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I`m using the european garmin 5 around the americas.
The base map is not worth worrying about, but has some basic roads included on the unit. The idea behind the 5 is that you download much more complex maps to it, depending on where you are travelling to. For example, I loaded on the whold of LA and parts of california from the USA road maps that I bought for 100ish dollars, so yes, get the unit, its a good price, they are in high demand.
If something sounds too good to be true - it usually is, and this applies to your situation.
To understand how the GPS works, and why buying a North American version for use in Europe would not be a good idea, here is some information.
1) Basemap Issues
All Garmin GPS receivers (GPSR's) ship with a built in basemap. The basemap is "burned into" an EPROM (programmable read only memory) within the unit at the time of manufacture, and cannot be updated or changed by the user.
Garmin has (at least) two versions of basemaps, "Americas", which covers North America down to about Costa Rica, and "Atlantic", which covers Europe east to about Turkey and south to about the bottom of Algeria.
The basemaps serve two important purposes: first, they enable your GPS to display some limited information (major highways) when you do not have any other cartography loaded into your GPSR's memory, and second, they are used to create the screen display when the zoom setting is set to 8km zoom or greater.
If you are using an Americas GPSR in Europe, you won't benefit from the basic highway information when you don't have other cartography products loaded, or for countries that Garmin does not have cartography products for (e.g. Turkey, Algeria, Poland etc.). Also, if you zoom out to a view greater than 8 km, you will see a blank screen.
2) Included Cartography Issues
Garmin includes a set of CD's with every automotive GPSR that they sell. By "automotive", I mean the GPS V, StreetPilot III, and SP 2610/2650 series. The area covered by the CD's corresponds to the basemap of the unit - by this I mean North American purchasers of a GPS V get City Select North America, and European Purchasers get City Select Europe.
Any Garmin GPSR that is capable of auto-routing - and this includes the GPS V - uses a serial number unlock code for the cartographic data that is stored on the CD's. By this I mean that in order to use the CD's in the GPSR, and benefit from the information that they provide, you must have an unlock code that corresponds to the serial number of your specific GPSR. No doubt the person planning to sell you the North American GPS V has a set of City Select North America CD's, with a valid unlock code for that particular serial number GPSR.
But, the North American CD's are of no value to you whatsoever if you plan to use the GPSR in Europe. You can't copy (duplicate, borrow, pirate, whatever) the data from someone else's City Select Europe CD's, because you won't have a valid unlock code that matches the serial number of your GPSR.
Your only choice will be to buy a set of City Select Europe CD's as a stand-alone product. This is expensive - list price for the current version of City Select Europe is USD 350. See this link for details: Garmin Website - City Select Europe.
Even if you fork out the USD 350 for the set of Europe CD's and the unlock code, you still will be stuck with a GPSR that will not display map detail at wide zoom levels (beyond 8 km). You could correct this problem by purchasing or pirating a copy of WorldMap and loading the appropriate segments onto your data chip, but you will then have a very old (ca. 1998) underlying map, not a contemporary one, so when you zoom out, roads will not match up properly.
I have been a Garmin user for several years - had a SP III (actually had 2, one for North America and one for Europe), now have a SP 2650, and I beta-test these units for Garmin - my specialty is testing their suitability for motorcycle applications. Trust me, I know what I am talking about, and I am not shilling for Garmin. There is just no economical way to buy a GPSR in America and use it in Europe.
Some people get so caught up with the desire to beat the system that they buy a North American unit, then load it with older European cartography (e.g. the old 'Roads and Rec' CD's, or the old 'MetroGuide' CD's). These older cartographic products don't use a serial number unlock system, so they can be copied and shared easily - but the problem is, the data is now over 4 years out of date, and none of them support autorouting - so it's kind of pointless to spend the money on the hardware (a GPS V) and then ride around with way out of date maps, and no routing ability.
Your best bet is to search eBay in Europe for used GPS V's or used SP III's. Now that the SP 2610 and SP 2650 are shipping, there are quite a few of the V's and III's on eBay. Make sure you are buying a European unit, and make sure it comes both with the Europe CD's AND the appropriate unlock code for the Europe CD's.
1) CityNavigator (Europe, North America, Australia)
Very, very detailed street level data for cities. Sometimes incomplete rural community street level data (it is called CITY Navigator). Coverage will vary by country, from perfection (every road and path in the country) in the German speaking countries, to pretty good (just about everything) for the USA, to rather spotty for places like Spain, Scandinavia, etc.
