Help! My netbook needs GPS for 4wheel driving, traveling, bicycling, and walking.
Hi all, I am completely new in this field but know what I want, so if anyone can guide me or give me some advice what to do, without spending a fortune, this would be perfect.
I summary I am early retired, live since 12 years in Australia, love traveling, bicycling and 4wheel driving. I recently bought a net book Asus PC1000 and want to put a GPS system on this computer.
Ideally what I want is a GPS system which allows me

1) to go in the middle of nowhere in Australia with my 4wd and not getting lost when driving in the Simpson desert for example

2) drive in Europe and find my way in any country

3) take my bicycle with netbook on the back and be able to cycle on the best bikepaths of the Netherlands or Belgium for example

4) walk in Tasmania and be able to follow paths again with GPS
So am I dreaming or not?

As I am a complete novice I try to understand your discussions and advices and if I understand correcty I need to buy a GPS receiver first, than buy software and the different maps.
I (think I?) understood that Garmin is a better navigation system as compared to Microsoft which is more a planning tool, is that correct?
Are there other systems like BU353 or TomTom? And what about prices, which country is offering the best buys and which I could buy via internet?
So in summary if you could guide me to the best value for money receiver, maps etc.. or give me any other advice let me know, thanks in advance for your help and please correct me if I made any stupid comment, best regards, Michel
Ken in Regina
Hi Michel,

As a retired person of nearly eight years, I welcome you. As I read through your wish list I think you have too much money and time on your hands now.

The first thing you need to find is maps. If you can't find maps for the areas of interest, the navigation software and GPS receiver are not important.

When you find the availability of maps for the areas of interest you can check what navigation programs they will work with. That will lead you to the navigation program that will use all, or the most, of the maps you need.

Finally, you can select a GPS receiver. This is the last thing to think about for two reasons.

First, all modern consumer GPS receivers are excellent. There are differences but few of them are significant except in special circumstances.

Second, some navigation programs can be purchased in an economical bundle with a GPS receiver included. So you may not have to search for a GPS receiver at all. It may be possible to get one with the navigation software you want. If not, once you have found the maps you need and decided on the navigation software it becomes easier to narrow down the possible GPS receivers.

You can start looking for maps by using your internet search engine (Yahoo, Google,, etc.). Use search terms like "GPS map tasmania" (without the quotes) to find the maps you need.

To find bicycle paths in various places you may need to look for track files rather than maps. That is, you may not find bicycle paths shown on most GPS maps. But many people will have ridden those bike paths with their GPS receivers and saved the "track" files and posted them on the internet to share. So you can use your search engine to search for something like "bicycle path GPS tracks Belgium" (without the quotes).

As you use your search engine to find these things, you will get much better at figuring out what search words work best to get what you need. If you try some of this and have difficulty getting results you need, please share with us the search term you are trying to use and we can help you refine your search words. If you are going to travel, and like to plan your travel, learning how to use your internet search engine is a skill that will be most useful to you in the years to come.

Start searching and we will be here to help you make sense of the information you find.

Happy retirement!

Marvin Hlavac
... in addition to that, you may look at our PC GPS software reviews. The programs listed are very good for road navigation, but perhaps not as good for off-road driving (even though some people use them for that purpose).

A laptop GPS receiver is the easy part. A USB or Bluetooth GPS receiver can be ordered for about US$50 or even less these days. You've mentioned a BU-353. That's a good USB unit, if you don't mind a cable connection. Otherwise consider a Bluetooth GPS receiver.
Thanks you both for quick and comprehensive reply, this certainly guides me into the right direction, now I just have to do it Thanks again, Michel
Ken in Regina
A word on maps, Michel. As you look for maps in the areas of your interest, watch for topographic maps in the areas where you will be in the outback and similar low-population areas in other countries. When you are away from the urbanized parts of the country, topographic (or "topo") maps will usually have much more detail for smaller unpaved roads and trails .. both 4x4 trails and hiking trails. They have lots of geographic detail that roadmaps don't have, like lakes and rivers and streams and national/provincial/regional parks. They have elevation data that roadmaps don't have.

...ken... About