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What handhelds support laptop displays?
noguru
n00b alert

I'd like a handheld that is compact, color, and effective, to be used on hikes AND for driving guidance (don't need voice). However, it should also be able to connect to my laptop via USB and overlay its information on Google Earth Plus and other maps.

In other words, it's an independent handheld AND a "puck"...

Is this asking for too much?

Thanks!
Ken in Regina
Hi n00b ... truly a "noguru"?? You ask good questions, anyway.

I have a Garimn eTrex Legend HCx and it does all of that. It can take a micro-SD card and you can load maps on it. It has a nice bright screen that's even quite readable in bright daylight. It's color and you can select from different color schemes.

It's designed specifically for handheld use so it's a good size that fits well in the hand. I use mine on my mountain bike so I have a handlebar mount for it. A buddy has one that he uses in the same handlebar mount on his BMW GS1200. I've used mine in light rain so it's pretty weatherproof. You can get a dash mount for use in a vehicle.

If you load maps that have the autorouting data in them, like Garmin's City Navigator North America, it's a fully-featured personal navigation device. You can search for waypoints that you have loaded (this can include geocaches), addresses, cities, intersections, points of interest (POIs) and all the usual sorts of things and then have the eTrex route to them. It has onscreen guidance instructions. You can control a variety of ways that the prompts behave and whether you want beeps to warn you when a maneuvre is coming up. It doesn't have voice prompts.

It has a USB connection for transferring data to and from a PC. When it's connected you have the choice of whether it pretends to be an external removable disk drive or a GPS receiver. When it's connected normally, it sends the GPS data stream to the PC so you can use it as a "puck" as you called it.

If you want to use it as a GPS receiver for laptop navigation software you need to be aware that it sends the Garmin protocol by default so it won't work with non-Garmin navigation program without some help. This isn't a biggie but just something to be aware of.

There are a wealth of maps available for Garmin navigation devices. Some are free and some cost money. In order to load maps you need a Garmin utility call MapSource. It gives you all sorts of management features, like loading maps to the device, transferring routes, waypoints and tracks to and from the device and viewing tracks and waypoints using Google Earth (including Plus and Pro) without having to do any data conversions (eg. to KML, etc). It's also has good trip planning features. The MapSource program comes included with any maps that you buy from Garmin or you can install it for free (there's a how-to in the Garmin Mobile PC section of this forum).

Nope, it's not asking too much. I have one and it's a very nice piece of kit. It has the latest GPS receiver technology so it gets a lock in some difficult situations and is very accurate.

You can also go one more model up, to the eTrex Vista HCx, and you get an electronic compass and electronic barometer built in. I think it's a waste of the extra money but others love it.

...ken...
noguru
This is truly excellent information - and I thank you.
It's off to eBay!
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by noguru
This is truly excellent information - and I thank you.
It's off to eBay!
Just a tip... The HCx models are relatively new so you might have just as much luck finding them on sale from online stores as you will in eBay. I caught a sale price at GPS Central when I bought mine. When my friend was looking, GPS City had a good price. So it pays to look at other places as well as eBay.

As a general rule, I've found it's best to treat eBay just like you would a local big box store, like Fry's or Best Buy ... you need to know your prices. If you do, you'll find that for "Buy Now" items there are some good buys on eBay but there are lots of ordinary prices and quite a few that are just silly high. For bid items, the bidding is just like a real auction. It often gets downright stupid as the closing time gets close and people decide they don't want to lose the bidding.

...ken...
noguru
Bought a Legend HCx refurb with 1y Garmin warranty for $170 shipped, no tax. In my eighth decade, it's new tricks for the old dog...

I do have MapSource 4.09 with WorldMap 2.01, so the next goal is to make it useful for cruising anywhere in the world. I'll also need higher-resolution maps for areas of interest.

Hopefully there's a U.S. map of some sort already in that unit. I know anything can be loaded via USB, so there should be no problem configuring it just as I need it. And, microSD cards are now $8 for 2GB, shipped!

Again, thanks for the guidance.

Hank
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by noguru
Bought a Legend HCx refurb with 1y Garmin warranty for $170 shipped, no tax. In my eighth decade, it's new tricks for the old dog...
Good catch, Hank, you old dog!! I'm just a pup in my sixth decade so I've still got lots to learn. Obviously you could give me a few pointers about shopping. I paid about the same but had to pay shipping and federal tax (Canadian GST). I have the advantage that I spent the last thirty years of my working life as a computer professional so it helps me pick this stuff up pretty quickly.

Quote:
I do have MapSource 4.09 with WorldMap 2.01, so the next goal is to make it useful for cruising anywhere in the world. I'll also need higher-resolution maps for areas of interest.
You will want to upgrade your copy of Mapsource to get the most from your unit. I don't think that old version of yours will have the "View in Google Earth" selection in the "VIEW" menu.

Check the Mapsource Help menu and see of there's an item to "Check for Updates". If not, let us know and we can pop in a link to Garmin's download site. The update is free.

