Do USB GPS receivers take power from laptop PC?
Hello out there.
This is all new to me so please be patient with me. I have a new 64 bit laptop running Windows 7 Home edition. As I understand it, all I need to have a working GPS is a receiver which will plug into my laptop via one of the USB ports. And the necessary software loaded into my computer. The receiver or antennae can be mounted on the dash board of my car or on the roof for even better reception. Am I correct in assuming that it will get it's power from the laptop, which in turn I will power with a an inverter from the car battery or from an adapter from the lighter. I am not sure if I need internet access or not. Would someone please suggest the necessary and reliable hardware and software that I would need to make all this happen and where I might purchase same. Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding.
Hi Oldsalt,

Welcome to the forum! You've come a great place to get all your questions answered.

Most of the Laptop Mapping software such as Microsoft Streets & Trips sell a version with the GPS reciever and a version without the GPS (for those that already have the hardware). The GPS is powered by the laptop.

What are your needs? Are you a trucker or RVer? If you take some time to share what it is you are looking for in mapping software we can give you some suggestions. There is at least one I know of that can be downloaded and tried for free for 60-days.
Yes, a USB GPS draws a little power through the USB port from the computer - a minimal amount. You will not requre an inverter or other hardware.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Oldsalt, you have researched the topic well. And just to add, you will not even need Internet access. Some software may offer you some advanced features if you do happen to have Internet available, but it is not essential for you to be online to use GPS navigation on your laptop. The map data is going to be installed on the hard drive of your laptop.
Ken in Regina
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
Yes, a USB GPS draws a little power through the USB port from the computer - a minimal amount. You will not requre an inverter or other hardware.
He's powering the laptop with the inverter so, yes, he needs it unless he's got phenomenal battery life.


You might want to look around for a 12V power adapter for your laptop instead of an inverter. It's much cleaner.

With the inverter you have a cable from the car electrics to the inverter which converts 12VDC to 120VAC. Then there's another cable from the inverter to the power brick which converts 120VAC back to DC voltage for the computer. Then there's another cable from the brick to the laptop.

With a 12VDC power adapter you stay DC current all the way, which is much more efficient, and fewer cables to deal with.

Ken, what I meant was that the demands of the USB GPS would not on its own require an inverter; plenty of times I have found the laptop or UMPC battery adequate for my navigational needs.
Ken in Regina
Yes, you're right. The draw for the USB GPS is so tiny that it's not a factor at all.

I need to get around to getting a direct 12v adapter for my laptop instead of using an inverter for it. A 75w inverter does fine, but why convert dc -> ac -> dc again.
One of the many things I like about my Viliv S5 UMPC is that it requires neither an inverter or even a "brick" for in-vehicle use; just a thin-wired cigar-lighter jack if running too long for the battery which is usually good for 4-5 hours. Sorry, a bit off-topic...
Hi Larry, Thanks for the speedy reply. I am a retired ex rv'er who travels quite a bit and just likes o know where he is at all times. The old eyes are not what they used to be and the small screens of the current crop of GPS's leave a lot to be desired. 14 inches of screen sure beats 5 or 6. Cost is also a factor It just made sense to me that as long as I had the laptop why not use it for my gps. I am leaning toward a BU-353 for a receiver but still undecided as to the software. I would like to keep it simple, It' s not like I was searching for different streets all the time like a UPS driver. I would greatly appreciate any feed back that you or your friends might provide. I am really impressed with this web site and the knowledge available on it. Thanks again.
Hello oldsalt, I use Copilot Version 8. There are two version 8 for laptop's. Laptop Truck and RV/auto Laptop. CoPilot Live v8 Laptop: ALK Technologies CoPilot Live v8 Truck: ALK Technologies

I use the i-Blue GM-2 USB GPS receiver and the QSTARZ 818 XT USB/Bluetooth GPS receiver. I like the Bluetooth receiver because I don't have to have it hooked up to my laptop. But just in-case I end up in an area that has poor reception then I can switch to the GM-2. Both of these receivers are highly recommended on this site.

With the length of my RV and my tow vehicle I am close to 54 feet long so I use the Truck Laptop. Very impressed with this GPS software.

Nice to meet you and let us know how it goes.
laptopgpsworld.com About