What's the best mapping software?

My needs aren’t that complicated. I want software that will work on my laptop like any in-car navigation system (sans the touchscreen, of course), where I can plot a route and the laptop can give me instructions, either by voice or by large print or arrows on the screen. If I miss a turn or make an intended detour, I’d like the software to automatically adjust.

I already have a barebones GPS (Rand McNally, it has no screen); I’m using it with Microsoft Streets, but that software really sucks ostrich eggs when it comes to realtime mapping.


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I’m embarrassed to say it, but good old Microsoft MapPoint may be your best bet. I’m not sure you can do voice commands with it, but you might be able to rig it with that robot voice-thingy Windows has.

I use MapPoint for loads of things at work, and I have rarely seen it fail.

I’m going to bump this up in that hopes that someone else out there has a suggestion. I’ve tried Mappoint and wasn’t impressed.

Delorme has come out with an improved version of their Street Atlas which is supposed to have better interface for in the car/ gps w/ laptop. Delorme offers a 30 day money back guarantee, so it would be a free trial.

I’ve seen comments that the interface is much better than MS Streets and Trips.

I only use Street Atlas on the desktop. In the car I use a Garmin IQue 3600 which is a Palm PDA with built in GPS. It works very well, better than NeverLost from Magellin.

You can get the Garmin, car kit, and a decent size SD card for about $525. Map updates are $75.00. You would start with maps on the entire US and Canada. They have annual updates from Navtek ==> Garmin == you if you choose to buy.

For most accurate mapping data I’ve never seen anything better than Garmin Metroguide. The mapping data is updated regularly, it does auto-routing (choose a start and end point and it’ll pick a supposedly-optimal route), and I’ve found that even the highway on- and off-ramps are mapped accurately. I’ve never tried it for on-the-go directions like you’re describing but I know it does support that sort of thing.

I don’t know, though, if it’ll work with any given GPS or if it’s Garmin specific. Since they sell it as a standalone product and there’s a well-established standard for GPS-to-computer data (NMEA-0183) it’s very possible it’ll work fine. If I were at home I’d take a look and see, but Garmin’s Metroguide USA web page might tell you what you need to know.