GPS Navigation - Garmin/TomTom or Cell Phone

Papelbon's Poutine

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Looking for recommendations for what to use for GPS. I recently took a new job where I'll be driving a lot and don't want to be driving around looking for a place staring down at my phone and risking driving unsafely. For those that use GPS regularly, do you have a dedicated unit, like a Garmin or TomTom that's mounted on your dash? Or do you have a cell phone bracket mounted and use something like Waze?

I could have navigation downloaded into my computer system in my car - I have the hardware it just is an extra fee I didn't want to pay when I bought it - but that's $600 and I'm not spending that much. I was thinking more in the way of $100-150 at most. But if an $8 mount for my phone and using Waze or Google maps gets me to the same place, I'm fine with that too.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I suspect most people are going to say get a cell phone mounter and use wave.

People who can read maps are going to be museum pieces in about 20 years.
 

Light-Tower-Power

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Waze + Magic Mount magnetic air vent clip. Works fine if your car has air vents you can clip it to. Can't wait to get Apple CarPlay, even if that means Apple maps.
 

jercra

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To some degree it does depend on what you have for a phone and what you really need. I decided a few years ago to bite the bullet and upgrade my in car stereo to something that supports Android Auto and I'm just never going back. To be clear, Android Auto is a horribly designed interface with all kinds of bullshit restrictions but it is light years ahead of any in car system I've ever come across. The ability to say "Ok, Google, navigate home" and have it be either Google Maps or Waze is incredible. Add in actual functional voice control for phone and music and it makes driving so much more pleasurable. For music/sport talk I now can just say "Ok Google, play WEEI on Tune In" or "Play Radiohead on Spotify" or whatever. All in, including install, was like $600 but that was a few years ago.
 

santadevil

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And also no reason to pay the car dealership a ton of money either.
Google Maps or Waze and a phone mount.

Make sure you know the local laws, because I know ours are a bit different in Canada. If you are using the phone for navigation, it needs to be mounted, not just resting somewhere
 

Bowhemian

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I drive ~130 miles a day, and use the Waze app each day, every day. It is great for traffic (and routing).
With that said, if you are using an app such as Waze, make sure you have a phone charger handy. Using GPS while driving tends to drain the battery rather quickly.
 

jercra

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I drive ~130 miles a day, and use the Waze app each day, every day. It is great for traffic (and routing).
With that said, if you are using an app such as Waze, make sure you have a phone charger handy. Using GPS while driving tends to drain the battery rather quickly.
This, BTW, is one of the other advantages of getting a head unit with Android Auto/Car Play. Your phone is plugged in all the time but the screen is off. You exit the car with your battery more charged than when you got in.
 

NJ_Sox_Fan

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I use Waze and just "play" the directions through my car speakers via bluetooth. Works great for me.
 

cgori

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Waze on phone + Koomus CD mount - you don't actually put CDs in the player anymore, right? (They have a new one I have not tried.)

Hook into the aux-in port of stereo if there is one (then directions come through over your car stereo speakers, plus if you are using spotify/pandora/whatever on the phone, it will handle reducing the volume on the music to give you the next direction step), and connect charging cord. Done.

I also pair it with bluetooth, but the sound via the aux-in is better.
 

