A GPS is a driver’s best ally as they allow drivers to accurately plot their current position and provide driving route instructions to arrive at a specified destination. In recent years, GPS manufactures have been adding new and interesting innovations that you’ll discover in this article.

As they are so useful and now very affordable, more and more people are deciding to buy a GPS for their cars. However choosing the right GPS for your needs is not always an easy task as it often requires significant knowledge of the technical characteristics of these devices. To make it all a lot easier for you, we have prepared this complete shopping guide with information, frequently asked questions and the top products on the Australian market.

Key Facts

  • The GPS system is based on a series of land-based control stations and a network of at least 24 satellites orbiting the Earth, so that at any one time, at least six satellites are accessible by the GPS receivers.
  • In order to choose the GPS that is best for you, the first aspect you should consider is the intended use for the device. You will require a different device to move around your city in a car as you would need to make state-wide trips by truck or to use on a motorcycle.
  • Geoscience Australia has commenced a project that will establish the necessary ground infrastructure to enable data from global networks of satellites to be tracked, verified and optimised for precise positioning across Australia. This project will deliver instant, reliable and accurate access to positioning and timing information anytime and anywhere across Australia.

Ranking: The best GPS on the Australian market

Here is a list that we have prepared of the five best personal GPS systems currently available on the Australian market. We have made this list by choosing a wide variety of items with the key principle of only including products that offer very good value for money.

No. 1: Garmin eTrex 20x

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Available in Black or Orange, the Garmin eTrex 20x features a 2.2” colour screen with a high resolution of 240 x 320 pixels. Boasting an expanded internal memory, you can download a greater variety of maps that will get you where you want to go. Designed for outdoor uses such as hiking, mountain biking and orienteering, this handheld GPS can also be used in the city.

The excellent reception of the eTrex locates your position quickly and maintains your position even in heavy cloud cover and deep canyons. With the eTrex you will be kept safe whilst exploring the great outdoors during any weather conditions.

No. 2: TomTom Car Sat Nav Start 52

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With the TomTom Start 52 GPS, you’ll have access to up-to-date maps for life and for free. It has a handy 5″ touch screen to allow you to locate destinations much more quickly and easily. In addition, the highly sophisticated lane guidance system helps you prepare for different exits and intersections with ease.

The TomTom Start52 comes with all the maps of Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, so it’s perfect if you’re travelling around New Zealand or Southeast Asia on a regular basis. This GPS also includes three months of free access to TomTom Start’s speed camera alert system. However customer feedback suggests that in conditions of high natural light, the reflection of the sun can cause some screen visibility problems.

No. 3: Garmin 010-01678-42 Garmin Drive 51 LMT-S

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The Garmin DriveSmart 51 GPS includes lifetime maps of Australia and live traffic updates to make sure you always find the most efficient way to your destination. This dedicated GPS navigator includes innovative driver alerts to help increase your awareness with warnings such as dangerous curves, speed changes, speed cameras, railway crossings, animal crossings and more.

The Garmin DriveSmart 51 is preloaded with points of interest from TripAdvisor to help you find everything you need along the way. It has a bright 5-inch touch screen that is easy to use, even in sunny conditions. If you are looking for an economical yet reliable product, this GPS could be the one for you.

No. 4: Garmin dezlCam GPS

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The Garmin dezlCam is a specialised Truck GPS that features an inbuilt camera to record everything that happens in front of your truck. The colour display guides you to your destination with a 6” pinch-to-zoom screen while the dash cam continuously records your drive and automatically saves files in case of an accident.

With this incredibly smart GPS, you can even customise your truck route based on the size and weight of your truck. The voice-activated navigation lets you control the GPS with your voice and Bluetooth technology allows for hands-free calling when paired with a headset (sold separately).

No. 5: GPS Navigator, 7″

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At an economical price of under $90 excluding delivery, this GPS from CCsky is a great option for those looking for a low-priced car GPS. This GPS features a 7″ LCD touch screen that is easy to read and will respond to the slightest touch whilst feeling natural and comfortable for your eyes. The screen will also change colour whether it is day or night to make any time of day an easy commute.

When this product is shipped to you, along with the GPS unit, you will receive a travel charger, a car charger, a USB cable, a specialised car bracket and a user manual. CCsky offer 24 hour online customer service and a 90 day refund guarantee on their GPS.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about a GPS

When buying a GPS, it is essential that you consider a number of important aspects to make the right purchase. There are different GPS models that include many different functionalities and applications. To explain this further, the following section covers general information about GPSs and the most commonly asked questions by GPS consumers.

