Best of 2009: GPS

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Having a reliable GPS (Global Positioning System) is important, especially if you don’t know your surroundings at all. An old GPS or one without current maps may put you in a position like this couple.

GPS units have come a long way in a short period of time. In the past only a barebones GPS could not be purchased for less than a couple hundred dollars. Nowadays a decent brand name unit can be bought for less than a C-note. For a few more dollars features such as traffic, voice recognition and Bluetooth hands free capability can be available.

Today’s top ten list is the highest rated GPS systems based on the TestFreak scoring system. The FreakScore or the technogog Score is our overall product score based on a combination of all expert and user reviews we have collected for a product.

You can read more about our ratings system HERE.

Navigon 7310

First seen: 23 March 2009

Freakscore: 9.9/10


The Navigon 7310 features City View 3D which displays cities as they really are – in 3D with buildings by the roadside. It also features Panorama View 3D which shows users on its display the landscape as they would see it from the car; Landmark View 3D – that takes well-known landmarks and puts them on display in 3D; Professional Voice Command that allows users to input command by voice, NAVIGON MyRoutes that recommend the best route, and adapts the user’s driving habits into its routing system; Reality View Pro that shows markers on the map realistically – like asphalt roads, with signs and road markings; Lane Assistant Pro; Spoken TMC and TMC Routing Info – which warns users via spoken notifications about traffic congestions and rerouting options; and Real Roadsign Pro. It also features Clever Parking which shows users available parking spots just before they reach their destination, POI Click for locations such as petrol stations or tourist attractions, Text-to-Speech, Bluetooth hands-free kit, Coordinate entry, NAVIGON MyReport, FreshMaps, SmartDisplay, TMC-antenna integrated into the charger cable, Favorites on the map, Emergency Help, Safety Camera, Smart Speller, Speed Assistant, Autoswitch Day & Night Mode, Dynamic Route Overview, PIN Protection for security, “Go Home” Function, NAVIGON Sync and Latest Map Guarantee which allows users to download new maps within the first 30 days the system is being used.

Pros: parking feature, integrated power tmc cable, sophisticated mapping, panorama view

Cons: poor battery life

So, to sum up, the Navigon 7310 is nicely made, with sophisticated and clever mapping. If simplicity is your main prerequisite for sat-nav, then a TomTom GO 740 LIVE might better serve you, but for geeks, this is definitely worth a

The Navigon 7310 is packed with features. The headline 3D enhancements still feel like a work in progress, but that doesn’t stop this being a very functional sat-nav overall. At around £300, it’s also priced reasonably considering the full Western European mapping and specification, although the necessity of forking out for a subscription to activate RDS-TMC in the UK reduces this. But if you do want a comprehensively capable personal navigation device, TomTom’s GO 740 LIVE, the European map version of the GO 540 LIVE, remains our top recommendation, assuming you travel frequently enough to make the monthly subscription worthwhile.TrustedReviews

TomTom GO 950

First seen: 6 September 2009

Freakscore: 9.7/10


The 950 navigation device from TOM TOM features routing technologies that is integrated into the user interface of the device. Featuring a more intuitive operation it gives drivers all the information they need about their journey before they set off, at a glance. The unit also features HD Traffic™, safety alerts and fuel prices are all displayed on the screen via the LIVE snapshot. Drivers automatically receive real-time updates on what’s ahead, so they remain informed throughout their journey. It also features new menu that includes calculation for frequent destinations, an Eco Routes option that allows drivers to select the most fuel-efficient route, more maps including Malta, Greece and Turkey, Map Share™ technology which allows users to make instant changes to the map and share these with others through TomTom HOME, TomTom’s free desktop application; pre-installed maps for door-to-door navigation in US, Canada and 45 countries in Europe and offers Enhanced Positioning Technology (EPT) for uninterrupted navigation even when driving through tunnels; a database that includes over 800 billion historic speed measurements of 15 million road kilometres in 24 European countries and IQ Routes technology and real-time HD Traffic information that continuously optimize of the route provides shortest and most realistic travel times.

