Thursday, November 12, 2009

GPS Mapping Software : Garmin MapSource TOPO! US 24k West Topographic

I used this with my Garmin Vista HCx and it works well. If you are deciding between the DVD or the micro SD card that loads into the device, get the DVD. It was well worth it! The DVD lets you look at all of the maps on your computer (Mac for me). You can make routes, tracks, and waypoints and load them into the GPS. Awesome! You do need to buy a blank micro SD card for the GPS though. I got the 2 Gig card for about $7 and loaded topo maps for all of WA, OR, and some of northern CA and I left about 60 Megs open! (This took a few hours!) It is also easier to type in route names on the computer than on my GPS. Another cool feature is the fact that you can right-click your mouse on the map and it will grab the 3-D map and move it around like you are looking at it in your hand. From what I can tell, it does just fine including trails. I did notice one trail so far where half of it was missing. Not sure how many errors there are, but I think there are more things correct than there are incorrect. I am also able to use my GPS to navigate on roads and highways and it will give me turn by turn directions. I mostly use my GPS for hiking and these maps are stellar and are at USGS quality. You can print maps, but I don't think their quality is spectacular. Overall, great product! The only problem I have with Garmin products, in general, is that they have TERRIBLE directions. For example: they don't tell you why you would want to make a route instead of tracks, they just tell you how to make each one. Just use it to figure it out, I guess.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vehicle GPS : Garmin nüvi 260W 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator

I bought the GARMIN n?vi 260W to help with work and family travels. After extensive research with Magellan, Mio and Tom-Tom, I bought the Garmin for three reasons. 1) Ease of use. 2) Screen clarity. 3) Amazing accuracy. And no, despite where I live, I have no affiliation with Garmin. I don't even know anyone that works for them. I am in the architectural business.

I have tried several GPSs while traveling with business associates, friends or in rental cars. As such, I have seen them in real world action. All of the devices saved me time and most found the place I needed to be. I could used any of them and been somewhat satisfied.The problem: I am a perfectionist. As such, I want the unit to be the best. So, after using a text-to-speech Garmin GPS unit earlier this year, I knew that was one feature I could not live without when I pulled the trigger on a purchase. Text-to-speech is a must have on GPS. A MUST. If you have never used a GPS, trust me, you have to have text-to-speech. It eliminates the frustration of urban driving and having the non text-to-speech units tell you to turn right in 200 feet, only to find two roads that are 200 feet away and have to pick one and hope it is right.

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