Does anyone have any experience-based recommendation(s) for the GPS with the best coverage in Ireland? Seems like I've even read about third-party plug-in cards for Ireland too. We're entirely new to GPS use, so I'm pretty ignorant right now about the whole topic.
I can't speak to "best" as I've only used one. I've used a Garmin several times in Ireland with no problems. Accurate coverage and was able to find any destination I plugged in.
You didn't say what the GPS would be used for. I used a basic Garmen Etrex for my England and Scotland walking holidays. No map built in but the GPS would display UTM metric map coordinates and I carried Ordinance Survey Maps with UTM grids.
Note that it's important to set your GPS to the correct datum matching your map datum. Here in the States WGS 84 is common while the British maps are typically. OSGB 36. Your topo should tell you the datum it's based on.
Magnetic declination in the Lake District was close enough to 0° correction. I'm old school and carry a magnetic compass.
We're interested in a GPS to help us exploring southwest ireland in a car. Specifically, the Kenmare/Killarney area, the Dingle peninsula, the Ring of Kerry, the Ring of Beara, and the Mizen peninsula. Is good/excellent coverage of Ireland included as standard with USA-bought GPS devices? If an add-on set of digital maps is needed, is the better one a Garmin or some third-party ones?
If you are only driving, my Garmin Nuvi low end (cheap) model works well for the US. You would need to buy the UK map package.
Check to make sure it works for the device you buy and download vs microSD delivery.
We have used GPS in Ireland for years. It was a little shaky at first, wound up driving down a cow patch one night. Much better in recent years. We drove from Carlow to Killarney/Dingle in 2013, didn't have any problems. Last year in Mayo, there were a few oddities, they were in very rural areas. Fortunately, no cow patches! :)
I have a Garmin GPS I bought here in the states, then downloaded the Ireland map from the Garmin web site. Some modals offer a sim code option. The cost is about $70.00. For us it was worth it, we go over every year or so. You may want to look into renting one from your rental car company, compare which is cheaper.
They are fairly easy, don't let yourself be intimidated!
We used a Garmin that had the maps for Europe pre-loaded. Backed it up with a good road atlas (the Collins one in our case) and never had any issues in 2 months of travel.
Can also preview your daily routes via Google Street View, which was a great resource for me.
Robert, which Garmin model are you describing?
Dunno - don't have the unit anymore, but can tell you that we bought it on Amazon and studied the descriptors under the various listings until we found one (pretty cheap too) that had the Euro maps.
Just looked at my Amazon order history and it was a Garmin Nuvi model 1370/1370T. With US and Europe maps pre-loaded it cost me $99. Hope this helps.
I use my Nuvi while driving in either of two ways, map mode or go to mode. Map mode is pretty straight forward where the GPS shows you where you are on a map, next cross street and speed. My Nuvi model allows me to zoom the map view in or out.
The second mode that I commonly use is the go to navigation. Enter destination address and the navigator tells you how to get there on a turn by turn basis. The danger of the go to function is that the selected route could be an inappropriate road. Here in Oregon folks have been sent over unplowed snow bound roads.
Carry a paper map and check with locals.
PS. My navigator's pronunciation of US streets can be entertaining. Hope your device works on Irish street names.
Robert, how many years ago did you buy it? That model now costs ~$250.
Found a used one on Amazon for $169.
Also saw these after a quick search: http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-3-5-Inch-Bluetooth-Portable-Navigator/dp/B001ELJ9Q0?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0
or this: http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-2-8-Inch-Bluetooth-Portable-Navigator/dp/B000EXWINK/ref=sr_1_33?s=gps&ie=UTF8&qid=1443882739&sr=1-33&keywords=gps&refinements=p_n_location_browse-bin%3A1245700011
Might be others that would work for you at a reasonable price.
Consider the Garmin Nuvi models with the "LM" suffix. LM stands for life time map upgrades (via internet download).
Thanks for the tip on Here Maps! We're traveling in March and that plus an atlas seems to be the ticket!
We used Google Maps on our smartphone (it was cheaper to pay for international coverage for a week than to rent a GPS with the car, or buy Ireland maps for our Tom Tom) . We found the map that EuRopcar gave us to be very helpful. I was the navigator and preferred relying on the map and road signs to the GPS which often provides too many directions. In the countryside, the roads weren't busy and when we got to an intersection or roundabout we had time to read the signs. The few highways are well marked.
I also found the smartphone GPS helpful when walking around Dublin where streets are poorly marked!
We just returned from two weeks of driving. 2300 kilometers later I can say our Garmin never made a mistake. We downloaded the UK maps (for $75) and worth every penny. Don't fret over this. It was a piece of cake.
Thank you, all, for the very helpful information. We've chosen not to have smart phones, so the Garmin information you've provided has been exactly what I'd hoped to learn.
I've used both Garmin and TomTom. I like the TomTom a little better. So much depends on the model but there are a couple details I think TomTom handles better (tolls comes to mind) and my Garmin is horrible at showing realistic arrival times for anything that includes traffic.
My current Garmin is dying. Rather than replacing it, I'm leaning toward using a smart phone with a locally bought SIM card - supposedly they can navigate without data. I don't like the idea of GPS charging nearly the price of a new device to update maps (even when they're advertised as free). I don't like even more the fact that adding maps that didn't come installed tends to overload the GPS and make it worthless (so you have to offload current maps).
A smart phone always uses updated maps without requiring any updates.