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I'd like to boast that I know every street in our five county area, but the truth is I don't. Not by a long shot. I know a majority of the major roads, but there are at least 20 cities on our MLS, many of which have been in a constant state of expansion for the last ten years. Des Moines can't really compare in many ways to its larger neighbors such as Minneapolis, Omaha, Chicago, Kansas City and St Louis, but is big enough to get lost in. And in the real estate profession knowing where the houses are that your client wants to see is pretty crucial, making ownership of a good GPS system a requirement and not a luxury.
These days GPS systems are easier to come by than ever before, they are in iPads, they are in cell phones, they are built into cars and there are dozens upon dozens of portable GPS models to choose from. Not having one in my car or my phone, about a year and a half ago I broke down and bought one at Radio Shack, the Mio Moov M400. It has spoken directions with street names, a multi trip planner, multiple viewing choices and many other neat whiz bang functions. Problem is that many new streets in our area just don't exist on its maps, which of course I found out after the period when I could return it, and the batteries are internal with about a six month lifespan so now it only works when it's plugged in. No map update function is available either, which is now common on many newer models. For a while I compensated by looking up addresses on Google which were not on the maps. The final straw came about two weeks ago when 4 homes on a ten house tour could not be programmed into the muti-stop planner. I about smashed the thing to bits, but it received a reprieve as I needed it for a Thanksgiving trip to Omaha. So began the quest for a better GPS.
If you've shopped for a portable GPS system these days you know that the choices are many and the knowledge curve steep. So I started researching using CNET recommendations and then checking reviews on Amazon to try to find out what features were available, find out which models offered them and then determine if the units actually worked in the real world. The problem seemed to be though that the editors at CNET liked units with cool features that don't perform well out on the road.
My next strategy became one of chasing deals. Black Friday came along, and on its heels cyber Monday and it seemed that every retailer had a deal on portable GPS systems. I painstakingly listed out all the models and researched them by reviews on Amazon. Quickly I learned why some models were selling for half price, they simply couldn't do what they promised. After reviewing at least 30 models I am back at square one. Common problems, old maps, bad maps, (Navteq good, TeleAtlas bad) crashing, slow satellite recognition, poor support, recognize wrong streets, indicate turns after passing desired turn off, no spoken street names, would not recalculate route after missed turn, maps would not update, freezing up, address indicated hundreds of yards from actual location, volume problems, confusing menus, illogical routing, directing turns across an interstate where there was no turn available, indicating a turn off an interstate before the actual turn off, directing a slower more confusing route over a simpler more direct one, traffic update features are advertising vehicles in disguise, units will stop charging and lose power if exposed to sunlight!, and on and on and on ad infinitum.
Units by Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, Motorola, Mio, Navgon and other brands priced from under a $100 to over $300 all seemed plagued by problems. After spending at lest 30 hours researching I have only one model which seems the lesser of all evils, the Garmin 855 with speech recognition and even this model rates an abysmal 3.5 starts out of five on Amazon on 492 reviews. This one appeals to me as I can give spoken commands and thereby avoid taking my eyes of the road to program it, which if you have a GPS you invariably do and the practice of which makes texting seem like white knuckle, face to the windshield concentration by comparison. 855 reviewers have indicated about half a dozen pretty significant shortcomings however, and there is no lifetime map update function which I feel is a necessity, but which by the way is limited only to four maps per year if available and the manufacturer will determine what the life of the unit is and cut you off at will! 3.5 stars seems about average for almost all the units when they get about a hundred reviews or so.
I know alot more about what a good GPS should do now, but I just can't find one that will do it. If anyone has a recommendation feel free to pass it on. I'm getting really good at research!
Contact Matt Grohe Realtor® RE/MAX Real Estate Concepts - 3125 Douglas Ave #205 Douglas Ave. Des Moines, IA , or call 515-988-3726 to list your property for sale or to purchase a property in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Clive, Johnston, Urbandale, Ankeny, Waukee, Norwalk, Carlisle or surrounding areas.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.