A car GPS is fun to use, but it's also practical, and can help anyone in the family navigate safely and efficiently. All of the GPS receivers in this buyer's guide are ready to go right out of the box. GPS units selling for less than $200 don't have high-end goodies such as voice input or Audible book readers, but they may include real-time traffic tracking and avoidance, and text-to-speech navigation, in addition to the same maps, user interfaces, and points-of-interest databases as the high-priced units. Read on for more about the best budget car GPS units on the market (click on each image to view full-size).
Long on my best buy list, the TomTom ONE 130S is one of the few auto GPS navigators priced below $150 with text-to-speech capability. Like the lower-priced 130, also featured here, the 130S features the EasyPort mount (shown in photo) and can provide traffic tracking and avoidance information with the purchase of a $60 RDS-TMC traffic receiver . The ONE 130S includes preloaded maps of North America or regional international maps, depending on where purchased. TomToms always deliver solid value and have outstanding user interface and route preview features.
Similar to the Garmin Nuvi 205, also featured here, the 205W model has a 4.3-inch (diagonal) widescreen for a better view of its maps, and easier-to-read navigation instructions. The Garmin 205W comes preloaded with City Navigator maps and points-of-interest data for the lower 48 states, Hawaii and Puerto Rico (no Alaska or Canada detail), or, if purchased in Europe, one European region or country. Extras include a JPEG picture viewer, travel clock, and calculator. A good choice for affordable wide-screen navigation.
TomTom's ONE 130 features an innovative EasyPort windshield mounting system that folds flat against the back of the unit to make it easy to transport in a large pocket, briefcase, or purse. The ONE 130 also features a large integrated speaker that can be clearly heard over environmental noise. This 3.5-inch screen GPS can provide traffic tracking and avoidance information with the purchase of a $60 RDS-TMC traffic receiver . The ONE 130 includes preloaded maps of North America or regional international maps, depending on where purchased. TomToms always deliver solid value and have outstanding user interface and route preview features.
Garmin is known for its easy-to-use menu system and well-built products, and the Nuvi 205 is no exception. In the Nuvi 205, you get a 3.5-inch touchscreen (diagonal), an included City Navigator map of the lower 48 states, Hawaii and Puerto Rico; turn-by-turn directions with voice prompts, and the ability to add custom points of interest. Extras include a JPEG picture viewer, travel clock, and calculator. It's a reliable travel guide - just plug it in and go.
The 3.5-inch touchscreen Magellan RoadMate 1220 has a crisp, clear display, and an easy-to-use menu system. It also has text-to-speech, multi-destination routing, and optional Traffic Link ($79) traffic detection and avoidance. Magellan's OneTouch feature on the main map screen makes it easy to "bookmark" any destination as a favorite. I also like its automatic day-night screen modes, not always found in this price range.