Showing you the way
These days many people turn to their smartphones when they need navigation help – just hit up Google Maps or Apple m… actually, just Google maps(!) and dock your phone. However, dedicated GPS Navigation still has a number of advantages over using map apps on smart devices. That said, GPS devices can also be among the most finicky gadgets.
A few things to pay attention to when looking at GPS navigation are whether it has free map updates, whether is comes with a voice feature, how sensitive it is and how much memory it packs. Free map updates are important to prevent any additional costs coming up later on when the maps loaded onto the device become outdated.
Different models also feature different displays and operating systems. Display vary in brightness and contrast, with cheaper models being harder to see when there’s a lot of sunlight reflecting off their surface, and you also get varying amounts of information displayed to you. Ideally, you’ll get suggestions regarding which lane to drive in, how far away your exit is and so forth.
The maps supplied for the device are also an important factor. How accurate are they? Do they indicate speed limits, speed cameras, construction work, and dangerous areas? Does the GPS detect your speed and warn you if you are going too fast?
Some models also have vehicle modes which tailor settings and navigation to the kind of vehicle you are using, be it a bike, a car, a truck or a bus. Weight and height restrictions apply to many roads worldwide, so these settings will help you avoid any routes where your vehicle would be illegal.
We’ve collected five of the best GPS navigation devices available to make this decision easier for you.
|1||ATOTO A6||• Android OS |
• Wide range of app compatibility
|• Android OS|
• Google Maps
|2||Vinone GPS Navigation||• 7" display|
• SIRF-ATLAS5 chip
|• Lifetime map updates|
• 7 vehicle modes
|• Several countries aren't mapped|
|3||LTTRBX 7" Touchscreen Navigation||• 8GB-256MB Memory|
• 480p display
|• Smart reminder feature|
• Medicore support
|4||Jimwey Navigation System||• 7" display|
• 1500 mAh battery
|• Free map updates |
• Vehicle profiles
|• Poor support|
• Short battery life
|5||Garmin Drive 50||• 5" display|
• Foursquare integration
|• Foursquare data||• Expensive |
• Paid, limited maps
The ATOTO A6 is a dual Bluetooth navigation system running an Android-based operating system. It includes AM/FM Radio, a wide array of input and output ports including AUX, USB and dashcam, and a factory setting Steering Wheel key Control feature. A MicroSD port with no size limit can be found on the unit as well.
The Android-based operating system makes the ATOTO A6 the most versatile device on our list, and likely the easiest to use. Instead of using some unintuitive proprietary OS, this device chose one that most users are bound to be familiar with on top of being more powerful. Using Android makes the ATOTO A6 compatible with a large chunk of the Google Play Store’s apps, allowing you to use your GPS Navigation device for a multitude of other tasks as well.
The ATOTO A6 is equipped with a dedicated GPS receiver and antenna, and has Google Maps preinstalled as the default navigation software – which means free map updates are a given, as well as all the features Google Maps provides on its own such as speed camera locations and traffic data. With WiFi capability, you can download offline maps while still at home, and tethering lets you share mobile data with the device if you’re in a pinch with no WiFi signal nearby.
With Dual Bluetooth capability the ATOTO A6 can connect to a wide array of other Bluetooth enabled devices all at the same time, such as headphones, speakers, phones and more. You can also mirror and cast the screen of your devices to it, and it also has its own built-in microphone.
Firmware updates for the device are also free, and the ATOTO A6 is capable of booting up in 2 seconds. Various privacy options are also present.
Why It’s Our #1 Choice
The ATOTO A6 packs the most functionality of all the devices we’ve reviewed by a huge margin, its Android OS being a major advantage. While all GPS navigation devices could be called such, when comparing them to one another the ATOTO A6 is the only true “smart GPS” on this list, making it a clear winner.
With its versatile OS, Google Maps integration, wide range of compatibility and impressive additional features, the ATOTO A6 manages to rise above the competition. It might have a steeper price than the competition, but it justifies it with its capabilities and is a worthy investment.
- Developed from widely used and stable Android Marshmallow OS,deeply customized/optimized to let it perform better in vehicles. Lots of vehicle-based features - FM/AM Radio,AUX/Backup camera input,...
- Factory Steering Wheel key Control (shorted for SWC,based on resistive signal input only) can still be retained. WiFi receiption and builtin microphone have been significantly improved. Drivers do not...
- Dual Bluetooth not only work as BT call /A2DP playback, but also connect to phone's BT tethering internet, and connect to BT gamepad/mouse/OBD. Google Maps is pre-installed,and users can download...
- Unlimited Micro USB Drive/ Micro SD storage supported (256GB micro SD and 1TB SSD drive have been confirmed OK). In additin, ATOTO A6 has Quick Booting feature - Start the car and access system within...
