Professional Solution? Laptop and/or Regular GPS
Hello all,
This forum/bbs is great! - almost to the point of information overload, and I like information! - I know this is a bit long, but here goes...

I've read some of the reviews and other discussions but I am looking for some guidence to figure out the best solution for my task.
I have to do monthly deliveries to clients and sales calls to prospects in San Diego.

I want to be able to plot my contacts on a map, preferably distinguish between different types such as Client, hot prospect, cool prospect, etc.. and then drive the route in the most efficient manner.

I know It sounds pretty standard, but I am currently using Delorme 2008 plus with a laptop. DeLorme seem pretty good in that you can import addresses and use different color flags with different data sets, BUT, (there's always a but) the maps themselves are rather difficult to read. Major roads visablel are not labled, and even when they are the names are rather helter skelter, depending on the view/scale, some roads are labeld and others of the same size are not - plus it uses official lables such as SR-5 instead of "Poway Rd." - and the GPS is often in accurate.

I really like Google maps interface - specifically the way the maps scale in that the street names are written in the road and every major road visable is labled with the local name.

It seem what I need/want is the Database of DeLorme with the interface of Google Maps, with the accuracy of a "real" gps, with touch screen capabilities. Does such a system exist?

Also, I understand that the TomTom (others?) GPS will allow you to upload addresses. Might this be a solution - use DeLorme as the data base and upload data sets to the GPS?

Thanks in advance for your help!
Ken in Regina
I don't have any experience with your particular form of use on any of the laptop products to make any product suggestions but I'll make a couple of comments for what they are worth.

You can get a version of Google Maps that runs on your PC. It's called Google Earth. It uses the same maps as the online (Google Maps) version. It downloads the maps as it needs them. There is a free version but the versions that might tweak your interest are the Google Earth Plus or Pro versions which have modest annual subscription fees. They both support use of a GPS receiver. Any maps you browse will be held in a cache so that you can still use the maps without an internet connection, eg. when you're tooling around the countryside in your vehicle withe the GPS on.

The primary difference between the two subscription versions, for this purpose, is the size of the cache. The Plus version has a 2GB cache. That's the one I have. I can't recall the cache size of the other version but it's much larger.

There is a catch that I discovered the first time I tried to use Google Earth Plus unconnected. As I mentioned, when you will not be connected to the internet you have to browse your intended area of travel in advance, so the necessary map data will be in the cache. I thought I had browsed the area of travel fairly thoroughly. What I didn't realize was that you have to have browsed right down to any zoom level you might wish to use. If you do a fairly high "flyover", that's the maximum zoom level you'll be able to see. If you need detail you need to zoom way in. If you want a fairly large area in the cach, that's a rather tedious chore. That's also where the size of the cache will be a significant factor. The more detail you want, the more data the cache will need to hold.

Of course you can minimize the amount of data needed in the cache if you turn off the satellite images and just go with the road maps. But that sort of defeats one of the major benefits of Google Maps/Earth for me.

Second comment, I have the perfect solution for you needs. I have a Garmin iQue 3600. It's a Garmin-built PDA with the Palm operating system and a Garmin GPS receiver and antenna integrated right in. And I mean integrated! The GPS software is tightly integrated with the Palm address book. So you don't need to import addresses. You just put a contact into the address book and start using it. The first thing you would do is assign a category (eg. Hot Prospects). Then you would do a "find" on the address to establish the geographic location, which gets stored in the address book with the rest of the contact information. Now that the location is stored with the contact you can treat the contact just like any waypoint or point of interest (in this case, have them displayed on the maps). The final thing you would do is assign an icon to the contact. This is the icon that will be displayed on the map for that contact. In your case you would use icons that correspond to categories.

The Palm address book isn't the perfect contact manager because it's just an address book. But with the ability to assign categories and have the locations and icons integrated with the contact information it's a very powerful tool.

The catch??? Garmin stopped manufacturing them a couple of years ago. They stopped supporting them a year or so ago. And they stopped repairing and refurbishing them a couple weeks ago. I have been unable to find an exact replacement so far. The key is the tight integration between the address book and the GPS functions. I haven't seen any other product on the market that has that, including on the Pocket PC or Windows Mobile side (well, except for a couple of other Garmin-built products that they also no longer sell or support). And I haven't seen anything on the laptop.

By the way, if anyone has seen something that has similar tight integration between the address book and the GPS functions please let me know. Of course it also has to have a good datebook/todo list function and a good memopad text database, like the Palm PDAs.

Marvin Hlavac
Hi DavidS,

Welcome to the forum.

If you like DeLorme Street Atlas, and the map quality is the issue, then perhaps you could give Microsoft Streets & Trips a try - it, too, is full of features that will help you organize your customers, etc. Streets and Trips uses map data by Navteq.
Ken in Regina

Check this thread in the section on Garmin's Mobile PC. It appears to have some really interesting integration with Microsoft Outlook.

...ken... About