Here are three portable units that let you say no to the car-rental agencies' confusing and costly systems.
(Business 2.0) – These days you need a GPS receiver just to navigate the mind-numbing assortment of GPS options offered at the rental-car counters. Avis offers GPS phones, Hertz has an in-car unit called NeverLost--the list goes on and on. No two systems are exactly alike, and no two rental outfits carry the same one. If you're constantly on the road, you've probably already spent too much time futzing with GPS devices. Good news, Columbus! There's a better, and cheaper, way: Buy your own portable system, learn to use it once, and take it with you. We test-drove GPS on three different portable platforms to help you find the one that best suits your needs. -- MATTHEW MAIER
Magellan RoadMate 760
THE PROS: This is the Cadillac of GPS devices, including a built-in speedometer and altimeter. It's small enough to fit in your briefcase, yet its 20-gigabyte hard drive stores nearly 7 million points of interest-far more than other devices. THE CONS: RoadMate's screen could be brighter, and its maps could use a little more attention to detail. In one test, the device undershot the destination by a mile. THE PRICE:$1,099
Palm GPS Navigator
THE PROS: If you have a Bluetooth-enabled Palm (including the Treo), this is the GPS device for you. It comes in two parts: a wireless receiver and a 5-megabyte software package. Its full-color screen is easy to work with and doesn't require a stylus to operate. THE CONS: The speaker is not as powerful as the RoadMate's, and the voice instructions were somewhat muffled. THE PRICE:$249
Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS
THE PROS: This low-cost system is the one to buy if you have a Windows laptop or Pocket PC. It consists of a matchbook-size external GPS receiver and a 500MB software program. The receiver connects via USB port or, for PDAs, with a CompactFlash adapter. The system can import contact info from Outlook for plotting routes. THE CONS: You'll have to lug your laptop and a portable car charger to make sure you don't run out of juice. THE PRICE:$129