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Car navigation crap


You technically can get car navigation for as cheap as 6 bucks if you know where to look.

A big reason I don't use the phone for car navigation is because using a Garmin is simply more reliable.

The model that I use currently is the Garmin DriveSmart 66, although you could get a less expensive Garmin Drive 53 to get the job done.

However, yes, if you have a local thrift store near you (such as Goodwill), it's possible to grab an old Garmin nuvi for literally 6 bucks. I've even seen some selling for as little as $2.

As I note in my video about this (which is below), if you're able to score a cheap Garmin that has the car charger, mounting clip and suction mount, that's almost everything you need. You do need to buy a 32GB microSD card to store the modern map data and a USB to mini USB cable to connect to the computer so you can update the maps via the free Garmin Express software.

Does the Garmin have maps as up-to-date as Google Maps? No, but you can always get the GPS coordinates and save favorites that way. The video below details that.

In the end, what really matters is that your navigation works, and a Garmin works, be it something new or old. It is also very important to have a navigation system that does not change. Map apps for the phone are notorious for switching things around every time an "update" happens. Buttons are moved, colors are changed, fonts are changed, features are added that you don't want, features that you like are removed... it's a nightmare.

Something I didn't mention in the video below that I should have is favorites management. You would think, you would think, that adding a favorite (as in saving a location and naming it whatever you want) should be the simplest thing to do in a map app. It's not. Your favorites are "tied" to an account that you must login to just to see them. Not logged in? You see nothing. Sorry, Charlie. Renaming a favorite sometimes works but other times isn't "allowed". Then there are times when your favorites just DISAPPEAR! Where did they go? Well, it doesn't matter because they're gone.

On the Garmin, any favorite you save STAYS THERE and doesn't randomly vanish. You can rename any favorite at any time and it WORKS. You NEVER need to login to anything just to view your favorites. You can SEARCH all your favorites easily. You can even CATEGORIZE your favorites by use of the categories feature that you can name whatever you want just by editing any favorite.

That kind of favorites management, which has been in Garmin GPSes for over 15 years, is just too big of an ask when it comes to the phone. Evidently, even though the phone is far more powerful than a Garmin GPS, it's just not possible to have decent favorites management on it.

And yes, that means a $6 used Garmin nuvi has better navigation favorites management than a $1,000 phone.

Published 2023 May 23

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