Wednesday, December 15, 2010

GPSes - then and now

Nearly 10 years ago I purchased my first GPS.  I was going on a 4,000 mile round trip road trip (say that 10 times) and I wanted something to tell me where I was at when I was in the middle of no-where.  I also wanted something that had restaurants and so forth.  So I got a Garmin eMap.  Worked great.  Told me where I was at.  Life was good.

About a month ago I took a couple of trips.  One trip was to Los Angeles.  I was dreading the trip because Los Angeles (especially where I stayed) has bad traffic.  My old GPS really wasn't going to help me out.  So I ended up getting a new GPS, one that talks to you.  It has traffic, weather, maps forever (until they decide to end-of-life your GPS unit), Google, and much, much more!  It can even cut through aluminum cans!  (Just kidding.)  I took it to LA and it was absolutely fantastic.  It took me where I wanted to go.  It told me about traffic delays.  When I screwed it, it routed me another way.  I was impressed.  I took it on my next trip and it worked great.

The other day I was going to a place that I haven't been to in a really long time.  The trip was about 75 minutes long.  I was heading up the freeway when it started alerting me about delays on my route.  It finally said there was a faster route than the one that I was on and asked me if I wanted to recalculate my route.  Sure, why not?  So it did.  It continued to receive traffic updates.  Before I got to the problem area, it said that there was a faster route and asked me if I wanted to recalculate.  Sure, why not?  It left me on my original route.  I was listening to the radio and it was telling me all along there were traffic issues.  They said about where those problems were.  There was a wreck that was slowing traffic.  But I approached and passed the area and I didn't see any problems at all.  Then the radio said the problems were gone.  So the GPS was faster on the update than the radio was.

So if you're looking at purchasing or upgrading your GPS, I recommend that you do it, especially if you drive a lot.  Get one of those GPSes that will talk to you and gets live traffic updates.  How does it all work?  Well, the GPS has a cell phone chip in it and it talks to the home server and gets the updates wirelessly.  I'm not exactly sure how the server gets all the data, but it is incredibly accurate and timely.

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