Considerations when looking to buy a GPS receiver

The following suggestions are based on my interest in hiking and canoeing. The list of considerations does not cover everything that you might want but it does give you some basic ideas. There is a lot more information on the GPS Receiver Information WWW page and the associated GPS forum.

The first thing that you should realize is all recreational GPS receivers provide the same basic accuracy and position information (e.g. a rough comparison of GSP 60 and iFinder Pro tracks, another comparison under more difficult conditions, or GPS60, GPS76, iFinder Pro). The difference between companies and models (high & low end) is in software, updated hardware (chip sets) and additional features. Some of these features may give you better accuracy, aquisition times, and reception under some specific conditions - many of the same features can give you worse or misleading information under other conditions.

Before you go off to buy that shiny new GPS receiver make a check list based on your needs (e.g.:  price range,  color preference,  changeable face plates to match wardrobe,  plays MP3 tunes,  take pictures,  surf the web, etc...). When you go to look at units start with your check list then ask the sales person for additional suggestions. Even though the sales person is there to sell you stuff and make money they generally don't want to sell you something that will not meet your needs. See if you can 'rent' or try out the GPSr and if it does not meet your needs make sure it can be returned. If you are buying software or maps try to get a live demonstration since you may not be able to return opened software. Some mapping software will only load on a single GPSr - is that all you need? After looking at the available options go for a walk and ask yourself is this a good idea?

When looking at buying a GPSr check the manufacturer's WWW site to see if the unit is still in current production. A few years ago one of the retailers here in Winnipeg was selling 'end-of-run' receivers at a good price - there is nothing wrong with this and the receivers were (and still are) useful and work well. The concern I had was the retailer assured me that the units were still being produced and fully supported - hmmm - I was glad I did my own homework.


Over a number of years a variety of people have written similar lists and suggestions. See the links on the GPS Receiver Information WWW page.

Back to my GPS page

Email: Last modified: Sat Oct 23 07:10:13 2010