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GPS for Your Dash

Portable GPS devices are addictive: The ability to quickly find gas stations and other services is a great time-saver.

Like the mapping sites, these devices don't always pick the fastest paths. But they almost always get you there--and if you miss a turn, they quickly calculate a new route. Most of the GPS models I tested store maps on external memory cards, so searches may take longer than they would with the usually pricier hard-drive-based devices. All have touch screens for data entry, speakers for voice directions, and suction-cup windshield mounts.

The Garmin, Lowrance, and TomTom products have built-in rechargeable batteries, so they don't shut down when you turn off the car engine, such as when stopping for fuel. (Units without batteries may have to recalculate routing when you get back on the road and restart them.) You can also connect a battery-powered GPS device to your PC to preload addresses, or to use it when away from power--for example, while hiking.

For a comparison of these portable GPS devices, see our chart, "GPS Systems: More Than Just Maps."

At a Glance
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