A GPS lets you choose between 2D or 3D maps and voice assistance.
(Source: Rostislavsedlacek: 74792461/ 123rf.com)

What is a GPS exactly?

The GPS (Global Position System) or global positioning systems are satellite navigation systems that allow you to establish your position on the earth within a few meters. This is a technology that was originally created for use in the military field but expanded dramatically with multiple applications for civilian use.

The GPS positioning system works thanks to a series of land-based control stations and a network of at least 24 satellites in orbit around the Earth. For a GPS to work accurately, the device must be able to receive a signal from at least six satellites. The small GPS devices that are in many cars today are nothing more than a GPS receiver that replays the information they receive from the satellites.

What are GPSs for?

GPS devices allow you to know your exact location which makes it much easier to find your way around and arrive at a particular destination much easier. GPSs also offer you optional routes for the trips you’re making, as well as accurate information about the time of arrival and points of interest such as restaurants, shopping centres and petrol stations.

A GPS can also warn you about the presence of speed cameras, speed limit changes or specific advice such as the warning of an approaching school zone. Some advanced agricultural GPSs allow users to monitor the land of cultivation to help farmers reduce the costs of fumigation and harvesting.

Johnny LieuMashable

“Australia is spending over $260 million to invest in satellite infrastructure and technology to improve GPS accuracy, as part of the Federal Government’s budget announcement”.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a GPS?

There are a number of important advantages as well as some disadvantages to using GPSs. With a GPS, it is possible to determine your position with a high degree of precision which allows you to establish the most efficient driving routes and estimate the approximate time of arrival. However on the contrary, a GPS can distract you from the road and increase the chances of an accident. The following table elaborates further on the advantages and disadvantages of a GPS.

Advantages Disadvantages
They let you know your position with a high level of accuracy Sometimes, they can distract you from the road and increase the risk of an accident
Some GPSs do not need to be connected to the Internet to determine your position. This way, you can use them in places where 3G or 4G internet coverage does not reach Updating maps can be an extra expense
They provide detailed information on the route and points of interest
They make it possible to estimate the approximate time of arrival
They offer information and warnings of fixed speed cameras
They help you drive more comfortably and safely, as you don’t need to rely on your mobile phones’ navigation system

Is a GPS worth buying?

If you drive regularly and do not always make the same routes, then buying a GPS is an option that you should seriously consider. A GPS can help you save time on the road as well as offer a series of “extra” information that can be very useful. If this wasn’t already enough, they can even help you avoid speeding fines.

Who should buy a GPS?

Anyone who uses a vehicle to make frequent journeys such as Uber drivers, taxi drivers, truck drivers or simply those who use their car, motorcycle or bicycle frequently. GPSs are especially useful for those who do not usually drive the same daily route.

Some GPS devices include free lifetime updates to the included maps.
(Source: Chockchai Paralart: 38778182/ 123rf.com)

Additionally, a GPS is particularly useful if you travel in areas where the Internet coverage is poor or there is absolutely no Internet such as the northern parts of Western Australia, Queensland or across the Nullarbor. A GPS system is also highly recommended in the agricultural industry for farmers to track the movements of their tractors or harvesters to improve efficiency and reduces costs.

What types of GPS devices are there?

A GPS can be divided into two distinct categories: portable devices and those installed in a vehicle. The portable type can be used in different vehicles, while the built-in devices are integrated into the dashboard of the car. The following table breaks down the main features of each type.

Portable Installed
Installation They are light and easily transportable. They have a bracket to attach them to any vehicle They are normally installed as standard in the dashboard of the car
Battery You usually connect them to the car’s cigarette lighter to charge the battery on long trips You don’t have to worry about charging the battery
Speed Turn on speed varies between models. You may need to wait while the navigator system is loading They work as soon as the car is started, so the waiting time is minimal
Use They can be used in different vehicles Can only be used in the car in which they are installed
Probability of theft Given their small size, they can be easily stolen if you leave them inside the car They cannot be stolen unless your entire vehicle is stolen

What are the most important functions that a GPS usually includes?

