Initial GPS unit
GM-510 from QVC 

The instruction book is not so hot. Some items it doesn't explain.

ONE: you must turn OFF the unit even when plugged into car power outlet.  The unit should know you are turning off the car (voltage drop from 13.8V to 12v) and auto shut off.  But it doesn't and if your lighter plug turns off when the car goes off, it kills the batteries to dead in the GPS. That's not good to do to Ni-Cad batteries.  On the other had, unplug the unit every couple of weeks and drain the battery for a couple of hours.  Then recharge unit the side light is green.

TWO: you MUST pop up the rear antenna when using the unit!  Plus, when mounted in a car, you may need to have antenna with a clear view to the sky.  The unit does work in my house, one story but 8 inches insulation and a double layer roof. Not bad.

THREE: Current time: you must go to settings and change your “time zone”.   Or your time will always be wrong.  The GPS get the time from the satellites from GMT. If you are in the wrong time zone, the GPS will set the wrong time.  Easy fix. I don't know what happens if you drive over a time zone?   I guess you have to reset the time again.

FOUR: been trying to use the FM converter?  You MUST have it plugged into the cigarette lighter, or the FM will not turn to ON no matter how many times you press it.  Supposedly, the power wire acts like an antenna.  I had the plug in the unit, but not in the cigarette lighter. If the FM converter does not see DC power.  No MP3 via radio.

FIVE:  if you use the + on the right side of the map until you zoom in all the way possible, you better be going below 40mps.  The map cannot refresh (draw the new screen) at 60 - 70mps and the roads or exits will be past you when you get the voice or screen prompts.  You should hit the - (minus) on the left side at least twice.  Then at highway speeds, you should be told of upcoming exits more accurately.  Just like a computer, the price of the GPS depends on the chip speed.  I have to say, the alternate route only takes 10 or so seconds to draw or state it found a new way.  I have heard older GPS units took a very, very long time if you miss the exit or take a different route.  These are almost instant.  If you do take an alternate route.. it will complain for some time to "turn around" unit you go some distance before it creates an alternate route.

SIX: From other GPS sites. A memory card is not a memory card.  Some card makers work, some won't. I have tried a Secure Digital Scan Disk Ultra II 2 Gb card.  That's a lot of music.  I have a cheaper 1 GB 1X card that works too.  If you try to dump 500 songs into the main folder, I'll bet you might have problems.  Use folders (usually song albums or maybe song types) to put them in some order.  Is there a limit on how may folders within folders, don't know.  Still need to use a memory card reader to put the songs ON the memory card. Then put it in the GPS.  There is no way to plug the GPS into a PC and add items to the memory card.

The site for the company is  In late March '08 the company told someone they called ( it's not on their site) that a new map is available.  $50 if under a year and a receipt, or $100 for older units.  The current maps seem to be around 2003, I have no problems in the NE U.S.  You MUST send them the unit so the PC wire that came with the unit is useless.  The web site only shows it's newer units.  Alas, this is a very old GPS and now, with Google Maps, many have forgone GPS units.  They are selling dirt cheap anymore.

If you need a manual for the GM-510 click here.

When first plugging in, it may take 5 min. or more to set-up.  It's suppose to be a GPS thing.  Most likely checking on what satellites are available.  In N.J. it takes a minute to find satellites and using it the past (year) it found every road, side roads, turn off and ramps.  Very amazing it showing small road turn offs and ramps and U turn roads. Plus there are many map views under “settings” called 3D that turns the map from straight down to 3 degrees of views.  I choose #1, a slight straightaway view.  There are also two settings, always “North” or “Driving View”.  Someone I had playing with it that set it to “North” and I got very confused what was going on.  Time delay is only 1.5 seconds to update screen but at 70 mph the ramp may come up early. Driving at 10-50 mph seems to be no problem.  The driving speed indicator is very accurate, plus a “speed warning” ability is adjustable to warn you that you are going too fast.  

Daytime GPS display has the ground in grey, except for parks (green), water (light blue) golf course (light green) rail road tracks (dashes) cemetery (light blue).  Night time, the GPS turns land to dark blue, not sure why.  Small light indicator in back turns it to NIGHT VIEW, so don’t block it.  MOUNTING: the suction cup is like most others, little arm pulled down creates suction.  Tab on rubber cup is for releasing suction after releasing arm. Mounting unit fully adjustable and looks strong.  It comes with a self-sticking mount that uses the suction unit.  It’s double sided tape and whatever it sticks to, that tape may stay on for a long time.  I don’t use the permanent mount.  Many states don’t like items blocking windshield, so watch were it goes.  I don’t see many mounting options available for this unit.

 USB CABLE: supplied.  UPDATES: (March '08 - the company says there is an update for a $99 fee) according to a returned E-mail from “Initial” there is nothing until 2008 (no time or what would be updated was stated)  POI (points of interest): always a problem as these items need to be programmed in and someone has to pay to get their site inserted.  The web site shows other models that seem to use the same engine, so one “update” may do many models if one comes out. INITIAL’s web site does not state anything, actually it’s very meager and doesn’t even show this model.  I wonder where QVC got it. The booklet says copyright 2005, no month.  Two million PIOs are not much when you think of entire U.S. and Canada.  There is a 7” model they make that has CD but it also states 2 Million POIs. This unit has all it's maps internal.  There are others the same size, but use a memory card.  So if you play a lot of music, you have to see what space is left on the card for music against their maps.

