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What laptop GPS software should I buy?
schreibman
I just discovered this great website and I am working on reading the reviews. But I'm hoping someone can sort this all out for me and tell me what to buy.
I am a fairly sophisticated PC user, and I take my XP notebook everywhere. I don't mind learning a new software product... I just want it to be the right product.
I am well familiar with MS Streets&Trips.
I have a Garmin GPS18 USB I bought several years ago. The sensor works well, but the nRoute software looks archaic. I need some more modern software.
I see that Garmin now sells "Garmin Mobile PC", and I can buy either the software only version that should work with my GPS18, or a version that includes their new sensor. Is this the best software out there right now?
I have read mixed reviews about the newest versions of MS Streets&Trips and of DeLorme Earthmate GPS LT-40 2009.
I'd like to hear from someone who has actually compared several products.
I'm taking a big road trip across the US starting Aug 1st, so I need to buy something soon.
I'd like something that keeps up to date with road construction and destinations, such as hotels and tourist sites.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi schreibman,

You are familiar with Microsoft Streets and Trips. How do you like it? Why don't you want to stick with that? What do you dislike about it? What are you hoping to find in another product that Microsoft Streets & Trips nor Garmin nRoute give you?
schreibman
Thanks for the quick response Marvin.
My MS S&T version is 2004, so the maps are not up to date. Also, my Garmin GPS18 USB will not work with my version of S&T.
At first I thought I should just get the latest version of S&T that comes with a GPS, but I've seen some reviews that say the GPS sensor doesn't work well.
Then I thought I should get the DeLorme LT-40, but some reviews tell me that sensor doesn't work well.
I've had no problems with my Garmin GPS18, but I hate the nRoute software. I see I can buy their new software package for $70, or for an extra $30 get the software with their new sensor.
At this point I am ready to buy whatever software package works best and gives me the most options (not necessarily from MS or Garmin or DeLorme).
I'd like something that has the most up-to-date maps. 3D views would be cool.
I'd like it to know where all the hotels and campsites are, as well as shops and movie theaters.
I don't mind paying for a new USB GPS sensor, as long as it works well and off the GPS power.
Marvin Hlavac
Since you are already familiar with Microsoft Streets and Trips, and since you haven't yet mentioned anything negative about the software, I would lean towards suggesting you to again consider updating to the latest version. The current Streets & Trips 2008 has approximately 4 years fresher map data than your S&T 2004. The software itself has gained new features in versions 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. If memory serves me well, than your S&T 04 was the last version of the product that refreshed GPS position only once per 15 (fifteen) seconds(!). The product has improved it's GPS functionality quite a bit since that time.

There is no need to immediately think of spending money on new hardware, since you already have your Garmin 18 USB GPS receiver. It will work with Streets and Trips if you use Franson GPS Gate (not free) software. I think Garmin may actually have a free software product that would let you use the USB receiver with non-Garmin programs. And there may be at least one other free software solution that would let S&T work with Garmin GPS18 USB. It may be listed here: http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/194-list-free-software-helpful-microsoft-streets-trips-users

The new GPS-500 included with Streets & Trips 2007 and 2008 is a big improvement over the earlier technology. The new USB GPS receiver has much improved sensitivity to the weak satellite signals. The same is true about the new LT40 by DeLorme. But you may not need to buy a new USB GPS receiver at all, if you have been happy with the performance of your Garmin GPS18.
schreibman
Your advice makes sense... although I'm willing to learn a new software product.
I see I can buy MS S&T 2008, without the GPS USB, from Amazon for $37. That's certainly the best deal... if it works.
I have 2 questions about S&T 2008 that I cannot find answers to on the MS website. Perhaps you know these answers:
1) Can I install S&T 2008 on more than one PC? I'd like to have it on my desktop so I can print maps, and on my notebook so I can use the GPS.
2) Are you sure I can get S&T 2008 to work with my Garmin GPS18? If not then I will have wasted the $37 and will still have to buy something else before the end of July.
I guess I have one more question that only someone like you who is familiar with all the GPS PC products can answer... is S&T as good as everthing else out there?
I would be willing to spend more for software and a GPS sensor that out preforms everthing else. I just don't want to buy the wrong thing.
Marvin Hlavac
1. Two installation are allowed (I have Streets & Trips 2008 on my laptop and desktop. Many other users do, too.)

2. Yes Read more about Franson GPS Gate or Garmin Spanner & Garmin USB GPS18. There may be other solutions, too.

And the last question I don't know how to answer. You would find users loyal to Streets & Trips, Street Atlas, iGuidance, etc. Everyone loves something else for some other reason.

Have you used Streets & Trips 2004 for GPS navigation, or only as a desktop solution for planning trips and printing maps?
schreibman
I have used S&T2004 only for trip planning and map printing.
I have not used it for GPS.
Do you think I could get my GPS18 to work with S&T2004?
Marvin Hlavac
Yes, technically it would work, just like with any newer version. Why not giving it a try either with the free Garmin Spanner, or the free-trial Franson GPS Gate. However, if my recollection is correct, and if Streets and Trips 2004 updated GPS position only once each 15 seconds, then this will not be a practical solution for your trip.

