The Great GPS Dilemma

I’ve faced plenty of tech dilemmas in recent years: whether to go over to the Apple camp; which of the photo developing sites to use (I’m still going with dirt cheap Snapfish); and whether to switch over from Yahoo Mail to Gmail (right now, I’m still with Yahoo, but this incredibly cool new Gmail chat function has me reconsidering). But the one Hamlet-caliber conundrum that’s been bugging me for almost a year now is GPS navigation systems.

TreoI have Andy to thank for getting me hooked on TomTom, the GPS software that gives you a 3-D, Outrun-like visual of the road you’re driving on, plus flashing arrows and sultry electronic voices to tell you where to turn. Andy turned me onto it with a jerry-rigged setup in his car, where his iPaq functioned as the screen, and the GPS signal came via a hardwired little pod. Later in the summer, Andy switched over to a Treo and bluetooth GPS, which looked really cool but had one unintended side-effect: any telephone call threw the phone completely out of GPS sync.

Ever since those first glimpses of auto-navigation heaven, I’ve been pining for a GPS. Every time I get lost in Putnam County — which is, oh, every time I visit Putnam County — I think how much better my life would be if I was GPS enabled.

TreoThe only problem is price. I’m just too damn cheap to fork over the $600-$1,000 for a stand-alone TomTom device. For me, the proper price point would be about $200, or the cost of an iPod. Still, even if I go for a more complicated, Diller-esque setup, the individual components add up fast. $300 Treo with Verizon plan + $250 for TomTom GPS bundle = $550. Even the used Treos on eBay and craigslist don’t come cheap. PalmThe Palm Tungsten E2 Navigation pack is a much bigger bargain at $400, but you don’t even get a phone out of the deal. VerizonTo complicate matters further, Verizon just announced the VZ Navigator Motorola V325 phone, which has everything in a nice tidy package, but it looks awfully stripped down. None of that TomTom 3D goodness.

Still, at $80 (if I renew for 2 yrs) this is the only one that matches my price point. But is it worth pulling the trigger? If I wait another few months, will Apple finally come out with the Gen8 iPod, complete with GPS and Hologram functionality?