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Cheap GPS and software for netbook
photagraph
I'm wondering if anyone could suggest a cheap gps and software for my netbook. I dont need anything to extreme cause ill primarily use it for roadtrips. It would be cool if it could also have some type of topographical maps.

I have a friend who told me he could download coordinates for specific things like waterfalls and other points of interest. How do you do this?

Currently I'm looking on ebay for dongles. Any good ones on there?

Thanks repliers!
photagraph
No one has any suggestions?
Marvin Hlavac
Hi photagraph,

:welcome: to Laptop GPS World.

Quote:
Currently I'm looking on ebay for dongles. Any good ones on there?
They all likely are similar in performance. Disadvantage of GPS dongles (USB GPS sticks) is that in many (most?) situations their performance suffers due to RF interference when they are plugged directly into a laptop (or a netbook). They work better when a USB extension cable is used, so they are further away from the laptop (the source of the interference). A form factor of GPS dongles is attractive, but if a USB extension has to be used to gain satisfactory performance, the appeal is no longer there. You may consider using a Bluetooth GPS receiver (to avoid a cable between it and your laptop), or a plain old-fashion USB GPS receiver, such as the popular BU-353 (a larger antenna of a "regular" USB GPS receiver will outperform smaller antenna inside a GPS dongle).

Regarding the software, it is hard to suggest something without knowing where (which country) you intend to use it.
Ken in Regina
The least expensive products with a combination of navigation software, maps and GPS receiver are Microsoft Streets and Trips and DeLorme Street Atlas.

Both of them are North America products. The maps that come with them are not topographical and don't do much when you get off the beaten path. You cannot add topographical maps to Streets&Trips. I don't know about DeLorme. I think they have a Topo package but it might have to be purchased and operated seperately.

If you aren't in North America, or if you want complete flexibility in having a selection of both road maps and topo maps, including free topo maps, Garmin Mobile PC is one you could look at. You can get it bundled with either a Bluetooth receiver or a USB receiver. It's not as cheap as the other two I mentioned but you can get all sorts of maps to add to it, no matter where in the world you want to use it.

...ken...
photagraph
I have a USB extender that is part of my USB WiFi stick so I can just use that with the dongle.

I live in the united states if that helps. Does Streets and Trips allow points of interest that can be added onto the software?
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by photagraph
I have a usb extender that is part of my usb wifi stick so I can just use that with the dongle.
You really really don't want to do that. In our testing and from the experience of others in the forum we've determined that the closer to the laptop the GPS receiver is the poorer the performance.

To get reliable performance from your GPS receiver you need to do two things. First and most important, you need to get the receiver in a location that allows it a good unimpeded view of the sky. In a vehicle, that's normally in the centre of the dash, as close to the windshield as you can get it.

The second thing is that you need to keep the receiver a good distance away from electronic interference. The GPS satellite signals that the receiver is trying to pick up are very very weak and any electronic interference will wipe them out. Most laptops and netbooks do not have very good shielding on their electronics. The electronic "noise" from the laptop won't be enough to bother your car radio or cell phone but it's more than enough to ruin the performance of your GPS receiver if it's within a foot or so of most laptops and netbooks. (It won't harm the receiver; it just won't let it work well.)

If you are thinking of a dongle anyway and want something really inexpensive, consider getting Streets & Trips with the GPS receiver option. The 2010 version has just become available. At least the Streets&Trips dongle comes with a USB patch cord that will let you put the receiver somewhere it can function effectively.

Quote:
I live in the united states if that helps. Does streets and trips allow points of interest that can be added onto the software?
Yes, it does.

...ken...
photagraph
The extender is corded and is about two feet long so its more than a foot. Are you sure this still won't work for getting the dongle far enough away from the netbook?
tcassidy
It should work fine at that length and allow you to place the GPS device in a good sky view position. It is a matter of terminology. Extender sounded short as opposed to extension cable.

Terry
Ken in Regina
Terry is right. I misunderstood when you said "extender". Even a short extension cable like 2 ft. will get it far enough from the laptop that interference won't be an issue. Whether it's long enough to get it into a good position for satellite reception totally depends on where you put the laptop.

...ken...
photagraph
I decided to go with Streets and Trips and the BU-353. I was worried about the dongle falling out of the extender and the BU-353 had some stellar reviews.

Thanks for your help in making my decision!
Ken in Regina
Drop back any time and let us know how it's working out for you. Feedback is always useful whether it's good or bad. Information is always good, even when it's bad.

...ken...
photagraph
I just received my receiver today. I tested it out for a few destinations. For the most part the combination does not seem to work as efficiently as some of the dedicated GPS units I have used.

Streets and Trips seems to me like a little overkill for driving in the car. There are so many icons and menus. I feel as if I am editing an excel spreadsheet or something. I am not to fond of how it is necessary to press the start and stop button every time I would like to use it to navigate. I also wish that there was a way to view the road from above like dedicated gps units allow.

In all fairness though I have only used it for a few routes, so maybe it'll get a little easier to use as time goes by.

Is there an alternative that is less complicated?
tcassidy
Check out the Mobile PC section if you are more interested in the navigating than the planning.

Terry
photagraph
I wish I had checked into the garmin! That aerial view is what I really am missing I'll make have to make due for now.
tcassidy
S&T 2010 will do 3D and full screen in navigation mode.

Terry
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