can help you navigate to the right GPS unit for you. Simply circle the option you
want, or circle "Tell me more", and a Product Expert will be more than happy to
demonstrate how a particular feature or function works. You can also join the discussion
on GPS technology in the Future Shop Community Forums.
Need a hand? We've provided a handy checklist below that can help you decide what
GPS will fulfill your needs. Print it, fill it out, and bring it into one of our
stores and speak with one of our Product Experts.