The ZNF GPS Holiday Gift Guide

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, $10/mo
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.

11 thoughts on “The ZNF GPS Holiday Gift Guide”

  1. In between the TomTom ONE 125 and the Garmin Nuvi 265WT, I like both the TomTom ONE 130S and the Garmin Nuvi 255. They come in at about $180 on Amazon – the extra few dollars gets you spoken street names. Also, in many area Navteq maps (versus TeleAtlas) are still a bit better… which is what Garmin utilizes. I’m told here in the DC metro that TeleAtlas has a slight edge. In terms of finding unfamiliar places, either will do though and both will throw the periodic bizarre route or might be missing a relatively new address/street.

    As far as what I use… when driving somewhere unfamiliar I swipe Melissa’s TomTom ONE 3rd Edition (last years model) or use TeleNav on my Blackjack II. However, I’m evaluating a new gig far, far away. If it works out, I’ll pick up the Nuvi 265WT. Although I suspect my iPhone will see a “real” navigation application next year.

    Regarding Dash Navigation… they’ve exited the hardware business and I’ve moved on. Besides, I’d only recommend gifting yourself with bleeding edge tech. Your spouse, parent, child isn’t ready.

  2. I picked up a nauvi 260w at the local best buy for myself on black Friday for $285. It’s nice but does not come with a home charger :( that’s an extra $25.

    But a nice unit none the less.

  3. FYI The latest Nuvi models (better processors and refreshed UI) are the x5x: 205, 255, 265. They really need to consolidate their lineup… the average consumer has no clue. Heck, even the educated consumer has a hard time figuring out the nuvi catalog. And how many models do they really need to offer concurrently anyway?

  4. After my SECOND Dash Express failed on me, I grabbed a Garmin Nuvi 265t to replace it — which is basically the same model as the 265wt except with a smaller screen and no qwerty input option. I’m loving it so far, and the screen is still plenty big, if you want to save about $50-70 or so. I’ll have a full review on my site sometime after Christmas.

  5. S1, hm not sure of all the models. I had a high end Garmin (nuvi 880) to evaluate the longest (several weeks) – it also included a little steering wheel remote. My main issue isn’t even accuracy/recognition (which varied by device), but as I wrote above, voice command isn’t any more efficient in my experience. The feature’s more of a neat trick or novelty and in nearly all cases it’s much quicker to use the touchscreen. And leave the radio on. ;)

  6. I read one review of the 880 where they suggested that the menu structure needed to be re-optimized for voice — maybe add some shortcut commands, etc. Is that the sort of thing you are talking about?

    I occasionally get a call informing me that I need to change destinations. When in heavy traffic where I can’t take my eyes off the road and I don’t want to pull over, this seems like the thing for me, no matter how cumbersome. Mainly I’ve been trying to decide whether to go with what’s available now, or wait for the next generation.

  7. Dave – now that your no longer with Dash, what are your thoughts on their “new direction.” Do you think there really is a possibility of their software ending up in someone’s hardware? Or is this the beginning of the end?

Comments are closed.