So, recently we picked up a Garmin Nuvi 250 - a GPS device for in your car, or even on foot if you’re especially geeky.
Generally, I’ve found it to be pretty slick - it’s got a map database along with “points of interest”; so beyond, “Take me to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”; it can also handle, “Take me to the nearest fastfood joint” - which is very cool, especially if you don’t know the area.
By and large, I’ve found it to be extremely useful. Sometimes its routing is pretty stupid, but if you turn a way that it doesn’t expect, it’ll immediately recalculate the route, so that you can get where you want to go. So, Google Maps might give you better directions, but if you make a wrong turn with a google map, you’re screwed - this thing will keep right on tickin’.
It’s great for a sense of security; it makes you feel like you know where you’re going and how to get there. In reality, I think that the best solution would be a hybrid approach - have a map of a route that you like, and try to follow it, but if something goes wrong, the device is a great insurance policy. Of course, a Google map is only as good as your preparation. “I’m hungry”, sitting in a strange city, doesn’t lend itself to a Google map; but the GPS device can do it without breaking a sweat (indeed, Granite and I were hungry one night when I was in Waterloo; we pulled up all the restaurants near his place and it found a Swiss Chalet just a KM or two away which he didn’t know about).
Obviously, its greatest strength is, “Take me to Unknown City X”; but even in a city where you’ve got SOME idea of where you’re going, this thing can pull up little gems that you never knew about.
The other, awesomeist advantage, is that when you make a wrong turn, the device says, “Recalculating” and off you go - it doesn’t bitch about how you never follow directions and how could you miss that turn and “there’s no way to get there from here!”; it just deals with the situations as they come, as best as it can, and there’s something admirable about that.
So, quarky but quite useful overall.