Cool Tool Monday: GPS Navigation Systems

I missed Cool Tool Friday last week because I was on vacation, so I thought I’d sneak in a Cool Tool entry on a Monday. This week I’m excited about GPS navigation systems, and in particular, the Garmin iQue 3200. I’ve had the iQue for some time now — probably about four months — but taking it on vacation reinforces how cool it really is. I drove 4 hours to the beach, drove around a new area for a week, drove home, and drove some relatives to a distant airport I’ve never driven to before, and didn’t get lost once (except when I wasn’t using the GPS). But not getting lost is sort of a given with a GPS, I think, and isn’t really the biggest advantage since even if you had directions scrawled on the back of a cocktail napkin, you probably wouldn’t get lost. The real advantages are:

  1. Never having to get directions. Just hop in your car and go, whether you know where you’re going or not.
  2. Automatic rerouting. If you miss a turn, the device will reroute in a matter of seconds, and fix your mistakes for you.
  3. Location-based services. Don’t know about other GPS devices, but the iQue has a very comprehensive database of locations which you search for by all kinds of criteria, which means you don’t even need to know where you want to go so much as what you want to do.
  4. Always having a map. Even if you aren’t using your GPS device’s ability to route, it’s nice looking at a map of where you’re going. You can see landmarks around you on the map that you can’t see through your windows, and quickly evaluate shortcuts to avoid traffic problems.

The iQue is a handheld GPS rather than one that actually installs or is integrated into your dashboard. Since I drive a Jeep with a soft top, everything that might be overly tempting has to be removable and small enough that it can be locked in a console or glove box, so the iQue is perfect for me. In-dash units have a lot of advantages (always available, larger screen, integrated antenna), but the iQue actually has several advantages over many in-dash units (fast processor, expandable memory, handwriting recognition, PDA functionality, portable). As always, in a perfect world, I would have one of each, but as it stands, I’m pretty happy with the iQue.

Any other satisfied GPS users out there?

6 Responses to Cool Tool Monday: GPS Navigation Systems

  1. Okay, I ordered an iQue 3200! I have a two-week road trip up from Louisiana to New York, with stops at several friends’ places along the way, planned for later this fall, so that should be a good test of the usefulness of the unit.BTW, I already have a Garmin ETrex Vista, which I will keep as it is smaller and handy for trail hiking (as well as taking AA batts, since if you’re on the trail for a day or two, you can’t recharge in a cradle!). It is a great tool and I have used both in outdoor/hiking and in driving the highways.The iQue 3200, though, will be a big improvement for the car, because of the readability of the screen and the other features you cite. And, it will take all my Garmin MapSource mpas that I have for the Vista.

  2. Christian Cantrell says:

    Just make sure you buy a 256MB SD card, as well. You will be able to fit several states worth of maps.You won’t be disappointed. It’s a great device!

  3. I love the combo of my Dell Axim and a Pharos CF GPS card. My wife and I have used it for travelling cross-country, making shorter trips, and for local house-hunting expeditions. Like TiVo, it’s one of those rare bits of technology that no one in the house has ever regretted buying.

  4. Jacob Sevlie says:

    We have a navi system in our 2004 Honda Pilot EX-L… and absolutely LOVE it. It was well worth the extra money.

  5. If you really want to have fun with your GPS I suggest 2 things:1) Get TopoFusion!!! can then go on a trip with your GPS and digital camera, and generate html image maps showing your route with little camera icons along the way with the exact spots you have taken digital pictures! I highly recommend this program.2) Try Geocaching as a hobby! It’s a great way to be a geek in the great outdoors! – geocaching

  6. Alisa Thomson says:

    We have the Magellan SportTrak Pro and it has saved us on the back roads more than once! We have also tried Geocaching and it is lots of fun…gives you a goal on every hike!