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Garmin Maps - Part Two: A New Type of Memory and Map
Ken in Regina
Part Two: A New Type of Memory and Map

In the past few years flash memory has become available in small cards that have continued to increase in storage space and decrease in cost. Many of Garmin's navigation devices now use SD or microSD cards. If you need larger amounts of detail map storage than is built into the navigation device you can load as much as you need on an SD card and plug it into the navigation device. SD and microSD cards are now so large and so cheap that it has become reasonable to fit an entire map product (eg. Europe, Australia, North America) onto a single card.

Two things have happened with Garmin's map products as a result.

One is that MapSource can now load a large compiled detail map onto flash data cards. It can do that either through the navigation device, by having the navigation device connected to the PC. Or it can load the compiled detail map directly onto the card if you have a card reader in your PC.

The other thing that happened is that Garmin has come up with a new method of distributing their map products. You can now buy the same map product that comes on multiple CDs or a DVD also on a memory card. So you can buy, for instance, City Navigator North America NT 2009 on a MapSource DVD or on a memory card.

The important thing to know is that the version of the product that comes on the memory card is pre-compiled. That is, it contains all the detail map segments that come on the MapSource DVD but they are already compiled into a single map file that is usable on the navigation device. Garmin created this type of memory card product for the convenience of those customers who do not have PCs or who do not need the ability to do the trip planning activities that the MapSource program allows.

These pre-compiled memory card versions of Garmin's map products cannot be used in MapSource. The file on these memory cards is the type of file that MapSource creates for navigation devices to use but it does not have the ability to use them itself. It can only use the files that come on the CDs or DVDs.

So, if you buy, for example, a Garmin Nuvi that comes with City Navigator loaded in memory or on a memory card, you will not be able to load those maps into MapSource and use them for travel planning. You will have to do all your travel planning directly on your navigation device. But if you buy a Garmin Nuvi that comes with a MapSource DVD you will be able to install MapSource and the maps on your PC and use MapSource for planning and map management.

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Ken in Regina
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