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Do You Really Need Mapping Software?

Boot Camp feature for Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Do you really need mapping software? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. If you're like me, when you need to get directions to someplace you've never been before, the first thing you do is turn to the Web. Time Warner owned MapQuest is hard to beat. But for trip planning…or if you're taking a laptop along…software can still be worthwhile. DeLorme still makes Street Atlas USA, a pioneer in the category. Map maker Rand McNally keeps improving StreetFinder and TripMaker. All of those programs can use add on GPS hardware and now Microsoft's Streets and Trips has that capability as well. Product manage Danielle Damasius…says while the software has an online component, for actual map updates….users have to wait…

"Online we offer road construction updates, and it will show up in their travel planning, in their itinerary so that they know if they want to avoid a certain area. But for data refresh, we do a yearly release."

Which typically costs thirty to forty dollars. For trip planning, one of the best new features is what Microsoft calls drive time zones…

"Drive time zones actually allows you to pick a point, a starting point, and you tell it how much time you have, and it will tell you how far you can get within that certain amount of time."

The software also includes Pocket Streets and Trips for PocketPCs, but does not include maps that can be downloaded to Palm handhelds. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.