Hard to believe another gift-giving holiday is upon us, but Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. The Consumer Reports GPS Team has tested several new navigators already this year, giving further depth and breadth to our GPS Ratings. Plus, providing more choices for those researching the perfect gift, or personal indulgence.
The latest models added to the Ratings include the Navigon 8100T, Mio Moov 500, Magellan Maestro 5310, Nextar I4-BC (with back-up camera), Pharos Drive GPS 200, and Telenav Shotgun.
Choosing a gift can be a real challenge, especially for a significant other. The latest GPS devices have so many features available, it is easy to get caught up on focusing on the bells and whistles. Instead, determine how the person will use the GPS. Would they truly benefit from traffic information? (If so, consider covering the cost or buying a model with free lifetime service.) Would they use the Bluetooth connectivity, or just their regular headset?
Look past the frills: it is how the device performs basic navigation that matters most, and this is reflected in how we score models. Ultimately, you want to give a GPS that is truly appreciated, providing good ease of use, clear instructions, and a convenient mount. Deviate from those basic principles at your peril! (And if you do, best buy some chocolate, too.) The GPS product selector (available to online subscribers) can help you very quickly filter and sort by the parameters that matter most.
Below, the GPS team provides their thoughts and guidance on choosing a gift from the current offerings:
Jeff Bartlett: Ease of use and accuracy are paramount in gift giving, especially to a spouse. No extra feature will outshine shortcomings in those areas. Text to speech is essential, as clear, spoken street names make a big difference in unfamiliar areas. For highway navigation, a model with reality view would be appreciated, though not necessary for how I would expect my wife to use the device. A widescreen helps readability and data entry, though it does limit purse portability. So, for my sweetie, the Garmin Nuvi 255. If I were feeling more generous, or in the doghouse, the Nuvi 760 is a tremendous value and can be found for around $250 online. (If I were to recommend a gift for me, it would be Garmin Nuvi 500 or Nuvi 265WT. Just saying...)
Frank Spinelli: My pick for is the Garmin Nuvi 265T. In choosing a GPS for Valentine’s Day, I naturally had my girlfriend in mind. There are several things about this unit make it an ideal gift for her. The most significant is the appealing, easy-to-use Garmin interface. She often uses her phone on the run, and Bluetooth connectivity would add convenience and safety. The Nuvi 265T is a good value, it offers free lifetime traffic, and it has the most recent Garmin software. Plus, it is a very portable unit that she can put is any one of her handbags. What’s not to love?
Jim Travers: This is an easy one. Even though Valentine’s Day gifts around our house usually are limited pretty much to the traditional flowers and dinner out sort of thing, thanks to some must use frequent flier miles, this year we’re spending Valentines in Puerto Rico.
That said, we need a unit that’ll help us get around the island. My preferences usually are of the Garmin variety, for their intuitive menus and ease of use. So this time around, I’ll opt for the 255W. In addition to the requisite maps of the commonwealth, the 255W has a wide screen, text to speech for proper street names, and the “Where am I” feature for help in an emergency – although I hope we won’t have to use that one. We definitely won’t be using the currency converter, because U.S. dollars are the cabbage of choice in Puerto Rico. On the other hand, the calculator might come in handy for tipping at restaurants or totaling up umbrella drinks while we flip through our pictures at the end of each day using the photo viewer. If only it had a sunscreen dispenser…
For more information on portable automotive GPS navigation systems, see our Ratings and buying advice and watch our video guide. If you're interested in going off the beaten path, See our handheld hiking GPS buying advice and Ratings. Discuss GPS devices in the forums.