A comparison of Garmin GPS and a Rezound using Waze.
(Note: if you don't want to read a long, rambling comparison, scroll to the bottom for my conclusion).
Recently purchased a Garmin Nuvi 40 LM GPS since now Lifetime Map Updates are included in the price, as well as a trial version of Safety Camera locations. I wanted to make a comparison of the Garmin with Waze, a “social” navigation app that also provides information on safety cameras, police activity, traffic tie-ups and shows where other “Wazers” are located. Both units were mounted below the dash on my truck and had full satellite signals.
Programming my destination, 112 miles mostly via Interstate, into the Garmin was easy on the horizontal display, although the keyboard was not as responsive as the Rezound. The keyboard on the Rezound, mounted vertically, was difficult to use, and in frustration, I just entered the city and state, not the exact location, although the two destinations were not that far apart. I should have taken the Rezound off the mount, programmed the destination, and replace the Rezound in the mount.
Waze directed me out of the neighborhood the way I normally travel, while the Nuvi sent me on a slower, roundabout way. Did Waze “learn” from previous trips? I went the Waze way and eventually the Nuvi corrected itself.
Once out on the Interstate, the differences in the two GPSs started to show. The Nuvi's map was clear and not full of clutter, while the Waze showed too much detail of the surrounding area, other Wazers, and at times it was unclear where I was on the map. The Nuvi displayed the speed limit on the road as well as my speed, with the digits turning red when I exceeded the speed limit. Waze had a tiny circle with my speed but did not show the speed limit on the roadway. The voice directions on both were clear and accurate, while the Nuvi tended to warn of upcoming turns and exits before the Waze. On one section of the Interstate, there were many exits onto service roads. The route was straight, staying on the Interstate the whole time. This is where the Nuvi became annoying, saying over and over again, “in point 8 miles, keep left...:, keep left,...” as we approached each exit. Waze kept quiet.
With a few exceptions, the speed limit indicated on the Nuvi was accurate, and changed immediately as we passed a different speed limit sign. Waze does not currently have this feature. Upon entering a construction area with reduced speed and signs indicating photo enforcement, the Nuvi started beeping and flashing a warning about the speed cameras. Waze did nothing, because the portable speed cameras weren't set up. This is an advantage where Wazers report when speed cameras are set up, and also report when they are not there. Since the Nuvi does not communicate with the Internet, it can only update information when the user updates via a PC. Temporary speed camera locations must be handled as if they are always there. However, with all the “Photo enforced” warning signs, and traffic that slows in the area (to say nothing of the danger to workers from speeders in a construction zone), anyone caught speeding by these cameras should be heavily fined.
Farther along on the trip, in a more rural area where there are few Wazers, we encountered a newer construction area with reduced speed, photo enforcement warnings, radar with a display showing your current speed, and a speed camera mounted on the front of an all too familiar white jeep. Neither the Nuvi or Waze showed any indication of construction area reports, reduced speed, or speed cameras. (On a previous trip along this Interstate, in a mostly rural area, using only Waze, I passed two police operated radar traps. One was reported on Waze, the other was not. Obviously, depending on Waze as a radar detector is hit or miss.)
We decided to make a “pit stop” and as we exited the Interstate, both the Nuvi and Waze started recalculating and sending me on different side roads. The McD's was only a half mile off the Interstate. I took the Rezound with me into the restaurant, and exited out of Waze, while leaving the Nuvi turned on. When ready to leave, it was easy to go back to Waze and reprogram the destination from the app's history. Both units directed me back to the Interstate.
As I exited off the Interstate nearing my destination, I exited out of Waze and turned off the Rezound. When I arrived, I found the Rezound charged to 100%, but warm to the touch. I had used about 10 MB of data on this leg of the trip.
On the way home, I programmed the Nuvi to take me home, as it was so easy when turned on to hit the “Where to” button and then the “Home” icon. I mounted the Rezound and enabled the Waze app to show the map without setting up the navigation. An uneventful trip until I ran into a backup due to an accident along a stretch of the Interstate where the exits were about five miles apart and I had just passed an exit before I saw the backup. Since the accident, which included a truck on fire, had just occurred, it was not reported on Waze in time for me to take an alternate route. It took an extra 20 minutes to get by the accident, probably about the same amount of time I would have lost if I was able to get off the Interstate and took side roads. Waze didn't help, but I was no better off than if I was warned and took an alternate route.
So my feelings about the two GPS devices are mixed. The Nuvi is great for directions, especially if one has no idea where they are going. The display is clear and uncluttered. Lane assist is very helpful. It is easy to enter addresses and find places. I really like seeing the current speed limit where I am, sometimes the speed limit signs are few and far apart. I like seeing the map showing my location even when not using the Nuvi as a navigator. With the holder jerry-rigged permanently below the dash, the Nuvi is easy to mount and take off the mount to hide away when leaving the vehicle. (With prices falling so low for stand along GPS units, are they still thief bait?). But this Nuvi cost about $100 and they want $26/year to update the “Safety Cameras”. It does not provide any traffic information. (The models with traffic updates cost almost twice as much, and I am told they have ads sent to the units). How often does knowing about a backup save one time by taking an alternate route?
Using Waze on the Rezound has the potential for the latest information on traffic, “Safety Cameras”, and good, uncomplicated directions. When stopped, the screen shows other Wazer's reports of problems in the area. It's a free app, and uses minimal data (about 10 MB in 2 hours). The Rezound obviously has to be plugged into a power source when using Waze, or it will deplete the battery rapidly. There are other options for using the Rezound as a navigation device, including Google Maps. I did not test Google Maps in this comparison because I was trying to compare two devices that included warnings about Safety Cameras. Google Maps seems to be a lot easier to enter destinations, especially when the destination is one of your Google Contacts.
So is it worth spending $100 for a Garmin Nuvi (40LM) if one has a Rezound and the Waze app? IMHO, no, unless, like me, you enjoy seeing a nice clear map of where you are at all times, with posted speed limits and audible warnings about “Safety Cameras”. I'd rather keep my Rezound tucked away while driving.