To help you navigate Black Friday sales on portable GPS devices, we have scoured sales flyers from major retailers, identifying the best prices for the deal-crazed shopping weekend.
The deals we found all feature navigators from the three major brands: Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom. Most other brands have withdrawn from the GPS market, enabling consumers to focus on products from navigation-focused companies.
As seen with past shopping weekends, there are just a handful of models designated as doorbusters, offered by numerous retailers. This strategy focuses on price above all else and typically spotlights older models, or at least not the latest, great addition to the product line. While this can be a boon for price-sensitive gift buying, commuters and long-distance travelers looking for a full-featured device will need to extend their search beyond sales flyers. It also means that older devices may be in need of a map update.
It is common for major retailers to have discounts online over the shopping weekend and indeed through the end of the year. Do beware that some eye-catching deals online may be for refurbished GPS devices. Rest assured, if a deal appears too good to be true, it is.
What to choose
For basic guidance, the popular Garmin Nuvi 40 or Nuvi 50 both will suffice. These are entry-level units that provide an easy-to-use interface but lack handy features, such as multi-destination routing, traffic capability, and a pedestrian mode. They are commonly offered with lifetime maps (listed as "LM"), ensuring that they can be kept up to date with computer synching.
The TomTom Start 50 and Start 55 featured in our chart again are basic navigators. While they do have some appealing features, they rank at the bottom of our current GPS ratings. They will get you from Point A to Point B, but they lack multi-destination routing and have a frustrating ring-style mount.
We have also included some handheld-hiking units. These devices are well-suited to trail adventures, hunting, and geocaching—GPS-based treasure hunting.
As you look through the offers, and our online ratings, it is key to determine your must-have attributes, such as screen size, Bluetooth connectivity, and traffic services. In scanning the ads, we see that models often offer lifetime maps, lifetime traffic, and sometimes even both. It is far more cost effective to purchase these features upfront than to add them later. The real pitfall here is that some units without those options are likely to get the real head-turning prices. It is your choice if you think the way you use the device will favor these services (we find them worthwhile), but the important thing is to know what you're buying.
In some cases, multiple listings are included for a popular model, as stores may or may not be available locally. Many retailers are offering the same prices online as in the store. Given that there are real risks that an individual store may run out of stock before you can negotiate your way to the shelves, consider buying online. It may better your chances, reduce stress, and potentially avoid sales tax.
Before buying, and planning your shopping strategy, we recommend visiting the GPS model page at ConsumerReports.org for ratings, features, and an explanation of performance. You may find other devices better suited to your needs in the process.
Below, we highlight our picks for the best Black Friday deals on GPS devices.
|Garmin eTrex 10||$89.99||Cabela's||Handheld hiking GPS|
|Garmin eTrex 20 bundle||$199.98||Dick's Sporting Goods||Handheld hiking GPS|
|Garmin eTrex 30 bundle||$249.99||Cabela's||Handheld hiking GPS|
|Garmin Nuvi 2595 LMT||$199.99||Cabela's||Lifetime maps, traffic|
|Garmin Nuvi 40 U.S.||$69.99||Cabela's||Doorbuster|
|Garmin Nuvi 40 U.S.||$79.99||Cabela's|
|Garmin Nuvi 40LM||$69.99||H.H. Gregg||Lifetime maps|
|Garmin Nuvi 40LM||$89.99||Office Depot||Lifetime maps|
|Garmin Nuvi 50LM||$99.99||Radio Shack||Doorbuster|
|Garmin Nuvi 50LM||$99.99||Office Depot||Lifetime maps|
|Garmin Nuvi 50LM||$99.99||H.H. Gregg||Lifetime maps|
|Garmin Nuvi 50LM||$99.99||Sears||Lifetime maps|
|Garmin Nuvi 50LM||$99.99||Best Buy||Lifetime maps|
|Garmin Nuvi 50LM||$99.99||Cabela's||Lifetime maps|
|Garmin Oregon 450||$199.98||Dick's Sporting Goods||Handheld hiking GPS|
|Garmin Oregon 450||$199.99||Cabela's||Handheld hiking GPS|
|Magellan 2136 T-LM||$69.99||Kmart||Doorbuster|
|Magellan 5220-LM||$89.99||Kmart||Lifetime maps|
|Magellan 5230T-LM||$99.99||BJ's Warehouse||Lifetime maps, traffic|
|TomTom Start 45TM||$89.99||BJ's Warehouse||Lifetime maps, traffic|
|TomTom Start 50||$69.99||Best Buy|
|TomTom Start 55TM||$99.87||Sam's Club||Lifetime maps, traffic|
|TomTom Start 55TM||$99.99||Sears||Lifetime maps|
|TomTom Via 1605TM||$129.99||Costco||Large 6-inch screen|
In addition to discounts on portable devices, navigation app providers typically offer discounts for Black Friday and often again in December. If you're a smart phone user looking for some extra guidance, hold out for reduced prices. Until then, we have found that Google Maps and Apple Maps provide good guidance for free on smartphones that are so-equipped.
If you're looking to simplify your shopping, ConsumerReports.org has a Price & Shop function tied in with most electronics ratings that allows you to move right from reviewing test results to checking the prices online and even buying the product. This service is offered in partnership with PriceGrabber.com, providing an ad-free user experience. Retailers cannot pay for top placement in our safe-shopping environment, so consumers looking to buy GPS can be assured that their shopping search results will be listed by price from lowest to highest to ensure a good shopping experience. Featured retailers meet certain customer service standards, and there are retailer ratings to guide you to the best prices from trusted retailers.
Good luck plotting your route to great deal!
More from Consumer Reports:
2013 New Car Preview
Best & worst used cars
Complete Ratings for 200 cars and trucks
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