NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Delorme Street Atlas USA, Versions 4.0 & 5.0
Charles Blanchard, V. President, March 98
(click to email author)

Version 4.0

One of my hobbies which I follow only loosely is collecting maps. They include maps of many kinds as well as many places all over the world. This led to collecting map programs for my computer. The software I have includes Just Softworks "Precision Mapping 2.0", which I consider quite good; Softkey Multimedia "Master Maps", which I consider not so good; and Compton's New Media "Complete Street Guide", which I thought was the best you could get. All of them are on CD-Rom.

When I agreed to test Street Atlas USA by DeLorme, I didn't think it could beat Compton's. Yet DeLorme has done a very good job of equalling or beating the competition. It not only gives street names, parks, lakes, etc., but also has a status bar that gives very good information as you move the mouse along the map.

This program has Install Wizard which did a straight-forward complete job of installing the program in about 2 or 3 minutes, with no problems. The system requirements are: IBM-compatible computer with a 386 processor or better, 8 MB Ram, 8MB space on your hard drive, Windows 3.1 or better, and for the GPS Connection, a NMEA receiver. Although I didn't use the registration, DeLorme offers on-line registration for users with modems. The User's Guide is compact, precise, easy to understand and fits in the jewel case with the CD- ROM.

The Program starts with a main map which you edit immediately to tell it what town or Zip Code you want to view. Just click Search on the main Windows-type menu and click on Locate by Placename. Then type in the name of the town you want to view.

To zoom in to a certain area, just hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse in any direction. A box appears that changes dimension as you move the mouse. Just release the button and the area you selected fills the screen. You can also add Text Label, Map Notes or Zip Code with the right mouse button. Of course, magnitude can also be changed by the View Menu, giving you a larger or smaller view of the area. There is the usual Compass Rose to move the map on the screen.

Locating a place can be done by magnitude level, placename, street address(not always), Area Code & Exchange, Zip Code and latitude and longitude. Zip Code boundaries are also displayed. Any recent changes in this data can be obtained through the Internet.

To place lines, circles, text labels, etc. on the map, just click on Options, then click on Draw Functions, then click and hold the object and drag the icon to the place that you want to put it on the map. Then click on the double arrows at the bottom of the palette to finish the drawing.

The GPS Connection is the most exciting part of this program. If you have an interface with the Global Positioning System, an NMEA receiver and a laptop computer, you can display a "bread crumb trail" as you travel. Also, the program will signal your next turn while you are driving to your destination. Your exact position is always displayed.

You can save and/or print maps and there are keyboard shortcuts as well. The Help System is typical of the modern type that is available today in Windows.

Troubleshooting is handled well in the guide, but I noticed most of the problems are Windows 3.1 related. Technical support is available by phone, fax and E-mail.

One final thought: My computer system is an IBM-compatible computer made in Rogers by a local man whom I can discuss problems with over the phone. This is a great advantage over trying to get a company that is very far away and the phones are constantly busy. I have the usual keyboard, monitor and mouse, but in order to solve installation and many other kinds of problems, I have had my computer upgraded to take on today's software and hardware. Although I have everything I need now, probably in another year or less, I'll have to upgrade some more. It seems to be a fact of life. I suggest that to get as much use and fun as you can from your computer, you might consider upgrading.

Version 5.0

This version of DeLorme's Street Atlas has many new things in it that the last version didn't have. The best way to describe the new version is describe these new additions. Here they are:

1. You can put in an address (the place from which you are starting your trip) and put in the address that you are going to. The program gives you the best route.

2. There are now over 2 million points of interest from which you can choose for your trip.

3. The Global Positioning System (GPS) now has voice navigation if you bring along your laptop.

4. It has Palm Pilot PDA Support, which is a printed route.

5. Enchanced GPS features such as automatic panning, logging, tracking GPS map features and more.

6. Prefer/Avoid Roads that selects or avoids roads on your route.

7. Edit Roads which assigns characteristics to roads (one way, no left turn, etc.).

8. Automatic On-Line updates: which is probably the best feature of the new version.

9. On-Line Gazetteer: direct internet access to hundreds of city Web pages for more detailed regional information.

10. Web Sites.

11. Reservations can be made on-line for hotels, airlines, car rentals, etc.

12. Tutorials for all of these things.

13. A travel package that includes printing directions, maps, reports of attachments and travel plans and other details you want to include.

14. Weather statistics for 341 places in the U.S.

15. If you travel over Interstate Highways, you can have listings of available services at exits.

16. Listing of radio stations along your route.

17. Avoidance of specific problems such as heavy traffic congestion and major road construction.

The getting started tutorial is very detailed. There is a trouble shooting section in the manual, and technical support on-line, by Email, by fax and by phone. This is the best one I've seen yet of all the map software programs I've encountered.

Special group offer for members: $135.00 for DeLorme Tripmate GPS receiver and Street Atlas USA 5.0, $35.00 for Street Atlas USA, $25.00 for Phone Search USA, and $49.00 for Both Street Atlas and Phone Search.

Call or e-mail 1-800-452-5931 or sales@delorme.com. You must provide the customer representative with the special order number "LM 123" to take advantage of the order.

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