Contains many attributes (things you do not see on the map) about each street, such as width, presence of a median, truck restrictions, precise lane positions, exact text of overhead signs. Ships included with the StreetPilot III and GPS 2610/2650. Supports autorouting on both the PC and GPS, and is the ONLY product that supports voice prompts (e.g. "In 200 feet turn left") on the SP III and SP 2610/2650. Serial number locked to the individual GPS serial number. Current version contains 2003 data from NavTech. FYI, NavTech gets most of this info from various governments (they buy it), therefore the quality of the data depends on how well the country has progressed in developing vector-based electronic maps. Germany, Switzerland, and the Benelux countries are 100% done with amazing accuracy and detail. South of the Alps and Pyrenees, both coverage and accuracy gets spotty.
2) CitySelect (Europe, North America, South Africa)
Exactly the same visual data (what you see on the screen) as CityNavigator, not one street less or more, but fewer invisible road attributes such as turn restrictions, time of day restrictions, and weight restrictions. Fully suitable for cars and motorcycles. Not appropriate for delivery vehicles or intense urban work. Ships with the GPS V. Supports autorouting on both the PC and GPS. Serial number locked to the individual GPS serial number. Current version contains 2003 data from NavTech.
3) “MetroGuide” Products (Europe, USA, Canada, Australia)
Be very careful here, these products have different characteristics according to their version number:
Version 5, MetroGuideUSA (Current shipping product)
Almost exactly the same product as CitySelect, Supports autorouting on the PC and GPS. Serial number locked to the individual GPS serial number. A 2003 release. NavTech data, therefore identical visually to CN and CS for the same areas.
Version 4, MetroGuideUSA
Not as complete a cartographic database as the above 3 products (CN, CS, MG USA version 5), but better rural coverage than earlier CityNavigator and CitySelect products that were available at the same time as version 4 of MetroGuide USA came out. Not as good urban coverage as any version of CN or CS. Supports autorouting on the PC and GPS. NOT serial number locked to the individual GPS serial number. A 2001 release. Contains data compiled by TeleAtlas (formerly known as Etak).
Good coverage of urban areas, no street level detail elsewhere. Serial number locked to the individual GPS serial number. A 2002 release. Not sure who provides the data, but I think it is UBD in Australia.
MetroGuide Canada Version 4
Just released in late 2003, excellent coverage of virtually all of Canada, the best product to choose for touring the country, but if you drive a taxi or delivery vehicle in a big city, CN has more detail for the big cities. Cartographic data provided by DMTI Spatial (a Canadian Company) from public domain data. Not serial number locked to the GPSR, and will autoroute on both the PC and the GPSR.
Earlier Versions - Any product with "MetroGuide" plus a country name (USA, Switzerland, Spain, Benelux, etc.).
Do not support autorouting, pretty spotty data, obsolete nowadays because they are all more than 5 years old, should be discarded.
4) Roads & Recreation
Any product with the name 'Roads & Recreation' is really, really old (late 90's data, the very first effort at electronic mapping) and should be tossed. No autorouting support.
WorldMap is a specialty product that gets a lot of disrespect that it does not deserve. It was created by Garmin from public domain data in the late 1990's to provide 'major road' information for the whole world, but no detailed street information. It is not of value in any area that currently (2003) has other data available - for example CN, CS, MG, or even the built-in basemap - but it is invaluable - and the only thing available for Garmin GPSR's - if you are in Africa south of the extent of the built-in 'Atlantic' basemap, or Central or South America (south of the 'Americas' built-in basemap, which ends at about Belize). In such cases, WorldMap will give you information similar in detail to what the basemap would provide, if it existed for that area. 6 year old data, but that's not much of a problem, major roads don't change very quickly in lesser developed countries. No unlock codes needed, and no autorouting support.
Another great advantage of WorldMap is that the map chunks are very small in size (kb's) relative to the area that they cover. This makes WorldMap really valuable for people who have [usually older] GPSR's with limited memory capacity. By example, the entire continent of Africa from WorldMap only occupies 15 mb of space, and this will give you just about every intercity road that a passenger car could travel on. At the other end of the scale, the city of London, England takes up 20 mb if you use the latest CN data, which is the most detailed.
WorldMap deserves serious consideration from folks that participate here on HUBB. I use it all the time when I go to Angola, Sierra Leone, Algeria, etc.
6) The Built-in Basemap in every GPSR
Because of the "pecking order" of the maps, and the fact that the GPSR can only use one map at a time, you don't often get to use your built in basemap. You must turn off any same-area map segments from the above listed cartographic products that are loaded in memory if you want to be able to navigate using the built in basemap, or to be able to see roads contained in the built-in basemap at views of 5 miles or less. If you don't know how to turn map segments off, just remove the data chip and put it in your pocket, the GPSR will then use the built in basemap only. Obviously, it's safer to turn them off via the software in your GPS, you don't risk losing the tiny and expensive data chip.
