HomeHardware


Which computer for off-road GPS navigation?
ibookg497
Hello! I have successfully set up Mapsource with a USB GPS receiver, and now need to buy a netbook. I have so far found these two:

  • ASUS 1215N-PU27-BK 12.1-Inch Netbook
  • Acer Iconia Tab W500-BZ467 10.1-Inch Tablet

I need a netbook or tablet (10 to 12 inches) that has Windows 7 Home Premium, 2gb (or more) of RAM, and a USB port (which I guess they all do ), and to be priced at maybe $400-$550. Any suggestions?

Thanks!
tcassidy
The only advantage of the Acer is a touch screen but this is not useful for MapSource. However, it might be helpful if you gave us some idea of what your planned use of the netbook/ tablet is. MapSource is merely a map display and trip planning tool when equipped with an appropriate Garmin or third party map of your area of interest..

Terry
Boyd
Are you using an ancient version of Mapsource that supports live GPS use? That feature was discontinued a long time ago. nRoute is another Garmin program that is also discontinued but not quite as ancient. It's a lot like Mapsource but is intended for live use. I am using it and Garmin MobilePC as well as OziExplorer on the HP Slate, which is a 9" tablet running Windows 7 professional. Have been very happy with it, but it won't meet your price goals. I looked at the Acer tablet but actually prefered the 9" HP.

I had an Asus netbook for awhile but ended up exchanging it because I just wasn't happy with the build quality. The keyboard and especially the trackpad were terrible IMO... I think it's a case of "you get what you pay for". I exchanged it for a Samsung netbook that was more expensive but a lot more solid. Later, I sold it and got the HP Slate as a replacement.

For me, I find the tablet form factor better for vehicle use because a netbook/laptop just gets a lot bigger with the keyboard sticking out. However, the tablet can be a pain for operations that need a keyboard so there's a trade-off. Overall, I'm much happier with the tablet however. Garmin Mobile PC really works very well with the tablet, with nice big on-screen buttons.

In the end, it's a personal choice for tablet vs netbook and you should give a lot of thought to which will suit your own style before purchasing.
ibookg497
Thanks for the replies. I am using nRoute, but it is set to load the Mapsource roads and rec maps (Mapsource version 6.x.x). I have tested it, and it worked fine. I use a GPS 18x USB (Garmin), and I have set up Mapsource so I do not need a CD drive to load the maps. My main use is for Off-Roading trips in our Ford F-250 or Ford Bronco.

I think I should be looking for something with a solid state drive due to the bumpy conditions, but my dad thinks we would be fine with a Hard Drive.

So, any suggestions?
tcassidy
Modern hard drives are very rugged these days. Even older ones could go for a long time under poor conditions. Still, I think SSDs are the way to go if you can find a reasonable setup. The Acer would certainly be easier to mount and the size is good. I'm not sure how well built it is though. You would want to look for a different wireless keyboard that could be seperate from that screen though. And make sure it has F keys as they are very useful in nRoute.

Terry
ibookg497
Thanks for the info. We plan to continue using Mapsource roads and rec for Off Road navigation because we are not aware of another program that is inexpensive and provides off road functionality like roads and rec does.

We realize that we may be wrong about this. If anyone has a recommendation for a software package that has the off road functionality of roads and rec please feel free to give your opinion.

We also found another computer that might work today. It is the Acer Aspire One 722 (ao722 bz480). It is at Costco for $329.
tcassidy
Roads and Recreation was discontinued in 2004. As long as the roads you are interested in are accurate enough, I suppose it would be ok. I think Ibycus offers a US topo map a little newer that works with nRoute.
Ibycus USA

Terry
Boyd
nRoute is difficult on a touchscreen, so you may want a USB or Bluetooth keyboard as tcassidy says. I used a Windows utility to map the volume +/- buttons to be nRoute zoom buttons on my Slate and that works well. I have also downloaded a couple customizable virtual keyboard programs and when I have a chance, I plan to make a strip of screen buttons that will access the nRoute functions I use the most.

All this said, nRoute is old software and it can't track your vehicle very smoothly, especially with a complex topo map. There may be better map choices for you here, they should work fine in nRoute and they are free (I have contributed a few myself ) GPSFileDepot - Custom Maps, Ximage hosting, tutorials, articles and more for your GPSr

I think Garmin MobilePC is really a much better choice for vehicle use though. Since you already have a GPS, it should cost less than $50 and will include full routable City Navigator maps as well. You can install your topo's (or the free ones I mentioned) in addition to City Navigator. It tracks your position very accurately in real time, even with a complex topo and the user interface makes good use of the touchscreen.
tcassidy
That ao722 is pretty gutless. I think the AMD C50 is slower than a basic Intel Atom processor used in many older netbooks. I know it is the same one in the w500 tablet but you might expect more from a laptop. Strictly for navigation and other small tasks, it should be fine though.

Terry
taoyue
If you want to put in an SSD, you should be careful about netbooks and other small laptops. They often use 1.8" hard drives instead of the standard 2.5". There are SSDs available for the 1.8" form factor, but you'll pay a premium.

Laptop hard drives can tolerate quite a bit of bumpiness -- it takes a lot of g-force to cause a head crash. Problems tend to appear more over time, since prolonged vibration will loosen connections and increase mechanical wear. (And a hard drive has a lot of mechanical parts.)
Boyd
Many years ago, I had a StreetPilot 2620 which was the first PND that Garmin introduced featuring full US maps pre-loaded on the device. The storage device was a 2.2 gb Magicstor hard drive on a compact flash card.

It was actually very robust, although driving down a bumpy dirt road could crash it. Always came back up when I rebooted. If I left the unit in the car on a cold night, in the morning it wouldn't boot until the drive warmed up. It had an internal heater for this, and would display a "warming up" message on the screen until it reached operating temperature.

I paid about $1000 for that unit back then - well over what I just paid for my HP Slate 500 plus MobilePC.
ibookg497
Hi everyone, thanks for your input. Today we bought the Acer 722, and it is working great. Also, thanks to everyone who suggested the software, it worked great.
laptopgpsworld.com About