Since you haven't yet used Streets & Trips for navigation (only for desktop trip planning and map printing), I'm not sure how comfortable you would be with it at first, while learning the bit complex way to enable/disable the myriad of check boxes necessary to navigate with this program.

Garmin Mobile PC and iGuidance are much simpler to operate (enter address and drive). But they may not offer some features you are used to. They cannot print maps, if that's important to you.
schreibman
Marvin, You Da Man!
I downloaded Spanner from Garmin, plugged in my GPS18, and S&T04 was able to locate my house!
So I guess upgrading to S&T08 is the right choice for me.
You said that S&T takes some getting used to for entering navigation info...
If I already have my trip planned out on my desktop, can't I just copy that file to my notebook and use those destinations for my GPS navigation?
schreibman
I been reading the reviews for S&T08 on Amazon and on the whole they are not very good. Are you sure S&T08 has the best and most up to date maps?
tcassidy
Garmin Mobile PC presently has the most up-to-date Navteq maps. I understand S&T 2009 will be out later this year and will have newer maps. Both use Navteq mapping data.

Your USB GPS18 should work directly with Mobile PC if you buy the software-only version.

If you want to use routes generated by S&T, you will have to use S&T. Version 2008 can read your 2004 files.

Terry
Marvin Hlavac
Great, I'm glad your Garmin USB GPS receiver now works with your Streets & Trips. You are correct, you can plan your trip on one of your computers, for example your home desktop PC, save the file, and later use the saved file on your laptop PC in your car. Many people do just that.

I briefly looked through some of the reviews you've mentioned. Yes, many are negative, but several people have positive things to say, too.

In my humble opinion Microsoft Streets and Trip is a first class trip planner - an online solution doesn't come close to the functionality of S&T 2008. Map data is excellent - just keep in mind the current 2008 version was released to market at the end of summer of 2007. Streets & Trips 2009 is expected in stores in October 2008, but that will likely be already too late for your trip. Still though, version 2008 will give you maps 4 years newer than your version 2004. Errors can be found in any mapping software, just like they can be found in printed maps. However, generally speaking, GPS navigation software products based on map data by Navteq have reputation for decent map quality. S&T uses Navteq data.


As Terry says, Garmin Mobile PC, which released in April, has the most current map data.
Ken in Regina
What Terry and Marvin said. But let me see if I can add something to the discussion.

Take a look at this thread comparing nroute and Mobile PC.

If you have looked at the Garmin Nuvi handhelds, Mobile PC looks and behaves very much like it. It's a lot like turning your laptop into a Nuvi. If you have a notebook with a touch screen, Mobile PC will use it and that makes it even more like a Nuvi.

That means Mobile PC has very similar strengths and limitations as a handheld. It's super for navigation - blows the socks off Streets&Trips and Street Atlas, in my opinion - but it's not so hot for trip planning. The maps have everything you need (same database, from Navteq, as the maps in Streets&Trips). Mobile PC just doesn't have the planning functions because it's pretty much a clone of Garmin's popular handheld personal navigation software.

You didn't say what maps you have been using on nroute. You could use those for your trip planning, using MapSource. And then, using Mapsource, you can transfer any routes and waypoints you have created over to Mobile PC (MapSource thinks Mobile PC is just another handheld device). MapSource lets you print maps, too, if you want. It's not Streets&Trips but it's pretty decent for trip planning. Much better than Mobile PC, in my opinion.

As Terry said, if you like Streets&Trips for trip planning and want to be able to transfer routes and stuff from the desktop to the laptop for travel, you pretty much need to have Streets&Trips on both (which you can do, no problem).

If you want a Garmin solution you need MapSource and maps for the trip planning and Mobile PC on the laptop for navigation.

If you have different generation maps on the desktop (with either Garmin or Microsoft solutions) you will need to recalculate the routes on the navigation computer (assuming it has the most current maps) to see if you still like the routing it's giving you.

Take a look through the Garmin section on here for some of the threads of interest before you make a decision. There is, unfortunately, no clearcut answer to your question "What is best for me?". You can see that's quite a difficult question because we aren't you.

Oh yeah, for what it's worth I have Streets&Trips 2008. I bought it strictly for the GPS receiver, although I have experimented with Streets&Trips, too. The receiver works great. I have a Garmin iQue 3600 as my main nav device and the Streets&Trips (Pharos) receiver blows it away for speed of getting a lock and sensitivity in tough situations. I'm using the Streets&Trips receiver with nroute and Mobile PC, not so much with Streets&Trips. I'm still kind of a hardcore Garmin guy (just so you'll understand that there is lots of bias here ).

...ken...
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