As you read the descriptions of the several different models we feature - it becomes confusing to the beginner to make a selection. The following discussion may help you to decide. But bear in mind, just as with computers, the first one you buy will probably not be your last. So it is not critical that you now correctly anticipate evey need you may have for it in the future.
The Garmin line. We have selected this line because Garmin has evolved the largest variety of high quality units for the widest matrix of applications. They have consistently won highest ratings and recommendations in independent tests as reported in various magazines.
A starter model. You may want to begin with an inexpensive model (such as the eTrex Basic, or the GPS 72) just to get some experience with GPS in general. Then, as you begin building a wish list of more advanced features, you may consider them for incorporation in your next purchase.
Detailed Basemaps. Apart from the obvious luxury of seeing graphically where you are, they give you another and an easy way to enter a waypoint. With a basic GPS there are only two ways to enter a waypoint - entering the latitude and longitude of it (not always known), and actually going to the place and marking it (impractical on a first-time trip). A detailed basemap allows an additional method of slewing a cursor to a point and then marking it there. Basemap models are wonderful for roadtrips and enable you to gain more experience using your GPS during them.
MapSource downloading. The various Garmin MapSource CDs are availablle to give you a wide variety of specific applications that you may enjoy.
Remote antennas. Built-in antennas are now so that there is not a need as there once was for remote antennas.
Other features such as electronic compasses, or barometers speak for themselves as to desirability.