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  #1  
Old 20 Nov 2005
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Beating the same old drum, to mac or not?

I've been searching the foums for info in using a mac for gps, and although there is a wealth of info, i found nothing current. Here's the story...i own a Garmin 60cs, and used it for the first time travelling through the states this summer. I love it! My only problem is it's limited memory, a lot of places i went i didn't have any maps (Gamin City Select). I also hate the fact that you have to plan your rout before you leave, downloading the nesesary maps. The answer to this problem is to carry a laptop. I also plan on downloading digital photo's and video, documenting my adventures. This is where my indecision starts...I hate PC!! I hate everything about it! It crashes when you need it the most, and it's a constant battle to keep internet vermin out. Most of my computer use is internet and multi-media, and i've been seriously considering upgrading to the latest G4 powerbook and Finalcut Pro. Compact, light, aluminum, powerful and really not much more expensive than comparable pc laptops. The question is has it become any easier to run Mapsource software on a Mac? Is there other GPSMAP software comparable toWorldmap and City Select that runs on Mac? Is Virtual PC the only option? All i want to do is open a program, choose my maps, plug in my GPS and download, all without jumping through hoops Truth is, i'm not all that computer savy, and reading all this tech-talk on running mapsource is giving me a migrain!
How about GPSy? Or the Touratech maps?
...I'm so confused! Please don't let this be the only reason i can't buy a Mac!


BTW...i heared through the grapevine Mac was going to an Intel processor. Would this make a difference?
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  #2  
Old 20 Nov 2005
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One thing you must bear in mind is that laptops have rotating harddisks which are not very forgiving to the type of vibrations and shocks that you may endure on rough surfaces ... usually found in places where having a functional gps is the most critical. Even high vibration engines may pose problems, such as two stroke motorcycle engines, Harley's, etc. For reliability in these circumstances I would go for a regular gps. There are ofcourse ways to construct mounts that will counter these problems, but in most cases they are not worth the time, money and effort.

As for using a Mac, I don't know. I know there are Linux solutions out there you can use, if you really hate MS that much. I must say though, that MS has become fairly user friendly and reliable the last few years (as long as you don't tinker too much with it and are restrictive with what you install and download). My personal opinion is that software availability and hardware performance on the PC platform negates any drawbacks of a marginal less reliability.

If reliability is really important to you,and you end up looking for a pc, I would concider brands that test their models thouroughly before they are released. IBM think pad is one such option. The thinkpads also have special harddisk technology which will protect your harddisk if you drop the pc. The only drawback of choosing such computers is that you will not get the latest of the latest of the top of the notch performance parts in the computer (those with teething problems), and it may be a bit more expensive. The IBM thinkpad also looks like it was built with an axe, but it is sturdy as hell.

Personally I usually always support the underdog, but in this case, the Mac's are still far too inferior to the PC's (except if you are into multimedia development).

If I were you, I would go for a laptop with a "centrino" chip set. With this chip set you will get the ultimate tradeoff between reliability, performance, noice, cost and battery life. If you in adition choose the IBM thinkpad brand, I'm confiden't you will be satisfied with the reliability and performance. Ofcourse, you will have the ugliest computer on the block... but this can be remedied with a nice paint job...

I know this is not what you wanted to hear... In my opinion, the only real reason to buy a mac is based on affection, not educated reasoning, sorry...

[This message has been edited by Wheelie (edited 20 November 2005).]
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  #3  
Old 20 Nov 2005
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Incompatability is certainly not the only reason you shouldn't buy a Mac. I bought a G4 ibook last year and although I was reasonably happy with its functionality it broke down irretrievably after 13 months (1 month after warranty ran out!). The 'logic board' went on it and becuase Macs are initially expensive and also hard wired it would have cost over £600 to have it fixed. I am reliably informed the same problem on a PC would have cost under £200. Since then I have spoken to a number of colleagues (press photographers who carry their laptops around and are none too careful with them) and IT specialists who happen to be freinds and nearly all of them said: "Ah, you shouldn't have bought a Mac, they're crap" One guys reaction was "Aargh, f*cking Macs, don't talk to me about f*cking Macs, they are f*cking sh*t!" (verbal eloquence not a strong point!) I spent some time trying to extract just an apology or even an admission that 13 months was a little short for a laptop lifespan from Apple and failed miserably. They really could not have cared less. In my opinion Apples are trendy, overpriced junk.
I spent over £800 on a laptop that I replaced a year later with PC with the same performance for less than half that. If a PC breaks down your nearly always close to someone who can fix it, thats certainly not the case with MACS. Also it will cost exponentially less to do that repair as the parts are cheaper and they are usually pugged in rather than hard wired.
Sorry to rant but the whole thing still pisses me off! Long live the PC!
Matt
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  #4  
Old 20 Nov 2005
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt Cartney:
If a PC breaks down your nearly always close to someone who can fix it,
Wrong, sorry. True for desktops, but not laptops: parts are brand and model specific, so only an authorised dealer will normally be able to supply the needed parts. I speak from experience with an Averatec. No parts in Northern and Eastern Europe.

