Navigation software needed for IBM X300 with built-in GPS
I have a client who purchased an IBM X300 laptop (very nice machine, very $$$ too) with a GPS card built into it. She is preparing to take a road trip from Maryland to Florida and asked me to investigate the GPS capability. I don't see any mapping software installed on her machine, and I have no experience with these capabilities.

So I'm wondering what software to recommend, and perhaps even before that, is it reasonable to think that a laptop with GPS built-in will perform in a satisfactory fashion given the location of the receiver won't necessarily be satellite friendly.

Any advice or shared experience would be appreciated.
Ken in Regina
One of the first things you need to do is ensure that you know the GPS is functioning and how to access it. I would suggest two utility programs for doing that.

The first is GPSGate. This program will find a GPS if it's installed and activated and functioning properly. When you run it it puts an icon in the System Tray. To find your GPS you right-click the GPSGate icon, select Settings and click the Settings Wizard button. GPSGate will tell you where it found the GPS. The System Tray icon changes colour to tell you if it has found a GPS and again when the GPS has a location fix.

The second is Compass. It allows you to see what the GPS is doing. It's actually a neat application in itself but probably not useful for your client. It's a great diagnostic to allow you to see what the GPS is doing. This goes to your question about performance issues when the GPS is built in. You'll be able to see how many satellites the GPS sees and their signal strength as you place the laptop in different locations.

There is a wealth of information on here about the various nav programs, including reviews and also many useful threads that start out with the same question you asked. The Search function on here uses Google so it's quite helpful. And if you scroll to the bottom of this page you will see a list of similar threads.

If you're a professional and charging your client for this work you already know that the first thing you need to do is find out what sorts of things they think they want to do with nav software. Without that information, the only answer to "Which nav program?" is that any of them will do all the basic nav functions just fine.


I appreciate the information. Compass sounds interesting and useful. With this client, I'm not sure she knows what she wants to do with the application, but I will try to give her a few options and see how it goes.

Thanks again.
Ken in Regina
I hate to butt into your business but I've been an IT professional for more than thirty years. You'll appreciate that I've had a lot of opportunities to make mistakes. I've learned a lot from them.

Don't try to second guess her before you ask the question. First, ask her what she thinks it might do for her, in her own terms.

No guarantee you will get a useful answer but there's a very good chance she has something in her mind that a nav system might help her with or she wouldn't have asked you about it.

I only suggest this approach because you are not knowledgeable about GPS nav systems yourself so you risk missing something important if you second guess her before you listen to her thoughts. There is also a terminology issue.

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't do your homework to prepare for the discussion. I just think it's better to hear what she has to say in plain language, first, and go from there.

Apologies if this is your standard approach.

Just my 2.

I don't think Compass will work with GPS Gate. It does not appear to have any way to set a port to monitor. It does come up immediately when xport is started but why run both GPSGate and xport.

Ken in Regina
I wasn't aware that Compass was so tightly tied to Xport.

I recommend GPSGate for diagnosis simply because it's a superior diagnostic tool. If the GPS is activated and sending out data, GPSGate will find it. That's not necessarily the case with Xport. If you don't already know where to find the GPS (COM port, speed), Xport isn't always a lot of help. I've never had a combination that GSPGate couldn't find.

If the original poster already knows where the GPS is supposed to be (COM port, speed) then Xport is definitely the right choice. And it might be a good place to start anyway (click "Find GPS" button). But if it doesn't find the GPS, GPSGate is Plan B.

...ken... About