HomeSoftware


Looking for recommendation on laptop GPS software and hardware
Dan Novak
I'm new to this website, and am looking for recommendations on GPS hardware and software for my new laptop.

Laptop will be used two ways with the GPS. In the USA, in an automobile primarily, and as a pedestrian in major cities. Points of interest data base for US cities would be useful. Also need maps for major European Cities and roads and points of interest. I will be cycling in Europe, and also as a pedestrian. I have a new tablet HP TX2000 ultra-portable.

What might work best?
Ken in Regina
Hi Dan,

If you can find a place to mount the tablet in the vehicle such that you don't have to take your eyes off traffic to glance at it, it should be great for in-car navigation assistance. Take a look at the http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/37-list-laptop-gps-navigation-software-programs-reviews for some ideas.

How are you planning to deal with navigation when walking and cycling? Planning to print paper maps to carry along? Carrying a laptop, even a small one, isn't a particularly useful option if you want navigation help in real time or at least quickly. I have found that for personal navigation to be most useful it has to be as handy as a paper map. That means I don't want to have to wait for a machine to boot up or resume, load nav software, get a lock on satellites and so on, every time I want some information about where I am, how to get from Here to There, or what's around me (POIs).

When walking or cycling, if your tablet has an instant-on feature like handheld personal navigation devices it will be useful for checking for nearby points of interest. If not, a handheld personal nav device might be a better option.

When walking or cycling, if the tablet can be carried in such a way that your nav software can maintain a continuous lock on the GPS satellites and show you a "moving map" picture of your progress it will be useful for real time navigation assistance. If not, a handheld personal nav device might be a better option.

Does your tablet have an integral GPS receiver or will you have to get one for it? If you need to get an external receiver for it, seriously consider one that connects wirelessly with Bluetooth. For walking and cycling you don't need the nuisance of a wired connection between the tablet and the receiver.

For in-car use, a wireless connection between the receiver and laptop also gives you a lot more flexibility to place the GPS receiver where it can get the best view of the sky and place the laptop for best driver access, without regard for the length and routing of a connecting cable.

If you are interested in getting all of your needs met by a single supplier whose maps cover most of the world, with laptop software for trip planning, points of interest and realtime navigation, and with a variety of handheld personal navigation devices that can use the same maps as the laptop, Garmin is one supplier to consider.

But I recommend that you take a look through the post that I linked above to get a feel for the various laptop solutions available, and then think about whether a laptop solution, even with an ultraportable, is going to fill the needs for walking and cycling. There are forums on here for each of the laptop products listed. Each of the forums has experienced users who are happy to answer any questions you have. And some of the forums even have vendor tech support people who drop by from time to time.

I hope that helps you get a little farther down the road. And :welcome: to Laptop GPS World. I hope your visits are informative, or at least interesting.

...ken...
tcassidy
I have a TX2000 also and would not consider it for any portable use. It is too big to manhandle around if walking or cycling. Restart time from sleep is ok but the battery life is short. It is also not direct sunlight friendly. However, in a vehicle with the proper mount, I expect it to be excellent! So far, I have only used Garmin Mobile PC on it in a real-life situation and was very impressed. I will try some other navigation programs later this year.

For walking, I use an old Garmin eMap. The self-contained devices are better in this circumstance; smaller, minimal start-up delay and great battery life.

Terry
Marvin Hlavac
Dan, Garmin Mobile PC and also iGuidance (iGuidance is for USA/Canada only) have pedestrian routing, but I agree with Ken and Terry that HP tx2000 may not be very convenient to walk with. And just like Terry said, the screen is not sunlight readable. For car use, your tx2000 if perfect, as long as you mount it nicely. RAM-Mounts and Jotto Desks are excellent laptop vehicle mounting solutions.

Hmm, on the other hand, if you keep your HP tx2000 inside a backpack, you could walk and listen to the voice direction prompts. I haven't done it myself, but if you really want to do it, why not give it a try. It may be fun.
tcassidy
Marvin,
I would be concerned about using the TX2000 inside a backpack. It puts out quite a bit of heat. If you try that, Dan, make sure it is well vented and air can circulate.

Terry
Ken in Regina
I just bought a Garmin eTrex Venture HC. They're on sale at GPSCity.ca for C$139.95 right now (cheaper than eBay!). It arrived yesterday. I've been playing with it a bit and I can't believe how good this little puppy is. It's small enough to fit nicely in hand and pocket. It boots up and has a position lock in no time. I get six satellites within about three minutes in my basement office. Upstairs at the kitchen table it's less than fifteen seconds from hitting the power button to having a position lock.

The screen is nice and bright. Even outside on a slightly cloudy day it only needs 20% - 30% backlight to see the screen. You can live completely without the backlight ouside if you don't mind tilting it a bit to get the right angle to read it. Users report 14 hours of battery life in typical use.

