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Review: DeLorme Street Atlas 2008
Marvin Hlavac
DeLorme Street Atlas is a route planning and GPS navigation software program containing street-level map coverage of USA and Canada, and also some main roads and highways in Mexico. Interestingly, the product even includes highway network for quite a lot of other countries all around the world, but the roads disappear when we attempt to zoom a bit closer.

DeLorme has over 30 years long history in the mapping business, and its Street Atlas USA has been around for over 15 years. The same product is now marketed also in Canada under the name of Street Atlas USA/Canada.

DeLorme Street Atlas is an application rich on features. It allows a level of customization users of other programs can only dream about. A brand new user will not master this software over night, just like no one can possibly master Adobe Photoshop in a short time. Yet, even though my previous exposure to Street Atlas was limited to trying it very briefly quite a long time ago, before it even had detailed map of Canada, I still managed to set it up with a surprising ease - within minutes from completing the installation I was already on my way to my destination.


Maps

Unlike many other makers of mapping and GPS navigation products, DeLorme doesn't utilize map data licensed from one of the two major map data providers, Navteq and Tele Atlas. DeLorme makes its own maps. In my opinion, products based on NT or TA data do have an edge at the moment. However, at the time of this writing, both Navteq and Tele Atlas are being sold. In a world without independent map data providers, the idea of a product developer making it's own maps, is becoming increasingly more attractive.

For the most part DeLorme maps are fine, but some 2 lane divided highways are shown just as one line on the map. This may affect routing. In Toronto, Canada, where I drive a lot, Hwy-401 is affected by this lack of detail. Express lanes and collector lanes are both shown on the map as one line. Apparently this doesn't seem to prevent many thousands of loyal SA users from buying a new SA version every year, but I still wish this issue is addressed in the future.

Add your own roads




DeLorme Street Atlas allows users to add new roads to the map. The new roads can be routable. Users can even edit some underlying properties, such as one-way street, two-way street, prohibited right turn, and prohibited left turn. This is a feature which I don't think any other consumer mapping program offers. I suspect the reason for this is that other product developers, who use third party map data from either Navteq or Tele Atlas, would need to pay expensive licensing fees for the privilege to implement such functionality. On the other hand, DeLorme can do anything it wishes with its own map data.

In addition to the current functionality, it would be nice perhaps to let users draw not just local roads, but even major roads, and highway ramps. In my area I noticed a few ramps missing, but I didn't find a way to connect a road, created by me, to a highway.

Driving with DeLorme Street Atlas


While it may be at first a bit overwhelming to see all the tabs and options on the screen, the basic use of the program is actually fairly simple. If you just wish to drive from your current GPS location to your destination, all that you need to do is just type your destination address (as shown above), and hit the Enter-key on your keyboard. A route will be immediately calculated, and you may start driving. The map will show the route, and the voice will guide you by telling you where and when to turn. The voice direction prompts include street names, too.

Customization options

Here in random order I'm going to mention at least a few features users are allowed to customize to suit their own preferences:

* Automatic route recalculation can be turned off. While most users will likely keep this feature on at all times, there are those who will love the ability to turn it off. Especially those who spend quite a while painstakingly planning their route, or drivers of large trucks and RVs, who just cannot afford to leave routing completely up to a computer program.

* Recalculate when off route threshold can be set to any distance you desire;

* Disable screen saver when program is running feature can be turned on or off;

* Edit existing roads (change direction of one-way-streets, or set prohibited turns);

* Keyboard shortcuts - use existing ones, and/or set your own;

* Voice command - control the program by talking to it;

* Start program with or without GPS;

* Turn on or off items on the map you wish to see (or not see), such as waypoint labels, route vias, etc;

* Set minimum and maximum zoom level for automatic zoom feature

Aerial and satellite imagery


DeLorme Street Atlas 2008 offers the ability to view raster imagery (such as aerial and satellite imagery) within the program. This data is available separately from DeLorme and can be purchased via the NetLink tab in the program; however, your purchase of Street Atlas USA 2008 entitles you to $40 worth of free raster data. The aerial and satellite imagery data is not available for Canada at the moment.