singaporesoxfan

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I do a ton of driving to new places using GPS. And this probably fits into things I care about way too much, but here's what I feel about GPS options:
  1. Cellphone with a mount, for almost all cases work, but here's an exception: there have been certain parts of the U.S. where cell signal was so weak I ended up using a TomTom. (Coastal North Carolina, some parts of Idaho/Montana near Yellowstone.) Another option is to download the map of where you are into Google Maps for offline use.
  2. I have navigation built into my car and sometimes I prefer just getting in and hitting the button to go home instead of taking my phone out, putting it on the mount, etc. Don't think it's worth $600 extra, but I do like it.
  3. If you have an iPhone, don't use CarPlay unless you like Apple Maps. Apple Maps has some nice touches (Yelp integration) but it is horrible about understanding how to drive inside parking lots (I once had it take me on a 10-minute trip to a restaurant near my hotel, and then I realized upon driving in that if I just drove into the path that connected the hotel parking lot to the restaurant parking lot it would be under a minute), and sometimes it's flat out wrong (on a road trip to Nashville, the directions told me to turn right even though the map was showing turn left). And Apple Maps has zero sense of intuition - I've mentioned this elsewhere, but no matter how many times I tell it I want to go to Wildwood (meaning the Wildwood shopping mall near my house), it assumes I want to go to Wildwood NJ, 300+ miles away.
  4. I used to love Waze. I'm still Waze royalty because I've chalked up so many points on Waze. But Waze really, really requires you to trust that it's giving you the best route, instead of showing you how different routes compare in timing, and it's taken me into the teeth of a developing jam way too many times because of that. Or Waze asks you to make some heroic left turn against 4 lanes of traffic and then after waiting 5 minutes, you find out if you had just taken the simple right turn it would've got you there faster. I've switched to Google Maps because now Google Maps does the "if you take this alternative route it will be 5 minutes longer" / "your ETA will be the same" thing continually and that single element of the UI has taken so much angst out of my in-car GPS experience.
  5. Because Waze requires that level of trust, it turns you into somewhat of an automaton in terms of following what it says. Which can be deceiving. I once was late for a meeting because I integrated Waze with my calendar, the person setting up the meeting had put "TBD" as the location and didn't update it, and Waze took me to a place close by that had the initials TBD. I know a good part of that was my own damn fault, but I still didn't like that feeling.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Ok, looks like Waze with a dash mount is going to get a trial run. I assumed as much. Mount will likely be something small and somewhat inexpensive, I’m eyeballing this one . Figure that setup is worth a test drive before putting big bucks into anything.

Thanks guys!
 

B H Kim

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Just be careful if you have a phone with an OLED screen. I use Waze with a dash mount and my Pixel 2 XL now has permanent burn in from several of the Waze icons.

 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Just be careful if you have a phone with an OLED screen. I use Waze with a dash mount and my Pixel 2 XL now has permanent burn in from several of the Waze icons.

I have an iPhone 7, I believe that's still LCD, no?

Phone age I recommend a dash pad you can put your phone in, it doesn’t require and tape, clips, vent hooks, etc.

Like this.
I honestly don't think I have a flat surface near where I'd want to mount it.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Think more curved/contoured than slanted. I was looking at it today and thinking where I'd want it mounted and the only part that isn't curved/contoured is a small storage compartment that I wouldn't want to lose usage of.
 

Bowhemian

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I recently bought a windshield mount (suction cup) for my phone. I always thought they looked stupid and swore I would never own one, but it works great and doesn't look bad either. Before that, I have always used vent mounts with perfectly fine results. I didn't want to use one of those for my new car because there are only 2 smallish vents in the middle.
 

Light-Tower-Power

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I have an iPhone 7, I believe that's still LCD, no?



I honestly don't think I have a flat surface near where I'd want to mount it.
It's definitely not an OLED. I have had a 7+ since they came out and while I don't mount it every time I drive, I do mount it frequently and no problems like that.
 

Joe Sixpack

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But Waze really, really requires you to trust that it's giving you the best route, instead of showing you how different routes compare in timing, and it's taken me into the teeth of a developing jam way too many times because of that. Or Waze asks you to make some heroic left turn against 4 lanes of traffic and then after waiting 5 minutes, you find out if you had just taken the simple right turn it would've got you there faster. I've switched to Google Maps because now Google Maps does the "if you take this alternative route it will be 5 minutes longer" / "your ETA will be the same" thing continually and that single element of the UI has taken so much angst out of my in-car GPS experience.
Waze allows you to do this. You just press the Routes button and it shows you 3 similar routes and how long each is expected to take, as well as a visual of them on the map so you can see/compare.
 

cgori

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Waze allows you to do this. You just press the Routes button and it shows you 3 similar routes and how long each is expected to take, as well as a visual of them on the map so you can see/compare.
I use this all the time in waze to avoid its efforts to be too cute to save 1 minute on a 45-50min trip. I don’t need 10 extra turns for that minute.

I do find that waze is dumb about traffic lights and how long they might take to let you turn / go the way it wants.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Waze allows you to do this. You just press the Routes button and it shows you 3 similar routes and how long each is expected to take, as well as a visual of them on the map so you can see/compare.
Yes, I know it does. But it's really difficult to do this while you are driving (well, unless its interface changed in the last couple of months), and you have to keep jamming the routes button to figure out if alternative routes are faster.

