I’m on my third GPS navigator. My first was a Garmin street pilot C320. I bought it expecting only the magic moving map that would show me turn for turn how to reach my destination. Discovering the commercial database that allowed me to find the closest gas station, store or restaurant quickly spoiled me. I started to see the other possibilities these devices had to offer.
One feature I still don’t have, but would like, is the ability to load a preplanned route. The GPS units I’ve used so far pretty much assume that the goal is to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Even though you can add way points, there is a limit to how well you can map out a circuitous route. Additionally, the unit keeps trying to get me to get back on major roads when I’m running a parallel, scenic road. I’ve seen units that have this function, but they cost more than I’m willing to pay for those features.
I liked my Garmin. As mentioned above, the commercial database was an unexpected surprise. It was amazingly complete, but took up so much memory that I couldn’t load the entire U.S. at one time. This became a problem on my trip top San Antonio. I assumed it was in the region I had loaded. By the time I discovered it was not, I was on the road. I had to by a paper map to complete the trip.
As the maps on my Garmin became outdated I decided that the cost of updating them was too close to the cost of a new unit. My second one was a Magellan Maestro 3200. This unit had a complete U.S. map, but the commercial database was sorely lacking. I could find specific stores with the Garmin. The Magellan was doing well to find general categories. This would have been unacceptable if not for the purchase of my iPhone about the same time. The maps app that came on the iPhone was absolutely incredible. I could type in a vague phrase like, “fish place,” and get hits on seafood restaurants and restaurants specializing in catfish. Try that with a paper map.
The map app won’t work as a GPS navigator. It doesn’t update position often enough and it can’t show the 3D turn by turn view needed for effective navigation. But like the commercial says, “There is an app for that.” I purchased one called Navigon when it came on sale which makes my third GPS navigator my iPhone. It’s the right size to mount on my handle bars, right on the plate that holds them to the risers. In conjunction with a 12-volt adapter and stereo bluetooth headphones, I’ve got everything I need, and more, right in one unit. I can listen to my iTunes library while Navigon shows me the way. I can take an incoming phone call if I get it. I’ve also got my e-mail and an Internet connection for when I stop. It plays video so if I’m going to be on the road overnight, I’ll get a movie or podcast ready.
Using another app called gas cubby, I keep track of maintenance and mileage on all of my vehicles. Including the one I’m riding at the moment.
The female voice on my first unit caused me to name it Wicked Wanda. The next unit needed a different name so I called it Magic Madge because that sounded more like Magellan. The Navigon app alerts me when I’m exceeding the speed limit. I’m thinking of calling it my Nag-a-vator.
— Guy Wheatley