Skip to main content

Choosing a Handheld GPS

Extras And Alternatives

Check the accessories included. Is there a car charger as well as a standard power adapter? Is there a holder you can fit permanently into your car or do you have to use sticky pads or suction to attach the device? An external antenna you can fit to your windscreen will give you more accurate positioning when you're in the car-or let you move it further away from the dashboard-but you won't usually have problems without one.

Think about how to mount your GPS in the car. A holder that lets you choose the angle of view is best.

GPS isn't just for route finding; you can find the nearest gas station or coffee shop, check the traffic on your regular commute, record how far and fast you've jogged or cycled or store the locations where you took a photo. It's no wonder GPS devices were the biggest sellers last Christmas.

The increasing number of location-based services means you may prefer to add GPS to an existing PDA or smart phone, rather than buying a standalone unit (or to get a new smart phone with built-in GPS). TomTom is available for both Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Symbian Series 60. CoPilot runs on Windows Mobile smart phones and Pocket PCs and some Symbian phones; it includes a small Bluetooth GPS receiver in the price. Navicore Personal and Route 66 Mobile run on Symbian Series 60 smart phones, as does Wayfinder Navigator (which Nokia includes with its own Bluetooth GPS). However, Wayfinder is expensive - you usually have to pay again every year whether you want updated maps or not, and we found Navicore couldn't always find a route, even in urban areas. Telmap Navigator runs on a handful of Symbian phones including the Nokia E61 and E70 plus the BlackBerry 7100 and 8700. TeleNav's GPS Navigator software runs on Windows Mobile, Palm OS BlackBerry and even some Java-enabled handsets.

CoPilot puts an excellent range of GPS features on any Windows Mobile smart phone.

If you want to use a smart phone for navigating in the car, make sure you can mount it safely and that the screen is large enough to read quickly.