It's waterproof to IPX7 (submerge it to a meter for thirty minutes, or something like that). I wouldn't want to dunk it in a lake, but it's fine to use outdoors in the rain with no harm. Just what I want for biking and hiking.

It allows you to load detail maps, complete with points of interest and do all the searches you expect from a good personal nav device, eg. Waypoints, Geocaches, POI (All, or by category), City, Address, Intersection, Exits, etc.

This model only allows 24MB of detail map data to be loaded internally (no memory card slot) and it doesn't do auto-routing (when you route to a destination it just draws a straight line to it). There is a model in this line that adds autorouting and memory card slot for C$209 if a person wants that.

If I didn't already have a PDA with integral GPS, autorouting and memory card I would have bought the more expensive model (it's on sale, too). Those features are necessary if you want to use it for finding and routing to POIs in cities. I just got this one for geocaching and use on my mountain bike, so I didn't need to spend the extra money.

Anyone considering one of the eTrex models should be absolutely sure to get one with "H" in the model designation. It stands for High sensitivity and it means it has the new receiver technology in it.

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcassidy
Marvin,
I would be concerned about using the TX2000 inside a backpack. It puts out quite a bit of heat. If you try that, Dan, make sure it is well vented and air can circulate.

Terry
Terry, you are correct. I must have been thinking about a walk in the middle of freezing winter. The heat generated by the laptop could keep Dan warm.

P.S. Perhaps the SSD models generate a bit less heat?
tcassidy
I am led to believe that most of the heat is generated by the CPU and chipset. AMD is not noted for having efficient CPUs for laptops. I'm not complaining though as compared to my 4 year old Toshiba Mobile Pentium 4M, this thing is a popsicle.

Terry
Dan Novak
Thanks everyone for your responses, and ideas. I have a lot to think about.
I really love the idea of mounting the tablet in the car, I will be doing that right after working out what brand GPS to buy. The laptop does have blue tooth so I will go that route. with an and on device.
For walking and biking I know the Laptop is not the most practical thing. But most likely I will be taking it anyway for other uses, (travel blog), Run time is only two hours so I cannot keep it on all the time but I like the idea of having it on in the backpack giving me turn by turn direction if I need it. Run a earbud from the backpack .
Most likely if Iím walking or biking, I will stop some place, boot up the computer, look ahead at the maps and work out the next hours route, then shut it all down. as much a planing tool as much as a realtime device.
I do have one of the original Garmin color E-trex handhelds, My one and only GPS device so far, Gift from my wife, we use when we hike or backpack in the mountains. So far I have not seriously considered as the all purpose GPS device. I have rather poor eyesight so these small screen units are a serious challenge.
First temptation is to standardize on Garmin.just to share maps. But my first impression of the Laptop version of Garnimís software is that it feels ported over from the portable devices and seems to lack graphically. Hard to find screen shots of the software .BUT Garmin HAS maps for Europe.
The Microsoft software seems to have a strong package for US roads, but I cannot so far find that they have anything for Europe.
I have not looked at the other software packages in detail yet. will do that this week.
thanks again, Dan
Ken in Regina
Two things about Mobile PC. Yes, it is based very strongly on the handheld software in the Nuvi line and Mobile XT for PDAs and smartphones. But that also makes it very strong graphically.

I'm on record in the Garmin Mobile PC forum here as not being a particular fan of the Mobile PC interface. But I'm a big fan of its graphics. If you have vision problems this is definitely the navigation application for you. By comparison with Garmin's own MapSource, Microsoft Streets&Trips and DeLorme's Street Atlas, all of which I have, Mobile PC has the best and easiest to view map graphics. By a big margin.

If you have a touchscreen on that tablet I think you will find the interface quite usable. That's what it's designed for, so it always feels a little awkward from the keyboard.

There are screenshots in the Garmin Mobile PC forum here, so you might want to take a look. There is also a thread on how to install the latest update as a demo version so you can play with it. Check Message #5 and #8 for info on how to turn the update into a demo. You will also need Garmin's MapSource and an unlocked detail map. Take a look through the thread and decide if you're up to trying to get a demo to work or not. There's lots of info in there on how to do it.

The issue with Mobile PC is that it's currently a North America-only product. I believe that if you buy the GPS20 version (comes with a Garmin GPS20 receiver) you can probably buy City Navigator Europe and get an unlock code for the GPS20. I haven't seen anyone who has done that yet, so I can't swear that it will work. It definitely won't work to add maps to the software-only version because there's no Garmin device to key the unlock code to. The other drawback is that the GPS20 receiver is USB so it has a cable. That's not a showstopper but it's a nuisance.

...ken...
© laptopgpsworld.com About