Google Maps continually shows me in real time on the map the times for different routes - so it's great for those situations when you're in bad traffic and you're wondering whether it's worth it to take a turn and use a different route. It answers that question without you even having to press anything.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Think more curved/contoured than slanted. I was looking at it today and thinking where I'd want it mounted and the only part that isn't curved/contoured is a small storage compartment that I wouldn't want to lose usage of.
If it helps, I bought a weighted GPS mount (search iTrek universal dashboard mount on Amazon) for my Ford Fusion and it worked great - it sits on the storage compartment, but it isn't attached at all so when I want to get stuff out I just move the mount.

On the other hand, I bought the same mount for my second car (a Ford Focus) and the dash is so curved that the holder and phone sometimes fly to the side when I make sharp turns.
 

Rudi Fingers

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Think more curved/contoured than slanted. I was looking at it today and thinking where I'd want it mounted and the only part that isn't curved/contoured is a small storage compartment that I wouldn't want to lose usage of.
I swear by my Kenu Airframe vent mounts - I have one in the car, and the other one's an essential part of my travel bag, because it's tiny, fits my iPhone 7 really well, and I've never encountered a rental car where I can't get it to mount in a good place for GPS. Additional pro tip - I stick a credit card into the vent mounting part and use it as a great viewing stand for FaceTime or watching video. They also make "plus" and "pro" models that fit bigger phones...
 

Joe Sixpack

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Yes, I know it does. But it's really difficult to do this while you are driving (well, unless its interface changed in the last couple of months), and you have to keep jamming the routes button to figure out if alternative routes are faster.

Google Maps continually shows me in real time on the map the times for different routes - so it's great for those situations when you're in bad traffic and you're wondering whether it's worth it to take a turn and use a different route. It answers that question without you even having to press anything.
Oh that's really good, I didn't realize Google maps could do it while driving (without having to press stuff). I was thinking of just preparing the route before starting the drive. I will have to try that.

One thing Waze used to do and I can't figure out how to do it any more since they updated the UI. You put in your destination, then you search for a 2nd destination because you want to stop somewhere on the way (like "coffee"). It would search and order the results based on how far out of the existing route they are. Does anyone know if it's still possible to do this?
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Oh that's really good, I didn't realize Google maps could do it while driving (without having to press stuff). I was thinking of just preparing the route before starting the drive. I will have to try that.

One thing Waze used to do and I can't figure out how to do it any more since they updated the UI. You put in your destination, then you search for a 2nd destination because you want to stop somewhere on the way (like "coffee"). It would search and order the results based on how far out of the existing route they are. Does anyone know if it's still possible to do this?
Just playing around with it yesterday, it seemed like if I input an address (I put in my corporate headquarters three hours away), once it located it, a thing popped up to "add a stop"; if I clicked on that, more options - including coffee - popped up.
 

jercra

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Just playing around with it yesterday, it seemed like if I input an address (I put in my corporate headquarters three hours away), once it located it, a thing popped up to "add a stop"; if I clicked on that, more options - including coffee - popped up.
Yeah, both Google Maps and Waze suck at adding waypoints or pre-planning routes. Garmin is way better at that but the tradeoffs aren't worth having the dedicated system.

FYI, for those who aren't familiar, Waze was bought by Google many years ago and while Google Maps hasn't integrated the social aspects of Waze, it does use Waze's social data for route planning (i.e. traffic and fastest routes) so, while you won't see the same routes necessarily due to different algorithms, they are based on the similar data sets.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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I swear by my Kenu Airframe vent mounts - I have one in the car, and the other one's an essential part of my travel bag, because it's tiny, fits my iPhone 7 really well, and I've never encountered a rental car where I can't get it to mount in a good place for GPS. Additional pro tip - I stick a credit card into the vent mounting part and use it as a great viewing stand for FaceTime or watching video. They also make "plus" and "pro" models that fit bigger phones...
After an aborted attempt to purchase the one I linked earlier - ordered it from Amazon, then realized it had a disclaimer about it possibly erasing credit cards, since it's magnetic; successfully cancelled before shipping - I found myself at Staples today waiting on a print job and ended up with the Kenu. So far so good.