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Laptop GPS Compared
Posté le 05 mars 2005 à 20:11:53 par gpspassion.

3. Streets and Trips 2005

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Installation

Installation process is simple and straight forward. You will be presented with two choices: Full Installation and Minimum Installation. The former is self explanatory and the latter will require users to insert CD # 2 each time before starting the program. So unless you have an old laptop which has very little hard disk space left, please do yourself a favour and perform the full installation.

Map
Microsoft creates their maps by combining the data from NavTeq and about a dozen other providers. I do not know another product beside MS Streets & Trips that provides so complete and detailed street-level map coverage of not just large cities but even small towns all across the USA and Canada, (including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and even a little bit of Mexico). In addition to that you may locate countries and cities all over the world. In fact I located a fairly small town of Sucany in the Slovak Republic, where my grandmother lived. Even many local printed maps don't include it because it is small.

Points of Interest (POI’s)



Streets & Trips 2005 contains 1.8 million POI’s. That represents a hefty increase of 40% from the previous 2004 version.

When I need to quickly find a point of interest, Streets & Trips is my program of choice for this task. It isn’t only because it has more complete database but also because of the friendliness of the user interface. While searching you see your possible choices on the map even before you make your selection.

Searchable POI categories include Airports (Major), Airports (Minor), Amusement Parks, Aquariums, ATM’s, Auto Services, Banks, Bus Stations, Campgrounds, Casinos, Cinemas, Convention Centres, Galleries, Gas Stations, Golf Courses, Grocery Stores, Hospitals, Hotels and Motels, Landmarks, Libraries, Marinas, Museums, Night Clubs and Taverns, Park and Rides, Police Stations, Rental Car Agencies, Rest Areas, Restaurants (divided to 15 different type categories), Schools, Shopping, Ski Resorts, Stadium and Arenas, Subway Stations, Theatres, Train Stations, Wineries, and Zoos.

While in other programs users choose to “hide” all or at least some POI’s so the maps don’t look so cluttered, I have no problem enabling all POI’s to show in Streets & Trips. Microsoft’s trick here is that POI icons change with the change of zoom level. When you zoom in to see more detail of your map, even icons of POI’s will be larger and will display text (name of business) beside them. When you zoom out a bit, the text will disappear and the icons will get smaller. When you zoom out still more, the icons will no longer be visible.


Routing
The default settings generate in my experience excellent routes, likely very close to what is possible to achieve without incorporating actual traffic information.

If a driver with the knowledge of local traffic conditions prefers to take a different route, S&T offers more than one way to achieve this. My favourite is the use of “Avoid Area” tool. You draw a rectangle around the area you want to avoid. It may be of any size and shape, covering a few streets you wish to avoid or even a whole city or state(s). You may draw several “Avoid Area” rectangles to force your route to your liking. This is a very powerful tool and it is very quick and easy to use.


Click on the above before-and-after pictures to see an example illustrating how I forced S&T not to route me through congested traffic of downtown Toronto, but rather via highways.


Entering of destination address


Type in as much or as little information and hit Enter on your keyboard. It’s that simple. The Streets & Trips search engine is quite intelligent and it is capable of resolving many misspellings. Here I’m including a few samples of misspelled street names entered into S&T and correct results received

Misspelled entry & correct search result:

Wind Field = Wyndfield
Fifth = 5th
Balcan = Balkan
Fallstaff = Falstaff
Greydon = Graydon


Voice Prompts
The current version offers no voice prompts.

Other features
*Create GPS trail is one of the new features added to the 2005 version of S&T. It is conveniently accessible in the GPS Task pane shown on the left.

* Route Optimization re-orders your stops in the most efficient manner.

* Convenient drag-and-drop routing adjustments

* Selectable map styles: Road Map, Terrain Map, and Political Map. (Try the Terrain Map while driving at night, you may find it easier on your eyes.)

* Map printing capability

* Save maps as HTML files (e.g. for posting on the Internet)

* Drawing tools include: Pushpin (choose from 336 symbols or import your own), Highlight, Scribble, Line Arrow, Freeform, Rectangle, Oval, Radius, Text Box, Fill Color, Line Color, Text Color, Line Style, and Arrow Style.

* Drive-time Zone feature quickly shows you how far you can travel within a set amount of time from any spot on the map

* Add information to your maps where you can easily see it using the map drawing and annotation tools—arrows, texts, highlighting, freehand drawing, and more

* Search using only ZIP / Postal code


Conclusion
Streets & Trips 2005 is a mature software application. It started as a trip planning product in the summer of 1997. It has always excelled at helping users plan their trips and more, but it was never meant to be a GPS navigation tool even though it has been capable of showing you your position on the map if connected to a GPS receiver. However, the 2005 version of Streets & Trips introduced a few significant improvements in GPS functionality, suddenly making this product a lot more appealing to some of us who are interested in a full featured navigation program for our laptops.

The lack of voice prompts is likely the biggest deterrent to new users for using S&T for navigation, yet there are many people using it in cars, trucks and RV’s for just that. S&T 2005 is a big improvement over S&T 2004 and let’s hope Microsoft will keep the momentum going. Voice prompts seems to be the most requested new feature now and my guess (my hope) would be that MS is working on adding it in the next version.

If you plan on having a laptop with you on your travels, do not leave home without MS Streets & Trips 2005. The software-only package will cost you no more than a fill-up at your local gas station. Even if you already own or plan to buy different software for navigation, you will not regret if you buy Streets & Trips as well. I find it very useful to have more than one mapping product available to me at all times, and using each for its strengths.

$39.95 USD or less (software only) - (Warning: Do not confuse inexpensive with low quality.)


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