Stand Alone versus Cell Phone Based GPS: Which is Right for You? - GPS Prices
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Note: while all attempts to provide a fair and accurate view of the prices have been made by the author, there are many different factors that will affect the price that you will actually pay. For the stand alones you may run into a retail mark up or hit a sale. For the cell phone services we will be using the stand alone price for adding just that feature. You may or may not get a better deal by buying a package of features, but you should see your service provider for that. Also, prices change as time goes on for factors that baffle those of us who are not economists. The moral of the story: double check the price before you go to the store.
The main difference in cost between a stand alone GPS and a phone-based model is how you pay for your navigation services. When you buy a stand alone GPS you are going to pay for it all up front, but you will pay it only one time. If you use a phone-based model, you will likely pay a monthly fee for having the service. Most service providers will also let you buy the use on a one shot deal, where you pay a fee to use it for one day or a few hours. If you are going to use your phone-based GPS on a regular basis, then I suggest you skip the day-by-day charge and get the monthly subscription. Doing day-by-day will be much more costly when you get your monthly bill.
The service costs
Verizon: $9.99 monthly
AT&T: $9.99 monthly*
Sprint: $10.00 monthly*
T-Mobile: $10.00 monthly
Nextel: $10.00 monthly
Alltel: $10.00 monthly
*These services may require an additional data plan.
The stand alone costs: representative models.
Garmin Nuvi 775T GPS navigation with 4.3 inch screen -- $797.54
Tom Tom Rider GPS, second edition -- $548.86
XO vision 7 inch Din DVD/GPS -- $468.00
Tom Tom 60730 -- $348.86
Tom Tom XL330S Portable -- $246.98
Magellan Maestro 4270 -- $198.86
Tom Tom One 130 -- $148.88
Mio Moov 200 3.5 inch -- $128.88
*In order to keep costs reasonably low without resorting to the fickle winds of the auction sites or going to a site with a less than stellar reputation, I choose to get these prices from the Wal-Mart website.
As you can see, there is a wide variety in the prices of the stand alone models and not much in the phone-based services. In the least expensive case, with the $128 model you could buy a full year of phone- based service. As you go up in cost you will cover a longer span of service, but it is worth mentioning that if you choose the service option, you will eventually be paying more in monthly payments than you would have if you paid the one-time price to get GPS as a dedicated device. That's worth keeping in mind, even if you do not have the cash up front.
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