November 1, 2006
Dear CNET members,
Happy November, folks! The weather has started to cool down here in Northern California, we even had a little rain today, a true sign of the winter season to come. But enough of my weather report, let's hit the topic of GPS (global positioning systems) units that John submitted to us. Nowadays, GPS units are so darn popular. Not only do they come in all sorts of flavors, they are getting more affordable! In the next few years, I think GPS units will be so inexpensive, you'll have a hard time giving excuses for getting lost. Currently, you can find GPS functions in cars, cell phones, PDAs, and even watches! No wonder John is lost trying to figure out what's best for him. Hopefully, with this week's winning answer by Kasey, the honorable mentions, and other advice from our members, John and others who are at a loss will find their way to getting a GPS device that works for them. We have lots of great recommendations, so read them all. My advice is that when you do get one of these puppies, still pay attention to the traditional way of finding your way around, because if your GPS breaks down or runs out of juice, you'll need to remember your way out of the woods. If you have any personal recommendations or advice to offer on GPS devices, swing on by the discussion and make your coordinates stand out! Take care and stay warm!
(Note: I will be taking some time off, so there will be no Community newsletters next week. Until then, please help me keep the forums warm. I'll see you when I get back!)
Member Question of the Week
I have a poor sense of direction in the nonvirtual world.
Buying a GPS unit that gives directions makes sense, but I
need help figuring out the different features and how much to
spend on one. What kinds of features are there to consider?
Are certain brands more trustworthy? Who has the best coverage
area? Are there service fees, and if so, what's an average
amount? Any information would be helpful.
Dear John L., as you said you wanted GPS, let us first define what a GPS device is, then we'll get into the features and what you may want to look for in such a device.
Technically, what we buy is a GPS receiver. GPS, which stands for global positioning system, is a group of quite a few satellites that transmit their own unique ID on a very precise time code. By receiving signals from at least three of the satellites, a device can calculate one's position in the world. Additional reception will improve accuracy. This is a free service by the U.S. government for the world. Everybody can tune into the GPS signals for free. The only catch is during wartime, the U.S. may degrade the signal accuracy of the satellites from "within a few feet" to "within a few hundred feet." However, the U.S. has yet to exercise this option.
Theoretically, one can tune into GPS from anywhere in the world. Thus, there is no such thing as "best coverage area," at least not within the U.S.
Kasey C. of California
efforts, we're sending him his choice of any
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