Sunday, March 18, 2012

Simplifying Buying a Handheld GPS

geocache GPS use

When you star researching to buy your first handheld GPS, it can be a little daunting. There are so many different options, plenty of advanced features (including some like a camera which seem kind of useless at first) and often multiple versions of the same unit with different numbers, slightly different features, and a huge difference in price. So how do you pick?

Turns out, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. Obviously you have an idea of about what you want to spend, and that’s the simplest way to narrow down your choices. Then, there are really only three things you need to decide:

1. Do you want a touchscreen or buttons?

This first question is going to drastically narrow down your options, and at the end it’s kind of a preference thing. We are already trained to use touchscreens, so the navigation on that might be a bit less of a learning curve. However, if you’re planning on using it in the cold, then buttons are definitely the better way to go. If you aren’t sure, then I’d suggest going with buttons just to be on the safe side. It isn’t actually as inconvenient as a smartphone might lead you to believe.

2. How big of a screen do you really need?

Remember that the size of the screen will impact not only the size of the unit, but also the weight. Keep that in mind when you’re looking and make sure that you select something that is going to fit your needs. Do you want a smaller, lighter unit for hiking, or a larger screen that is easier to read when you’re camping and navigating back to the truck?

3. How are you going to use it?

If you’re buying a GPS unit, then obviously you have a particular need in mind. There are certain units which are optimized for certain activities, and the additional features are good to consider at this point as well. Do you really need any geocaching functionality? Is a camera even going to be worth the time? Do you plan on long hikes and excursions and therefore need more memory and higher waypoint totals? These are all good things to consider.

So how do you pick between units? Do you have any suggestions for the best unit for specific activities? Share your thoughts with me below!



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