Whatever you buy, make sure there are service centres in all the countries you travel through.
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  #5  
Old 20 Nov 2005
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The most common thing to break on a laptop is the harddrive, those are standardised and readily available, as are lots of other stuff that goes into it... Memory, optical drives, wire less network access, power adapter, and much more, would not be a problem to have remedied on the road. A thing which goes rather quickly on all laptops are batteries, which are difficult and expensive to come by. However, you can purchase new battery cells from a wholesaler, crack open the battery and solder in the new ones. But true, availability of parts is not the same as desktops, but in most cases you will be ok, even processors can be easily replaced by a competent computer repair man. Things that can be a bit more tricky are the lcd screen, keyboard, and such. The lap top I am using now I have built myself...
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  #6  
Old 21 Nov 2005
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Thanx guy's. Although it isn't what i want to here, i supose it would be more practical in the end to stick with PC, continue to feed the beast! I'm still hoping there is a satisfied Mac user out there. Everyone i work with in the film industry uses Mac's and swear by them, including customer service!?! I copied this thread to the Communications forum so i won't miss anybody.

BTW...i've spent my entire weekend dealing with Garmin customer support trying to get my Mapsource CitySelect to work. Whenever i highlight a map, the computer freezes and shows error. Aparently windows hides some sort of keys in the directory that cause this problem. Great! $$$$ of softwear and hardwear, and all it does is crash! Yup...another FINE Microsoft product! I wonder what they will try to sell me to fix this problem, hum????
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  #7  
Old 21 Nov 2005
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Mr. Ron,
Regarding your film industry mates using Macs: Yes, they do tend to be preffered by people using them for multimedia type stuff. They used to standard issue for photographers. A couple of years ago almost everyone I knew had one. However, continuing problems with reliability, expense and their apparent inability to cope with being carried around in a photo backpack constantly have caused a shift to PC and now most of my freinds have PCs. One of my IT budies reckons that media types buy them "Because they are trendy, not 'cos they're good." And I think there may be something in this. I can't comment on their suitability for video editing etc. but I can't really detect much of a difference when it comes to picture editing. My Mac had very slightly better colour balance I think, than my new PC but so infentesimally better to be not worth consideration. You will probably find people who swear by Macs, I can only give you my impression of them and hope it is of some help.
Matt
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*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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  #8  
Old 23 Nov 2005
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Mr. Ron:
First - even with Apple going to an Intel processor, Mac's won't be able to run Windows software - different operating systems. Intel Macs won't be Windows PC's. However, one reason I believe Apple is going to the Intel chipset is that it does make it possible, and relatively easy (i.e. economical), for software publishers to produce a Mac version of their Windows software. Will Garmin produce Mac versions of their software?

Second - I've been running Garmin software on an iBook for a couple years now using Virtual PC 6.x/ Windows 98. Probably the hardest part was working with the drivers. Usually you'll need a Windows driver which you install in your Virtual PC - and that you explicitely load the driver when you run Virtual PC. Its tricky at first - but once you get the hang of it...

You may want to double check the various versions of your Windows OS/Virtual PC/Mac OS software - and drivers too. You have to be sure that they are all compatible. In this regard, not having the newest releases is an advantage if you don't know better.

Like any PC - you have to take special care in order to carry the thing and preserve its life. Vibration, moisture, dust, etc. - all tend to be anti-PC, no matter the type.

Regarding the comments about durability - one first hand, the others 2nd hand - hey, I've read accounts on this forum where PC's died early deaths. These things can and will crap out. Not everyone has bad experiences - those that didn't have a problem tend never to mention it - those that had bad times with their PC/Mac/Camera/bike/shocks/panniers tend to rant on this forum. You'd think none of this stuff works from the stuff you read on this internet.

So, maybe a couple years from now you'll submit an after-ride report telling how well your Mac worked on your travels. I hope so. because I just replaced my 4 year old iBook with a new PowerBook for next year when I start a multi-year trip.

