Official Garmin Software Guide for Handhelds
So you've decided on a Garmin handheld GPS, but have no idea what kind of software you need with it. Let Tiger GPS help you make the selection!
All mapping handheld systems are loaded with a basemap. A basemap is a rough outline, mainly there so you have a visual reference point. The basemap will have major highways and borders, but will lack the detail necessary for complex outdoors work, driving directions, or marine navigation. A basemap will show you that you're in New York, for example, but it won't have most streets or many point-of-interest listings.
If you want to use your Garmin handheld GPS receiver in the car, you'll need Garmin MapSource City Navigator software. City Navigator contains fully detailed street information with points of interest, so you can actually type in an address and the unit will compute driving directions, beeping when it's time to turn. You'll be able to look up hotels, restaurants, gas stations and more. Some lower-end units can't compute driving directions, but still take MetroGuide software, which allows you to compute routes on your computer and still have a city map overlay on your GPS unit.
The following maps are a sample from Lynbrook, New York, a suburban area. The basemap shows the two major roads and the train tracks only. The City Navigator map has all the roads in the area, plus stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc. (the picture is actually of the PC view of the software). The Topo map adds the side roads and a couple of interest points to the basemap, but that's it.
If you're an outdoors adventurer, you'll want MapSource Topo software. Topographical software provides elevation contours, full campground and park maps, trail information, and more. MapSource Topo won't let you calculate driving directions but you can still look up some points of interest, especially in outdoors areas.
The following maps are a sample from Ticonderoga, New York, an area popular with hikers and campers. The basemap notes the airport and the highest mountain peaks. The City Navigator map adds the side roads, but there simply aren't many there. The Topo map, however, shows full elevation contours, more mountain peaks, and if one were to zoom in, more park and trail info.
If you're a seafarer, you'll need marine software. Marine charts show depth contours, port listings, and navigational aids such as buoys and lights. Garmin BlueChart provides detail for coastal waters, including the East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast and Great Lakes. If you're an inland freshwater traveler, you'll need Garmin Inland Lakes software.
The following maps are of Lake Okeechobee, Florida. The basemap gives a general overview of the area. The Topo software shows more precise land mass, and coastal road detail just off the screen. The detail from the Inland Lakes chart has depth contours and all the nav aids in the water, making it the proper choice if you're boating on the lake.
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