capsule review

Pharos Drive GPS 250

At a Glance
  • Pharos Drive GPS 250

    PCWorld Rating

    Relatively inexpensive GPS device lacks extras and doesn't always by default select the fastest route.

Though it uses the same maps and GPS transceiver as the LG Electronics LN790, the Pharos Drive GPS 250 omits the LG's media player and other nonnavigation functions, to lower its street price to just $295. In this case, excluding the features unrelated to navigation makes the device easier to use, since you have fewer options to navigate through. It also seems to improve the navigation performance: When I tested both units simultaneously, the Pharos consistently alerted me to my next turn a second or two faster than the LN790.

The Drive GPS 250 does have a pedestrian mode, though the unit's limited battery life will restrict its participation in your extravehicular excur­sions to around 3 hours. The screen is big (4.3 inches) and easy to read, but the size hampers the device's porta­bility and battery life.

Unfortunately, like the LG LN790, the Drive 250 plunges you into the heart of urban traffic rather than finding ways around it. On several occasions, the Drive GPS 250 recommended routes that may have been shorter as the crow flies, but that took much longer to travel. One example: Instead of directing me over a slightly longer set of surface streets with faster speed limits of 35 miles an hour, the device suggested a shorter route that relied on side streets with 25-mph speed limits. You can choose between 'Shortest' or 'Quickest' after entering the address and be­ fore selecting 'Go' ('Quickest' is the device default), but you can't instruct the de­ vice to use one or the other setting for all your routes. In the Turn-by-Turn screen, you can set up alternate routes by rejecting undesirable parts of the route Pharos recommends; the Drive GPS 250 will automatically reroute you.

If you're looking for an affordable GPS with a very readable screen, the Pharos Drive GPS 250 is worth considering, though slightly costlier devices (see "GPS Devices: Road Tested and Reviewed") suggest quicker routes and provide a media player and other travel-related features.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Relatively inexpensive GPS device lacks extras and doesn't always by default select the fastest route.

    Pros

    • 4.3-inch-diagonal screen
    • Straightforward navigation

    Cons

    • No media player
    • Lacks Bluetooth connectivity
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