With the legendary Black Friday shopping weekend, and indeed the December holidays, fast approaching, it has become clear that portable GPS navigation systems are primed to fly off store shelves.
Indeed, over the past three years, there has been tremendous growth in the portable navigation device (PND) segment, fueled by more bundled features and dwindling prices. From what we're seeing in the latest sales circulars, the trend is certain to continue. Once considered a personal indulgence, this Thanksgiving weekend promises prices under $150 on name-brand systems that will make these helpful devices "giftable" for many.
For those who may be looking to purchase a PND this weekend, or in the month ahead, we've compiled a guide to our latest ratings and recent reports on new models. Plus, we have combed the Internet for the buzz on door-busting deals at major retailers.
In the end, remember to do your research. The devices we've tested in the past will all handle basic mapping chores, though there are key differences in ease of use, features, battery life, routing options, and driver information. Read our free buying advice to learn more. Or watch our video on GPS buying.
Latest portable navigation devices
Complete portable GPS navigation system ratings (available to online subscribers). From the main ratings chart, click on any model for detailed specs and information.
Black Friday GPS deals
A good deal on a mediocre unit is no deal at all. That said, we've collected a few standout offers on units that have tested well or are similar to top tested models and warrant a closer look. In the case of Magellan, we have not tested these highlighted units, however Magellan units have performed well in the past and these discounted models may be of interest. (We are currently evaluating the Magellan 3250 and 4250 for a future report.) Be sure to check hours and availability with your local store. Some items may be available through the store Web sites for the discounted price, sparing you from the early-morning shopping frenzy.
Garmin StreetPilot C330
$128.88 Wal-Mart, Friday morning
Consumer Reports Quick Pick
Garmin StreetPilot C550
$329.99 Best Buy, Friday and Saturday
Similar to the StreetPilot C580 that earned a CR Quick Pick. The C550 does not have picture viewer, and rather than use MSN as its traffic/information provider, it is FM traffic compatible.
Garmin nuvi 650
$299.99, Costco.com (online only)
Similar to the top-rated nuvi 660, though it lacks Bluetooth and FM transmitter.
Garmin nuvi 660
$399.99 Best Buy, Friday and Saturday
Consumer Reports top rated
Magellan Maestro 3100
$147.99 CompUSA, Thursday only
$129.99 Kmart, Thursday only
$149 Target, Thursday and Friday
$149.99 BJ's, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Magellan Maestro 4250
$349.99 Costco, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Magellan Roadmate 1200
$124.99 Circuit City, Friday and Saturday
$139.98 (One) PepBoys, Friday
$119.99 (One LE) Best Buy, Friday and Saturday
$124.99 (One 3rd Edition) Staples, Friday and Saturday
The original TomTom One is a CR Best Buy.
Sorry to bring it up now, but one clear downside for portable GPS navigation systems is the risk of theft. Read our Electronics blog for tips on how to keep your device safe.
Discuss portable GPS navigation systems in the forums.
Good luck with your bargain hunting!