Choosing the Right Type of GPS

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In order to make the right choice from all of the various GPS systems available in today's market, it is necessary to have a practical understanding of what they offer, and what the user can expect from the device.

There are four major components that need to be looked at.

1. GPS receiver (or antenna). GPS receivers use signals from satellites which orbit the Earth at known positions. Each satellite has its own identification code and sends a signal which the GPS receiver can use to calculate the distance from the device to that satellite.

2. The portion of the system which uses the received information to estimate where the device is located on an internal map.

3. The various capabilities for route planning and recording, which vary from unit to unit.

4. Finally, the display portion (which can vary considerably from limited location information to full color three dimensional maps of the immediate surroundings and advised route).

Since all GPS systems are based on the same premise, it is a good idea to at least be aware of the underlying technology so that you can make an informed decision when choosing which system is best suited for you.

Much like regular triangulation, by using 3 to 4+ signals, the device finds the point in space at which the spheres representing the distance from each satellite intersect. This allows the device software to estimate its own position by finding that point.

Using this location information, the software can then pinpoint the devices location on a map, then use the information for a number of operations, from simply displaying the location, to mapping a proposed route.

The three standard classes of GPS systems are road, hiking and maritime. Each class is further subdivided into other types which offer different features depending on the users intended use and the environment within which they will be operating.

It is important to remember is that this technology does not allow for the transmission of actual mapping data via the satellites. It is purely concerned with identifying the location of the device.

Once you have identified your exact needs and expectations regarding your device, you are ready to assess your options and make a selection.

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Brad Timinsky has 43 articles online

Brad Timinski is owner of GPS City, and offers garmin gps systems available with unmatched on-line store experience. With over 20 years of direct engineering, marketing, and customer service experience in the GPS industry, he is uniquely qualified to offer top-level customer service and support.  GPS City sells to thousands of customers in Canada, the USA, and worldwide. They range from small businesses to many Fortune 500 companies. From major universities and technical colleges to the Pentagon, Canada's DND, military and other government institutions.

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Choosing the Right Type of GPS

This article was published on 2011/01/11