DeLorme's receiver/software package is easier to use than Microsoft Streets and Trips
, but it hasn't caught up to the simplicity and usefulness of standard portable GPS devices.
In the Box
This version of Earthmate GPS comes with a yellow 2-ounce GPS receiver that's 3 x 1.9 x .6 inches and connects to your laptop or smart phone wirelessly via Bluetooth, or wired via an included USB cable. The software comes on two DVDs, and includes a 4-million points-of-interest database.
Great Features, Troubling Interface
With its multitab interface the Earthmate GPS BT-20 was simpler to use than Microsoft Streets and Trips because routing and navigation controls were easier to find. Still, DeLorme could have done more to make this combo easier to use.
You search POIs under the Find tab, but the cumbersome interface makes selecting categories and finding results in a given city difficult. Once you've found an address, you need to right-click it to send it to the routing tab since you can't automatically route to it.
On the plus side, Earthmate does offer street name pronunciation and easy rerouting. Unfortunately, this GPS receiver doesn't track positions nearly as often as a standalone navigator does.
Once during our testing, 2 minutes went by without a position update. While the maps seem mostly up-to-date, we weren't impressed by the program calling New Jersey's Route 139 "unnamed road," or by directions that told us to turn right "in 28 seconds," instead of "in two-tenths of a mile." Also, Earthmate doesn't offer subscription-based traffic and gas prices, as Streets and Trips does.
If you need laptop-based GPS, DeLorme may be the easier alternative, but you'll be happier with a budget-priced, dedicated GPS navigator.
Try as it might, Microsoft's Streets and Trip can't outperform standard GPS.
Tags: DeLorme Earthmate GPS BT-20, Cell Phone Apps, Software, notebooks, cell phones, GPS, business software, reviews, laptops