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What color GPS should I buy?

Apr
16
2007

This is a question I don’t recall anyone ever asking me. However maybe it should be something to consider. Should you purchase a GPS based on color, and if so what difference does it make? Let’s look at a few cases where the color of your GPS device could make a difference.

Outdoors

One scenario you might want to purchase a GPS of a specific color is for outdoor usage. For hunting there are some GPS devices which come camouflaged. Other GPS devices are a flat gray color which might also work well if the model you want doesn’t come camouflaged.

Other times you might want a GPS device which stands out more. I previously had a gray colored GPS device and dropped it in a river. The GPS was waterproof so no problem there… but I had an incredibly difficult time finding the GPS as it wandered down the river. In this case I’m a fan of the bright colors, several GPS devices come in a bright yellow which is great for outdoor use.

Auto GPS devices

So what difference does color matter with an auto GPS device? Take a look at the following two simulated pictures of an auto GPS.

White GPS

Black GPS

Which of those devices offers a more clear view of the road? Which device is easier to look at? Now, I’m certainly not an expert in optics. (If you are, let me know your credentials and if you have anything to add or correct!) But to me the second GPS device is much easier on the eyes. From what I have been able to read, this is due to something called “Lateral Inhibition”.

You might notice several GPS devices on the market today which might be gray in color but have a flat black border around the screen. The displays on these devices typically seem easier to view. In contrast, there are other devices out there which have a glossy white finish surrounding the screen. These seem the most difficult to view.

The difference is minimal, and I certainly wouldn’t discourage the purchase of an auto GPS device based on color alone. However a bright glossy white finish on your GPS might not be the best idea if you will use it where it is frequently exposed to bright sunlight. And don’t underestimate how much you might wish you had a bright yellow GPS if you drop it in a river like I did.

You can read more about lateral inhibition here and here.

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