If you don't care about autorouting you can get detailed topo maps for free. If you want autorouting for in-vehicle navigation you're probably best to just go back online and buy a copy of Garmin's City Navigator North America 2009.

Quote:
Hopefully there's a U.S. map of some sort already in that unit.
Sort of. There is a basemap of North America in it. That's really gross data ... shows major urban centres and mid-size cities and big roads, like interstates. Very little street data. It does have some autorouting information, but it's at the same gross level as the display data.

I have two micro-SD cards for mine. One has City Navigator on it and the other has topos on it.

..... Ummm, almost forgot. Don't ... do NOT ... buy any of Garmin's map products that come on preloaded cards if you can get the same product on DVD. You can't use the data on those cards in Mapsource. The cards can't be backed up so if they get messed up you're SOL. And there's no extra space on the cards so you can't save track files on them. They are a bad investment all around, in my opinion.

...ken...
noguru
Great. Updated MapSource and it's really fine for figuring out where the ship is from port to port. I clicked on the Google Earth option but still need to figure out how to benefit.

Only a minute away from 'send' I recalled your advice regarding the purchase of map products on preloaded cards. Thanks yet again...

I definitely DO need detailed topo maps. In addition to the U.S., are they available for New Zealand, Australia, the Middle East?

Does the Legend have a limit regarding size of the microSD card? 2GB is only $8 shipped, so I thought about buying a few of them, but if 8GB "works", I'll only need one or two.

And it would be great to find a copy of GPS FOR FOOLS.
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by noguru
Great. Updated MapSource and it's really fine for figuring out where the ship is from port to port. I clicked on the Google Earth option but still need to figure out how to benefit.
In order to make use of the "View in Google Earth" feature you first need something to view. The things that are useful to view in Google Earth are tracks, waypoints and routes. So, a quick test will to be open Mapsource, click on the Route tool in the toolbar, click a few points to create a route, right-click in some empty space on the map and click "Cancel" to end the route, click on the Routes tab to make sure the route is there (and there should be a pretty lavender coloured line on the map where your route is.

With the route showing in Mapsource, click on VIEW > View in Google Earth. Once it initializes and the globe stops spinning and zooming you should be able to see your route.

If you look in the left colum of Google Earth under Temporary Places you'll see Mapsource under Temporary Places. Under Mapsource you will see Tracks, Routes, Waypoints. That's where anything that was loaded in the Mapsource file will show up.

If there's anything in the Temporary Places in Google Earth that you want to save in your Google Earth file, just drag it from Temporary Places into the appopriate folder(s) in My Places.

There....! Wasn't that easy? You can also create a waypoint or two in Mapsource and do the same thing to test it out in Google Earth.

Quote:
I definitely DO need detailed topo maps. In addition to the U.S., are they available for New Zealand, Australia, the Middle East?
Yes. The short answer requires another question: Do you want to pay for them or do you want them free? If you want to buy commercial ones, just check out Garmin's site to see what's available.

If you want them free, you'll need to do a little more work. There are a couple of threads in the Garmin Mobile PC section of this forum regarding New Zealand and Australia. They have links for maps in those countries. I think the same sites also have maps for Asia and possibly the Middle East. Just go to that section of the forum and search for New Zealand. If you can't find the links with a quick browse, just pop a new thread into that section and we'll give you a hand. ..mmmm... It occurs to me that I'm not sure of those free maps are topos or road maps. I think you'll find both.

If you want free topos of the US I can point you at a site for those.

Quote:
Does the Legend have a limit regarding size of the microSD card?
DammedIfIKnow. I just went with 2GB cards on the basis that if I make maps bigger than that it takes forever for Mapsource to compile them and load them on the card and big maps like that tend to slow things down on any GPS unit I've used them on.

With Mapsource you can combine a whole bunch of maps into a really big one for the card. When the card is in the Legend it will see that it has maps from different sources, eg. City Navigator, Topo US West, etc. and let you switch between them. But you reach a size where it's just simpler to keep seperate cards and swap them.

Below about 1.5GB it's nice to have combined maps for a region because those itty-bitty micro-SD cards can be a real chore to pop in and out without losing them.

Oh yeah, I should mention that when Mapsource creates a mapset to load on the card, it's always the same name (gmapsupp.img). It has to do that because that's the only file name that the unit will recognize. This applies to all Garmin GPS units that allow loadable maps. So you can't have multiple smaller files with different names on the card and switch between them.

Quote:
And it would be great to find a copy of GPS FOR FOOLS.
Now I'm hurt, and I'm sure Marvin is, too. Isn't this the perfect place???


...ken...
noguru
This is a fine launch as I wait for delivery of that handheld. Impatience doesn't fade with age...

The MapSource + Google Earth combination works perfectly and will be very useful - good guidance (pun intended) for which I'm grateful.

Yes, I'll go scavenging to build up an initial inventory of suitable maps, then buy replacements for whatever's not up to par.


Again, thanks.
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