- Continuous firmware update for ATOTO A6 is available (latest firmware version ATOTO AICE OS 9.6). Get continued firmware update when available to ensure less bugs and new features added.
The Vinone GPS Navigation is a portable navigation system with a 7-inch display and 8GB-256MB built-in memory. The display mode can be toggled between 2D and 3D modes and is high contrast with adjustable brightness for top ideal visibility.
The Vinone GPS Navigation features seven distinct vehicle modes, which will allow the software to calculate the best route based on what you’re driving. Whether you’re on a bike, driving a car, or a larger vehicle like a bus or truck, the GPS will calculate the best route. Weight and height limits on roads can be tough for large vehicles and some neighborhoods also don’t allow trucks to enter.
The Vinone offers lifetime free map updates for the 101 countries it supplies maps for. The device comes pre-loaded with a North America map, and additional maps for Europe, South America, Oceania and others need to be downloaded and installed before use.
Using the SIRF-ATLAS5 chip, the Vinone can position the unit and calculate routes in 30 seconds to one minute, which is quicker than the industry average. You can search for destinations based on addresses, names and postcodes. The unit also offers voice instructions so you can keep your eyes on the road.
The Vinone also has an FM radio receiver and MP3/MP4 playback capability, allowing it to double as a small entertainment system for your rest stops. It’s also quite cheap as far as GPS Navigation devices go these days.
While the Vinone GPS Navigation device is capable and cheap, you do ultimately get what you pay for. It doesn’t pack a lot of features compared to many competitors and the points of interest list is pretty bare. It certainly gets the job done though, so if you don’t want to spend much, it’s a great choice.
- Resolution: 800 x 480
- 3D stereo operation interface, easy to operate.
- Full voice navigation Intelligent error correction.
- Material: ABS
- A variety of path planning, driving computer display.
The LTTRBX 7″ Touchscreen Navigation features a high performance CPU, 8GB ROM, 256MB RAM, a 480p display with a brightness of 500cd and support for up to 32 GB of extended memory. The package includes a window mount and a charging cable with a car adapter.
The Smart Reminder system used by the LTTRBX 7″ Touchscreen Navigation is a convenient voice alert feature that notifies users of speed limits, whether they’re speeding, upcoming turns and exits, gas stations and points of interests such as school districts, shops, intersections and speed cameras. The voice system provides you this info without you having to look at the screen, ensuring maximum safety while driving.
The LTTRBX 7″ Touchscreen Navigation includes lifetime map updates for every user, and comes preloaded with a North American map while maps for a total of 101 countries are available for download. You can also choose the system language from 40 options, all of which feature voice directions.
You can search for destinations based on postcodes, addresses, location names or points of interest, as well as browsing on the map itself. Once you have selected a destination you can tailor the route to your liking, using one of seven vehicle modes and picking between presets such as green, economic, easiest, fastest and more.
The manufacturer recommends only plugging in the unit after you have started your car to prevent surge damage. The LTTRBX 7″ Touchscreen Navigation has a built-in FM radio receiver and can play back MP3 and MP4 files as well.
The LTTRBX 7″ Touchscreen Navigation is a budget option and that definitely shows. While that wouldn’t be a problem in and of itself, the LTTRBOX falls short even of the expectations its low price set. While it has some interesting features like the smart alert system, it doesn’t have enough bonuses to make us recommend it over alternatives.
- 【LIFETIME MAP UPDATE FOR FREE】 Pre-installed with the most up-to-date 101 regions, 58 languages 2019 maps in North America, provide with lifetime free map updates. Offer 100% Satisfaction - 30...
- 【7 INCH TOUCH SCREEN】7" TFT LCD touch screen is clear and sensitive, 800 x 480 resolution. It made by the tempered glass and high-quality sensors and has a full viewing angle and high brightness...
- 【SMART REMINDER】Car navigation illustrate clear road map display and enlarged maps of complex intersections, intelligent voice announcements, speed limit reminders and voice notifications for gas...
- 【LARGE CAPACITY CONFIGURATION】Our GPS navigator comes with High performance CPU, built-in 8GB ROM 256MB RAM, support up to 32G extended memory, plenty of room for you to storage the maps and...
- 【REAL-TIME VOICE BROADCAST】GPS system with turn-by-turn voice navigation (multi-language version), comprehensive voice prompts, prompt real-time safety navigation direction of progress....
Garmin Drive 50
Garmin is one of the leading GPS manufacturers in the USA and their units are quite popular, however popularity doesn’t automatically equal quality as we’ll see. The Garmin Drive 50 is a portable GPS Navigation device with a 5 inch, 480p backlit display. It provides vocal directions and supports external storage.
