• Understanding Universal Principles of GPS Map Software


    Not all GPS receivers can display maps. Lower-cost models or GPS receivers with very small screens usually don’t sup-port maps. If you already own a GPS receiver, make sure that it’s compatible with the map software you’re interested in using. Manufacturer Web sites are pretty good about listing product compatibility. The same holds true if you’re shopping for a new GPS receiver.
    You can use only proprietary products (made by the same company that manufactures your GPS receiver). For example, you can’t use Garmin maps on a Magellan GPS receiver. Likewise, you can’t use third-party maps produced by DeLorme or Maptech on a Magellan GPS receiver. Repeat after me, “You can only use Magellan maps on a Magellan GPS receiver”. Don’t expect the level of detail in a GPS map to match paper maps. In order to maximize memory space, GPS receivers use vector maps instead of raster maps. And because a GPS receiver has a fairly small screen to display a map, don’t expect the map on your GPS receiver to appear as an identical version of your favorite paper map. Until GPS receivers incorporate science-fiction-like, holographic projection systems where a map appears in midair, viewing a paper map will always be easier and more effective than staring at a map on a GPS receiver.
    Upload maps to GPS receivers: The main job of a mapping program on your computer is to upload maps to your GPS receiver. The maps appear the same on your computer and your GPS receiver screen although the GPS receiver displays smaller portions of the map than you can view on your computer screen. You use the mapping software to select the portions of the maps that you want to upload to your GPS receiver. Print from and use maps on your PC: In addition to uploading maps to a GPS receiver, you can also use the map software on your PC to view and print maps, measure distances, and plan trips. Download waypoints, routes, and tracks from GPS receivers: With GPS mapping software, you can download information that you’ve recorded with your GPS receiver, such as waypoints, routes, and tracks. You can store this data on your PC’s hard drive or display it as an overlay on the maps displayed on your PC.Upload waypoints, routes, and tracks to GPS receivers: In addition to downloading GPS data, you can also upload waypoints, routes, and tracks from your PC to a GPS receiver. For example, you can plot several waypoint locations on the PC map and then transfer them to your GPS receiver.View POIs: Many software packages have Points of Interest (POIs), such as restaurants, gas stations, and geographic features shown on the maps that you view with your PC or GPS receiver.
    Getting maps to GPS receiversAll GPS manufacturer map programs upload maps to your GPS receiver in similar ways. Although the user interfaces are different and the commands vary, you load a map onto a GPS receiver by using the same basic process.After you purchase GPS receiver map software, be sure to check the manufacturer’s Web site every now and then to see whether updated releases of the PC software are available. You may be able to download upgraded versions of the program with bug fixes and enhanced features. Keep in mind that when you download the program, updated map data doesn’t come with it.
    Some GPS receiver manufacturers use different methods for stemming soft-ware and map piracy. Both Garmin and Magellan use unlock codes on some of their map products that require you to visit a Web page and get a code to activate the program. Some map products have multiple regions stored on CD-ROM, and you need to purchase an unlock code for each region you want to access. In addition, programs commonly link the serial number of a GPS receiver to a map, meaning that the map will work only with the GPS receiver that the map was originally uploaded to.
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