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Topo for my car--which GPS can use it?

wgee 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Recommendations
I have a new job that involves driving around the countryside of W.Va.. I don't need to know how to get to an address---I need to know where I am on the map at any given time. So I need to see gravel roads, landmarks such as powerlines, and invisible boundaries like zip code zones. (as well as the usual stuff that a GPS has).
My question is: I want to buy a used one on Craigslist. It probably won't have topo. Do I need topo for these features, which brands and models will give me this info, which will accept these kinds of updates?
Thanks so much.
(no, i have never had or used one)(':)')

Comments

  • Boyd 1985 Points
    Magellan and TomTom can only use their own proprietary road maps. You cannot add any kind of topo maps to these devices.

    Garmin units are provided with road maps but there are also a great variety of topo and other specialized maps available. Garmin's automotive line, the Nuvi, can use "traditional" Garmin topo maps, but their display will be less than optimal. Some features may not show at all, others will appear in the wrong styles, such as elevation contour lines that are way too thick, or shaded terrain that obscures details such as small roads.

    And the Nuvi is not compatible with satellite imagery or scans of paper USGS topo maps.

    Really, the best device for what you describe would be the Garmin Montana 600. https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/on-the-trail/handhelds/montana-600/prod75226.html

    It is compatible with all types of Garmin maps, including Birdseye Satellite Imagery and Birdseye Topo which are scans of USGS 1:24000 Topo maps. It also has an automotive mode and a special cradle for the car that includes a speaker to give you driving directions. It is lacking some of the "road" features of the Nuvi however, such as traffic service, junction views and advanced lane guidance.

    It's also rather expensive since you will probably want the auto cradle and City Navigator map which cost extra.

    Garmin is rumored to introduce a new device soon, the Monterra, which will also have a 4" screen and similar advanced features but will be Android based with connected services (via internal cellular radio). It is rumored to be even more expensive though, maybe $700.

    For starters, visit http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/ and download some free maps for your area. You will find tutorials for installing and viewing them on your computer. These maps are typically compatible with any Garmin GPS, subject to some of the limitations I listed above.
  • wgee 0 Points
    Boyd, thanks. Wonderful answers. That is the kind of info i need. Sounds like i can't do it on the cheap, tho.
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    The older, cheaper Nuvi's actually do a better job of rendering topo maps if you want it "on the cheap". :) For example, the Nuvi 205w or 255w or 265w are not so bad. Or the Nuvi 650, 660, 750 and 760. These are all 5-8 year old models but for some reason they do a better job with topo maps than newer Nuvi's IMO.

    However, anything from Garmin's handheld line will be better than the Nuvi, because you will have additional menus to control the appearance of the map as well as advanced features like waypoint and track management.
  • wgee 0 Points
    "However, anything from Garmin's handheld line will be better than the Nuvi, because you will have additional menus to control the appearance of the map as well as advanced features like waypoint and track management."

    And they show roads? (I'm a complete newbie.)
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    Of course. However, what you see is dependent on what map you install. The Nuvi series includes road maps. Most of the handhelds do not include maps, and you have to purchase them separately.
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