DeLorme Street Atlas 2008 PLUS

The "PLUS" version includes everything in the regular version plus extensive data import capability, 150 million U.S. and Canadian phone listings, and higher-end print and draw tools. I think the built-in phone book alone may be well worth the $20 premium for the "Plus" version.
DLaw
Really good review, glad you didn't find much "not to like". Your analogy of SA to Photoshop is right on. There is so much to this program, and so many ways to do the same thing, that almost anything you want to do is a couple of clicks away. The right mouse menu options are content sensitive, and will change depending on what you click on. Customers can use SFM (simple file management) if they don't want to deal with individual files, or AFM(advanced file management) which is far preferred due to it's power.

The ability to playback a route prior to taking it, (rt mouse click on a route and turn it into a GPS track, then play it back on the GPS/GPS log subtab) may sound like fluff, but it gives new customers a tool to seen how their program settings will effect the route (ie. zoom to turn, off route threshold, etc), and how the program works, without having to concentrate on the road while driving.

Some comments on some of the issues in the review....

Maps section
- Since DeLorme cut ties with outside vendors, they have made a concentrated effort to setup for user submitted data error submissions. They started with a Support website Data Revisions form and for a couple of years now, it's built into the program on the NetLink/Support Subtab. (buttons on the left of tabs are basically subtabs). Many forums posts from customers have verified to me that they are definitely using this data to trigger updates to areas, and in most case, obvious errors turned in by customers are fixed in the next version.
- I know for a fact that they are already working on the divided highways issue (where it currently shows as a one lane road), but I don't know when they will start rolling it out. Actually, they have been working on it for a couple of years, as it's a big task for them.

Add Your own Roads
- Love the Hello...really cute touch!!
- This is a very powerful feature, as it allows you to fix errors that are effecting your routes, in the current version, without having to wait for updated data from DeLorme.
- GPSBabel as developed a process so that we can take a DeLorme created local road and convert it into the exact road type it is. This allows the DeLorme code to treat it exactly the same and if were their road. It's tricky for a novice, but a piece of cake once they have done it a time or two. DeLorme doesn't "openly" support it, but Ron has told me they never have asked him to stop, and he often posts in the DeLorme forums.

Street Atlas Plus
- The XData feature is very powerful in that it lets customers import their own data (address books of all kinds, from most any source), then select records for routes, even edit with SA, and export it back out. I agree, the plus version is well worth the extra money, for both features.

DeLorme Forums are full of good information for customers. The Tips & Tricks forum is full of goodies that help customers understand some of the complexity of the programs. Hope this helps a bit.....Dan
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Dan,

Thanks! It's great to have you here!

Many DeLorme Street Atlas users know Dan Lawyer, but for the benefit of those who don't, suffice to say that Dan knows very likely more about this product than any user on the planet. He's been passionate about SA for many years, and he knows it inside and out. So indeed it is a privilege to have a person of his caliber here at Laptop GPS World.

I originally didn't want to write my review of SA at all, since I knew Dan would be much more suitable person for writing it. I asked if he would write a brief review for the site, but to my disappointment he declined. He said he was a teacher, and he was incapable of writing a brief review of SA. He could write a brief review of a particular feature of SA, or he could write a book about SA, but for him writing a brief review of such complex software as DeLorme Street Atlas would be impossible.

Well, perhaps a year from now Dan could write for Laptop GPS World a brief (or not so brief) review of new features of DeLorme Street Atlas 2009 . But that's too far in the future. The 2008 version is here, and it may be the right product for many readers of Laptop GPS World .
DJEvergreen
I'd like to see the feature where you could GPS your own roads, highways, etc. and submit it to Delorme to be added to the next version.

