Any standalone GPS users here still?

Messages
95
Location
Connecticut
I've been toying with the idea of buying a standalone GPS unit again. I had a very low end small screen Tom Tom back in about 2010 but I don't know what happened to it. I think I would have needed to pay for map updates for it or something like that. It seemed to work OK, but I eventually switched to Google maps and didn't have work that required me to drive a lot anyway. Now I have work requiring somewhat more driving usually to different addresses in different cities, and I also buy a lot of stuff off Craigslist or FB Market.

It seems Garmin is the only real choice now, and the map updates are indeed lifetime. I'm just wondering about the general user experience of a GPS unit vs a phone in 2020. The phone having data can provide real time traffic updates and similar, but I have had situations where I've not gotten maps due to coverage being lost in too rural of an area. My current phone is malfunctioning, and I do have another on the way, but strangely over the years I've liked having more redundancy between me and my phone. For example, all my head units don't even have bluetooth and it's fine, I just use mp3 CDs (very oldschool) or USB drives, just so I never have to worry about my phone's battery/etc (if I run it to 0 it would still need a few minutes to charge to be usable...) while I'm in the car to have the music I want on. I even also have a backup phone with almost no features/apps (iPhone 4) to just have in an emergency. I just don't like having all my hardware eggs in one basket.

So my feeling is now I want this for navigation, but I'm just wondering if the UI is too clunky, or if the general navigation quality is no good in 2020 compared to a phone. In one review I watched of a lower end Garmin from 2017 she said navigation was clunkier and sometimes maps weren't updated as well. I'm more or less just looking for input from anyone that still uses a standalone GPS now on how they like it.

Thanks!
 
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Messages
1,386
Location
Athens, GA
Since I have a tethering plan on my current phone (And unlimited data) I simply keep my 'old' phone as a navigation piece. Turn on tethering before I leave on the trip, plug the address into the 'spare' phone, and off I go. If I know I'm going rural, I'll just have gmaps download before I go.

Also makes it easier to play podcasts and music from my primary phone without messing with navigation duties. Don't think you would count that as a 'stand alone' but in my opinion its much more handy this way, especially if you have tethering enabled on your primary. If for some reason my primary were to die, I could always swap the SIM and have an instant backup.
 
Messages
197
Location
WA
I travel a great deal and have for decades and I still have a Garmin stand alone unit running most of the time, along with both phones.

I listen to podcasts and need to take calls frequently, having the phone switch to another screen while trying to navigate to a new location can be annoying.

I also may set the three devices for different routes or destinations to get a better idea of my progress, or optional routes.

The Garmin may be set for the final destination, which may be 1,500 miles away, while the phones will be set for today's stops. This keeps me on track for the final location while easily adding in stops along the way.

Plus there's no messing around, when you get in the car the stand-alone unit powers up and continues with the navigation on its own.

The larger screen on the Garmin is a big plus too, at a glance you can easily see the needed information.
 
Messages
4,785
Location
Lima, Ohio, USA
what makes you say that garmin is the only real choice?
I "Just" bought a newer TomTom...2 years ago... to replace an older TomTom I'd had since 2010.
it's a great nav. system, lifetime updates, gets traffic either from a bluetooth tether to your phone, or with the more oldschool traffic receiver i still have from my old unit.
updates are even easier than the old units. I don't even have to connect it to a computer. it's got wifi, and I just have to turn it on, it connects to my home wifi, and does it's thing.
and I'm not stuck to one particular map. you can change maps at any time. I'm currently running the US& Canada map, but if i was making a trip somewhere else, say the UK, I could easily download that map, and switch back when I got home.
the only complaint i have with this one, is you can't change the car Icon, or get the "fun" voices...you're stuck with an arrow, and the boring robo voices. ( on my previous tomtom, i had a custom Icon( Doctor Who's TARDIS) , and had paid for 2 celeb voices. none of which are available for the new unit.)
some times I use it, some times my phone, and sometimes the Built in nav in my car.
of the 3, the phone is the smoothest, least clunky; followed by tomtom, and the car in a distant third.

some times I'll even run 2 of the 3 options just to see what routing differences come up...
I listen to podcasts and need to take calls frequently, having the phone switch to another screen while trying to navigate to a new location can be annoying.

years back...2009? I was Driving to My Brother's House in DFW, using the phone GPS available at that time,(pre-google maps) twice on that trip, I missed critical turns, because of either a call coming in, or a Txt/Picture msg popping up and taking over the screen....that soured me on phone GPS for some time. it's why i bought my first TomTom in 2010.
 