 ACTUAL USE: When programmed for a location, I took alternate routes.   In a few seconds it showed the re-routed route after many “please turn around when safe” requests came through.  I did this several times and the unit re-routed quickly.

 MP3.  Every time unit is turned off the FM broadcast turns off.  So if you are going to stop for coffee, keep the MP3 unit on and hit PAUSE.   The MP3 ability is not great.  Cannot create song lists.  If you have an “album image” in your folder, the MP3 stops and displays it.   It will play songs in a folder or just play random songs on the memory card.  It works with a 1 Gig card I bought for $14.  In trying the random play, the unit plays the same set of songs as it did the day before ? ? Not quite random. At least start at the bottom or middle of the list at different times.  To add song to the unit.  You must buy a SD card (they are dirt cheap) and add the songs via your PS.  There is no way to use the cord to the GPS.  Get a cheap memory card reader (Wal Mart for $10) and COPY them to the SD card.  Then you can play them.  I have some people telling me their unit won't read the card.

To go from MP3 to GPS you must press POWER once, tap GPS, then the warning button.  Only need to see the “warning” once per turn on.  So if you turn it off for a bathroom break, it'll ask to tap the warning O.K. yet again.   From GPS to MP3 is just hit power button once. There is headphone plug and FM broadcast available.  See warning as you MUST have the DC connected to do the FM converter. I had to call to get that solved.  MP3 sound also plays via the tiny build in speaker ? ?  So you must turn volume down and play it through the car’s stereo.  I guess you can’t use turn-by-turn and MP3 since you have to turn volume down on the unit. (Someone wrote and said the MP3 goes lower when directions are given)  Weird setup there, why have MP3 go to mono built in speaker ?  The FM is nice as you can choose many specific blank stations (that chosen station stays after being turned off) and it must broadcast a strong signal, as it never faded from the nice MP3 broadcast quality. My satellite radio unit always had station fade when the “blank” frequency was overpowered by a local broadcast station as I moved through towns.   In two cars, the FM converter never faded.

That’s it for June 12, 2007

UPDATE - June 24, 2007.  I just came back from the Pocono's in PA.  The GPS found the street (a condo in Camelback) from my N.J. home.  All the streets in the Condo association were marked on the GPS.  We went across the road to a new development.  The roads were all displayed but only a few had street names on the GPS but the signposts had road names.  It looks like they were put up in 2005 /06.  While driving around the Pocono's all the little roads showed up on the GPS.  It even directed us to some tiny little pottery place on a deserted road from the Condo.  Hitting favorites got us back to the Condo.  Only once the GPS got confused saying turn left when the GPS showed the correct route on the right.  That was on a major highway with many roads around but the voice did state the correct road to take.  We went to the top of the camelback mountain, which is a park, it showed all the roads and turn offs.

I also received a message from someone stating they had the Navigation and MP3 going at the same time and the music went lower so the Nav Voice would be heard over the music.

Undocumented Feature Noted by another users.

I found a nice feature on the unit by accident.  After you have programmed in a destination, go to the menu and then select the destination button.  This brings up an undocumented screen where you can run a demo of your route, or you can scroll thru the directions sort of like a mapquest list. Pretty neat!
If you never came across this, try it out.


>>>>> If looking for North James Street  or any compass road name.  When inputting the addresses do not use the direction like North 1st street or whatever the case might be.  I tried it and he was absolutely correct.  I just input the street name with no direction and it worked.

UPDATE - July 13 - 16th, 2007 - I took a trip out to pick up a car in Meadville, PA.  It was a 7+ hour trip, including breakfast, lunch and a break.  The GPS was programmed and it found the address up to the crossroad the car dealer was located.  After looking at the destination, it only kept the street number that was programmed, not the street address.  Maybe it was my fault.  I never checked the destination after programming it.  We drove most of RT 80 from Eastern PA.  The GPS even showed the cross-over points on the meridian.  The GPS also identifies railroad tracks as dashes and light green are golf courses. Different from dark green that identifies state parks.

I then programmed it from there to Delmont, P.A. where we were headed for a wedding. This is how my son convinced me to take a 7 hour trip to buy a used car.  I did not know that the car dealer was 2 hours from the bride's home we had to visit, before going to the hotel we were staying that night.  But the unit found the house street correctly.  The house was on a dinky road.

Returning home, we did stayed two extra days, a mini vacation.  The GPS did find a Cavern we programmed in.  This cavern was the middle of nowhere ( and I mean nowhere)  in central PA.  Many of the roads were not even big enough to be called dinky, but they were all on the GPS and we were told to turn the correct way.

Going from the hotel to the town of State College.  There was a Rt 99 that will be built, but not completed.  It never stated to take Rt. 99, only what the former road was.  Only once did the GPS say nothing when the blue direction line said to turn at this intersection.  The spoked directions did state to take the road number.  I followed the blue road on the GPS.  It found the place correctly.

