Portable and cell phone-enabled GPS units can make travelling by car, bike or another type vehicle a safer and more pleasurable experience. Cell phone apps that offer cell-based GPS service are a nice alternative to a commercial unit. To get the most out of your GPS unit and protect it from damage, it must be able to get a strong signal and be hooked up correctly and securely.
Application or Service
There are many GPS applications available that offer standard GPS functionality through your cell phone. If you purchase one produced by a GPS company such as TomTom, Garmin or Magellan, you have the same basic functionality as a regular GPS unit. Free options are available for some phones, but often they come with reduced functionality. Consult your phone's app store to compare specific features. If you do not have a smartphone, most carriers offer a pay service that uses the embedded GPS in your phone to provide you with basic GPS service. Verizon's VZ Navigator still offers many of the convenient services in its GPS service such as real-time traffic and updated maps.
Signal and Power Requirements
You access the signal through either a cell phone or GPS satellite service to a handheld GPS, depending on your means of receiving it. Either of these methods is subject to interference when travelling through tunnels and in large metropolitan areas, although repeaters have improved many of these challenging areas. Power is also necessary. Consider either a power inverter or a cigarette lighter charger to power your device to prevent interruptions in service.
While a traditional, in-dash or on-dash unit comes with a mount, most portable models do not. While sitting in your car, determine where the device should be located to be the most convenient. Consider either an adhesive or a friction holder to keep the device motionless and safe on your dash or a suction cup mount to adhere the device directly to the windshield. If mounting on a dash, be certain the device does not interfere with your airbag. If you place the device in an inconvenient location, you either use it less or risk an accident trying to see it.
Stability and safety are critical in your GPS positioning for both you and your unit. If you mount your device in a boat or motorcycle, purchase specialty mounts designed for these applications. Motorcycle mounts have extra protection to prevent damage. Boat mounts provide shielding from the elements. Air vent mounts and sun visor mounts are also available and can be convenient for placement in an area that has a clear view of the sky to help with reception. If you have no space in these places, cup holder mounts may be an option. If you use a phone, be certain it is within easy reach so you can still send or receive calls during use.
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