Pros: Maps for Aus, NZ, Europe, US and Canada • Excellent windshield mount • Junction view and lane guidance • Map correction and sharing

Cons: No traffic, FM transmitter or MP3 playback • Visual alerts for cameras too tiny • IQ Routes still more hype than reality • Voice commands handy but limited

Hero model it may be, but features-wise it’s a mixed bag — props for the excellent windshield mount, boo for the deleted FM transmitter and MP3 playback, and missing traffic capability. Indeed, with its collection of Australian, Kiwi, European and North American maps, it’s best suited to frequent flyers.CNET

TomTom GO 950 LIVE

First seen: 12 January 2009

Freakscore: 9.7/10


The TomTom GO 950 LIVE with Worldwide mapping is the ultimate navigator providing you with real-time route information. Featuring TomTom LIVE Services, the GO 950 LIVE lets you enjoy the driving experience stress free. With HD Traffic receive real time traffic information straight to your device, get directions to the cheapest petrol station on route with TomTom Fuel prices and find shops and businesses wherever you are with TomTom Google Search. In addition the GO 950 LIVE responds to voice commands and even lets you make calls hands free

As we predicted at the beginning of this review, the GO x50 LIVE series isn’t going to change the world of sat-navs in the same way as its predecessor. So if you’ve already invested in a GO x40 LIVE, the new features shouldn’t have you green with envy. If you’re an infrequent traveller, the monthly subscription for LIVE means it remains an expensive option. However, TomTom has significantly reduced the unit price of the device itself, with the GO 950 LIVE being introduced for the same £299.99 as the GO 540 LIVE was a year ago. So if you do regularly drive long distances and are looking for a premium sat-nav to smooth your journeys, the TomTom GO x50 LIVE series should be top of your list.TrustedReviews

Garmin nuvi 855

First seen: 7 February 2009

Freakscore: 9.6/10


Stay ahead of the curve with nüvi 855. This premium navigator features voice-activated navigation and lane assist with junction view. Now you can keep both hands on the wheel, tell nüvi where to go and maneuver complicated interchanges with ease. Like the rest of the 805-series, it comes with a widescreen display, preloaded maps and more.

Pros: clear and concise directions, quick satellite pick up, lane change feature, mentioned above, good marketing

Cons: lacks features, slow vc, lane assist a gimmick, volume not the best, the on off switch

These worthy extras greatly enhance the value of an already fantastic product. The Garmin nuvi 855 has successfully raised the bar in navigation technology making it definitely worth the $499 price tag. Street prices are usually below $450 making it an excellent buy.cargpsreview

TomTom XL 340s

First seen: 3 April 2009

Freakscore: 9.6/10


The TomTom XL 340s features Spoken Street Names that announces the name of the street to turn into, for a safer and relaxed driving experience. It also features a 4.3 inch touchscreen that displays a user menu with high quality icons; – matching black EasyPort™ mount that folds to fit in any bag or shirt pocket; TomTom Map Share™ technology that allows users to instantly make map corrections on their device and share those with others; and TomTom HOME which is a free desktop application to keep users’ devices up-to-date at all times. New maps, safety camera locations or software versions can be downloaded and users can personalise their device by installing and sharing new, fun content such as voices and car icons. The device also features TomTom Help Me! menu and safety features to help in case of a wide range of difficulties, including direct access to emergency and road-side assistance services; and Safety cameras – that provides users with the most up to date red light and speed camera locations available; as well as Advanced Lane Guidance.

Pros: highly customizable map colors, just like evangeline lilly, great re routing, iq routing, great map and software

Cons: somewhat limits its portability, uniformed phone personal, wouldn’t update maps, limited disk space, while it is calculating

WIRED Just like Evangeline Lilly, the 4.3-inch screen is easy on the eyes. Comes with top-to-bottom maps of North America, including more than 7 million points of interest — way more than you’ll ever visit. Desktop software built right into the firmware. Easily pops loose from windshield mount so you can hide it in the glove box, where thieves never think to look. Hilarious celebrity voices keep you laughing all the way to your destination.

