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Garmin Software Question

The Dinkers

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So, I'll be getting a Garmin Legend CX over the hollidays, and I am considering investing in some sort of mapping software as well. I know that Garmin has the TOPO CD as well as some SD cards with maps of specific regions.


I am looking for some advice on what Garmin software people like the best for caching? Do any of the software packages have street detail (for turn by turn) in addition to terrain detail?


Does Garmin offer free software updates or will I need to buy new versions as they come out? How frequently does this happen?



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The two favorite map add-ins for the Legend are Topo USA maps (generally about $75 from on-line retailers), and City Navigator Ver 8 (about $100).


Topo maps are fairly faithful renderings of USGS 1:100K topo maps. They provide good coverage, but not as detailed as USGS 1:24K maps. The geographical features are very accurate, but the man-made features are dated (sometimes 20 years old, since the USGS map data is often this old). They do not provide auto-routing, and many roads shown on the maps are unnamed.


CN8 is the latest auto-routing software. It uses NavTeq map data and points of interest. I would say it is quite up-to-date. Version 8 was released in the summer of '06, so probably has data and points of interest (restaurants, ATMs, etc) current thru the end of '05. Garmin usually comes out with a new version every summer, so if you live in an area with lots of recent development and can wait, you might hold out for CN version 9, probably by July or so of '07. CN maps typically cost $75 to upgrade from Garmin. I am still running version 6 with few regrets, but may upgrade to 9 next year.

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You are in a common dilemma. You will get a lot of different advice and the right choice depends on how you will use your GPS the most. Sputnick provided a nice overview of the two most popular choices.


My suggestion, for what it is worth, get CityNavigator so that you can auto-route. This will get a lot out of your GPS that you just can't get without the navigation maps. You can still geocache just fine and CN will contain basic info on larger rivers, lakes and streams and will contain most parks and lot of points of interest (POIs).


Later, if you find that Topo maps would be helpful you can add the topo CDs.


There are other options for auto-navigation maps: older versions of MetroGuide, apparently you can even "trick" your GPS into using the new versions of MG to autoroute. My opinion, FWIW, the low hassle approach is to buy CNv8.


I still use CitySelect v4 that came with my GPS V five years ago. It is missing all road changes and additions from the last 6-7 years, but 97% of the time it works just fine and the other 3% it eventually works itself out. Eventually I will update it to CN for the $75.


Happy exploring!

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