Magellan GPS devices are great for finding your way around and keeping track of your path. If you want to be able to get restaurant, topographical or trail information you will need to purchase additional software. If you are really serious about using your GPS around town or for Geocaching, then you are going to need more detailed maps. That is what the MapSend line of products provides.
- Detailed, seamless topography for the 48 contiguous United States plus Hawaii
- Genuine NAVTEQ street mapping
- Extensive points of interest – including over 30,000 guidebook outdoor recreation destinations from Trails.com
- Instant switching on your PC between 2 dimensional and interactive 3 dimensional views
MapSend Topo 3D USA provides several enhancements that serious GPS users will find essential. The first thing you will notice when you purchase a Magellan GPS device is that the default maps do not have any road or street information. They are mainly highway and interstate map that lists major cities. With the MapSend Topo 3D USA map software you get all the detailed maps that you need to find your way around. This detailed information is provided by NAVTEQ.
In addition to the road and street information, the MapSend maps also include other city related information like restaurants, airports and topographical information. Fortunately, this information can be turned on or off based on what you really want. For example, if you are not interested in the restaurants that are in a city then you can turn those off. Since most cities have lots of restaurants leaving these turned on can really clutter up the map and make it hard to see the streets. You can get the name of each POI if you move the cursor over each icon.
One of the main reasons for owning a topographical map is knowing the location and paths that trails and dirt roads take. With that in mind you will want to know that the new 3D maps are much less detailed than the old maps. Since you cannot transfer your old maps to the new GPS device you are stuck using only the new maps if you have
a newer GPS. These new maps do not include trails and minor dirt roads. Instead they have POIs for trail heads. For some people this is enough of a reason not to upgrade. In fact I have a friend who bought an eXplorist 500 about the same time I wrote this review and he is seriously doubting his decision to buy the eXplorist because his old Meridian Platinum supported the old maps with dirt roads and trails.
With this software you can view a selected area in 3D. It can give you a rough view of what kind of altitude changes and challenges you can expect. The 3D view is not super accurate so you cannot zoom in and see all the little cracks and crevasses, but instead it gives you a general picture of what you should expect. While this feature may seem cool it does not serve a very useful purpose. Since you cannot print out in 3D and you cannot put this 3D map on your GPS you have no way of taking it with you. So unless you have a really good memory any information you gather in this mode will be lost as soon as you start using your GPS. If you happen to be able to take your laptop with you on your hike then you can configure the laptop to take real time updates from the GPS and update the 3D map. While doing this you will be impressed with the 3D view as it moves and turns with your route.
Design is very relative to the users perspective. If you are used to using mapping software specifically from Magellan then the design will be familiar and this will not be hard to learn how to use. If you are new to a lot of this, then there is good amount of learning that you will need to do before you feel comfortable. I recommend that you sit down with the software for at least an hour. This will give you the time you need to get comfortable with the software and begin to build a map that has all the information you need.
The button bar across the top of the map window has all the functionality that you will need to create maps and save them so they can be uploaded to your GPS. There are several buttons that you will use the most. Those are the the Mark Region, 3D view, search buttons and the Elevation Profile. The Mark Region button lets you select the map that you want to save to your GPS. The 3D view is useful for getting general information about the steepness of the trail and how high the trail goes. Unfortunately, like I mentioned above, trails are not actually indicated on the map so you will have to guess where the trail goes. The search buttons are used for locating a specific point that you want to mark like a city or landmark. The Elevation Profile button is nice because you can click on a road or street and a separate window will open that will show the elevation change for that street. This is actually better than the 3D view because it shows exactly what difficulty you can expect from the road. It would be really nice if trails and dirt roads were included because for roads and streets you are usually in a car and you don’t care how steep it is or the elevation. If trails were shown on these maps then you could see how steep the trails are. This would be extremely helpful for hikers who will probably be the main users of this software.
On the right side of the screen you will find a map which can be used to jump around on the bigger map. On the map you will see a box which represents what you see in the bigger map. The only thing about this that I didn’t like is that you cannot drag the box. This is a minor thing but it is useful when included. Below the map is a list. This is mainly use to list all the regions that you have saved. The list includes the name you gave the region, the amount of memory that the region uses, the date you saved the region, a check box and T and P icons. The check box is for indicating if you want to save the region to the hard drive or memory card for use with your GPS. The T icon is if you want to include topographical information and the P icon is if you want to include points of intrest.
The software itself is very fast. Depending on how large your maps are the software can take anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes building the map to transfer to the GPS. The part of this whole process that will take the longest is transferring the maps to your GPS. I found that the software did not support directly transferring the maps to the device with USB. If you have an old serial port with the proper cables then you can do a direct transfer. Even if the device supported this, the software does not recommend it because it takes so long. Instead they recommend mounting the device as a drive and copying the files directly. Luckily, with USB this is automatically done for you when you plug it in. One odd thing I found was that transferring files to an SD card in the device took longer then if I took the SD card out and put it in a card reader. For my example I used a 20 MB map. It took about 10 minutes to transfer the file to the SD in the device. If I took the card out and put it in a card reader it only took about 20 seconds to transfer the same file. I don’t have an explanation for why this happens, but it is definitely a strange thing to have happen.
If you are looking for detailed maps of areas that you are traveling to and you are staying on paved and major gravel roads, then this will be great for you. If you also want the maps to give you directions, then you will want to choose the MapSend DirectRoute software. The Topo software does not give directions. Also, if you are looking for dirt roads and trails then you may want to look into buying one of the older Magellan GPS devices that have the older software. For $149 I would have thought this software would have had better maps and capabilities. By eliminating the dirt roads and trails Magellan has reduced the usefulness of this software. Topographical maps are mainly used by hikers and campers and since you don’t usually hike and camp on paved roads you may not find these as useful as you had hoped. I personally would only recommend this particular software if you really need topography information. Instead, I would recommend buying the DirectRoute software since both pieces of software have the same maps and DirectRoute has the ability to give you directions. Also given the fact that this software is only available on the PC, it really limits its usefulness to MAC users. Maybe Magellan thinks that MAC users are not interested in Hiking and camping.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|