Tuesday, April 15, 2008

GPS Systems

A GPS (Global Positioning System) unit has
the primary function of calculating its own location on land or water
by using satellite signals. Once the GPS unit knows its own location,
it can help the user determine direction and distance to other known

For instance, a GPS on a boat can tell the captain how far
it is to the shoreline or how far it is to a favorite fishing spot. For
the outdoor sportsman a GPS can help with finding your campsite, your
vehicle or your next geocache. Popular outdoor activities such as
hiking, hunting, fishing, trail running, backpacking, rock climbing,
canyoneering and canoeing are all made more enjoyable and safer when
you take along your GPS.

The advantage to a portable GPS, besides actually helping you find your
location, is that it is small enough to not be a bothersome bit of
luggage when you leave for camping trips. Instead of worrying about
finding extra cargo space for your enormous GPS contraption, you simply
slip the GPS in your pocket until it is needed. When buying a GPS
system the first thing to consider is how you intend to use it. If you
plan on using it while on foot, you'll want a GPS that is lightweight,
compact, weather resistant and that is equipped with features important
to foot travel. WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) is one such
feature. WAAS greatly increases the accuracy of your GPS, in most cases
to within 10 feet.

Accuracy within a few meters is important for the
outdoor enthusiast but not nearly as important for navigating through
town in your rental car. Next, be sure your GPS has at least 12
channels of reception too. Since your GPS will only work when it
receives signals from satellites orbiting the Earth, less than 12
receiving channels will not get the job done in wooded areas or in
steep terrain. If you plan on using your GPS to navigate while driving
in your car, its weight is not nearly as important as its ability to
display street maps. The GPS mounted to the dash of your truck probably
doesn't need to be weatherproof, but the one on your boat better be.

Prices for GPS units vary a great deal and in general, you get what you
pay for. While some units cost around $100 and offer relatively few
features, others may cost as much as $1000 or even more and are loaded
with dozens of features.

Here is a good rule of thumb for determining
how much money to spend on your next GPS. You should expect to pay
between $200 and $300 to get a decent GPS Unit. I own a Garmin eTrex
Vista. I believe it is the best GPS available for under $300. There are
various brands, features and types of GPS navigation systems to choose
from. More sophisticated systems obviously will cost more than simpler
models. Some units are portable and can plug into the cigarette
lighter. Others require technical installation.

Keep in mind that some
manufacturers will void the warranty unless the unit is installed by a
certified dealer. As technology is constantly evolving, you should
purchase a GPS navigation device that is upgradeable. These devices
communicate with geostationary satellites, which tell the device,
exactly where on Earth it is. The potential applications for this
knowledge are endless. If you know where you are, where you were and
the time in between then you know your speed exactly. If you know where
you are then others do too. Many people out there do want to own one
but have no idea which one to choose.

There are so many models to
choose from, and with most GPS systems costing hundreds of dollars,
it's not entirely unreasonable to be scared to make a decision. This is
the reason why this list of some of the better systems out there has
been compiled to help you come up with an informed choice on which is
the best GPS system for you and your money.

There many different types
of GPS, which one is right for you. GPS parts and accessories

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