To me it'd be the easiest way to add map data. Currently with Navteq it takes forever to submit a correction because of the info they ask. In this case most of the info they'd need is drawn itself as you drive. The only info you'd need to add is the road/hwy names, speed limit (another feature I'd like to see added - Click anywhere on a road and it tells you the max/min speed limit.), road restrictions (no right turn on red, one way, no u-turn, etc), etc.
DLaw
Quote:
I'd like to see the feature where you could GPS your own roads, highways, etc. and submit it to Delorme to be added to the next version.
You can already do this, it's been in the program the last couple of years. I'm not sure how long we've been able to send the GPS log, but it is in SA2008 and Topo 7, and the data error reporting system has been on their website for many, many years, and built into the programs for the last 3 or 4.

You can setup your current map screen anyway you want, say with the GPS log displayed and then use mapnotes, drawings, whatever, to note whatever you want. You can use the GPS log to create your new routable road, and then have that ready to send to DeLorme. When you get the map done the way you want, just go to the NetLink tab, click the Support button, and then select Data Revisions. In the screen that displays you will see you map, and some data fields that you need to fill in describing the problem. One of the options is to send the GPS Log. When you get done, submit it and your screenshot with your notes, the data you filled in, and your GPS log all go to DeLorme. Don't worry about adding a lat/lon mapnote, that data is automatically sent.

You can use your GPS track to help create the new roads. Actually you can use it to create the routable road, but that gets into another discussion.

See, this is why I can't do reviews;>)
DLaw
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin Hlavac
Hi Dan,

Well, perhaps a year from now Dan could write for Laptop GPS World a brief (or not so brief) review of new features of DeLorme Street Atlas 2009 . But that's too far in the future. The 2008 version is here, and it may be the right product for many readers of Laptop GPS World .
Will be glad to, but it won't be a year as they have changed the release cycle and 2009 will probably be released in the spring.

Thanks for the kind words, but I'm just continuing to do what I did for a career as a Systems Programmer/Teacher for 35 years. Learn it, use it, then teach it.
gandydancer66
I began with Delorme Street Atlas several years ago, the last version I purchased was 2005. From the screen shots of 2008 it doesn't look too much different than 2005. The tool bar is still convoluted and there is a big learning curve that some users will not put up with. It appears the V2008 is still in 2D. Granted they do have voice directions but they haven't come up to the level of iNav or Garmin. Maybe in the not too distant future they will surprise everyone with a more up todate and competitive system.
Marvin Hlavac
I think it would be awesome if a future version of DeLorme Street Atlas could implement an optional "navigation" interface, which would allow users quick access to just a few basic features, and it would be touch-screen friendly. ALK CoPilot allows users to use either a more complicated "planning" interface, or just a simple "navigation" interface. I think a combination of the advanced features of DeLorme Street Atlas with an optional driver-friendly interface would make for a very powerful tool.
nialag
Bonjour,

I bought

DeLorme Street Atlas 2008. It has some interesting features but the mapping (map data ) is obsolete and very deceiving. In Las Vegas it send me in a non existing road and in the wrong direction on a one way… In Texas the Hwy 83 is not updated , S & T did it in the 2007 version…

So I don’t use it any more.

Salutations et félicitations pour l’excellent travail …


Alain
Eric Lee Elliott
All written so far has reviewed good points of SA2008, so I will only say map viewing is better while driving, then get on with problems.

A little background:
I drive a motor home 12' 8" tall, 9.5' wide with a tow for a total of 65' length. Yes 9.5' with mirrors & awnings. Wife sleeps, does not navigate. Wireless trackball is control of my computer as it sits on dash beyond my reach. U turns are not an option, even if SA thinks I should go 2 miles past, then U turn back to intersection. I have no experience with other programs since 2000. In the 90s I used Rand McNally software while traveling.

With new version of SA, again speech was enabled for a try. With 6 miles to next interchange quiet was expected for at least 3 miles. Before 20 tons could get up to 50 M/H, SA was telling me to turn west, soon it changed to turn north, then wanted me to turn east. Map clearly showed no exits, no choices, nothing for me to do but follow Interstate as it curved around to enter bridge. Where is the silence button? How am I supposed to think, talk, answer phone, while SA has a fit to use an imaginary exit from highway? Every screen must have a bunch of crap DeLorme has decided must always be displayed even if I never use it but where is silence button? I can see how speech function might be appreciated by blind drivers.

