MS Streets Trips 2006

Ok, I have been using the MS Streets & Trips and/or MS MapPoint ever since I received a free copy of the later one (the 2002 version, I believe) for attending a MS Office XP launch (yea, that was some time ago). I never have had to purchase a copy (free copies or MSDN versions), but I have always liked this software over the other map/GPS planning software’s. There was a sale at Fry's for the 2006 version with the Pharos GPS 360 (USB connection) so I decided to go ahead and buy a copy to use with my upcoming carputer project...

Granted- there are some things in the software that just aren't all that grand- most notably is the lack of a 3D driving option- but it has a LOT of features that make it kick-ass for trips: among these are different route selection types (fastest, shortest, preferred roads), local attractions (like 'how many Chinese restaurants are located within 5 miles of my present location?') and construction information to help re-plan routes (although I have my doubts that the later actually has current info).

The GPS is pretty nifty- it replaces my old Garmin GPS II Plus (bought from eBay a few years ago- and probably about to go back up on eBay) and allows me to use a USB connection instead of a serial connection. This is important to me as if I boot my laptop with the GPS connected and powered on, Windows XP thinks it is a serial mouse and makes it difficult to use the pointer- I have to unplug and reboot to get software to recognize the unit as a GPS again.

The fix from the GPS was almost instant- it was actually fixed before I can start Streets and Trips and turn on the GPS tracking option. I have only had a few situations when the GPS lost connectivity- and most of them were due to large overpasses or a plethora of tree overgrowth. I can also set this GPS on my window sill (south facing) and get a GPS lock- something my Garmin could not easily do.

The only issue I had with the setup is that once the system appeared to be locked up (near the end of a 240 mile trip) and I had to hard-boot the laptop. I am not sure if this was from the GPS, Streets and Trips or Windows screen saver/sleep mode. I rebuilt this laptop on a new HD a few days before the trip, so I will need to trouble-shoot this more when I have the time...

For $80, this is an awesome deal- the GPS 360 goes for $90-$120 by itself or about $70 on eBay. The Streets and Trips just enhances the usefulness. There are also Bluetooth and CF adaptors that compliment the GPS 360 for use in other situations- such as using the GPS with a PDA or a blue-tooth enabled laptop.

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