Despite being regular road trippers or perhaps because we are indeed regular road trippers (!) we are used to using paper maps and researching routes in advance so know little to nothing about hand held GPS/sat nav devices. Actually my current car has one built in. I've used in precisely twice in well over a year and once was just out of sheer curiosity. I hate it!
However, we've been asked to buy one for friends when we visit the US next week, so please may I have some help. They only want a cheap one for their own upcoming road trip, mostly because if you rent one with a rental car, the daily free is ridiculously expensive, buying one and chucking it would work out cheaper. They know no more than we do about such devices.
So, please can somebody provide a pocket primer on what we should look out for in a basic device? Any key features that add more value than others?
Then comes the question of where to buy one. We arrive in Washington, DC and will spend the first few days sightseeing. However, if possible we'd like to buy it in the DC area. Our reason for doing that is, we'd test the device out on our own loop road trip for basic faults and ease of use, so if there are any issues with the device, we could return it for a refund or exchange on our last day of the trip.
I am assuming that it arrives ready to plug and play with the latest US road maps pre-loaded? Is this correct? How, in future, do you update these devices or buy map sets for other geographic regions? Would this be the same for all popular brands?
Separately, are there other questions I should ask of the person I'm shopping for? They've merely said, get one for under US$100 if possible, and make sure it's simple to use!
Any other info you feel I should know about or other tips to ensure we get a decent brand/model/etc. All thoughts much appreciated.