BTW: I'm currently in the IT industry - an internet software engineer (Java programming) working in an IBM shop (AS/400's, IBM-AIX servers, Windows NT/2000/XP etc.) - and over half of us developers have Macs as our personal PC's because the Mac OS [unix based!] is far superior to how we work compared to that Windows stuff (Windows is for the office folks - the bean counters - HR - you know, Outlook, Word, Excel types).

Good luck -hope this helps.

------------------
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Seattle, Washington USA
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R1150GS

[This message has been edited by quastdog (edited 23 November 2005).]
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  #9  
Old 26 Nov 2005
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..Okay, i give up. I went and bought an IBM thinkpad today and loaded all my GPS maps and Mexico Topo maps. It's already froze three times, but i guess i can get used to it. After all, its OS only another FINE microsoft product. I don't know if Mac is the answer, but i sure wish someone would come up with an OS for PC that is reliable, dependable, doesn't crash and isn't dependant on expensive anti-virus software to slow everything down. I plan on never connecting the laptop to the internet, burn all my updates to a cd from my desktop and install thatway. At least now i can do all my GPS work on the road, along with downloading my digital photo's. Tomorrow i'll try to find a car adapter to wire into my bike to keep it charged while in the pannier. Say, i noticed today that you can get USB memory sticks that can hold your preferences, adresses, files, etc. Has anyone tried this in internet cafe's while on the road? Can they transfer virusus?
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Old 30 Nov 2005
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Kensington make a nifty adapter that runs of almost any power source, 12V DC, 100-240V AC. All you need is the plug adaptors. Should work with your TP. I bought one myself.

Yes, an infected PC could store infected files on a USB drive, or anything else that appears as a drive on a PC. BUT, in order to infect YOUR PC you would have to try to execute (double-click) the infected file. Tip: in Windows Explorer un-hide known file extensions. That way you won't so easily be fooled into opening document.doc.exe, for example. I wouldn't worry about it, if you only ever put data files onto it.
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  #11  
Old 6 Feb 2006
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...well, it seems that Garmin has finally addresed the Mac incompatability problem: http://www.garmin.com/pressroom/corporate/011006.html
...also, they've upgraded the 60cs to the 60cx, finally using SD-cards for media.
http://www.garmin.com/products/gpsmap60cx/
Funny how much things can change while on the road, huh? Say, anyone out there want to buy a well used, well travelled thinkpad with a cracked screen?
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  #12  
Old 15 Mar 2006
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>I hate PC!! I hate everything about it!
Yep, I know that feeling ;-)

I havent got much time for in-GPS maps while riding a bike (paper is so much easier) but I did just get GPSPro v6 (45 bucks) - a Mac dedicated GPS prog that I found better than GPSy when I compared them a couple of years back. These progs are for importing and mapping waypoints. When it comes to importing digi maps into a Garmin from a Mac I am in the dark, but the GPSPro website (US-based) ought to know. http://www.macgpspro.com/

Hope it helps

Chris S

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  #13  
Old 17 Mar 2006
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Great link, thanx Chris. I'm presently typing this message on my new, well used Powerbook G4 12" that i got on E-Bay a week ago...love it! I'll be up-grading my GPS this summer to a Garmin 60csx with the chip memory. I tell you, once you get a GPSMAP, you'll never go back. You still need a paper map for the large picture, but knowing exactly where you are on that map and what direction your going in is a huge advantage. Truth is, this is my first GPS, so i can't compare what it is like with only digital co-ordinates, but after travelling the western states and all of Mexico, i would feel lost without one. Even navigation through Mexico DF with worldmap, which only shows you the major highways through the city, just knowing where you are at any time within the city and what direction you are going made navigation easy, although i really didn't have a map to follow. Sure, i could travell without it, but it sure is nice to have when navigation large cities.
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Old 18 Mar 2006
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I've had a mac now for about nine months and I would certenly buy another one. I bought mine ( a G4 powerbook) after my laptop finally gave up. I still have a desktop pc but it hardly gets used now and when it does it seems so slow compared to the mac. The mac never seems to crash or get slower. It does look cooler but I'd just had enough with Microsoft after after it seemed I had to restore my pc all the time. Most software is available on Mac and PC these days aswell.

Jaime



[This message has been edited by pheasant56 (edited 17 March 2006).]
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  #15  
Old 18 Mar 2006
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Looks like the Mac GPS Pro catches up, previously there wasn't that advanced GPS software for MacOS. Also Garmin launched MacOS compability development. I'm not GPS minded myself, i prefer the physical large map, but looks like i might have to consider a GPS as an "helping tool". Must test it first...

I'm using the PowerBook 12" G4 as well.

Thanks, Margus

[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 17 March 2006).]
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