GPS in smart phones trumps standalone units

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GPS units that stand alone are on deep discount because of the popularity of smart phones that have built-in GPS functionality.

The limitations of MapQuest

I remember years and years ago when we would be on book tour, we would use things like MapQuest to get around to the stores in unfamiliar cities. But inevitably, it would end badly.

Now, I consider myself a pretty even-keeled guy, but when we’d be on the road and MapQuest sent us the wrong way, it was like meltdown time with whichever producer I had on book tour!

I recall in particular when senior producer Kim was with me in Orange County and we were trying to get to a book store on time. We followed MapQuest and it sent us down a road that dead-ended in water. We just had to laugh in that case! Eventually we made it and had the signing, albeit late.

But it wasn’t always a laughing matter. Another time, I was with executive producer Christa and we were in Portland one evening trying to get to a book store. We got so lost that there was nothing funny about it. We ended up 45 minutes late to the signing.

So when GPS units came out and made it possible for you not to get lost, wow, it changed our lives on the road. It used to be an automatic thing that I’d pack a GPS before show-related travel. Now, however, I haven’t taken one on a domestic trip in the last year because there’s a great GPS functionality built into my Android smart phone.

Androids become the new norm

GPS units are now going unloved on clearance in electronics stores across the country. If you follow sites like 1SaleaDay.com and Woot.com, day after day you see these “Was $39! Now $29!” kind of daily deals.

The GPS functionality in Androids is particularly great! We were in Sacramento the other day and we had a guest from San Francisco who used her iPhone’s GPS to get to us. Well, she kept getting lost en route! (We felt so superior with our Androids.)

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The neat thing about Androids is that they use data from other Android users on the road to give you traffic, not just on interstates, but even on secondary roads and sometimes even third-level roads.

When it comes to accuracy of the directions, it’s like horseshoes — close is good enough. The Android may say “500 feet on the left is your destination,” but it will actually be a half mile on the right. So it’s really good at getting you close, if not exactly there.

And with the Androids, the info is two-way, so when you get to where it thinks your destination is, there’s a “destination not here” button you push that sends a message back to the system so they know to adjust the maps.

Conclusion

The bad part is that if you use GPS you can’t be on the phone at the same time. That is the one downside. But the price of cellular GPS? Absolutely nothing. I like that!

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