For probably the third year in a row, most folks are coming to me not for television or media extender holiday suggestions, but looking for GPS gift-giving advice. Instead of repeatedly answering the question, and with the shopping window closing rapidly, I figured it’s time for a post.
First off, I’d say avoid high end portable navigation devices (PNDs). You’ll overpay for features you or your loved ones are unlikely to use. Speech recognition? Sounds great on paper until you try it. Not as efficient as you might think. Besides, this is a gift and the broader economic conditions are brutal… So, I’ll keep product suggestions under $300.
TomTom ONE 125, $90 – $130
The TomTom ONE 125 is available at a variety of retail locations for $130 or less. My Circuit City currently offers it for $100 with a free case, while the local Best Buy is selling it at $130 with a $40 gift card. (Both these offers expire after tomorrow, the 20th). This PND is relatively compact with a 3.5″ square screen and integrated, though removable, suction mount – a nice perk for travelers or multi-vehicle households.
Garmin Nuvi 265WT, <$300
Higher up the food chain, I like the Garmin Nuvi 265WT. Though you’ll have to work harder to find this particular model and at a low price – most of the deals seem to be online, Amazon’s coming in at ~$255. This Nuvi speaks street names, has a 4.3″ widescreen display, provides a Blueooth speakerphone for your cell, and displays free traffic data. Though the traffic info comes with a caveat… in exchange, you’ll periodically be presented with very small banner ads (think nearby businesses) when the car is stopped. It’s an interesting business model and not really a distraction.
Telenav is a bit harder to gift, as it’s a subscription navigation service tied to a cell phone. In the past they offered annual service gift cards through the likes of Best Buy, but I don’t believe many (any?) are left. Before going down this path, ensure the target mobile phone has supported GPS capabilities and a sufficiently loud speakerphone. The benefit of Telenav, of course, is the software and maps will see periodic updates without requiring dedicated navigation hardware.