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Where have you been?

Portable GPS receivers: The way home

graphic
Ed Curran

(CNN) -- You can't get there from here.

It sometimes seems that way when youíre in a strange city, trying to get to that important meeting with your client and the map Avis gave you honestly looks like itís for some small country you've never visited. Not only do you not know where you are but you donít even know the direction youíre headed in.

Itís times like this that portable GPS can save your life, or at least your career.

"Using satellite triangulation, Garmin's $699 StreetPilot tracks you on its electronic map as you drive down the street and even indicates your current speed. "

The Global Positioning System (GPS) consists of 24 satellites that were put into orbit for military purposes. Now, just by purchasing a GPS receiver, you can use these satellites to tell you exactly where you are on the face of the planet. Itís a powerful system that puts an electronic map in your car and, best of all, places you on that map.

  LOST AND FOUND
Technogadgets' Ed Curran shows CNN viewers their way around some GPS receivers.

Home in on it here
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

 

Basic handheld GPS receivers give you enough information to get you out of trouble if youíre hiking in the woods. They can even leave a trail of electronic breadcrumbs so you can find your way back.

The more sophisticated portable receivers have the ability to display highly detailed maps of city streets and show you specific addresses. While these portable units will indicate your location and your destination, the really fancy ones will also create a route for you to follow.

On the road again

I have a StreetPilot ColorMap from Garmin and I love it. You can use a CD-ROM to load data for specific cities into your StreetPilot. The result is an incredible database of addresses, restaurants, attractions, hotels, airports and shopping.

"Magellan's 750M is perfect for any guy who refuses to ask for directions. It not only shows you where you are but also verbally guides you to your destination. Appropriately, ours had a female voice telling us where to go."

Using satellite triangulation, the $699 StreetPilot tracks you on its electronic map as you drive down the street and even indicates your current speed.

Since itís a portable unit you can place it on the dashboard of your rental car and plug it into the 12-volt power outlet. You can also run it off the internal AA batteries but they get devoured pretty quickly. That beautiful color display eats faster than a tourist at a Vegas buffet.

  QUICK VOTE
graphic Can you use a GPS receiver in your career?

If I can find one, yeah -- I have to get around a lot in my work. And I'm lost right now and headed to CNN.com/Travel's interactive mapping center.
Maybe, but I'm not sure I'd use it enough to make it worth the cost. Maps are a lot cheaper.
No, my job doesn't take me to enough unknown destinations to warrant using GPS. At least, I don't think so: I haven't found those destinations.
View Results

Now, if you really love GPS, you can spring for the Magellan 750M. This is a portable version of the Hertz NeverLost navigation system found in some of their rental cars.

The 750M is perfect for any guy who refuses to ask for directions. It not only shows you where you are but also verbally guides you to your destination. Appropriately, ours had a female voice telling us where to go.

This complex yet portable navigation system isn't cheap. At a price of $2,799, itís for those who realize you canít land a sale if you canít find your clientís office.

Itís also for those whoíve found out that if you miss the last exit in Tampa, you have you to drive across a nine-mile bridge. And itís for those whoíve discovered that in Atlanta there are approximately 291 streets named Peachtree.

Ed Curran has covered the world of high-tech for more than a dozen years and is the publisher of Technogadgets® -- www.technogadgets.com In addition to his weekly column here at CNN.com/career, watch for Curran's reports on CNN television.

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RELATED SITES:
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