"Great entry level device with a little of everything"4.0 starson by xnyoung
Pros: Affordable; Durable; Relatively portable; FULLY customizable menus (power utilization, screen views, etc.); Includes map CD ($139 value); Routable basemap (driving directions); Waterproof to 1 meter.
Cons: Grey Screen; No electronic compass; No altimeter; SLOW data transfer to PC; Relatively small onboard memory for map storage; Doesn't float; "OK" battery life
Summary: In short, this is the best unit you can get for the money. ($230-500 range).
There is only one other unit (from garmin, at least) that is more portable, that still possesses the "route mapping" feature of this one. (GPS 60 and GPS 72 series, http://www.gpsnow.com/gmmap60cs.htm). The screen is smaller, though, and I think the screen size on the GPS-V probably about as small as I'd really want to go.
The 4-tone grey scale is a bit difficult to read at times. I found myself turning on the backlight *all* the time to be able to see the maps and menus easier.
Also, the re-draw time is a bit sluggish when you're navigating in map-intensive areas. I think I'm going to look for a unit with a color screen for my next purchase. I've also become acustomed to my color screen on my palm pilot, though... maybe I'm just spoiled.
The directions are pretty straight forward. I ran though a simulated drive (ie, from home to work) and it plotted the course exactly as I would have expected. It has pop-up warnings for each turn, and automatically adjusts the route if you miss a turn. Other cool features are... you can enter in a detour (.5, 1, 2, 3 miles, etc) if you encounter road construction or traffic and it will find a new route. (There are newer models out there that can actually receive automated traffic info from FM receivers and automatically adjust for traffic). You can always switch to "off road" navigating to travel by way-points for geocaching, hiking, etc.
The included map CD has a pretty extensive database of locations and points of interest. I searched for "Arby's" and it brought up 8 separate locations, all within 5 miles of my house. To date, I have been unable to locate an arby's in chicago on my own. SCORE.
Apparently the battery life is ~20 hours. Keep in mind that this will be less if using the backlight frequently. There is a battery saving "use indoors" feature that saves power while you're tinkering and route-planning indoors (turns off active searching for satellites). There's also the ability to turn off the WAAS function, which gives you a little less accuracy, but speeds re-drawing time and lessens burdon on the processor, and thus battery life. You can keep batteries in while the cigarette lighter adapter is in use, and just use the batteries for "back-up" if desired. If I take this on any camping trips, though, I'm definitely bringing 4 extra AA batteries.
Map space is another issue. This unit has 19mb of space for maps. It's definitly enough for 1-2 large metropolitan areas. (I plugged in Chicago and Las Vegas), but any more than that and you're out of luck. Most of the newer models have around 120mb of space... and some don't even require you to upload maps to the unit, becuase they're already stocked with the full detail basemap. Many of the other "in-between" sized units at least have an expansion card slot... but this one doesn't. All in all, not a big deal... just requires some more planning before you hit the road. (or you have to bring your laptop with you).
This unit came with the serial port version of the transfer cable. To load Chicago and Vegas (15mb of maps) to the unit took TWENTY EIGHT minutes. That was painful. So, I would also recommend looking for a unit with a USB trasnfer cable.
Not a *huge* deal, but newer units come with electonic compass and barometric altimeters. Basically, you have to be moving at least 2mph to get a compass heading with this unit. Units with the electronic compass can give you a heading while standing still. The altimeter isn't that important, but in low reception areas where you can't get 3D plotting, your altitude can be way off. The GPS V makes up for the altitude issue by allowing you to enter in a known (or estimated) altitude to help maximize your 2D position.
So, in summary, I'm very happy with my GPS-V. It will definitely provide you years of enjoyment. Although this one was a gift, it is probably the unit I would have purchased, had I talked myself into believing that I had enough money in my bank account to afford a personal navigation device of my own.