A car GPS is one of life's luxuries that many people cannot live without. I know people who have been going to Grandma's house for years and they still insist on turning on the GPS, even though everyone knows she lives over the river and through the woods. Seriously though, the car GPS has helped many find their way when they otherwise would have been lost.
Knowing the principles behind the car GPS and how exactly they work will help you to purchase your new GPS and maybe better understand and operate you current one. We've put together a small GPS snapshot to help you better appreciate and operate your GPS.
How does this work with a map? Each map on a car GPS had a grid. This grid is cross indexed with the GPS's supposed self positioning and displayed on the LCD screen as an animation. Does the GPS actually think it's on Elm Street? Nope. To the GPS it is at a longitude and latitude location. When you think about it, this how any car GPS could be used on foot, even in a national park. I wouldn't test this theory in like say the Arctic. I'm not 100% what the coverage is up there.
Updating your maps is not only a convenience issue it's also a safety one as well. New roads crop up every so often (not often enough) and bridges wash out. Sometimes landmarks like railroad tracks and small lakes can be missed as well. The maps people at various GPS control centers work feverishly to update their maps constantly.
Updating your GPS online is your best bet. Often there is a website or built in software that will prompt you to update your maps. Use this. In fact use it often. New roads and new road statuses will not be updated on your car GPS maps without doing so. As soon as you get your new GPS out of the box update it.
While you're online you can check out some of the cool novelty voices that most GPS companies have to offer. These can be cartoon characters to fake celebrity voices to just about anything else. These are often free but some of the cooler voices might have a fee attached. It is worth the freak out factor? Maybe.
Programming your car GPS for alerting you to landmarks such as school zones, restaurants, bars, hotels and rest stops is simply a matter of turning on and off a function. Most of the time you can even set it to navigate to your favorite restaurant in the options menu. The rest stop option is one of my favorites; someone in the car always has a small bladder.
Whatever you do, take care to always have a backup plan if something happens to your GPS or if you get bad information. A road atlas doesn't take up much room so if you do find yourself completely out of whack, you will at least have a general idea as to where you are at. Until next time, happy traveling!