GPS Updates

My GPS is complaining that the maps are old. Last time it did this, I realized I got one free upgrade and that the maps were, in fact, several years old, so I took my free update. Now they’re a couple years out of date again.

So here are the options I see:

  • Illegally download the maps from BitTorrent or similar. They’re out there. But besides being illegal, this would really be a huge pain, as I’d need to juggle other programs to crack the copy-protection. Even discounting my ethics, this is just too much of a bother for me.
  • Buy the update from Garmin. Looks like it’s $49.99 and delivered online. (They also offer a download.) But my GPS is at least three years old at this point.
  • Buy a new GPS. The linked one is $130 — only $80 more than the map update for my current GPS — and has a bigger screen and free traffic, which could actually be really helpful. (Hmm… It’s almost like Garmin is steering me down this path!)
  • Buy a new smartphone. I’m going to do this soon anyway. The downside to a GPS is that, being a high-theft device, I never keep it in my car, which means I only bring it with me when I think I’m going to need it. I bring my cell phone with me whenever I leave the house. Plus GPSs have the hassle of downloading map updates as I’m going through now. Plus there’s the hassle that it doesn’t have the Internet. A new smartphone would bring turn-by-turn directions and just use Google Maps, so the only updates would be when the app itself decided to request an update, and that would be free and quick.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t buy stock in Garmin or other GPS makers. They work great right now, but I don’t see how they can compete when devices people already carry with them everywhere are starting to — without really trying — best the products they’re making.

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