Returning home to N.J. from mid-west PA.  We programmed in our home, it told us to take a major highway.  After passing RT 81, we continued to a county road when it again said to try the major highway.  After two requests to "turn around when possible", the INITIAL GPS GAVE A " Internal Data Error" on the screen that would not go away.  I guess while recalculating a new way, it went nuts.  I had to turn off the unit and unplug it for a few seconds.  It then worked fine when restarting. An hour and a half more home I had it just had it show the roads.  No other problems after that. It's now March '08.


There are times that I like to program in the exact route I want to take. This can be done using the Itinerary section to setup multiple destinations. Multiple destinations are required to force it to the route you want. Let say there are 2 exits that can get you to the same destination, if the unit selects the exit you don’t want, you can setup the Itinerary with the first destination being the specific exit you want and the second Itinerary item for the final destination (or put as many Itinerary entries as needed). When the first Itinerary destination is reached, I screen will be displayed asking if you want to continue to the next Item in the Itinerary. Just select yes or OK and it automatically routes to the next destination from your current location. Some might say this is not what the GPS is for but I like to program the route I want and then have the GPS show me how far until the next change of direction and announce when it’s coming up.

Some notes on setting up the Itinerary:

 It was not always easy trying to setup a destination on a highway or specific exit until I found another handy item. Call up the map of the area you are trying to get to. Set the closest view, press and hold your finger on the road you want, it will automatically ask if you what to set this location as your destination or add to the favorites.

Using the above, to get this destination into the Itinerary you first add it to the favorites, once there you can use the Itinerary section and add the item from the favorites.

GPS freezes -
First off, thank you for all of your time and hard work invested in your site.  It is very comprehensive and useful.  I, too, own an Initial GM-510 GPS from QVC.  Yes, the manual IS very ambiguous and, seemingly, incomplete.  I had a major problem with it freezing up on me the day we were leaving for our 9600 mile circumnavigation around the country !  What a time for it to 'peter out'.   I got it resolved with a phone call when they opened later that morning and after we were on the road for a while.  (Good thing I knew where I was going in that interim period).  They told me to depress the "RESET" button on the back.  Now, this thing is VERRRRRRRY small and almost un-noticeable (probably a good idea-to prevent inadvertent activation). 

<<<<  I also wanted to add that they told me not to use an SD card larger than 2 GB.  Who knows why but that's the info they gave me when I phoned them. 
Ed: I just tried a Scandisk Ultra II 2 Gb.  Worked fine.  It's more expensive as it has a faster read/write which is not needed for MP3.  So a slower ScanDisk 2 Gb may also work.  Interesting as this card does not work in my '04 Compaq laptop memory card reader.  Newer hardware I guess.

8-24-'08 - Trip to Vermont.   We went to Ludlow, VT  The Inital GPS found the rental on the "signed" dirt road.  It correctly did the 300 mile trip up there and back.   On the way back it wanted to use a different major highway, so it complained for a few mile.  Then rerouted us, twice when we went the way we wanted (Rt 84 and Rt. 87)  It sometimes said to stay on a different road, but that was because a smaller road had joined it for several miles.  I always trusted the blue line, so I sometimes don't listen to the voice commands.  We drove to 5 or so towns when in Vermont.  I found that using the "destination" choice would drop you into the middle of the town. So you didn't have to give a street or address.  That was a nice feature I found.

8-23-'09 - Yes Virginia, the Initial  does cover Canada.  On a short 3 day trip to Montreal, Canada the GPS worked.  Mind you, everything listed in the GPS is in FRENCH.  So trying to type in an address may be difficult as it is looking for French.   Everyone we spoke to at restaurants and hotels speak English, but will bounce to French with the next customer.  Due to Canadian law, every sign must be in French.  Many restaurant  menus do have English translations.  We ended up using the POI, which is all in French too, but were able to figure it out with my wife's 30+ year old H.S. French lessons.  And you though you wasted time taking French !
IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING going to Canada and drive around... get maps from the visitor agencies.  No pictures on the GPS's POI, there are a few universal images on the street signs.  But they were few and far between.  Airports and hospitals were about the only pictures.   Be warned, in Montreal, they have NO visitor directions.  No simple signs to center city, the docks (were the parking and many attractions are), major attractions, nothing ! !   Montreal is a huge city with overpass, underpass and through passes as roads mingle, join and quickly turn off on exits.

If you have any hints… write me.  Address in on my main page

July 2010... as you have noticed electronics have dropped in price.  Especially TVs and GPS units.  There was suppose to be a "lock" on LCD screen prices by the two major manufactures.  The feds got involved in this "price fix" and then things started to tumble.  You can pick up any large GPS for $175 anymore.  Just like my Gateway FPD2185W that cost me $599 when it first came out.  You can now get a 23" monitor for $175 or so.  As of this date, my Intitial 510 GPS is still running.  I do run it on batteries every few weeks, just to discharge them.   Anyone ever replace the batteries, any photos on how to do that ?

2015 - A GPS is now in your had with your smart phone.  Yes, they still sell them but around $100 for a large screen model.