4 trips so far with SA 2008. Like previous versions, it sees GPS running 62 M/H thru the woods, 100 yards off Interstate. New version has much more ability to invent ways to get back to Interstate highway I am on, screens flash & jump several times each minute as program invents new roads & new ways to get back on Interstate I am on. Next day traveling same route may show GPS on the highway, not in woods.

From SC to NH, SA routed I95 all the way except on NJ Turnpike. I set auto reroute out to 3000 feet to calm the program. After NJ Turnpike it zoomed in so I could not see big picture & wanted me to exit. I did exit & was on a Parkway. Parkway is a NY, NY term for a road with 9' bridges, no trucks allowed. 12' 8" minus 9' is not pretty.

All thru NY, NY, SA kept changing route, trying to put me on local roads. Repeatedly, I stopped, planned route, drove on, only to see SA change route to leave Interstate, take local roads west & south, then resume Interstate north bound. Maybe I should move auto reroute from 3000 feet to off? In 1995, McNally program would map loops into route & I could see errors soon as routing was done. In 2008, SA can alter route to add loops while @ 62 M/H. I look at next 60 miles all on one highway & plan to stop for lunch in 60 miles. 23 miles later, SA wants me to take parallel road back 8 miles then turn back onto highway, repeat same 8 highway miles. I should praise it for not getting stuck in a repeating loop?

Leaving NH, driving thru NH & VT was good in fog, falling snow & light traffic. First city in NY it wacked out again, wanted me in college area with stoplights every block.

In older versions of SA, when route refused to take obvious direct highways, I could find breaks in roads, some clear map error that cause route problem. SA8 refuses to route on some streets for no apparent reason. Why will SA8 show a county road into an industrial site, name the road & refuse to use it? Go the long way to get there!

I will never again have a proprietary GPS receiver. When SA shows our 20 tons of vehicles driving across water 100 yards out to sea, not on the 30 plus year old bridge, what is problem? Bad LT20 proprietary GPS or SA2007 & SA2008?

SA8 has bad habit of routing off Interstate to shorten route less than a mile. On shortest route, this would be acceptable, not on quickest route plan.

SA8 can plan routes longer using shortest route selection & can plan routes in quickest mode that count more hours than shortest route.

What happened to option to avoid a bit of road? Why can't I set SA to not route on dirt road or under a low bridge? Adding way points is not the best way to avoid a low bridge.

To get decent routing a way point is added. 700 miles later the question is how long till we get there so start point is changed to current GPS position. SA has another stupid attack, changes route, changes to a screen I never use & shows 900 mile trip has become 1600 miles. Why does it want to go back 698 miles to do U turn at way point 2 miles from house?

Why no way to stop marking map with symbols for overnight stops & fuel stops? We have never had a car that fitted SA defaults of tank size or M/G. We set 6 M/G, 110 gallon tank, 10 hour travel daily. Save all. Try to close program and let it save all again. Open program & see all settings lost again, just like previous versions.

Maybe all these problems have well known cures. OK, why need a cure?
Marvin Hlavac
Eric, thanks much for sharing your (not so good) experience. I wonder if some of the problems may be caused by bad satellite signal. Where is your GPS receiver located? The best location for a GPS receiver would be the roof of your vehicle, but that is unlikely practical when your vehicle is a motor-home. Still, though, a GPS receiver needs to see minimum of four GPS satellites to provide satisfactory results. Your position on the map may not be accurate if the signal received by the GPS unit is not good enough. If the GPS unit's location in your motor-home cannot be improved, if it already is close to a window, then perhaps a newer model, with better sensitivity to weak satellite signals, may be needed. DeLorme actually announced a new model last week: http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/222-delorme-debut-earthmate-gps-lt-40-stmicroelectronics-teseo-chipset

