By Don Lindich
Week 7, 2016
Q. Do you have an updated recommendation for a GPS navigation system with maps of the United States and Canada? Do the promised lifetime map updates and real-time traffic notifications live up to the claims?
-David Chan, Milpitas, CA
A. Cell phone apps have largely taken over from standalone units, so a lot of people would question the necessity of buying a portable GPS at all. If you frequently use navigation in your daily driving I think it is well worth it to have a GPS set up in the car, ready to go at all times.
The timing of your question is excellent because I recently went through a comprehensive evaluation of portable GPS navigation systems. Followers of my various websites know I have an electric car I use for a daily driver and running around town. I found the range a little bit limiting in the wintertime because keeping the interior warm takes a lot out of the battery. Before I bought the car I did the math with the range and faraway places I like to visit, plotting out charging stations along the way. In the summertime I could make it with no problem, but found that in wintertime the range reduction made it impossible. Not wanting to drive the other cars in the winter, I found a nice used car and put snow tires on it. Unfortunately, the car did not have GPS. Since my GPS units were kind of old by now I went looking for a new one.
My research led me to a strong preference for Garmin. I purchased the 2539LMT ($199 MSRP) for around $150 and it has quickly become the most satisfying GPS I have ever used. It has a sharp, 5-inch glass screen that you can pinch and swipe like a smartphone to view the map. You must be careful to avoid glare, but the sharp, colorful image is worth it.
Garmin has a computer software program that will automatically update your maps. Just connect the GPS to your computer, launch the program and it does the rest. Maps of the United States, Canada and Mexico are included. Having gotten lost near Chichen Itza when I went to Cancun last year, I realized having Mexico too is a nice bonus and would have saved me hours of driving time. The traffic warnings are accurate and the 2539LMT has tons of other nice features. I unhesitatingly recommend it.
As much as I love my new GPS, I love the mounting system I found even more. I hate using a suction cup on the windshield because it obstructs the view, and if you use the mounting disk with adhesive you will probably damage the dashboard if you remove it later. It’s not very secure, either. While a good idea, weighted friction mounts slide around the dash. Ideally you want the GPS to seem like part of the car, and that is what ProClip does for you.
The ProClip mounting system from proclipusa.com uses custom mounts that clip into your dashboard. Once the mount is in place you attach a custom device holder for your unit. The result is the most secure, confidence-inspiring mounting system I have ever experienced, and it makes using my portable GPS a joy. They make mounts for cell phones as well. You can see my full review at http://tinyurl.com/