My Garmin Nuvi 260W GPS

In May of 2007, when I knew I was going to be away from home a lot on business, Cindy and I decided we needed to buy her a GPS unit. Our first experience with one was while we were driving through France last year in a rental car that had an in-dash GPS system and we fell in love with the convenience and ease of not having to constantly refer to paper maps. Because Cindy can be “directionally challenged” at times and would be doing a lot of driving on her own while was I was gone, it seemed prudent to supply her with an easy way to get from point A to point B without somehow ending up at point Z. So, she did some research, found a model she liked and we bought it before I hit the road. It has proven to be a good investment and given her peace of mind that she will not get lost while driving around without her chauffeur (me).

Several times I have thought that I would buy a GPS for myself to use when traveling, but my employer has always provided one if needed at the different locations where I have worked. That, and a reluctance to add another piece of electronic gear to my already “looks like a portable Radio Shack” carry-on luggage has kept me from purchasing my own. If I needed to navigate somewhere on my own time I would generally route and print a Google map, though the downside to that is that you either have to memorize the route or keep taking your eyes off the road to read the printout.

So, when I arrived in Cedar Falls and found out that my employer would not be providing a GPS to me and that I would be trying to drive around this vast, wide open maze of roads, streets, trails and corn rows, I decided the time had come to bite the bullet and purchase my own GPS unit.

After looking around at some different units and their features, I finally settled on this model. I ended up getting it from a local Best Buy at a very good price (in fact it was $20 cheaper than their website advertised). I could have saved another $10 if I had ordered it from an online retailer, but I needed it in a hurry and couldn’t wait for it to be shipped. I don’t need the more expensive model’s features like being able to play mp3’s (my mp3 player and my blackberry do that) or display photos (my mp3 player and my blackberry do that and, really, I can’t figure out why you would want your GPS to do such a thing. If anyone knows, please enlighten me) or wireless add-ons. Other than needing it to navigate for me, the only two features I wanted were naming of streets (instead of “Turn right at the next street” I prefer “Turn right at Main Street”) and the wide-screen view. This unit has both of those.

My only small concern is that the name of the GPS reminds me of one of Mikey’s Bionocle characters.

By the way, here’s a letter from the late Arthur C. Clarke positing the future of a GPS system based on orbiting satellites.

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