Messages
1,121
Location
N. Georgia Mtns
Our Frontier doesn't have built in navigation. I actually don't want or need a car that does. We have a newer Garmin with a big screen that serves our purpose just fine. When/if it stops working, we'll simply order another one and just plug it in. Built in navigation systems would probably cost many times more to replace. As for using my phone for navigation, my eyesight isn't as good as it used to be and trying to focus on a small screen while driving is a recipe for disaster with me. The K.I.S.S. principle is in effect here for me.
 
Messages
1,526
No haven’t used one in years.. if I’m lucky enough to travel to the unknown I simply use my fone.
 
Messages
640
Location
Southern NY
I bought a refurbished Garmin last year for exactly the reasons you mentioned. We go for hikes in the Catskills quite often and the coverage is spotty at best.

The navigation is definitely clunkier if you are going to compare it to Google Maps but has improved exponentially if you compare with the devices that are at least 8-10 years old. I don't know what that reviewer was comparing navigation to/with but TBH, it's a stretch to compare stand-alone devices with the supercomputing power of google maps. It does take some time to get used to putting an address in, esp if you have FourSquare installed. I despise that app.

As for the map updates, they are regular, at least 3X a year.
 
Messages
2,756
Location
Illinois, U.S.A
I just don't see the point to a stand alone anymore. I use either the built in Nav (seldom) or Waze. I love the interactiveness of Waze so that you can be alerted to debris in the road, wrecks, cops, etc.
 
Messages
3,578
Location
Northern Ontario, Canada
Our Frontier doesn't have built in navigation. I actually don't want or need a car that does. We have a newer Garmin with a big screen that serves our purpose just fine. When/if it stops working, we'll simply order another one and just plug it in. Built in navigation systems would probably cost many times more to replace. As for using my phone for navigation, my eyesight isn't as good as it used to be and trying to focus on a small screen while driving is a recipe for disaster with me.
I have found that cars with nav typically have a much larger screen for the back up cam, and all around cams for newer vehicles.
That alone is enough reason to seek nav as an option, especially as it gets harder to see, the older I get.
 
Messages
1,065
Location
Virginia
I use Apple Carplay. If we're going somewhere remote and I'm worried about cellular signal I just download the the area in Google Maps so I can use offline navigation.
 
Messages
548
Location
NC
The speedometer in my old Volvo is erratic so I use a small Garmin Nuvi just for the speedo feature. I don't drive it anywhere I'm not familiar with so navigation not necessary.
 
Messages
2,277
Location
Texas
I still use a Garmin Nuvi. It is easier to use then a smartphone for navigation when on the road, and I prefer to use my phone for other purposes.
 
Messages
10,224
Location
MA
Had one of the first Garmins back in 2005. Stopped using them a few years ago. As mentioned earlier, just have a section of the map you use downloaded via wifi so you can use it in offline mode.
 
Messages
48
Location
Newport, RI
I have an older Garmin GPS with free Lifetime map updates. I use it a few times a year when I travel and get a rental car w/o GPS. I've also used when rented a truck to help my daughter move.
 
Messages
197
Location
WA
Cars frequently have a poor Nav system, and updates are expensive and still dated.
The large screen is nice though.

In rental cars using the Nav app can be annoying during the learning curve. So using the my Garmin is quick and simple. The phone is being used for returning calls and such I got while I was on the plane, so using it for navigation too is more complicated.

People that use GPS Nav infrequently can get by with using the phone or the car system well enough. Finding the the local restaurant, checking traffic on the commute home, or a specialty store across town is pretty basic.

Sit those same people behind the wheel on a two week business trip with many stops, appointments, deadlines, changes, etc, and with business being done on the phone, and the value of a stand alone unit increases rapidly.
 

celicaxx

Thread starter
Messages
95
Location
Connecticut
I bought a refurbished Garmin last year for exactly the reasons you mentioned. We go for hikes in the Catskills quite often and the coverage is spotty at best.

The navigation is definitely clunkier if you are going to compare it to Google Maps but has improved exponentially if you compare with the devices that are at least 8-10 years old. I don't know what that reviewer was comparing navigation to/with but TBH, it's a stretch to compare stand-alone devices with the supercomputing power of google maps. It does take some time to get used to putting an address in, esp if you have FourSquare installed. I despise that app.

As for the map updates, they are regular, at least 3X a year.

Was it this, if you don't mind me asking?
 
Messages
4,220
Location
Ca.
yes, mostly for international visitors when the data for cellphones is expensive for them.

Ive also ripped through my plans data during a heavy travel month when moving doing 5 1K trips in a month.

My old truck and car have fairly lousy built in maps.

I also live a mountainous area now where cell service inst always available.
 
Messages
3,141
Location
Western S.C.
Yes, Garmin from about 2016. It mostly works well. The way it often mispronounces or misreads names of streets and roads can be amusing or annoying. Hard to follow in congested areas with turns close together, because it tends to lag one turn behind, unless I drive very slowly. Sometimes makes less than optimal route choices.
 
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