A GPS usually includes a number of innovative and interesting features to make driving easier. Almost all models let you choose between 2D and 3D maps as well as the option of voice guidance, which means you don’t have to continuously watch the screen to know where to go. Another feature present in some GPSs is an alert system that warns drivers of an upcoming”black spots” or dangerous stretches of roads.

Another functionality available in most GPSs is the signalling of fixed speed cameras by using your location and checking against a database of known speed camera locations. GPSs also indicate points of interest and may even advise which lane is more suitable for driving.

Shopping Criteria

If you are thinking about buying a GPS, it is important that you take into account a number of different factors before making your purchase. To help you in the selection process, we have selected the criteria that we believe are the most important. We have done this with the fundamental objective of creating a shopping guide so that you can find the GPS that best suits you.

  • Intended use
  • Screen
  • Updates
  • Maps included
  • Battery
  • Extra accessories

Intended use

Logically, the intended use of a GPS is one of the first questions you should ask yourself. It is essential that you take into account the type of vehicle with which you are going to use it. GPSs are usually built for use in a car, but there are also specific devices for trucks or motorcycles.

GPSs for trucks usually informs drivers about the width of the road or the height of approaching tunnels or bridges. GPSs designed for motorcycles are usually built to withstand heavy rain and have more secure brackets for attachment.

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A GPS works by receiving information from at least 24 satellites that are in orbit around Earth.

Screen

When it comes to choosing a GPS, most people generally opt for one with as large a screen as possible. However keep in mind that a larger screen size usually means a higher price. In addition, the screen size isn’t the only nor the most important aspect to consider when comparing the different GPS screens.

When it comes to a GPSs screen, the resolution, the level of brightness and minimal reflection are just as important as the size of the screen. If it is not easy to see the GPS screen in sunny conditions, this can be annoying for the driver and pose an increased risk of an accident.

GPSs warn you about the presence of speed cameras, speed limits or other factors such as an upcoming school zone.
(Source: Dolgachov: 52257259/ 123rf.com)

Updates

Some GPS models include free lifetime updates to the included maps meanwhile others require you to pay each time an update comes out. The former tends to require a higher initial economic investment, but in the long term, it may be more economical.

With this in mind, it is important to consider whether you will need new updates frequently or whether you plan on using the same regions and therefore do not need new versions. This will determine whether it is better to invest in a GPS with lifetime updates or simply pay for them as they are needed/released.

Maps included

Every GPS includes a certain level of pre-loaded maps with the device. That’s why it’s important that when choosing which device to buy, you’re clear about which package of maps you want the device to include from the start. The devices available to you will likely be different depending whether you want maps of your own state, the whole country or perhaps with the map of New Zealand. Depending on this requirement, the price will likely vary.

There are currently two main map providers for GPSs across the world: Navteq and Tele Atlas. In general, their functionalities are very similar but you may wish to analyse the points of interest they shows and the additional information that each provider includes.

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It’s useful if the screen includes a night mode and even better if it is a touchscreen.

Battery

Generally, the battery of a GPS will last for two to three hours. Fortunately, charging your battery in the car is usually quite simple. If you plan on using the GPS with another type of vehicle, such as a motorcycle, where charging is not so easy, this aspect takes on greater importance.

Extra accessories

Often the attachment system of the GPS is not given much thought, but a good fastening system can save a lot of headaches. It is also essential that the GPS has a charging system that works in your vehicle. The most common form of charging is via the cigarette lighter which is reliable and easy to use.

Another interesting “extra” is a Bluetooth connection. With Bluetooth, you can usually synchronise your mobile phone with the GPS to use your phone via the GPS screen. With this extra feature you can drive much safer and more comfortably. Some GPSs also have the ability to connect to the Internet via WiFi for easy map updates.

A GPS navigation systems is also be recommended for agriculture.
(Source: Aleksey Boldin: 32493059/ 123rf.com)

Summary

Having a GPS can be very helpful when you are on the move. Not only to plan routes or find locations on the map, but also to know the places of interest or to warn you about upcoming speeding cameras. It’s no wonder that GPSs are so popular.

To decide which GPS is best for you, the first thing you should think about is how you are going to use it. You should also consider a series of technical specifications such as the screen, the maps included, the battery life and the “extra” accessories available.

Finally, if you found this guide useful for your GPS selection process, you can leave us a comment or share it through your different social networks.

(Source of featured image: Moreno Soppelsa: 10480474/ 123rf.com)

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TECHSPRING

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