A portable GPS is ideal for frequent road trips while GPS phone apps cut out the cost of buying a GPS for occasional use. Here are some more tips to help you buy the right GPS system.

Things To Consider

Look Up the Law

Some states prohibit the addition of dashboard accessories on a car, so it would be wise to consider other mounting options prior to purchasing.

Power Source

Many GPS systems are powered via a connection with your car, but some options allow battery operation for portable use.

Picking The Right Type

Portable Systems

Affordable alternative, easy to pack, can come with many useful features, however tends to be harder to read because of its size and may be difficult to position in a moving vehicle.

Aftermarket In Dash Systems

Bought separately at specialty stores. Stealth settings allow the unit to hide until needed by the driver, and can be mounted seamlessly along the dash without obstructing any other controls. However, these tend to be costly and require professional installation.

Telematic Systems

Built-in feature for select newly purchased cars. Telematic systems have connectivity features that allow users to contact emergency numbers and locate the car if stolen.

Built In Factory Systems

Comes with a newly purchased car, intuitive design that works well with the car, some offer voice control for hands-free operation. Map updates however need to be purchased from the dealer or company, and built-in systems cannot be removed or installed in other vehicles.

Features To Consider

Mounting Options

Different mounting options allow users to chose based on their comfort and preference. Commonly, a rigid arm with a suction cup at one end to attach to the windshield is the most used.

Voice Assistance

GPS units that have voice assistance capabilities direct drivers when and where to turn, limiting the need to look at the screen for a safer drive.

Lane Assistance

Instructs the driver which lane to take for proper route follow through.

Routing Options

GPS systems with this feature suggest multiple routes to users who want to avoid toll ways, or ways that allow biking and walking.

Power Source

GPS units can be battery operated, can connect to the car for power supply, or both. Battery powered units are ideal for travellers who intend to take their GPS with them outside of a car.

Screen Specifications

A large screen with high resolution will make reading your GPS easier and safer while on the road. Generally, 4.3 inch screens function best for individual drivers.

Predictive Text and Dynamic Search

These functions allow users to type with minimal accuracy and still generate precise locations as typing while driving can be a challenge.

Other Languages

GPS units can come with several different languages to reach a wider consumer base.

Detour Suggestion

If the route you’re on has heavy traffic, the unit will automatically suggest a detour to avoid heavily congested areas.

Routing Options

GPS systems with this feature suggest multiple routes to users who want to avoid toll ways, or ways that allow biking and walking.

Best Brands


SPECIALizes in portable GPS units.


Manufactures vehicle GPS units and outdoor variants for travel use.


Develops and distributes navigation, car control, and software products for use in vehicles.