3.0 GPS Navigation and Mapping Software
by: MuskokaTech, go
to the web site
OS Version 3.5 or higher based handheld,
a compatible portable GPS unit, a connection
cable between your GPS and handheld; Pocket
PC version available soon
US (full version); $19.95 US (upgrade)
is the Global Positioning System (GPS)? The GPS network
consists of a bunch of satellites orbiting the planet
for the sole purpose of determining your exact location,
speed and direction of travel. It was originally
developed and deployed by the U.S. military. Can't
afford one of those fancy new car GPS options that
are available on many high end autos? We'll don't
fret; we have reviewed a solution that can literally
put that GPS technology in the palm of your hand.
If you're a gadget fanatic and you're always looking
for the latest and coolest things to try out, so
how about hooking up a portable GPS unit to your
Palm device? Yes it is possible.
3.0 software acts as the interface between the GPS receiver
and the Palm handheld. PathAway is meant to be an all-purpose
tool for GPS that can be used for a multitude of things
including aviation, boating and automobile navigating.
Here’s what you need to get started:
Palm powered device with OS 3.5 or higher. We tested
with a Palm Zire 71 and Palm M505.
portable GPS unit such as Garmin, Magellan or Delorme.
We used the Garmin eTrek.
connection cable that links your PDA to the GPS device.
We found our cable at PC-Mobile.
mounting bracket for the GPS receiver. (Optional)
mounting bracket for the Palm device. (Optional)
memory SD expansion card for the Palm handheld. (Optional)
We had no installation problems with PathAway 3.0. It
synched up to our PDAs without any troubles. Once that
was completed we hooked up and activated the data transmission
between the Garmin eTrek and the PDA. Instantly, our location,
speed and bearing were displayed on a conveniently supplied
demo map that covered our location. One of the greatest
features that propels PathAway ahead of the competition
is that the program has the ability for you to create and
import your own maps. You can scan paper maps, download
them from the web or import then from CD-ROM. A separate
application called PathAway Tools converts any map to the
PathAway Palm format quickly and easily. PathAway Tools
also allows you to import or export points of interest,
tracks and routes from your GPS handheld for further analysis.
Part of the software evaluation included a two hour out
of town road trip. We used the PathAway Tools to convert
three maps that we scanned into our PC. One map was a larger
overview of the area we were traveling and the other two
were detailed city/town views. Once our scanning was complete,
we synched the maps to our 256mb SD memory card, calibrated
the maps and hit the road.
screen navigation was a breeze - the PathAway menu
system is very user friendly. One cool feature allows
to zoom in and out on the map that is being displayed.
We also found the hide toolbar feature quite useful as
it creates additional map viewing area on the Palm display.
The ability to customize the dashboard is also another
asset of the program. For example if you don't want to
view your elevation, you can simply hide it by tapping
on the variable in the pop-up menu.
During the road trip, we marked points of interest as
part of our testing along our route. We simply tapped on
the screen to mark a point and stored it into memory. On
our way back, we used these marked points to create a mini-route
in which we could guage our speed, time and distance traveled
against our car odometer and speedometer. When we neared
our marked point of interest, an alarm/proximity feature,
which we activated beforehand, alerted us. We're happy
to report that the PathAway numbers were very accurate.
Just a word of caution: We found it best that if you are
planning to use any of these devices in a car/boat/aircraft
alone you must be sure to have your trip planned out. Fiddling
with the GPS receiver and trying to tap on your PDA while
driving down the highway at 60 mph isn't a good idea. When
we did our test I had someone drive the vehicle while I
was in the passenger seat evaluating the software. One
minor nuisance that we encountered was with our Palm Zire
71 universal connector. The cable that was ordered online
from PC-mobile.net to connect the hardware was designed
to fit all Palms that have the universal connector such
as the M500 series, Zire 71, etc. Ours did not fit snuggly
on the Zire 71 but worked perfectly on the M505. At first
we thought it was a bad cable, so we ordered another one:
same problem - perfect on the M505, terrible on the Zire
71. We borrowed another Zire 71 and the cable would still
not fit snuggly. Closer inspection revealed a very small
difference in the connector mount on the Zire, sufficient
to cause poor lockup of the cable's spring clips. Either
Palm must have changed the design slightly (unlikely) or
more likely, the fabricator who made the Zire 71 base connector
mount shaved the tolerances a wee bit too close.
Aside from the
connector hassle, overall it was a great pleasure to
review the PathAway GPS software. It’s
great for those who want to dabble with GPS technology.
Maps can take up a lot of space, so it is recommended
that you have an extra storage expansion
card handy. Maps viewed on older Palm displays using lower
resolution screens are hard to read.
Pros: Great import and mapping abilities. Loaded with
features. Superb online help and documentation. Supports
Palm OS 5 and higher resolution displays. Works with Bluetooth
devices such as EMTAC. Affordably priced and great upgrade
price point when a new version is released. Recommended.
Update: Pocket PC version is now available.
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