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Author Topic: GPS Software?  (Read 5621 times)

Gothi[c]

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GPS Software?
« on: March 25, 2007, 01:47:19 PM »
I've been playing with the idea of purchasing a cheap gps receiver from ebay that I can hook up to our laptop, since that would be a cheaper solution than having to buy a PDA with gps included,... But then I was wondering what software is out there that I can use, that will tell me where to go while driving? (like those announcer voice things that till you 'make a right here'); i was also wondering if there are any free/open source alternatives out there.

I know that I can use stuff like xastir or google earth to show my location on a map, but that won't include the announcing or the automatic route recalculations etc,... maybe there are google earth plugins for this?

I'd like to know about any GPS software you've used (especially the freeware/donationware/opensource alternatives).

Carol Haynes

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Re: GPS Software?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2007, 02:03:13 PM »
The biggest problem is getting maps !

If you buy maps form companies like MemoryMap, Anquet, Fugawi etc. then they come with reasonable software that you can use on a desktop or laptop computer. Some have handheld (Palm pilot type) software included too.

The best software I have found that isn't tied to map purchases is OziExplorer - it isn't free though (shareware) but is in constant development with a responsive developer. You can put in your own maps and calibrate them (with a scanner or downloading topo type maps).

I don't know of any non-proprietary software that does the route planning or provides realtime directions.

insert_nick

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maemo mapper
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2007, 10:18:41 AM »
I know it's not for laptop, btw I can say maemo mapper is a simple but nice free gps software for Nokia 770 and Nokia N800.


hawleyj

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Re: GPS Software?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2007, 12:13:35 PM »
If you don't want a device than can be used other than with a notebook you might consider Microsoft Streets & Trips w/ GPS locator. I just aquired it and haven't put it through its paces yet but it is supposed to do all the things you ask including route planning and real-time voice directions.
The current version is 2007 but I see lots of the 2006 edition in the marketplace and you can find it pretty cheaply if you watch for sales ( 2006 edition ~ $50-$60 ). Another source might be ebay or craigslist ( I picked up the 2007 on craigslist for $45 ).

Mooseman

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Re: GPS Software?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2007, 11:02:41 PM »
I have first hand experience on this.  I have used Streets and Trips 2006 and 2007, both with their included GPS receivers.  The 2007 version GPS receiver is much better with higher sensitivity with the SIRF Star III chip (I even got a satellite fix from my living room!).  The 2006 and prior receivers often had problems getting a fix in heavy cloud conditions and tall building areas.  The 2007 software itself is also a bit better with the new voice directions and updated maps as well as high contrast "night mode".  It is very good at planning trips, with information on travel time, fuel expense and even approximating fuel stops.  You can specify the types of roads you prefer or those to avoid.  There is also info on nearby points of interest, restaurants and other businesses (including gas stations  :D).  My only gripes are the low volume of the voice prompts and the inability to automatically recalculate the route when you take a wrong turn.  You have to hit F3 to get it to re-route.  The voice prompts are also too close to the upcoming turn, especially when cruising down a highway.

One advantage of this GPS receiver is that it can also be used on a Pocket PC with A CF adapter.  The adapter for the 2006 receiver also works with the 2007 version.  They are available on eBay but a bit pricey.

Another software package that is very well rated is Delorme's Street Atlas USA 2007, which includes maps of Canada.  I found it more complicated to use than S&T but it does have automatic re-routing as well as louder voice prompts, which are also enough ahead of time for you to prepare to make your turn or exit.  It also has automatic updates to the program itself when you're connected to the Internet (not sure about the maps though).  They also have a Plus version which includes addresses and phone numbers on a DVD.  Points of interest, restaurants and businesses seem on par with S&T.  One interesting feature that S&T doesn't have is that you can add your own roads to an existing map.  This can be useful if you deal with new developments or use it to map off-road trails.  Their maps are also more detailed with waterways and lakes, which S&T woefully lacks.  Another neat feature is the ability to download an aerial satellite image of an area and superimpose it to your map.  They have a free trial of this with a pay-per-use afterwards.  Even though Delorme sells their own GPS receiver, the software will work with any USB receiver.

There is freeware available so that you can use your own maps.  Once it has been calibrated using two reference points, you can use it to track your whereabouts.  It won't be able to plan a route but it would be good to use if you have your own topo maps and such, especially if you go off-road.

mouser

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Re: GPS Software?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2007, 11:37:46 PM »
Great post Mooseman, as someone interested in this stuff, your post was very helpful.
The auto-recalculation when you make a wrong turn is one of those features i really care about.

Mooseman

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Re: GPS Software?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2007, 08:10:07 PM »
Microsoft seems to be listening to user input as they add more features each year so hopefully they will have auto re-calculation for 2008.  One thing that is disapointing is that they dropped Pocket Streets entirely for 2007 and will likely not return.  Users had been asking for some more features for a long time but I guess it wasn't worth it for them.  Although it is no longer on the CD, the app itself still shows the menu option to export your map to Pocket Streets format.  Anybody that has the 2006 or prior version should keep a copy of it if they want to continue using it.  Another possibility is that it will eventually be a standalone app or an extra cost add-on to S&T. 

Pocket Streets was pretty weak compared to others PPC apps, including Delorme's, which is included with Street Atlas.  They even have maps for iPods and Palms!  I find that it is more of a value compared to S&T.  Maybe if I would have used that first instead of S&T, my learning curve wouldn't have been as bad.  With summer driving coming up, I should re-train myself  8)

ToxMox

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Re: GPS Software?
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2007, 08:53:20 AM »
I've tried several Windows GPS apps and iGuidance is the best I've tried.

I haven't yet tries Streets and Trips 2007 but it looks promising.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2007, 08:55:58 AM by ToxMox »