Shopping Navigation Units

I have found again recently after managing to take a long wander though a small town that I need a navigation unit I can take with me on trips.  Ideally one that would fit in my shirt pocket or portfolio, so if I fly in and get a rental car I can carry with.  Yes, I know that National and other rental car companies offer nav units to rent, but at least at National it is another $11 or something a day, so I tend to pass even when someone else is paying; money is money.

I like Garmin units, but they make approximately infinity different models, and even with a matrix it is not clear to me what the various models do or don’t do.  I do need USA maps, but unlikely to use in Canada or Europe.  I do want text to speech street names, but all seem to have that.  I do want small form factor. I do want lane assist, which is where the nav unit shows a diagram of intersections and which lane you need to be in for the upcoming intersection.

The latest Garmin models appear to be the 3750 to 3790T.  These are about as thick as a pencil, but have the 4.3″ screen.  The 3790 adds voice recognition for cue-ing.  The least expensive 3750 is $312 today at Amazon, and the 3790T is $421.

I am lukewarm at that price point.  These offer a lot of coolness, but let’s look at what can be had for say $150.

Down at around $150 we slide to the Garmin 265WT ($139) or the 1350T ($152).  Now, in Garmin’s naming system “T” means that it includes traffic updates.  The 265WT is 0.8″ deep and 6.1 ounces; the 1350T is 0.6″ deep and 5.7 ounces.  Both have 480×272 pixel displays.  The 1350 has lane assist, while  the 265 does not — one of the main features I am looking for.  The 1370T would add bluetooth, but pushes the price up to $199.

Which is the better value / gadget for the money:  A Garmin 1350T at $152 or a 3750 at $312?  The 3750 is only 0.35″ deep, and has a nice 800×480 pixel display — much better graphically.  It weighs 4 ounces vs 6 for the 1350.   Both offer speed limit indicator.   The 3750 adds “locate” so that it marks its position when taken out of the car, to help find the car again in a parking lot or garage.  Do these features make it worth another $160 (twice as much)?  It likely depends on how much you plan to use the nav unit, and how much enjoyment and appreciation you have of newer gadgets.

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