DeLorme has released its updated street (and to some degree, off-highway) navigator. There are some very interesting and helpful additions in this new version of one of my favorite navigation software packages. The new Street Atlas retains all the great automatic-route creation services previously talked about on these pages. This year, DeLorme adds an Avoid Routing feature to keep the program from routing you into areas you do not wish to go. Also, you can now import an address book to the software to further ease automatic routing.
The user interface has been updated to the point that I can now say I like it! Street Atlas USA 2006 now has a series of buttons on the top of the screen that materially simplifies the program's use. Note that in the figure above, there are buttons at the top of the screen for file management, route creation and management, and control of the GPS device while under way. Also, there is a very handy Options Control button, which puts the option selections for GPS, Features, Display, and other items all in one place. In previous editions, one had to the use the tab functions to find and set advanced features.
Another useful feature is MapShare. A problem with e-mailing a map or route directions is the size of the file created. Many e-mail programs choke on large attachments. DeLorme has solved that problem. If the program is running on an Internet-enabled computer, you can use MapShare to post a map or an entire route (of any length) to a unique URL the program creates for you on DeLorme's servers. The program also has a simple e-mail notification routine for you to notify any number of people of the map or route's location.
Using the program as an in-vehicle navigator has improved as well. As noted above, GPS control has been made much simpler. Also, the program now has a really cool auto-zoom feature. As the vehicle approaches a planned turn, the program begins to zoom down to a smaller and smaller scale so that the details of the required turn become clear. Once the maneuver is complete, the software zooms back out to give a broader view of the route.
The program also provides for automatic rerouting if your course strays from the one originally planned. You can set how far off course you must be before the program recalculates a new path to your destination. The program offers not only voice commands for navigation, but also will accept voice commands from the user to control the program.
The GPT LT-20With the offering of Street Atlas USA 2006, DeLorme is also offering a USB GPS receiver, the LT-20. The unit works perfectly with DeLorme products (including Topo USA). The unit also works with other computer and PDA navigators. The really impressive feature of the LT-20 is its price. The GPS's MSRP is less than $100, including Street Atlas USA 2006. Street Atlas has an MSRP of about $50.