уторак, 18. јануар 2011.


GPS brands

The market for portable GPS navigation devices remains hot, with new models coming out all the time. Consumer Reports is constantly testing new makes and models. But our testing—based on thousands of hours in the lab and on the road—has shown that just a handful of companies consistently make the best devices. These manufacturers routinely top our dynamic ratings charts, which can be sorted and filtered to allow you to compare GPS by brand, or by the features that matter most to you.
All that said, the market continues to change, and develop. We're constantly buying, testing, and reporting on new navigation devices as soon as they become available. Established market leaders continue to launch new devices and features all the time, and newcomers are bringing more to the table. We'll keep bringing all the latest devices into our labs and our vehicles, and continue to report the results as soon as they're available.
Here's a quick look at the five most popular GPS brands, listed in order of market share:


By far the biggest selling brand, with more than 50 percent of the market. Based in Olathe, Kan., Garmin was founded in 1989, and today it has 7,000 employees. Garmin GPS navigators have consistently scored near or at the top of our ratings. In addition to portable GPS units, Garmin makes a variety of fitness training devices and products for marine and aviation use. The company announced plans to sell its own telephone with built-in navigation two years ago, but the scheduled release date has been pushed back several times.


Magellan lays claim to developing the first commercially available handheld GPS receiver, the NAV 1000, introduced in 1989. The California company makes portable navigation systems for hikers in addition to automobiles, and it is the supplier of the NeverLost system used in Hertz rental cars. Magellan units have scored well in our testing, and we've been impressed with some of Magellan's newest models. The company is credited with introducing the first portable nav system that can respond to voice commands. But like other portables with that feature, we have seen mixed results in our testing.


While not as dominant in the marketplace or offering as extensive a product line as Garmin, Magellan, or TomTom, Mio remains a popular brand with a variety of units from budget to full-featured models. Its devices tend to score mid-pack in our ratings. Mio expanded into the dedicated GPS device market after introducing the world's first GPS-enabled PDA in 2003.


A relative newcomer to the portable GPS market, Nextar has only been in the business for a few years. But its sales are booming, and it has found a niche by marketing its units more as commodity pieces. Prices are low, and you're more likely to find a Nextar GPS device at a drug or clothing store than at an electronics retailer. While its bargain prices often include features like reality view, spoken street names, and even free traffic info, we have found performance and ease of use aren't on par with top-rated brands. No Nextar models are currently recommended.


Founded in Amsterdam in 1991, TomTom now has offices Europe, North America, and Asia. The company Web site claims that TomTom is the world's largest provider of navigation devices, with sales in 30 countries and online. We've found TomTom devices to be among the easiest to use in our testing, but the company also offers tech-savvy users options to customize their units. Celebrity voices are available, and TomTom invites customers to update maps and POI information, and share it with other users.

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