TIRED No text-to-speech with celebrity voices. Suction-cup mount a bit tricky in cars with deep dashes. Live-traffic features optional and extra. No Bluetooth, so forget about pairing your phone.Wired

The XL 340S is a solid performing, wide-screen GPS that includes a suite of high-end features at a reasonable price.GPSmagazine

Mio Moov M400

First seen: 29 July 2009

Freakscore: 9.6/10


The Mio Moov M400 is the ideal device for your navigation needs, loaded with unexpected extras. Featuring Text-to-Speech (spoken street names), pre-loaded U.S. maps, millions of POIs and an easy to read 4.3� anti-glare widescreen display making navigation a breeze. Quickly find Points of Interest with POI Shortcuts and Predictive Keyword Search. Speed Alerts and Lane Guidance will help you arrive at your destination safely. And, the comprehensive MioMore Desktop software is included so you can easily update software, manage maps and custom POIs and download geo-tagged photos. Text-to-speech Mio Moov M-series models come equipped with Text-to-Speech, or, spoken street names. Instead of commands to simply turn left or right, the streets, freeways and exits are called out by name leading to easier and safer driving. Text-to-speech allows the driver to spend more time watching the road and less time watching the screen. Expect no less from your GPS. Lane Guidance The Moov M400 was designed with all the essential features to make the driving experience faster, easier and safer. One of those features, Lane Guidance, helps prepare the driver in advance for upcoming turns. Voice prompts and visual indicators direct the driver into the proper lane prior to an exit or turn eliminating the stress and danger of last second maneuvers. Let the Moov M400 take some of the stress out of life. 4 Million Points-of-Interest Preloaded The Moov M400 is much more than a device to help get you safely from point A to point B. With over 4 million points of interest pre-loaded it can help you easily find and navigate to restaurants, gas stations, hotels, tourist attractions, emergency assistance, shopping and more. Drive with confidence knowing that practically anything you could want or need is just a few clicks away. Get more out of your GPS.

Pros: Very affordable for a device with a 4.3-inch screen and text-to-voice conversion. Accurate directions.

Cons: Cluttered, sluggish UI. Limited, difficult-to-search POI database. No real-time traffic, lane-assist feature, or speed limit postings.

There’s plenty of competition for the Mio Moov M400, even if most of it lacks the 4.3-inch widescreen—but you have to spend a little bit more. The $200 TomTom One 140-S, our current Editors’ Choice, only has a 3.5-inch LCD, but it’s much easier to use, is more responsive in operation, and displays the speed limit of the current road. The 3.5-inch Garmin nüvi 265T ($220), meanwhile, offers free (ad-supported) real-time traffic reports, also displays the current speed limit, and has a stellar, responsive interface and clear map graphics. And both of these devices are also available in 4.3-inch versions for a few extra bucks. Finally, Mio’s own Moov S501 costs just $50 more than the M400, but includes 12 million POIs, a 4.7-inch screen, and an improved interface. Any of these would be more sensible choices than the Mio Moov M400.PC Magazine

Magellan RoadMate 1220

First seen: 9 April 2009

Freakscore: 9.6/10


The Magellan RoadMate 1220 device boasts the acclaimed OneTouch menu, a 3.5-inch color touch screen, and a pocket-size design. Preloaded maps and points of interest for the contiguous 48 United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico make the RoadMate 1220 ideal for around town and vacations. Easy-to-use features give you confidence on the road and deliver a rewarding navigation experience. Turn it on and go!.

OneTouch favorites menu affords instant access to your personalized bookmarks of favorite places.

QuickSpell with SmartCity search narrows your address and city searches, making destination entry easy.

Spoken street name guidance lets you hear directions so you can keep your eyes on the road.

Pros: and finds satellite asap, very audible clear directions, user friendly, speaks street names, price value

Cons: signal acquisition time, limited points of interest, and short battery life, sensitive touch screen, small screen

3.5″ color touch screen offers budget-conscious consumers fully functional auto navigation of the 50 United States, Puerto Rico and Canada at a low price. Stylish, pocket-size design includes an intuitive, new user interface that guides drivers to their destination via voice and on-screen prompts. –Digital trends

Garmin nuvi 885T

First seen: 23 January 2009

Freakscore: 9.5/10


Stay connected and ahead of the curve with nüvi 885T. This premium navigator features voice-activated navigation, lane assist with junction view, MSN Direct and hands-free calling capability. Now you can keep both hands on the wheel, tell nüvi where to go and maneuver complicated interchanges with ease. Like the rest of the 805-series, it comes with a widescreen display, preloaded maps and more.

