I've got a voice recognition Garmin nuvi 855 (obsolete, but still fully functional 2 years out).
I use some free POI files from a website called POI-Factory which is free to join, for stuff I might
want to find in a given area, but they're published as is, so they aren't always as precise as the
same poi locations built in to most base GPS unit maps. I use the user created POI files to find things
that aren't yet included in the base maps, like new Starbucks locations, public and commercial
campgrounds, truck stops, Walmarts, and so on. Most of those files are pretty accurate, but I've
had to tweak my copy of one or two to make them more accurate. I usually send poi "miss" info
to the file authors and I've learned quite a bit about the subject of POI files having created a POI
file for Roadtrek Dealers and Service locations last year - with the assistance of Roadtrek service
staff. It's available on here for free, as a download as a .csv file (it may actually be in the Open Office
equivalent format, as I do like free software
) should you own a Roadtrek and a Garmin.
Garmin uses Navteq base maps and they're pretty good. All Garmin software updates are free
downloads and installations. Map updates either have to included in the purchase price or purchased after the fact as an add on when your original base map starts to get out of date.
I only tried using an imported list of waypoints once (created a list of State Capitols for a trip 18
months ago) and haven't bothered since. For the reasons Booster cited. Not really much use, after
realizing that we could make our own variances and side trip decisions on an ad hoc basis. We really
only need/use the Garmin to tell us (and with visual lane assists where applicable) where to be, in
which lane, with enough warning prior to the next course maneuver. We handle the local navigation
ourselves by visual recognition, "ooooh, that looks interesting, let's go there".
If the nuvi model name has L = lifetime, M =map updates, T = traffic updates, W = wide screen
(usually only 4.3" diagonal? and not always used). So a 1490LMT would come with lifetime map and
live traffic updates (where available). Or, you can add lifetime map updates for a one time fee of
US$89. I did recently.
If the unit has "voice recognition" (you speak to it, it speaks to you) it will be mentioned
in the features description. It does help get you around the "distracted driving" laws, although
it takes some getting used to.
I also believe, although I haven't used it for a while, that the Mapsource software and functions are
included in the package when you register your unit. At least one free download, maybe?
Theft: see Markopolo's suggestion. Hide it when leaving the vehicle. I have a weighted base that
stores easily under a seat. Or I just pop the unit into my waist pack and take it with me.
If I ever get a smartphone or tablet, I may switch to a GPS app, but as long as the Garmin still
works, it's the main navigator for our open road travels.