- GPS devices have limited updates, often requiring manual installation and sometimes charging for map updates, while smartphone maps like Google and Bing constantly remain updated.
- Traditional GPS devices lack real-time traffic information and efficient route suggestions, while smartphones and higher-end GPS devices provide these details.
- Many new cars come with built-in GPS capabilities or infotainment systems with GPS, making standalone GPS devices redundant.
- Smartphones have GPS antennas built-in, allowing for navigation without needing a separate device and providing more up-to-date information.
- Over-reliance on GPS devices can lead to a lack of familiarity with one’s surroundings and potentially inefficient routes.
Before the smartphone era, people used GPS devices to reach their destinations. While the GPS was once a critical navigation tool, it is no longer helpful. Cars have also changed dramatically, with most new vehicles integrating GPS technology, which is why you should probably avoid a new GPS.
Technology has changed dramatically over the last decade, and almost every driver has a smartphone with GPS capability. It is amazing how fast drivers went from using paper maps or printed directions from MapQuest to GPS. Below, we’ll go over six reasons to avoid a GPS, but first, the basics.
Background on GPS Devices
MapQuest often comes to mind when most people think of early navigation tools. The online route finder was launched in 1996 and made efficient driving possible. But GPS techtually goes back to the 1970s when the US launched Navstar GPS. In 1989, Magellan developed the first consumer GPS device.
GPS devices for route navigation took off in the early 2000s is when. Before then, GPS devices were helpful in exploration and determining a device’s location based on four satellites in space. These satellites do not require the Internet, but an unobstructed path, which can be problematic in dense cities or even thick forests.
Where GPS devices shine is in the realm of navigation. These GPS units come with pre-installed maps that help motorists find routes. They determine your location with GPS satellites and sensors. This is how GPS devices know the direction you are facing. But GPS technology wasn’t only in specially made devices. It was quickly integrated into vehicles and even phones.
Why Avoid a GPS Device
Is a GPS device worth it? We don’t think you need a redundant piece of technology. By GPS, we refer to standalone GPS units used for navigation while driving and not those built into cars or other GPS devices. Let’s jump right into the reasons.
Updates were a major problem with units going back to the early days. The issue is that a GPS comes with a preloaded map that doesn’t automatically update when roads change. Despite roads changing infrequently, updates can be annoying if you live in an area experiencing a lot of construction. Worst of all, map updates were often costly.
After getting updates, you must plug the GPS into a computer to complete the installation. Fortunately, many newer GPS devices can now update via Wi-Fi. However, some companies do still charge for map updates. Magellan is a famous GPS maker but only provides updates four times yearly.
Updating several times a year seems pretty reasonable until you discover that maps like Google and Bing constantly remain updated. Companies like Garmin offer automatic updates, but your home’s Wi-Fi signals need to reach your car for automatic updates to work. So, if you live in an area with a lot of development and changing roads, avoid a GPS device.
With technology being so interconnected, it is easy to forget what things were like just a short decade ago. Maps and GPS units can help you find a route, but they often leave out vital details that only up-to-the-minute data can provide. For instance, the interstate through the city may look like the fastest route, but if you are traveling during rush hour, it is probably a bad choice.
Traditional GPS devices can only help you find routes and navigate through them. They might help you get to your destination, but not in the most efficient way. However, mobile phones and higher-end G will get real-time traffic information and details in a given area.
That isn’t to say GPS devices are always bad. Some devices like Garmin DriveSmart 65 have great features. The DriveSmart 65 provides traffic information, alternate routes, speed limit, current speed, and building renderings. Additionally, you can get traffic information with an added antenna.
Old GPS Devices Still Work
Unless you want more features like the DriveSmart 65 provides, chances are your old GPS still works. So, you should avoid buying a new GPS if the existing one works. GPS technology hasn’t changed much over the years. So if your old GPS can still receive updates, it will function fine.
Surprisingly, Garmin provides updates for discontinued devices. The big three GPS manufacturers will likely have updates available. This includes TomTom, Garmin, and Magellan. It is sometimes better to buy a new GPS, as the updates can be expensive. Additionally, a new device may also provide lifetime map updates.