Pros: enhanced msn direct services, capable even underground, garmin usa, voice capability, overall great machine

Cons: mac tools are buggy, non working features, tinny front speakers, suction cup lets loose, software bugs reboots

Priced at around $800 (estimated street price as of this writing), the nuvi 885T is the best voice activated GPS available today. Garmin’s nuvi 885T delivers voice recognition that allows almost complete control of the GPS without taking your eyes of the road, and still gives up none of the nuvi’s legendary ease of use that loyal customers have come to expect.

If voice recognition is worth the fairly hefty $300 price premium to you, Garmin’s nuvi 885T doesn’t disappoint. However, the nuvi 785T is a slightly better all-around navigator, and a much better bargain. – GPSmagazine

TomTom GO 750 LIVE

First seen: 21 October 2009

Freakscore: 9.5/10

The TomTom GO 750 LIVE with Western and Eastern European mapping is the ultimate navigator providing you with real-time route information. Featuring TomTom LIVE Services, the GO 750 LIVE lets you enjoy the driving experience stress free. With HD Traffic receive real time traffic information straight to your device, get directions to the cheapest petrol station on route with TomTom Fuel prices and find shops and businesses wherever you are with TomTom Google Search. In addition the GO 750 LIVE responds to voice commands and even lets you make calls hands free.

Pros: Very developed route features, Numerous LIVE services, Top-end finish and build, Easy to use

Cons: Voice recognition could be improved, Sometimes bizarre results from Google search engine, Lowish battery life (recharge via cigarette ligher almost obligatory), Subscription a little expensive after the 3 month trial period, No longer mp3 player feature with FM

But although the Go 750 Live is beginning to look old-fashioned, and it’s certainly not worth an upgrade from the Go 730 or Go 740 Live, it’s still the best in the business. And the bonus is that it’s available at a price considerably less than both its predecessors. – PC Pro

Magellan RoadMate 1700

First seen: 31 August 2009

Freakscore: 9.5/10


The Magellan RoadMate 1700 is a GPS device that supports preloaded base maps that includes the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico with more than 250 user-programmable waypoints to save favorite locations. It sports a backlit 7″ color WVGA touch-screen display that allows users to navigate settings and functions day or night on the large, high-definition display. The unit also supports text-to-speech and turn-by-turn voice prompts that allow users to keep their eyes on the road while navigating via voice guidance; 6 million points of interest that lets users find banks, hotels, restaurants, gas stations and attractions along their travel route. Highway exit points of interest search lets them find services near upcoming highway exits; an AAA Tourbook that describes and rates AAA-approved places to stay, dine and more; Highway lane assist that guides users to the right lane when approaching interchanges and exits; route planning which automatically provides multiple routes to destination, including the shortest route; Multidestination routing that allows them to plan stops in the order they want; OneTouch favorites menu that provides instant access to personalized bookmarks; and automatic rerouting which provides alternate travel directions in the event of a deviation from the directions given. The unit is a WAAS-enabled (Wide Area Augmentation System) GPS receiver that optimizes the unit for use in heavy cloud cover, wooded areas and canyons, and also features “Where am I?”, AAA Roadside Assistance which shows exact GPS location; microSD media card slot for supporting removable media card (not included) containing additional map data or regional maps to expand navigational ability; and PC connectivity that lets users connect the GPS directly to a PC via the included mini USB 2.0 cable.

Pros: easy poi searches, bright 7 inch screen, the screen is big, sharp map graphics, easy to see

Cons: short battery life, basic features

There’s not much competition for the Magellan RoadMate 1700, at least at this screen size and price point. The TomTom XXL 540-S trades two inches of screen size for a more informative display and (arguably) a slightly more intuitive interface, at least once on the road. Magellan’s own Maestro 4700 drops the screen to 4.7 inches, but adds voice recognition. The Maestro 4370 goes down further to 4.3-inches, but increases the resolution back to WVGA (same as the RoadMate 1700), at the expense of a slower, pickier Windows CE-based OS. If you like your gadgets big, though, the RoadMate 1700 is an excellent choice. – PC Magazine

You can find hundreds more GPS review on the main site HERE.

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