When it comes to direction, navigation and reception Handheld GPS technology is still the best technology and the standard cell phones only strive to meet. With the full featured units currently available in the market, traveling, hiking, marine and other adventure activities have become within the reach of almost anyone. Now “getting lost” just means going where ever you want to go safely. There are three main criteria which set handheld GPS technology apart from the humble cell phone: These are navigation, reception and waterproof capability. With this in mind high-sensitivity receivers, such as those with the SiRFstar III or MediaTek chipsets are basic criteria to look for in a handheld GPS device. With these receivers, you can have your unit in your pack or pocket and still have reception. Given the number of manufacturers vying for top position, there is healthy competition in the field of Handheld GPS devices.
There are a lot of handheld GPS units to select from First and foremost, anyone who decides to buy a Handheld GPS must be acutely aware of basic categorization. At the moment, there are three categories namely; survey grade, mapping grade, as well as recreation grade. The last two categories are the most popular for everyday use.
High-end survey class devices are used in specialized professions. When purchasing a Handheld GPS unit, it is important to go beyond the price tag. The way Handheld GPS units are presented follows the same trend as every other product. In simple terms, you get what you pay for. Brand name aside, the power features and capability can be determined using the price tag; which brings us to an important question, what exactly should one consider while venturing down the Handheld GPS technology isle?
- Price—The component in handheld GPS units that makes them expensive is the SiRF chipset. The chipset is responsible for an advanced user experience. However, older models that come without SiRF also function and are the most affordable. The portal through which you buy a GPS unit either increases or decreases the price. Legit retailers and online stores tend to buy in bulk from the manufacturer at discounted prices. Thus, buying via retailers might also lower the total price. Hence you need to be aware of these slight differences and the impact on the price you pay.
- Memory—Obviously, Handheld GPS device bought for your mother is different than the one that will appeal to a hiker. Available memory and storage play a huge role in differentiating handheld GPS units. Many units have an internal memory of up to 128MB. Although there are options to extend memory by up to 8GB consider the need and activities your intend to undertake before settling on memory requirements.
- Maps – It is important to have a receiver that is set up to navigate. There are topo maps available for almost any wilderness area in the world but not all GPS receivers can accommodate topo maps.
- Way Point Capacity—In general, to get a good experience from your GPS unit, it must hold at least 500-waypoints. The latest and advanced devices have an average of 1000-waypoints.
- Receiver—Under Handheld GPS technologies, there are receivers and transmitters. The most used and preferred are the receivers. A good number of GPS receivers use a chipset to receive and self-process signals from the satellite. The latest Handheld GPS models have an inbuilt SiRF which offers high sensitivity for faster location identification. Additionally, new receivers have improved signal stability making them perfect for anyone looking into a trip to the forest.
- Built-in Electronic Compass—Each time you move, a compass determines the direction. A GPS unit that houses an electronic compass is excellent for real-time navigation. With a slight movement or change in direction, the compass will determine the direction one is facing. Few people would argue that the “wilderness man” method of measuring the position of the sun has been replaced by an easier and more accurate handheld GPS unit with a built-in electronic compass.
- Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Capability—this navigation aid system works to improve GPS accuracy, as well as availability. If your budget allows, it is recommended to buy a WAAS powered device. You will be happy with the guaranteed improved horizontal accuracy. Handheld GPS technology goes way beyond commercial work.
- It’s important to remember that the best Handheld GPS units last between 10 and 16 hours of battery life. Luckily most good handheld GPS units sport AA batteries and units can also be charged using the car charger.
Adrenaline ‘junkies’ can now indulge in their favorite activities. Whatever the occasion wherever the location, with GPS handheld technology, there is no excuse for being left out. It is quite safe to state that the price range encompasses buyers from all walks of life. To experience stress-free enjoyable activities, Handhelds are there to offer more than navigation.