Advice for a newbie: Which laptop GPS software to buy?
OK so Iím completely new to all this gps stuff & to this site. On a recent trip to the US I had experience of a manufacturerís (Honda) in car system & was suitably impressed. So on my return home I began looking at whatís available. Initially I was looking at proprietary units, garmin, magellan, tomtom etc. Trouble is most only have small screens which present my wife with a problem as she has some vision problems. So I started to expand my search into pc territory remembering the old MS routefinder (uk) software of many years ago & came across this site, wow! some of you really know a bit about gps!
I have looked at reviews for some of the pc gps software but am still struggling a bit with ďwhere to goĒ. (no pun intended). The setup would be used for trips in BC, Greater Vancouver & area addresses but also weíre hoping trips to Washington, Oregon & the like, sightseeing, museums, shopping, city visits etc. I like certain things about the proprietary gps units & Iím wondering if the pc gps software has similar attributes, Iím guessing yes as the software is in many cases from the same companies. As I understand it I need A PC (with or without a touch screen), gps unit & mapping/ routing software.
Iím not sure exactly what questions to ask but here goes.
Whatever I get will probably end up initially running on a Sony Vaio with 14Ē screen, (running xp) but does anyone have any recommendations for a touch screen PC (7Ē to 10Ēscreen or thereabouts). Iíve seen the Asus eee but donít think that has a touch screen (Iíd be loathe to start stripping a new eee machine down to add a touch screen, but I understand it can be done)
Things I like about the some of the proprietary gps units that Iíd like to have incorporated in a pc unit but I donít know if itís even possible with the available software.
Alternative routing offered (eg. fastest, most/ least highways, scenic etc)
Ability to exclude certain roads (by name &/or number) or types of road (eg highways)
Text to speech (so that turns (& distances) are announced & street names given)
Countdown to turns in feet, meters etc
On Highways & freeways - lane guidance so that any lane confusion is removed or minimised.
Speech recognition so input can be by voice rather than typed.
When typing cities, towns, addresses etc. Removal of non usable letters as one types so that only valid characters are displayed to complete the input.
Decent amount of POIís Hotels, museums, art galleries, attractions, etc.
Ability to add (personal) POIís either as temporary items (per trip) or as permanent additions
The Magellan proprietary gps has AAA Tourbook info. included. Is this type of information available for pc gps software? (either in the program itself or as an add on (flash or similar) memory.
this is so long, & Iíve asked so many questions but Iím really thinking that a PC based system is the only way to go & Iím hoping some knowledgable pc gps guru can answer even some of my queries.
Finally... I guess each software package has its devotees, but is there a ďbest systemĒ out there that has proven to be more useable, accurate, reliable & consistent in its content than its competitors? I know... probably impossible to provide a definitive answer!
in advance for any advice.
For a small touch screen, you can't beat iNav iGuidance and Garmin Mobile PC. I like Garmin Mobile PC on a laptop but others have said it is a bit clumsy to operate with a keyboard in some cases. I find iNav light on POIs in BC however this might improve with the latest version just released.

Both Microsoft Streets & Trips and Delorme Street Atlas have improved their display to be more screen friendly (less clutter) but it really depends on what information you want on the screen.

POIs you add yourself are usually put in your favourites or some similar term. I know you can buy add on POIs for Mobile PC but have not investigated them.

I have included screen shots of a couple of them. Unfotunately iGuidance v4 is on my 1600x1200 laptop and doesn't look all that good. S&T 2008 @ 1280x800, Mobile PC @ 1280x800, SA 2009 @ 1920x1200 and iGuidance v4 @ 1600x1200.

Attached Images
st08.jpg   mpc08.jpg   sa0908.jpg   inav408.jpg  
I forgot to put SA2009 into 3D mode.

Attached Images
Marvin Hlavac
I think no program has all of the above listed features, but each one has several of them. Some people like to have more than one GPS software on their laptop. One program for the actual navigation while driving, and another software for trip planning at home, or searching for places to visit while at a hotel, etc. It's not that one product is not enough - it is - and many people use just one and they are perfectly fine with that. But having a program that excels at trip planning, and another one that is more driver-friendly, may offer more possibilities.

That's the advantage of GPS on a laptop PC. You are not limited to just one software by one manufacturer. You can have more than one, and you can use each at different times.
Waaaaaay back before the general population thought about, or basically KNEW about GPS and screen-in-car vehicle navigation, I bought my first GPS program in 1998.

It was called ETAK SkyMap. I paid $498.00 for version 1.0 of the software and the rather clunky PCMCIA card that had a big thick cable running up to the antenna that was the size of a 17-stick pack of chewing gum! The PC card did have an IR remote though, and that had it's good and bad points.

So ETAK, out of some small town in northern California puts out version 1.0, and then comes out with TWO updates (1.01 and I think, 1.02b) . I was in contact with them as to suggesting improvements because I was using it in my tow truck on a Compaq laptop, and it was on and running nearly 24 hours a day.

Things were going well! They incorporated more than one of my suggested improvements into the second and third versions, and then they saw dollar signs! They sold the product to SONY, who came out with "SkyMap PRO 2000" as their first release of the product. Well, it was ... better, but for whatever reason, SONY quickly dropped the product altogether! I was mortified!

Thomas Bros. Maps (The map book people) came out with a version of their maps on CD, and WOW! I was so jazzed about the ability to pull up Thomas Bros. Maps on my laptop, that I could just about do cartwheels! They are known for astounding accuracy and very eye-friendly maps, and their full street index could be pulled up and searched, just like in the back of their books.

