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Portable GPS Systems

GPS Systems Online

Portable GPS : Modern Marvel or Technical Tribulation?

Utilizing a Portable GPS unit is without a doubt one of the most convenient ways to navigate around the country and in some cases even the globe. In the ever-changing universe in which we live, technology is constantly advancing to the point where it seems that every day something smaller, faster and more convenient is hitting the market. But are up-to-the-minute marvels always better, or is it sometimes advisable to rather stick to that which is simple and familiar?


There are a number of different portable GPS systems available today, each of which has been designed to fulfill a specific purpose. Portable handheld units are a popular choice with regular campers and outdoor enthusiasts, while GPS watches are usually favored by serious hikers and athletes who cannot afford to have their hands occupied at any point. Laptop GPS systems are often used in the field by archaeologists and geologists to plot topographical maps of surrounding areas. Bluetooth units take portable GPS to a new level by eliminating the need for cables and connections, while a GPS cellular phone chip adds a new feature to an already popular portable device.

Portable GPS units may be smaller and less cumbersome than fixed marine, aerial and in-vehicle models, but that does not necessarily imply that they are always less complex to use. Portable models often have small screens that are difficult to read and miniscule buttons that are difficult to operate. Portable units are also usually unable to lock on to anywhere near as many satellites as fixed models, which means that it takes them longer to pinpoint precise coordinates. Prior to carefully working through manuals, operating many of the receivers often mimics what it might feel like to take control of an alien space craft for the very first time.

Many of the 'compact' GPS watches on the market are not that compact at all and leave hikers and athletes feeling as though they have half a brick strapped to their arms. There have been tales of marine GPS units leading ships straight into obstacles because they have no way of taking into account strong winds or currents. Reviews of portable in-car units suggest that they sometimes succumb to technical glitches and end up steering drivers off course or around in circles.

A system can only be as good as its software, and should you require directions to a destination that does not feature on a specific map you are likely to draw a blank every time. Obstructions such as heavy foliage and large skyscrapers can cause signals to be lost, while directions are often between five and ten meters out. This can be particularly disconcerting should you be stuck in the middle of nowhere or traveling along a narrow mountain track. Technology is never foolproof, and ultimately it is always best to trust first in those things that you can physically control yourself. So by all means, explore, investigate and enjoy modern day technical wonders-but take along a good old map and compass just in case!