There’s no doubt that GPS has become extremely popular, it seems everyone is using it. I have two GPS units myself, one in my phone and an older one for my laptop that connects via CF Card slot. The laptop one I have works well, but it requires an adapter since it’s a CF card format, but it can also be used with a PDA equipped with CF slot for true portability, which is a nice feature. Most netbooks and laptops today don’t have GPS integrated into them, and getting while one may argue why would you need it, it’s still a nice feature to have. Considering netbooks are so small, they can easily be used as GPS devices to help you find your way, or to just get directions while you’re on the go.
Geeks.com has sent me over a very cheap GPS unit to review, by cheap I mean inexpensive of course, the Delorme Earthmate LT-20, what makes this unit special is that it has a USB interface, which means it can be used with any computer basically. It’s small and portable, and it comes with Street Atlas USA 2008 Software to get your on your way quickly. I hooked it up to my OCZ Neutrino netbook and took it for a spin, read on to learn all about it…
The Delorme Earthmate LT-20 comes in a nice little box, that is actually two boxes, a cardboard one and a plastic one inside of that.
Includes with it is Street Atlas 2008, and a user manual. You might say that the software is old, being dated 2008, but as soon as I installed it and checked for updates all of the maps were updated for me, so even though it’s 2008, it does use the current maps. I also looked at the new Street Atlas 2009 and it doesn’t seem any different, at least in the screenshots I saw. It seems mostly tweaks and a few upgrades to functionality, but nothing major really.
The LT-20 unit itself is small, measuring in at 2.7 x 1.75 x 0.5 inches and it has a five foot cord along with a suction cup to help keep it in place.
The suction cup part is useful to help stick it places so it won’t slide around. I stuck it to my windshield on the inside of my car while I was driving, and it held very well, it keeps it from sliding around and losing the signal.
Turn your laptop into a powerful GPS navigator with this Delorme Earthmate GPS LT-20 USB GPS Receiver.
The Earthmate GPS LT-20 features an NMEA-compliant 12-channel GPS receiver and is WAAS enabled. It lets you hear spoken directions with precise names, exits and ramps. You can pre-plan perfect routes, selecting exactly the roads you want to go to and view large screen map and GPS with easy to read directions.
The LT-20 features an automatic back on track map and direction updates when you stray off course. It includes Street Atlas USA 2008 software with updated maps of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Simply load the Street Atlas USA software, plug the LT-20 into your laptop’s USB port and get started.
* Turn your laptop into a GPS navigator
* USB 1.1 interface
* NMEA-compliant 12-channel receiver
* Provide address to address routing in the U.S. and Canada with major highways and roads now included for Mexico
* Spoken directions calling out precise names, exits and ramps
* Voice commands
* Select from four million places of interests
* Pre-plan perfect routes, selecting exactly the roads you want
* Automatic back on track map and direction updates when you stray off course
* Find and navigate gas stations, restaurants lodgings, emergency services, attractions, churches, colleges and much more
* View large screen maps and GPS with easy to read directions and arrows
* Select many custom settings including mobile map colors for improved in-vehicle stability
* Advanced high sensitivity algorithms for superior tracking in urban environments
* Proprietary Kalman filter for enhanced position accuracy
* Superior noise rejection for high EMI environments
* ST Micro and SiGE chipsets
* Low-power baseband and RF chip
* Warm start: < 38 seconds
* Hot start: < 3 seconds
* Full power: 165 mW
* Sleep mode: < 5 mW
* Maximum velocity: 1000 knots
* weak signal tracking: < 145 dBm
* 2.7 x 1.75 x 0.5-inches (H x W x D, approximate)
* Delorme Earthmate GPS LT-20 USB 12-Channel GPS Receiver attached with 5-foot USB cable and suction cup
* Street Atlas USA 2008 DVD-ROM
* User Guide
Installation is easy, I have Windows XP on my netbook, I plugged it in and it was installed automatically, but of course it’s just a GPS receiver and you’ll need software to get where you’re going, that’s where the Street Atlas 2008 comes in.
The GPS unit itself is small and lightweight making it very portable, it seems well made, the only thing I might have to complain about is the length of the cable, it’s only five feet. The is a single LED on the unit to indicate power and GPS fix.
Using it, as with any GPS, depends on the type of day it is and what else might be in the way of the signal. I found it wouldn’t work at all inside of my house, which is to be expected, and it loses signal in tunnels as well. GPS fix time varies on the type of day it is. On a nice clear day I got a fix in about 30 seconds, but when it was overcast or rainy it took almost a full minute to get a fix and sometimes a bit more.
Once I got a fix I found that it was fairly accurate, it seems to be more accurate when you’re actually moving for some reason, following my tracks they stayed right on the roads, but my starting and stopping points are sometimes another street over.
Street Atlas 2008 is good software that has many features in it, so it’s not just for finding directions to get somewhere.
Once you start the software you’re greeted with a quick menu of common things to do, for beginners this is a nice place to start.
Once you’ve started using the software you’ll notice that there seems to be a whole lot of stuff going on in the window, it can be a bit overwhelming to some. It’s nothing like what you’d find on a portable GPS unit or the stuff that comes with your phone.
Across the bottom of the window are several tabs, Find, Route and GPS are probably the ones to be used most I’m sure. The GPS tab is exactly that, the attached GPS unit and it’s status, here you can turn it on and off and check out how many satellites you’re using for the fix.
Under the GPS tab is also a GPS Log, you can actually watch the recording of your route as you drive around.
Street Atlas also features voice commands, yes you can talk to your GPS and it will talk back to you! Clicking on the Voice tab will show the supported commands, and there’s actually a lot of them.
The Find tab is where you can input a place or address and find it, very useful of course for getting directions.
The Find tab also has POIs or Points of Interest, so you can quickly find the closest Wal Mart or whatever…
One complaint I could have with this software is the navigation voices or lack of them really. I’ve got TomTom on my phone, and one of the things I like about is the ability to quickly and easily add new voices to it. There are many out there for free, including goofy novelty ones as well, with the Street Atlas you’re stuck with a choice between two very computer sounding voices, one male and one female. They remind of Wargames… Shall we play a game?.. but not quite that bad.
The software is a bit overwhelming at first yes, but you’ll find that it’s easy to use, and you can close menus and windows to have just the navigation on the screen.
The Delorme Earthmate LT-20 and Street Atlas 2008 are a nice combination to add GPS functionality to any computer, and coming in at about $20 it’s well worth it.
The software might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but after using it a couple times you’ll quickly get accustomed to it and be on your way.
+Small and portable
+An easy way to add GPS functionality to any computer
+Easy to use
-Can take a while for GPS lock
-Software can be a bit overwhelming
-Cord is a bit short