Then Thomas Bros. incorporated GPS into their computer maps and tinkered with the concept for about a year, and then THEY dropped it! Again, I was in a panic, because I NEED MY GPS!!!! I am the kind of guy who could get lost in a big paper bag, with one end left open!

Luckily, DeLorme Street Atlas and Microsoft Streets & Trips came to pass, and not wanting to be without navigation, I bought both of them. DeLorme's early software was a bit difficult to use. S&T was more user friendly, even if their maps weren't as up-to-date.

Time passes, and now, as always, I have the current versions of both programs on my PC and enjoy using them all day, every day. I really liked the ability to install MY purchased copy of each program onto several computers, as I have three home-office computers, my in-vehicle computer and a backup laptop. When someone calls for a tow, I want to head for the closest computer (which has the mapping software up and running of course) and calculate the tow and quote the rate.

So MS gets all uppity and full of themselves and decides that I can only install their software onto TWO of MY computers, requiring online registration for each installation, and a call back in the event of a re-install, or a crash, or a hard drive replacement ... typical Microsoft, trying to control the world. That two-computer limit ALMOST caused me to drop THEM and switch to DeLorme as my primary nav software, or even to consider the now bountiful assortment of dedicated units like Tom-Tom, Garmin and so forth. I did end up buying TWO copies of S&T 2008, begrudgingly, and even now, I am constantly bothered by the need to run to a specific computer in order to use S&T to bid a tow. Microsoft ... you really screwed the pooch on this one! ARE YOU READING THIS???

So now I bought DeLorme SA 2009, and pushed Bill Gates to the back of the line! Sorry Bill, but your incessant desire to make money off of every single INSTALLATION of an original piece of software that I purchased and OWN and am installing ONLY on MY computers has made me look upon you with disfavor. I have written you out of my will! LOL! (He might care. )

DeLorme SA is currently my #1 navigation software. I still have S&T running in the background, but if Microsoft chooses to continue their extortion over their paranoia about installing a piece of software on more than two computers, I may just decide to save the $100 and not bother to buy their 2009 version. I can understand them not wanting me to mass produce copies of my CD and jump into worldwide distribution, but geez! Give me at least SIX installations before you start crying about loss of revenue Bill!

I prefer a PC and a BIG screen over those smaller dedicated "Squint-Squint" units. A touch screen is nice, but is isn't very "sunlight visible" unless you pay out the BIG bucks, so stick with a trackball mounted where you can access it while driving without incurring the wrath of the cell-phone hating crowd. A trackball velcro-ed to your seat or mounted to some support stand is better than a mouse that can fall down under the seat or get tangled on something.

Whatever you decide to buy, remember that a PC (tower or laptop) will require some sort of AUX power source if you're going to use it for any length of time, and you also have the COOLING issues. A laptop setting on a car seat can get very HOT if the cooling vents are blocked, and a laptop can slide around and crash to the floor when you slam on your brakes. Whatever computer you decide to use, be sure to securely mount it into the car, even if you use a permanent laptop mount that allows you to remove the laptop.

Finally, if money is no object you can find GREAT in-vehicle computer solutions HERE!

Consider investing into a TABLET PC for your GPS needs!

I used to use an iXplore 104 computer for my GPS on my MOTORCYCLE. The thing was darned near BULLETPROOF!
Originally Posted by tcassidy
I forgot to put SA2009 into 3D mode.

Could you tell me how you capture those wonderful screen shots? I guess I'm not computer savy.
bikerjoe, De Lorme Street Atlas is also limited to two installs, just like Streets and Trips. The difference is that this is not enforced (yet), so it is easier to break the license agreement if you should so choose.

This Agreement permits a registered user to use the System on a non-exclusive basis for personal,
reference or business purposes on a single computer at one time. You may install the System on an auxiliary computer in addition to your principal computer. However, one of these two computers must be portable and the software may not be used simultaneously on both computers. Otherwise, once you have installed the System on one computer you may use the System on a second computer only if you delete the System from the first computer or purchase a separate license. Installation of any part of the System on a network is prohibited unless you have a separate network license. For information on network or multiple-user licensing, contact DeLorme at or 1-800-293-2389. You may use the System as instructed by the documentation to perform its designed functions only for the purposes authorized by this Agreement.
Originally Posted by bikerjoe
Could you tell me how you capture those wonderful screen shots? I guess I'm not computer savy.
With the program up and running as you want, push the Print Screen button (sometimes labelled PrtScr). If the window you want to capture does not fill the screen, use ALT and PrtScr.
Then open a program such as Paint, hold down the control key and push v (CTRL-v is shortcut for paste) and your screen shot sould show. I don't think Paint can resize so just save as a .jpg somewhere you can find it.

Posting to this newsgroup is the 'Manage Attachments' button. If you don't see it when you are replying to a message, click on the 'Advanced' button.

IGuidance v4 also is limited to 2 installations. The software that hasn't caught up yet is Mobile PC. The software-only version is limited to ONE computer.

Well, I am not one for violating the rules, but regardless of how many computers the software is installed on, it is MY FINGERS on the keyboard using it, and I OWN the computers I use!

I don't pass out software to friends, and I do believe THAT is what they are most worried about. I have told friends to go buy a copy for their use, and I've even purchased a copy for a friend or two over time, but the software I buy for my business stays on MY computers and for MY use only. I'd be too paranoid about letting a friend on my computer. I'd probably come back to a 'puter full of porn links and spam!!!
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