Do I Need an SD Card for my GPS?
A common question lately… “Do I need to buy an SD card for my GPS?”. Unfortunately, this question has been prompted by customers who are receiving calls from stores after they place an order for a GPS. The conversation typically starts like this.
“Mr Smith, I noticed you placed an order for an Auto GPS and we are excited to let you know your order will ship soon. But we were wondering if you wanted to include an SD card in your order since your GPS has an SD slot and the card will allow you to use your GPS to the fullest potential.”
When talking about auto GPS devices, the overwhelming majority of GPS users will never need an SD card. Don’t give in to the sales tactic. Even the skimpiest of GPS devices will typically have at least 50 MB to 100 MB of free space left in the internal memory, with many of them offering much more.
Map & App Updates
Maps take up much of the space and while newer map updates are typically larger than the ones they are replacing, it is typically only by a tiny margin. There are some exceptions such as some of the newer TomTom maps are much larger than the older ones due to the inclusion of some additional files necessary to support voice recognition. There are also a few Magellan and Harman Kardon devices that in order to update the application, and SD card is necessary. Those exceptions don’t impact the majority of users, and you can always purchase one later if you find it necessary.
SD Cards can be helpful at times. If you use your GPS as an MP3 player it is often more convenient to load the music onto SD card. And if you frequently switch maps from one country to another it is often easier to put one set of maps on the card so you don’t need to keep replacing the internal memory. Again, that will not be for the majority of users.
Some people think that because they want to load thousands of custom POI files that they will need an SD card. These POI files don’t actually take up much space. For example I have a custom POI file for 10,000 Starbucks locations that takes up less than 500 KB of space. With most GPS devices having at least 50 MB of free space, you would need to add around 200,000 locations before you might run out of space… and many GPS devices will have more free space available than that.
Do I Need it?
So my general advice is that unless you know for certain you will need an SD card…. you probably won’t need an SD card. And if you do, they are easy and cheap to come by.