The "pecking order" of cartography products is the same as the order I have listed them here, 1 through 6. This means that it is pointless to have more than one map product loaded for any area - the product highest in the pecking order will overlay and hide any and all products that are lower in the pecking order. You can, however, have segments from multiple products loaded for the same area, and then choose which one to use by turning off the higher-ranked ones that you don't want to use. For example, I often travel with both CN North America and MetroGuide Canada Version 4 loaded. When I get outside of the big Canadian cities, I turn off CN and switch over to MG Canada v4. When I get really, really far out into the boonies, I occasionally turn off both CN and MG Canada 4, just to check and see if the built-in basemap has coverage that the other two don’t. Occasionally the basemap surprises me.
If you are not sure what product has best coverage, just stop, change the map scale to 5 miles (8 km) or smaller, and turn the various map products on and off to compare what you get. Note that all GPSR's use the built in basemap only to draw the screen display when the scale is bigger than 5 mile range (this gives faster screen redraws), so everything will look the same above 5 mile scale. But, for route calculation purposes, the unit uses the highest ranked map that is enabled, regardless of the scale you choose for your view.
[This message has been edited by PanEuropean (edited 26 December 2003).]
I don't keep a website of any kind. In fact, I try to keep a pretty low profile so far as websites go.
The software and hardware engineers that I collaberate with at Garmin understand that I post and provide information on motorcycle websites about GPS use, and they are OK with that, because I also collect feedback from the motorcycle community and provide it to the software engineers. That's one of the reasons why the latest software offers a choice such as "avoid unpaved roads", for example.
In my 'day job' (training airline pilots), I spend quite a bit of time on GPS navigation related issues, including Garmin aviation equipment, and anytime I am not working at the day job, I load my moto into a plane and take it to another continent and ride it, so I have a GPS in front of me just about all the time, one way or another.
Things change pretty quickly in the world of consumer GPS, any web page that I would create would be out of date in a few months, so it seems best just to answer questions "in real time" here on the BB.
Very interesting and educational information in this thread. Thanks to all.
For U.S. GPS navigators, I have found a very good PC based (free) program called USAMaps at jdmcox.com. You download USGS quadrangle maps and can create Routes or Waypoints on the maps and upload them to your Garmin or Magellan GPS. You can also download tracks, routes, and waypoint from the GPS. You can also download satellite photomaps.
Of not much use to motorcyclists but good for auto use, you can real time track on the PC with the GPS "hooked up."
Geez, that's not a very well thought out recommendation. Throughout this entire discussion, we have been talking about cartographic software for GPSR's that have autorouting capability. All these products (CS and CN) require serial number unlocks that match the SN of the individual GPSR.
Besides - from a moral point of view (rather than the technical point of view in the paragraph above), if you recommend Kaaza as the tool to get the software, what's the difference between that and recommending a bolt-cutter as the tool to get the motorcycle?
i have a gps 5, load in local maps and find comms cabin around the uk with it, and am not overly impressed with the routing capabilities especially around towns, many a time i have gone past a turning as it has not updated soon enough, mostly because it sends you down a road then tell you you are off route and sits recalculating.
find it much better in off road setting as would be available on an etrex. The good point is that you can search for addresses etc. So I would not rate routing capeabilities very highly on the list.
What i would like to see is a way of disabling the points of interest so i can fit more road data in its memory. It is a regular thing for it to decide that your turning was the one you have just gone past but is still half a mile away on the display.
[This message has been edited by superzebraa (edited 14 March 2004).]
1) That is correct. To enhance speed of screen redraw, the basemap data only is used beyond a certain zoom level - typically 5 miles.
2) It has no effect on autorouting at all, because the data on the chip continues to be used for autorouting (if the chip contains the required data). If the chip does not contain the required data, then the basemap will be used to generate the autoroute (hence the need for the correct basemap), but that is independent of the map scale being used.
This is perhaps the most detailed article I have found on basemaps and how they are used. Like others, I am also considering buying a Garmin 2610 with a US basemap, but for use in Europe.
Even after reading this very detailed post, I am not entirely clear as to what the difference in normal navigation will be?
Could you please clarify - what if the unit is never switched to a scale that requires the basemap. Could you not load very detailed maps of all of Europe on say a 512MB card? Basically, I am prepared to put up with the odd glitch for the huge saving, but I don't want the odd glitch to occur on every journey I make - that would defeat the purpose of getting a GPS unit.
Last summer I bought a Garmin 76s at GPSdiscount.com.
I had to pay something less than 300 Euro. This was incl. tax, shipment and customs (completely legal). In Holland the same GPS would have cost me more than 500 Euro.
I use the GPS for paragliding and never had any problems with it. My gps also has an American base map, and so I have to download partitial maps (mapsource)of the area were I will be flying or travelling.
I can load more than enough mapdata into the gps (24 Mb), so I am very satisfied and saved 200 Euro.
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