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GPS put to the test

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By Bryon Graff - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

WAUSAU (WAOW) - How many times have you found yourself driving along the road.. and wondering which way to turn?

It's happens to many of us and that's why GPS systems are designed to get you from point A to point B.

But what if they veer you off course?

I put three GPS systems to the test.

We're on 72nd and Stewart on the west end of Wausau. We're going to put three different GPS systems to the test. Recently the interchange between highways 51 and 29 was completed. So a lot of road construction on the west end. As well as a lot of one-way streets in downtown Wausau. We'll work our way into a landmark, we picked the Wausau Grand Theater.

We're going to use a Garmin, a TomTom and a Blackberry phone, powered by Sprint.

Even with the new roads and having to recalculate, we arrived just as we were instructed.. but that's not always the case for every GPS user.

Johnny Siharath/Sears Selling Consultant: "That's the last thing you want a GPS to do is take you off the wrong way."

Sears Selling Consultant Johnny Siharath says you need to update those machines.

Siharath: "With the GPS's now, the Garmin and TomTom, they both offer free updates. You can update anytime you want to at no cost."

Sometimes drivers are told to turn onto roads that aren't even there. And that's pretty frustrating.

Siharath: "Accuracy is the biggest thing."

As with anything.. Siharath says you'll find a difference in brands you buy. Some are more user-friendly.. others better at finding points of interest.

Siharath: "Each map is different for each company."

Some are on the small side.. others are like having a small tv set on your dash.

Siharath: "Screen size does make a difference too. The last thing you want to do is have a small screen when you're driving down the street."

And you can pick what kind of voice talks to you.

Siharath: "You can download Jar Jar Binks if you want to. Or Chewbacca. Or even, uh, I don't want to say something else (laughs)."

I guess I'll learn that third one another time.

Some models sync right up to construction signs.

When the interchange was completed, how quickly would it have updated on one of these devices?

Siharath: "You're looking at a two second delay. You probably won't notice it because it's two milliseconds."

Pretty much as soon as that ramp opened, these were updated?

Siharath: "Yep, right away."

And even though our phone was right on with the two GPS's.. Siharath points out --they tend to lose signals.. thereby making it tough for drivers.

Siharath: "With the phone you have one cell phone that works with other cell carriers. With this, it's several different satellites in space."

Are you finding that a lot more people are getting GPS's rather than using an old-fashioned map?

Siharath: "It's a little safer because the thing with road map is you have to pull over to the side of the street or the highway and the last thing you want to do is cause traffic jams.

Some GPS systems give you nearby gas stations with the lowest prices.

And new technology is in the works to do the same for fast food restaurants.

Online Reporter: Bryon Graff

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