GPS Receiver Buying Guide

A GPS Receiver has become a very vital tool for frequent travelers and outdoorsmen. But before we go straight to the tech store and buy whatever GPS we fancy, it is best to get a basic background on the technology and how it works.

Originally developed for military purposes, the Navstar GPS network consists of 30 satellites orbiting the earth every 12 hours and five ground stations that monitor where these satellites are placed as well as their operational status. To accurately determine your location and other data like current and average speed, directional headings, and land elevation, GPS devices use a receive to acquire signals from at least four of the satellites.

Aside from these, here are what users should know in buying GPS receivers.

What to look for in-car GPS?

Not everyone is capable of getting an in-car GPS receiver, especially with its steep prices. But putting that aside, GPS receivers are ideal for those who drive for work or like to travel at the spur of the moment. Make sure your in-car GPS receiver can accurately pinpoint you especially in a heavily-wooded or heavily-urban areas.

Most of these receivers also come with safety precautions that prevent the driver from using the keyboard or touchscreen functions while the vehicle is moving, which can be canceled with the use of a voice command. If the unit does not have voice-guided reactions, you need a passenger to do the operations for you.

You may also want to look for entertainment features like a MP3 player, image viewer, audiobooks among others. In-car GPS receivers also come in different types: some are already installed in cars that you purchased, there are those that can be professionally installed, as well as the portable varieties, and the handheld models.

Quality of display

A good GPS model should have a great color screen that is readable in all lighting conditions including direct sunlight. The larger the screen, the more expensive the model will be, but not all big screen are readable in direct sunlight. Make sure that the display can be read from any angle. It should also include street-level maps.

Form factor

Choosing a GPS receiver that fits your traveling habits. Long-distance drivers should consider having a model with a dedicated hard drive that stores maps of the entire country. People with multiple vehicles may benefit from portable in-car models that can be installed and removed quickly from one vehicle to another.

Navigational features

The more navigational features included in your GPS system, the more expensive the unit will be, but certain features that have become a standard nowadays. All GPS receivers should have street-level maps with voice-and text-prompted driving directions, while some units are using text-to-speech technology to deliver specific street names instead of generic instructions.

It should also have a comprehensive points-of-interest database like where airports, hospitals, restaurants, shops, service stations, police stations and the like are located. Other things that should be considered include touch-screen controls, automatic rerouting, and variable map perspectives.


Most systems are ready to use right out of the box and come with everything they need to get up and running after a few minutes of installation. Still, GPS accessories can help drivers get the most out of their investment.

This includes auxiliary antennas that would improve signal reception, additional mounting devices in case you want to put it on your motorcycle or bike. Some GPS receivers also rely on additional CD media or flash memory cards, as well as AC adapters that let you use your GPS unit at home.

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