The Garmin Drive 50 sets itself apart by partnering up with Foursquare in order to show more info about points of interest like restaurants, clubs and shops. The Foursquare data is pre-loaded, but can be updated to prevent out of date info from misleading you. This makes the Drive 50 have better POI support than most other devices that use their own proprietary data.
Unlike the other devices on this list, the Garmin Drive 50 does not offer free lifetime map updates. It is possible to purchase a version for a higher price that advertises itself as including free updates, however many customers have reported that this is not the case and even with that model, paying $49.99 per map update is necessary. Traffic data updates must be purchased separately. Considering the unit is already more expensive than competitors, in spite of having a smaller screen and fewer features, this feels like price-gouging.
On top of all that, the unit only supports maps of the 49 continental states in the USA. Maps for Alaska, Hawaii and other countries are not available.
The unit has a 1 hour battery life when not plugged in. The Direct Access system allows for simplified destination searches that don’t require full addresses but can be pinpointed via locations of interest, postcode and more. Driver Alerts let you know when there is a camera coming up, or if your exit is coming up and which lane you should be driving in.
If you buy a separate Garmin babyCam, you can link the two devices for live video feed of the back seat in case you are driving with a child in the back who you want to check on occasionally.
If not for the Foursquare integration, we wouldn’t find anything on the Garmin Drive 50 that would make us recommend it. That POI advantage appears to be all this unit has over the competition. Only buy it if it’s on sale.
- DRIVER ALERTS : Receive alerts for upcoming sharp curves, speed changes, school zones, a fatigue warning, nearby red light and speed cameras and more
- EASY TO USE : Dedicated GPS navigators display current street, current speed, speed limit and arrival time
- GARMIN REAL DIRECTIONS : Guides like a friend, using recognizable landmarks, buildings and traffic lights; Display type : WQVGA color TFT with white back light
- FOURSQUARE: Pre loaded data from Foursquare adds millions of new and popular stores, restaurants and more; Display resolution 480 x 272 pixels
- DIRECT ACCESS Simplifies navigating to select complex destinations, such as malls and airports ; rechargeable lithium ion. Battery life up to 1 hour
The Jimwey Navigation System is a 7 inch, 480p, 8 GB ROM, 256 MB RAM navigation device with voice alerts, a 1500 mAh battery and vehicle profiles. The package includes the navigation unit, a car charger, a USB cable, a suction cup and a bracket.
Like the vehicle modes on other units, the Jimwey’s main strength is the set of seven vehicle profiles that lets you tailor the route to your ride’s specifications. With attention paid to weight, width and height restrictions as well as entry laws, the unit will calculate a path that’s ideally suited to trucks, buses, bikes and other vehicle types.
The Jimwey Navigation System can display maps either in 2D or 3D, and free updates for both are available to all users. The maps include traffic data, camera locations, speed alerts and other information useful to the driver such as approaching exits, lane suggestions and red lights. These alerts are also delivered via voice, where the GPS unit co-opts the vehicle’s radio to transmit via FM.
You can also use the Jimwey Navigation System as an entertainment system, as it supports a wide array of video, audio, image and e-book file types – a total of 13 formats. Make sure you keep it plugged in though, as the battery life is just 30 minutes.
Overall, the Jimwey Navigation System is a decent budget unit, but it ends up sharing almost all of its features with the other low-price models. The large number of supported file types give it a leg up, but the low battery life drags it down. If you are thinking of this price range, you’ll just need to pick based on which features are more important to you.
- 【Lifetime Map Updated for Free】2D/3D map view mode. Pre-installed with the most up-to-date 101 regions maps in United States/ Canada/ Mexico, provide with lifetime free map updates. If you need to...
- 【Practical GPS Navigation】This 7 inch GPS navigation has 7 vehicle modes between Car/ Truck/ Pedestrian/ Bicycle/ Emergency/ Bus/ Taxi. Customize better routes for you and avoid roads such as...
- 【Large Capacity&High Definition】8 GB ROM 256 MB RAM provides plenty of room to start and operate quickly; which also ensures high speed and perform smoothly, say goodbye to the freezing and...
- 【Multimedia Entertainment】Provide real voice broadcast with over 40 languages. Support FM broadcast, MP3, MP4 player, video player, pictures, games and pocket calculator. Notice: FM not mean FM...
- 【What You Get】Comes with GPS Navigation with CE & RoHs Certificate Car Charger USB Cable Suction Cup Mount Back Bracket User Manual
GPS Navigation still has a place in the smart phone era when we can all choose from a massive pool of navigation apps to download onto the device which we already use for so many other purposes. These dedicated systems often offer more accurate navigation and specialized features not present on mobile apps. You need to be careful which kind you buy though, as there are many pitfalls – such as the lack of free map updates – that can obliterate any advantage these have over your phone.