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Navigating doorbuster sales – The best GPS deals for Black Friday

Navigating doorbuster sales – The best GPS deals for Black Friday

To help you navigate Black Friday sales on portable GPS devices, we have scoured sales flyers from major retailers, identifying the best prices for the deal-crazed shopping weekend.

The deals we found all feature navigators from the three major brands: Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom. Most other brands have withdrawn from the GPS market, enabling consumers to focus on products from navigation-focused companies.

As seen with past shopping weekends, there are just a handful of models designated as doorbusters, offered by numerous retailers. This strategy focuses on price above all else and typically spotlights older models, or at least not the latest, great addition to the product line. While this can be a boon for price-sensitive gift buying, commuters and long-distance travelers looking for a full-featured device will need to extend their search beyond sales flyers. It also means that older devices may be in need of a map update.

It is common for major retailers to have discounts online over the shopping weekend and indeed through the end of the year. Do beware that some eye-catching deals online may be for refurbished GPS devices. Rest assured, if a deal appears too good to be true, it is.

What to choose
For basic guidance, the popular Garmin Nuvi 40 or Nuvi 50 both will suffice. These are entry-level units that provide an easy-to-use interface but lack handy features, such as multi-destination routing, traffic capability, and a pedestrian mode. They are commonly offered with lifetime maps (listed as “LM”), ensuring that they can be kept up to date with computer synching.

The TomTom Start 50 and Start 55 featured in our chart again are basic navigators. While they do have some appealing features, they rank at the bottom of our current GPS ratings. They will get you from Point A to Point B, but they lack multi-destination routing and have a frustrating ring-style mount.

We have also included some handheld-hiking units. These devices are well-suited to trail adventures, hunting, and geocaching—GPS-based treasure hunting.

As you look through the offers, and our online ratings, it is key to determine your must-have attributes, such as screen size, Bluetooth connectivity, and traffic services. In scanning the ads, we see that models often offer lifetime maps, lifetime traffic, and sometimes even both. It is far more cost effective to purchase these features upfront than to add them later. The real pitfall here is that some units without those options are likely to get the real head-turning prices. It is your choice if you think the way you use the device will favor these services (we find them worthwhile), but the important thing is to know what you’re buying.

In some cases, multiple listings are included for a popular model, as stores may or may not be available locally. Many retailers are offering the same prices online as in the store. Given that there are real risks that an individual store may run out of stock before you can negotiate your way to the shelves, consider buying online. It may better your chances, reduce stress, and potentially avoid sales tax.

Before buying, and planning your shopping strategy, we recommend visiting the GPS model page at ConsumerReports.org for ratings, features, and an explanation of performance. You may find other devices better suited to your needs in the process.

Below, we highlight our picks for the best Black Friday deals on GPS devices.

Make/model Price Store Notes
Garmin eTrex 10 $89.99 Cabela’s Handheld hiking GPS
Garmin eTrex 20 bundle $199.98 Dick’s Sporting Goods Handheld hiking GPS
Garmin eTrex 30 bundle $249.99 Cabela’s Handheld hiking GPS
Garmin Nuvi 2595 LMT $199.99 Cabela’s Lifetime maps, traffic
Garmin Nuvi 40 U.S. 69.99 Cabela’s Doorbuster
Garmin Nuvi 40 U.S. 79.99 Cabela’s  
Garmin Nuvi 40LM 69.99 H.H. Gregg Lifetime maps
Garmin Nuvi 40LM 89.99 Office Depot Lifetime maps
Garmin Nuvi 50LM 99.99 Radio Shack Doorbuster
Garmin Nuvi 50LM 99.99 Office Depot Lifetime maps
Garmin Nuvi 50LM 99.99 H.H. Gregg Lifetime maps
Garmin Nuvi 50LM 99.99 Sears Lifetime maps
Garmin Nuvi 50LM 99.99 Best Buy Lifetime maps
Garmin Nuvi 50LM 99.99 Cabela’s Lifetime maps
Garmin Oregon 450 199.98 Dick’s Sporting Goods Handheld hiking GPS
Garmin Oregon 450 199.99 Cabela’s Handheld hiking GPS
Magellan 2136 T-LM 69.99 Kmart Doorbuster
Magellan 5220-LM 89.99 Kmart Lifetime maps
Magellan 5230T-LM 99.99 BJ’s Warehouse Lifetime maps, traffic
TomTom 1400M 79.00 Target  
TomTom Start 45TM 89.99 BJ’s Warehouse Lifetime maps, traffic
TomTom Start 50 69.99 Best Buy  
TomTom Start 55TM 99.87 Sam’s Club Lifetime maps, traffic
TomTom Start 55TM 99.99 Sears Lifetime maps
TomTom Via 1605TM 129.99 Costco Large 6-inch screen

In addition to discounts on portable devices, navigation app providers typically offer discounts for Black Friday and often again in December. If you’re a smart phone user looking for some extra guidance, hold out for reduced prices. Until then, we have found that Google Maps and Apple Maps provide good guidance for free on smartphones that are so-equipped.

If you’re looking to simplify your shopping, ConsumerReports.org has a Price & Shop function tied in with most electronics ratings that allows you to move right from reviewing test results to checking the prices online and even buying the product. This service is offered in partnership with PriceGrabber.com, providing an ad-free user experience. Retailers cannot pay for top placement in our safe-shopping environment, so consumers looking to buy GPS can be assured that their shopping search results will be listed by price from lowest to highest to ensure a good shopping experience. Featured retailers meet certain customer service standards, and there are retailer ratings to guide you to the best prices from trusted retailers.

Good luck plotting your route to great deal!

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