Consumer Report: Best GPS Units

With most new cars, you can get GPS built in, but you'll pay a premium. Portable GPS units cost far less. Consumer Reports' testers have driven thousands of miles this year, testing more than 100 portable GPS units. They range in price from $90 to $450 and come with lots of features.

Take traffic info. It can show delays along your route. Many new models provide traffic information for free, although there are small ads that may pop up onscreen.

Then there's voice recognition, which is found on the most expensive GPS units. You can operate menus and enter an address hands-free by speaking a command. Consumer Reports' tests found that voice recognition doesn't work well enough to justify the cost.

But text-to-speech is a low-cost feature that's worth having. Rather than simply hearing "turn left," you're given the street name as well. Another good feature is reality view. It displays a 3D view of exits and intersections. And "lane assist" shows you the best lane to be in for an upcoming turn.

Consumer Reports recommends the TomTom One 140S. It costs around $170, with an optional receiver that allows you to get traffic information.

Almost all of the new smart phones have GPS applications. Consumer Reports' tests find that the navigation on some can work just as well as a traditional GPS unit, but the smaller screens can be tough to see and the smaller buttons can be harder to use.


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