If you want a GPS for both hiking and driving use, then a handheld unit would be the way to go. Some handhelds even have accessories to allow them to be installed in an automobile. But don't rule out a PDA. More on that in a moment. For driving only, there are GPS receivers made just for vehicle use.

Handheld GPS receivers are either mapping or non--mapping. A basic, non--mapping unit can often cost less than $100 US and usually has/displays the following:

* Location * Compass heading * Elevation above sea level * Accurate time * Satellite location and signal strength * The ability to calculate distance traveled * The ability to record your path as a set of waypoints * The ability to navigate routes * The ability to retrace your steps

Handheld mapping receivers do all the above plus have the ability to display maps. The maps are either pre--loaded or uploaded from your PC. Prices are reasonable for mapping units, starting at around $150 US.

Paper maps are strongly recommended whether you're using a mapping receiver or not. Paper maps do not require batteries and probably won't go defective. Also, a paper map gives you a "big picture" view of your situation -- something lacking on the small screen of a GPS.

I mentioned earlier your considering a PDA with GPS capability. A PDA is bulkier and the battery life is usually shorter, but if you're using a PDA anyway, then there are several ways to turn a PDA into a GPS. Some PDAs accept a GPS "sleeve." That is a device that the PDA nestles into. Another choice is one of Garmin's PDAs. Garmin is probably the most popular GPS maker and they have one PDA/GPS that is Palm--based and one that is Pocket PC--based.

Prices for automotive GPS start at around $250 US. These provide turn--by--turn guidance. Spend a little more than that and you get voice guidance. These are larger than handhelds in order to accommodate a screen large enough to be seen while driving. They are powered by the car's electrical system and because of this, they can only be used in a vehicle.

Many automobile manufacturers now offer built-in GPS receivers as an option. Because they are built-in, the big advantages are security and aesthetics. They are quite a bit more expensive than add-on units and often have fewer options. I've also heard some stories of people having a hard time getting map updates.

A PDA/GPS is a good alternative for automotive use. Its screen is about the size of an automotive unit, so seeing the display is not a problem. They can also be powered by the car, eliminating battery worries. The Garmin PDAs mentioned above both come with the hardware and software for automotive use.

If you're hiking, a basic handheld unit (without maps) will be fine since you'll always have paper maps with you anyway (you will, won't you?). An advantage to a handheld mapping unit is that they usually have more advanced features than the basic units. For driving, you have the choice of a handheld, in--car dedicated, or PDA. The handheld does have limited usefulness in a car, as it does not provide turn--by--turn guidance.

Billy Bert writes for http://www.surevehicletracking.info where you can find out more about cheap hotels and other topics.

About the Author

Billy Bert writes for http://www.surevehicletracking.info where you can find out more about cheap hotels and other topics.