In-Dash GPS Units
Many people ditched GPS devices over the last decade because new cars typically have built-in GPS capabilities. But this isn’t anything new. Vehicles from the early 2000s had GPS options. Those were often available as an upgrade, just as a CD changer or electric seats were. However, GPS head units typically came with the highest trim levels.
Over the years, GPS technology got much cheaper, as did other components like LCD screens. Consumers also wanted more capable entertainment systems in their vehicles. So, automotive manufacturers eventually started adding GPS systems to their cars. Today, most cars come with GPS or an infotainment system with GPS capabilities.
Smartphones have GPS built-in
That brings us to the final reason to avoid a new GPS device: smartphones. With smartphones readily available, you can easily access directions without needing a particular device. New phones from major manufacturers like Apple and Samsung not only have Internet capabilities, but they actually have GPS antennas built in.
A mobile phone can operate just like a conventional GPS, even if it doesn’t have a phone or internet service. Of course, smartphones also have other features. You can use them to find specific businesses and obtain detailed maps with traffic and weather data. The most common way to get directions on the phone is with Google Maps or Apple Maps.
Both apps support navigation through GPS but combine that data with information from the Internet. Some mounts even let you place your phone within eyesight like a GPS. But phones are arguably better than GPS units because the maps stay current. So you always have the latest information about road closures and changes.
Over-Reliance on Technology
Traveling is about the journey and not the destination. Well, that’s debatable. But most people rely on their phones or GPS devices for directions. Obviously, these directions are invaluable if you are unfamiliar with an area. Still, some people are entirely reliant on a GPS for navigation.
More specifically, some people need a GPS from home to a grocery store. That is understandable for someone new to an area. However, this over-reliance means some people aren’t familiar with their city. More often than not, a GPS can provide an inefficient route. With trial and error, you may find a longer way but with less traffic.
When You Should Buy a GPS Device
While many feel GPS devices are no longer helpful, they still have many practical applications. Companies still use GPS systems to track vehicles and route employees to their destinations. But there is also still demand for personal GPS navigation devices as well.
The average car in the US is over 12 years old, meaning many vehicles don’t have GPS devices built in. Adding a GPS to an older car brings modern features for a small price. Even newer vehicles with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto can benefit from having a standalone GPS device.
Conventional GPS devices may go out of fashion, but they always work without the Internet. This brings us to another primary reason to avoid GPS devices. If you venture into the woods for activities like hiking or hunting, special GPS devices like the Garmin eTrex 10 will come in handy.
Handheld GPS devices are perfect for hiking and mountain climbing because they provide essential information about various trails. Additionally, they keep track of your path so you never get lost. Even if you lose your phone service in the woods, you can still program your destination and other waypoints, like your car and camp.
It is incredible how far GPS technology has come and how quickly the devices have become outdated. From being a staple in every American’s car, to swiftly getting replaced by smartphones, the GPS has undoubtedly had an interesting ride.
While handheld GPS devices are now cheaper, it’s best to avoid them. Smartphones with far more accurate GPS tracking features are available. Plus, some of the handheld gadgets have few updates. You also won’t get real-time traffic or know the best routes when using them.
Ultimately, the decision to buy GPS devices depends on how often you travel to unknown places and whether your phone would suffice. If you have one that supports lifetime map updates, that will give you something to test.
|Limited Updates||GPS devices have preloaded maps that don’t automatically update, and updates can be costly.|
|Inaccurate Traffic||Traditional GPS devices don’t provide real-time traffic information and efficient routes.|
|Old GPS Devices Still Work||If your old GPS still works and receives updates, there’s no need for a new one.|
|In-Dash GPS Units||New cars typically have built-in GPS capabilities, making standalone devices redundant.|
|Smartphones have GPS Built-in||Smartphones have GPS antennas and provide more accurate, up-to-date information.|
|Over-Reliance on Technology||Over-reliance on GPS devices can hinder personal familiarity with an area and efficient route-finding.|
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