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Unhappy with Microsoft Streets & Trips. Looking for an alternative.
Steve E. Ownby
I am looking to purchase a GPS for my car. I currently have a a laptop with Microsoft Streets and Maps and it works great but it's hard to use while driving. What do I look for? Do I have to buy software for the device? Do I have to pay for updates. the purpose of the Gps is strictly pleasure and convience. could someone give me a brief intro to this stuff?
Thanks!
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Steve, and welcome to the forums. Streets & Trips is excellent trip planner, but some users feel it takes a while to get used to as a navigation tool. Free S&T Keys helps in that department. Or look into other software. Garmin Mobile PC has been very popular lately.
Ken in Regina
Hi Steve,

Where do you mount the laptop when trying to use it in the car? The biggest problem for me in trying to use my laptop for in-vehicle navigation is that there's no place I can mount it for effective use. It makes no difference what software I use because I can't put the laptop where I can see it or reach it safely.

For that reason alone, I still use a personal navigation device that mounts nicely on the dash where it does not affect my view of the road but I can see it without turning my head or even taking my eyes off the road. It's also quick and easy to stash in the glove box or my wife's purse when we're out of the vehicle.

So, there are two issues with using a laptop for navigation. One is, of course, the best software. That's largely a matter of personal preference. It would help if you could tell us what you don't like or what you feel is missing about Streets&Trips for navigation use so we could point you at something that solves those issues for you.

The other is mounting, which is another whole can of worms. Knowing what kind of laptop you have, what kind of vehicle you are trying to use the laptop in and what sort of mounting you have tried would help us suggest solutions that would be most suitable to your situation.

...ken...
Steve E. Ownby
I have a Toshiba Satellite but I guess my real problem is that it is so difficult to hear and to use while driving. Recently I took a trip to Atlanta and it seemed as soon as needed specific instructions the sun blinded the screen or the voice directions weren't loud enough. I love Microsoft Streets and Trips and I love my laptop but I've come to realize it's time for an onboard GPS. I've heard good and bad. Extra expenses for maps and updates after purchase, not accurate or too sluggish.
Marvin Hlavac
Steve, many people would agree with you that Streets & Trips is not as loud as it should be, or it is not as loud as other programs. It also depends on the laptop you use. Some laptops are louder than others, some need a little bit of help.

If you think a laptop solution is not suitable for you, there are very many websites devoted to GPS. All of them discuss various personal navigation devices. Read some of their reviews before you make your purchase decision. This particular site, Laptop GPS World, focuses on GPS solutions for laptops.
Ken in Regina
Hi Steve,

A cheap battery-powered external speaker for the headphone jack or an FM transmitter to transmit from the headphone jack to the car stereo would easily solve the audio problem. Or if you have an AUX IN or MP3 jack on the car stereo you just need a cable. The FM transmitter or the AUX IN input both tie up the car stereo to the laptop so you can't listen to the radio and the Streets&Trips guidance at the same time, but at least you could play MP3s from the laptop at the same time.

I don't think anything short of a laptop with a better screen (do they make any that are good enough to use in the sun?) would solve that problem, although there are many people using laptops in vehicles that have come up with rather creative ways to shade the screens on sunny days.

If you are interested in chasing down either of those solutions before going to a dedicated vehicle GPS, this forum is a pretty good place to get some responses. A new discussion thread or two with a more descriptive subject line would be best so you get the attention of the right people.

...ken...
MisterMoonlight
Another solution for the sound is to use a single ear earphone, so you can hear the voice guidance from the laptop, even if the family is making a lot of noise around (this is the solution i use myself)...
Steve E. Ownby
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and help. I'll take everything in to consideration and keep using my laptop for now
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