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If you are a constant reader of this blog, I suspect you’re a geek as well.  And with most geeks it is generally pretty hard to buy gifts.  We usually buy gadgets when they come out and don’t give much room for ‘wish lists’ for our significant others to shop for us.  As such my house around holidays is usually no gifts for me of substantial surprise…that’s fine by me.

This father’s day was different.  My family got me a portable GPS device.  Specifically the Garmin Nuvi 260.  To be most accurate, my family actually got me a Magellan device but my wife gave it to me with the “I’m not sure if this is a good one so you can get which one you want.”  I love the “you can get” with regard to marriage and purchases…we share the same money don’t we? :-)

After a good amount of research I settled on the Garmin Nuvi line as the best.  Almost every review site I went to had the Garmin Nuvi models at the top of their list.  TomTom was a close second and actually from the experience I liked their physical designs a little better. 

I already have a GPS system in my car, but it is a year 2000 model car, so my GPS screen looks like a mainframe app compared to modern devices…and operates like one as well!  I didn’t think I’d like this idea of the Nuvi because of that, but was I wrong.  Man I turn that thing on to go check the mail.  Honestly I don’t know why, but I’m having so much fun with it!  There was a widescreen model that was about $80 more but had ZERO added features so I opted for the 260 model.  I have NOT been disappointed at all.  The screen is great, the directions are great, re-routing is fast.  I bought the Mexico maps for my device because I go there often.  The Mexico maps came as an SD card I pop in.  I thought this was a little weird because other maps can be downloaded directly into the device…why is Mexico (and some others) different?

This leads me to a little rant.  My Navteq car system wants to charge me $200+ for the map updates to my car.  Garmin - $90.  WTF Navteq!?!?  It’s the same data.  I’ve written to them and asked them why such the difference.  As you would expect: no response.

I used to think about GPS systems in cars and always wanted the in-dash in all my cars.  Never again.  For the cost (walmart.com had the best price for my model at the time of purchase – Best Buy price matched too), you just can’t beat the convenience.  I’ve heard of car companies like Volvo offering a credit voucher instead of in-dash systems.  I must say that is a great idea!  The lack of in-dash is the only thing I don’t like about my device…aesthetically I don’t like the extra thing hanging from my windshield, but the added convenience of taking with me no matter what vehicle I’m in is awesome.  It also has a “walking” mode that routes differently if you are walking.

I couldn’t have possibly asked for a better gift and to-date this has been the best gift I’ve received…and I didn’t even need it!  Bravo family, bravo.  If you are in the market for a GPS unit, check out the Nuvi line.  There are varying features for different models.  I think the 260 is the lowest model I would have went as the one feature I wanted was voice-announced streets (“turn right on Raven” rather than “turn right ahead”).  I don’t much car to integrate my device with as a Bluetooth speakerphone, but there are models that can do that.  Voice commands (available in the 800 series) is something I would have liked, but not at the price differential.  Check out the Nuvi.

I used these sites to help me decide: gpsreview.net and gpsmagazine.com (great buying guide).

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