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FORTUNE Small Business:

Finding the right GPS

Once you set your price range, the choice comes down to aesthetics.

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A new GPS finds its way
FSB tech columnist Jonathan Blum says this navigation system will take you in the right direction.
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Get small-business intelligence from the experts. Here's a chance for YOU to ask your pressing small-business questions, and FSB editors will help you get answers from the appropriate experts.
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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: What is the best GPS unit available for my small package-delivery business? I would like to use it in the car and am looking for something Bluetooth-capable.

- Glen Brace, Metro Express, Moundsville, W.Va.

Dear Glen: We spoke with Ben Bajarin, technology analyst at Creative Strategies consulting group, to find out what your best options are for GPS navigation devices.

He said there are a wide range of devices that would suit your needs; however, choosing a device you'll be happy with is a matter of personal preference and how much you'd like to spend.

GPS devices in the $200 to $300 range from three companies - Magellan Navigation, Garmin International (GRMN) and TomTom International - should have a product that will meet your business requirements without putting too big a dent in your wallet.

"These three companies nail GPSes," Bajarin said. "Anywhere within the three you'll find a price and feature set that meets your needs. You're going to be covered."

News outlets that specialize in technology gadgets for consumers have also compiled top-10 and recommended lists for the best GPS devices, and give first-hand accounts based on test drives of them. Two you might like to check out are available from CNET's (CNET) News.com and PC World.

Bajarin said the best way for anyone to decide which device will be the best fit is to compare and contrast similar models from the top manufacturers. While those in the price range mentioned above will provide portability and the Bluetooth capability you're looking for, if you're willing to spend a bit more - perhaps $500 to $600 - you can get a device that includes voice navigation and other premium features.

Creative Strategies recently polled consumers about which GPS devices they preferred, and found it was minor differences between each company's products that influenced their buying decisions.

For example, Bajarin himself said he prefers the user interface on the Magellan Maestro series of devices, and he noted that many people like both Magellan's and Garmin's GPS products because they are thinner and lighter and thus more portable than those from TomTom.

"A lot of people we talked to that travel a lot don't go with TomTom because it's bulky and looks like a side-view [automobile] mirror," he said. "It isn't great to throw in a suitcase."

However, some consumers prefer the sturdier appearance of TomTom devices because they feel it's more durable, Bajarin said.

The point is, it's these minor details that appeal to people in different ways, so the best way to figure out which device you prefer is to weigh the options before purchase. To top of page

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