What are all these Garmin GPS navigation software packages?

What are all these different software packages for GPS navigation from Garmin?

I find MapSource, City Select, City Navigator, and MetroGuide are all listed as programs useful for road navigation in the USA. I want to be able to explore and navigate while driving on our historical research vacations, and this can be city or - more often - rural areas.

I’ve already browsed the web considerably, for example the excellent gpsinformation.net and of course garmin.com.

But I’ll be damned if I can form a clear image of how these things are supposed to relate or on what basis one is to choose between them.

My theory and gleanings so far:

  1. MapSource is Garmin’s branding for all mapping software (though why they wouldn’t use the incredibly strong Garmin brand is beyond me), and it applies to all of the other names.

  2. MetroGuide is their general purpose USA road navigation package. Part of their reason for offering it is that it supposedly does better outside metropolitan areas (though that makes the name MetroGuide an especially poor choice).

  3. City Navigator is an alternate that is based on more accurate digital maps from a different content vendor to Garmin than the original MetroGuide products were, except that
    a) City Navigator is weak in rural areas between cities,
    b) MetroGuide’s newest version has now been based on this newer vendor anyway (though it’s hard to tell because Garmin didn’t change the version number for this major upgrade),
    c) City Navigator has been subsumed into the City Select trade name with a reorganization of licensing levels for the end user.

  4. City Select was the City Navigator software package but it was locked to only work on the cities you specifically paid for, and the package price was lowered - but now City Select is sold as a completely unlocked package and City Navigator is (by most vendors) no longer offered.

  5. City Select is something like 50% more expensive than MetroGuide.

  6. It doesn’t matter which one I choose, unless I misunderstand one of the licensing details and wind up unable to use most of the product.

The Garmin site lets you zoom in on maps from each of these products to check coverage. I’ve done this side by side for each product on three different obscure areas that I happen to know well, and have yet to find a feature on any of them that’s not on the other two. The zoom level that each feature is programmed to turn on at does vary a little, but at the highest zoom all features are common.

So - can anybody enlighten me on what is the point of having all these choices for USA road navigation software???

If you are considering buying an IQue 3600, it comes with City Select NA
(North American Maps and software to load same).

Then you also get rights to download MapSource, a more full featured PC application for plotting routes etc from the company (NavTech) that supplies
Garmin with it’s map data…sold as City Select
If you are considering the IQue - go to http://www.pdastreet.com
then to the IQue forum and read the FAQ’s

I have a Garmin StreetPilotIII and it shipped with MapSource City Navigator. You cannot get this software unless it is bundled with a Garmin device. Further, I don’t think it will work with other devices.

Garmin’s map software site seems pretty clear on what each of its mapping products does. If you look at descriptions of each of its products I think you will get your questions answered.

OK, some things are coming clear:

It looks like City Select and City Navigator are aimed at specific GPS devices, though the Garmin compatibility guide disagrees with independant reviews about what’s compatible with what. Independant sources say each of them is compatible with all of the mapping receivers, except that receivers with less than 8 MB of memory may or may not be able to swallow some individual maps and Garmin tech support excludes helping with that.

It also looks like Garmin sells license unlocks for City Select and City Navigator direct, and also sells MetroGuide (the American version of which doesn’t require an unlock) direct, but only sells City Select and City Navigator media bundled with receivers (except that I’m sure one of the sites I visited said City Navigator media could be purchased from European vendors).

I dunno… still seems complicated.