Portable GPS Systems | T+ L Family
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Portable GPS Systems | T+ L Family

If you didn't opt for an expensive built-in navigation system when you bought your car, it's time to consider a portable: the prices have dropped, the technology's up to speed, and the new, smaller GPS units can be transferred from car to car with ease. Presenting three models that aced our road tests.

If you didn't opt for an expensive built-in navigation system
when you bought your car, it's time to consider a portable: the
prices have dropped, the technology's up to speed, and the new,
smaller GPS units can be transferred from car to car with ease.
Presenting three models that aced our road tests. By Adam
Baer

GPS for Dummies

Magellan RoadMate 360

PRICE $700 WEIGHT 9 ounces SCREEN SIZE 3.5 inches SELLING POINTS Lucid driving instructions and an intuitive, iPod-style
control panel. Like all units tested, it automatically redirects
you if you veer off-course and comes preloaded with U.S. maps.
But you can also program it to avoid tolls, find the quickest
route, or keep to side roads. OUR GRIPES The smallish split
screen isn't easy to track while driving. Nor does the RoadMate
360 give alternate directions on the fly, though the RoadMate 800
($1,000), one step up, does. BOTTOM LINE Straightforward and
reliable, the 360 is a good choice for GPS beginners-but if you
can afford it, spring for the 800.

The Easy Reader

Lowrance iWay 500c

PRICE $800 WEIGHT 2 pounds SCREEN SIZE 5 inches SELLING POINTS This gizmo's screen is large and bright, with clear type,
zoomable maps, and giant controls. Most important, its directions
and rerouting suggestions (you can even program it to avoid left
turns) are spot-on. Bonus feature: thanks to a 20-gig hard drive
that connects directly to the car stereo, the iWay won't just
keep you from getting lost-it'll store your whole family's music
collection. OUR GRIPES Big and bulky, it's the least portable of
the systems we tested. Not a machine to stow in a dainty purse.
BOTTOM LINE The easiest to read of the portable units-you can see
it from the backseat. And its MP3 player is a boon. Our favorite
for long road trips.

The Tech Toy

Garmin Nüvi 350

PRICE $969 WEIGHT 5.1 ounces SCREEN SIZE 3.5 inches SELLING POINTS The size of a deck of cards, this handheld is small enough
to carry on a boat or a hiking trail, and it attaches easily to a
windshield. Plus, it's loaded with extras: it works as a photo
viewer, MP3 player, currency converter, and five-language
translator with software from Oxford University Press. Like the
best navigators, the Nüvi 350 gives reliable directions; it
also provides real-time traffic alerts and pronounces street
names accurately. OUR GRIPES The modestly sized screen is hard to
read on the go, and with only 700 MB of storage space, you'll
want to up the memory with a SecureDigital card (one-gig cards
start at about $50). BOTTOM LINE Great portability and innovative
extras, but too many bells and whistles for the
technology-shy.

GPS FOR LESS Bargain prices for nav systems can often be found
online: Search comparison sites such as Shopping.com and
Dealtime.com.

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