Think GPS just gets you from point A to point B? Think again. The modern consumer GPS device offers not only the most up-to-date directions, it offers traffic advice, local attraction suggestions and information and special settings that let drivers choose the scenic route over the highway.
1. Choosing the Route
GPS tracking devices offer the consumer the option to select a route based on needs and preferences. For example, if you forgot your wallet or EZ Pass and can’t take the New Jersey Turnpike, GPS will suggest a toll-free route. If it’s rush hour and you’re dreading traffic, let your GPS device select a route based on the fastest time. You can have your GPS plot the shortest distance route or the route nearest an attraction or other point of interest.
2. Where’s a Cash Machine?
GPS devices also inform drivers upon request when there’s a cash machine, gas station or restaurant nearby. Business travelers and vacationers find this feature enormously helpful – since they’re frequently new in the area – but even when you’re driving in the next town over it’s handy knowledge.
You can look up these points of interest by brand name or by type. For example, if you’re in the mood for lunch but McDonald’s isn’t an option, scroll down the list until you find the Subway or Pizza Hut you’re looking for. Alternatively, if the restaurant requires reservations, the GPS can provide contact information so you can call ahead.
3. Avoiding Traffic
You can also avoid wasting time sitting in traffic by making use of your GPS device’s alternate route feature, sometimes offered free of charge to users. Congested highways and roads often appear highlighted in red and alert the driver well in advance to expect a traffic tie-up. The driver has the option to proceed along an alternate route, with the device tracking the vehicle’s progress all the while.
4. Additional Features
Modern GPS devices usually offer weather forecast information as well as Internet service. Tricked-out models include Bluetooth capability, handy if you need to make a hands-free phone call.
Trip computers, MP3 players, and FM radio transmitters are all becoming increasingly common, and features once reserved for top-tier devices are now regularly available on lower-priced models. Keep in mind that there may be monthly fees associated with some features, such as live traffic updates and local gasoline price information.
5. Selecting a Device
The most important features to examine are the size of the unit and the ease of use while entering directions. Depending upon whether or not you intend to use the device while traveling, a smaller unit may be preferable.
However, smaller screens are harder to read while driving. If you’re concerned that reading a small screen may cause problems, or if you drive a large SUV or truck, go with a larger device. Screen sizes range from approximately 3.5 to 5 inches and more.
Next, establish your needs. Do you regularly drive in heavy traffic or foul weather? Then it may be worth upgrading your device for those special services. Finally, read your manual. Your device likely can accomplish a wide variety of tasks that you never thought possible.