GPS Devices: Road-Tested and Reviewed

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In-car GPS devices have more features, are easier to use, and cost less than their predecessors of just a year ago. Using one can help you find the best route to your destination, saving you time and money while traveling.

I tested five recently released GPS devices designed to be used in the car; two of them (from Mio and Pharos) also have pedestrian modes. All were accurate enough to use in unfamiliar locales, but software interfaces and route calculations differed. For additional details about the devices I evaluated, see the chart at left.

To plot your current location, a GPS device must acquire at least three different satellite signals. The more signals it grabs; the more accurate its positioning will be. All five of the devices I tested let you see your current GPS signal reception, the number of signals, the direction from which they're being received, and your current longitude and latitude.

Top three GPS devices (from left): Mio's DigiWalker C720, Pharos's Drive GPS 250, and our Best Buy, Garmin's Nuvi 360.
Garmin's Nuvi 360 earned our PC World Best Buy. Despite a midrange cost ($413), it offers such high-end features as Bluetooth connectivity (for hands-free phone calls), pronunciation of street names, and plenty of tools and information for travelers. Finishing second and third in our GPS device rankings were the Mio Digiwalker C720 and the Pharos Drive GPS 250, respectively.

The LG Electronics LN790 (left) and the Alpine Electronics Blackbird PMD-B200 cost more but don't perform better.
The fourth- and fifth-place GPS devices, Alpine Electronics' Blackbird PMD-B200 andLG Electronics' LN790, are capable units, too, but both of them cost hundreds of dollars more than the three devices that earned higher rankings, without providing better overall service.

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