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Three Problems with GPS Navigation Systems

GPS Navigation Systems are becoming increasingly popular. The last time I was in Radio Shack, a salesman tried to sell me one. He obviously did not recognize me as the editor of The Low-Tech Times, or he wouldn’t have wasted his time.

There are three reasons why I do not own a GPS Navigation System:

1.) TOO EXPENSIVE—GPS Navigation Systems cost hundreds of dollars, and once you have one, updates to the software can be very costly. Maps, on the other hand, are often free. Most of the time state maps are available free-of-charge from highway rest areas. Local maps also can frequently be obtained without cost from a city’s Chamber of Commerce or Visitor Center.

2.) LOSS OF KNOWLEDGE—If you depend on a GPS Navigation System to tell you where to go all of the time, you may not learn your way around nearly as well as if you drove without one. I believe that it is very valuable to have knowledge of an area and the ability to give directions without a hi-tech device. I want to know where I’m going.

3.) POSSIBLE ACCURACY PROBLEMS—ABC News recently ran a story covering accuracy problems with GPS systems, including one instance where GPS directions apparently directed a man to turn his vehicle onto railroad tracks. It is likely that users, not the GPS Navigation System itself, may often be at fault. However, there does not seem to be a shortage of GPS horror stories. Can you depend on GPS for accurate directions?


  1. nix wrote:


    1) What happens if you’re in a new city?
    2) What happens if you don’t have the knowledge? This helps encourage people to go to new places and acquire the knowledge. This might be seen as an enabler to gaining knowledge.

    Just my .02 cents worth.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 2:37 am | Permalink
  2. S.P. Gass wrote:

    I think you have some valid points. A friend of mine moved to Germany and likes his GPS a lot for navigating the foreign area.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink
  3. Wayne wrote:

    It’s $0.02 or 2¢, for Pete’s sake.

    Monday, January 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  4. Joe B wrote:

    You tell ‘em Wayne !

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  5. Jon wrote:

    Also, these things are perfect targets for thieves. Even if you stash it in a glove compartment, the setup is visible and potential thieves will know you have one.

    Friday, January 25, 2008 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  6. S.P. Gass wrote:

    Thanks, Jon, great point. I hadn’t thought of that issue (PNDs make cars targets for thieves).

    Friday, January 25, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Permalink
  7. chris wrote:

    Hey Wayne, who is this Pete guy? ;-)

    Having been a on-site service technician, I can say with utmost confidence that my GPS reduced my stress level and helped me get to dozens of addresses each week, many of which I might never need to go to again. Once should still cultivate the ability to read maps, and everyone that intends to use a GPS on a regular basis should spend a bit of time learning to use that properly as well. I don’t buy into the loss of brain power argument though. A GPS is still a map. It’s not as if my daily use of a computer has caused me to forget how to read!

    Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 11:08 am | Permalink
  8. admin wrote:

    I suppose a GPS is, in a way, a map. But if people get accustomed to a voice telling them “turn right now” they could become dependent on that voice to find their way. Then again, you may be right that the loss of brainpower point is a stretch.

    Thanks a lot for your thoughts.

    Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. gps navigation on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 9:00 am

    gps navigation…

    umm it really depends….

  2. gps systems for cars on Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 6:05 am

    gps systems for cars…

    Garmin is one of the most trusted names in the gps industry, and owning a Garmin gps unit is a great step in the right direction with some of the best navigation technology around….

  3. [...] wearing the glasses will no longer have to remember things on their own.  The Low-Tech Times previously reported a similiar concern with GPS Navigation [...]

  4. The Low-Tech Times » Blog Archive » Bad Press for GPS on Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    [...] Low-Tech Times published an article a few months ago entitled Three Problems with GPS Navigation Systems. One of the problems explored in the article was that a loss of knowledge can result from a user [...]

  5. [...] Most would agree that using google to save time during research a good thing, but perhaps it is taking something important away. I wrote a piece earlier in a similar vein touching on the fact that reliance on GPS navigation devices may lead to a loss of navigational skill. [...]

  6. [...] Three Problems with GPS Navigation Systems [...]

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