But if the receiver can see 7, 8, or 9 satellites at all times, and if you are still experiencing at least some of the problems you've described, then I believe the remaining issues may be related to bad map data quality. In my humble opinion DeLorme Street Atlas would benefit by using map data by either Navteq or Teleatlas.
nialag
Hello Marvin and Eric,

I use a Deluo SiRF Star III and I get a better sensitivity and a better satellite signals than with the Earthmate GPS… But the map data is still obsolete…

S&T is still the best for me, I thrust it at 95%… And I am happy with it…And The Keys are great with the version 2008…(I was a user of S&T 2004 , 5, 6, 7 …)

By the way I drove a 39 foot 5Wheel pulling it with a GMC diesel 2500HD, total long 52 feet.
In the last 5 years I ride over 75 000 km; 20 000km since the end of June 2007.

Do you think I will get more with iGuidance ???

Alain
Eric Lee Elliott
Marvin,
When LT20 has bad satellite fix, green arrow is yellow & that is OK. When program changes route while arrow is green, that is trouble for a 12' 8" tall vehicle. SA 2007 did not do this to me. Maybe LT20 is failing, maybe program is terrible, I do not care. Got to get new GPS & program before more serious trouble.
LT20, and DeLorme unit before it, were used on dashboard against windshield for 9 years (?). LT20 cable is not long enough to move to roof. I suppose I could add an extension USB cable, move it to roof, but its days are short.
Question of month is what GPS receiver should I buy? Is a -165 dbm sensitivity unit better on paper or better on road? How many channels are useful? I will not have a BT only unit, it will have USB port for charging & for connection when BT is not convenient. So far it seems none of the hand held self contained units can be used as a simple GPS for computer. So I think a GPS to use in canoe is a separate purchase. Back to original question, what GPS to buy for use with notebook computer?
Where are results of tests comparing GPS units without display & with USB ports? Are reviews all we can find? Maybe I should ask what is best performing unit for $50 or $75 or $125? So far the webs found have not shown useful comparisons.
If I am wrong or missing some thing, tell me, please.
Nialag,
Did you find a good reason to purchase that PGS unit? Does it show you on read, not driving near road more often?
CoPilot is downloading now. I will try CoPilotnext trip, maybe buy it.
nialag
Few years ago I try Delorme 2004…The only advantage on S&T at that time was the voice. But the proposed roads and the guidance was not better than S&T so I didn’t use it for a long time. Last September there was a sale on Delorme 2008, I bought it expecting something better but the Eartmate GPS was deceiving : poor tracking and frequent lost of signal… I use my Deluo SiRF Star III and I get a better sensitivity and a better satellite signals but the map data was still deceiving. I fact it is exactly like to put 70$ in the garbage…!

I didn’t read very good comment on CoPilot…? IGuidance seam to be better, I plan to try it some time. One of my friend use a Garmin nüvi, and is very satisfied.

MS S&T is not perfect but it has good advantage, we may download data on many subject as fuelling, Wal-mart, camping, tunnel (I need 13 feet) etc…And the roads proposed are good at 95%… It made very few mistake…

You may buy a SiRF Star III GPS with S&T 2008 for less than 100$ at Sam’s Club, I think it’s a best buy if you want use your Laptop

Bonne chance et bonne route

Alain
Presently in Casa Grande, AZ
Marvin Hlavac
Quote:
Originally Posted by nialag
Do you think I will get more with iGuidance ???
After you have driven so many miles over the past 6 or 7 years with one software, you have mastered the program so well, and certainly you can accomplish with it anything you need. It may not be easy now get used to another software . I honestly don't know if any change would benefit you (any change could result in a lot of frustration ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Lee Elliott
Question of month is what GPS receiver should I buy? Is a -165 dbm sensitivity unit better on paper or better on road? How many channels are useful?
Any recent model GPS receiver will perform noticeably better than 5 year old technology. The number of channels is a figure I mostly ignore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Lee Elliott
Maybe I should ask what is best performing unit for $50 or $75 or $125?
How does less than $40 sound? BU-353 is a very good unit.
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