Dedicated GPS Units
The three most popular units for RV'ers are the Rand McNally 7720, the Garmin RV 760LMT and the Magellan RoadMate. These units are designed specifically for the RV. Some of their unique features include being able to enter the height, weight and width of your RV (to avoid low bridges, weight restrictions etc), RV specific points of interest (such as campgrounds, national parks, gas stations etc) and route planning capabilities. We prefer the Rand McNally out of these dedicated units, but these are all good units with slightly different individual features. One thing to look out for is the map updates and make sure that your device has them included. Most offer "Lifetime Maps" although what that means varies. Rand McNally and Magellan define Lifetime as for the [useful] life of that device or until they no longer receiver relevant map data", whereas Magellan limits it to 3-years (then that's 3-years maps Magellan, not lifetime in my humble opinion).
Interestingly, a number of these "dedicated" manufacturers have now released versions of their software for smartphones. These include Rand McNally for iPad, Garmin Street Pilot, Magellan RoadMate (iPhone only), and TomTom. They differ from "traditional" smartphone navigation apps in that they download all the map data to the phone and so don't require a cell phone signal to navigate. However, none of them are RV specific (to my knowledge) and they tend to be relatively expensive for an app ($40 - $100).
There are really three components to this, so lets look at them in turn.
- How large is the screen (I like my Droid MAX HD as it has a very large screen)?
- How easy is it to see in sunlight (generally I find phones pretty good)
- How are you going to mount it in the car (I use a TireTraker Window Mount which works great with my Motorola MAX HD and iPhone)?
- Do you have a car charger because otherwise it will run out of battery?
- What are you going to do when you get a call while navigating?
- If you're going to use an iPad, does it have in-built GPS (not all of them do)
Navigation AppsIf you type navigation into your iPhone's app store you get 2201 results! Suffice to say that there's a lot of choice of nav-apps on your phone. Some are excellent, and some are rubbish. Some of the tops apps to look at are Waze (excellent integrated traffic and buddy functions), MapQuest, GPS-Drive (great value at $0.99), Co-Pilot Live (does have a basic RV version but requires the Premium version), and TeleNAV (makers of the map data, gas price integration).
2012 survey) I prefer Google Maps. In fact, I love Google Maps. There I said. I prefer Google Maps over Apple. I love the voice integration (Siri steadfastly ignores everything I say), the fact that it finds literally everything, and the tight integration with my other apps such as Yelp, Trip Advisor etc.
In December last year, Apple admitted defeat and allowed Google Maps back to the iPhone. It's generally the same as on the Android although the interface has been re-designed for the iPhone. It also lacks voice-guidance when walking, Wikipedia integration and quite importantly, the ability to download a section of Google Maps for offline use. I used this very effectively when we visited Mexico earlier this year. We flew into Guadalajara and drive to Puerto Vallarta. I knew that finding our hotel was going to be a challenge, but didn't have data as I'm with Verizon (don't get me going on this), so I downloaded the Google Map data for Guadalajara on my Droid before I left. The only downside I found (and it's quite a big one) is that you have to be online to build a route. Once it's built, you can navigate along that route offline. Alternatively, don't be a cheapskate like me and buy a Navigation Map for Mexico such as TomTom's.
SummaryIf you do a lot of RV driving, I'd seriously consider a dedicated RV GPS such as the Rand McNally. In addition, I'd recommend having a smartphone with your favorite navigation app, It's great as a second opinion, toad or walking navigation, and gives you access to great features not yet available on the dedicated units. For the phone, my favorite is Google Maps but feel free to experiment and tell us which is your favorite and why.
Above all, if you do use your phone for navigation, please be extremely careful not to get distracted, especially when driving an RV. If possible I would have your co-pilot interact with the phone leaving you to concentrate on getting there safely.
|Came across this while researching for my article and had to include it. |
What the heck, it made me laugh!