Around-Oz: Living the Dream!

 

City Navigator Version 6
Garmin Mapping/Navigating Software

Without doubt Garmin make superb GPS models. However, up until now their available software, with the capacity to auto route has been sadly lacking in detail, that is once you get out of the major centres. City mapping detail is fantastic! Yes it's true that their Metroguide has good rural maps, but it will not auto route and this is hard to spot on some vendors websites. With the release of City Navigator Version 6 things have changed dramatically for the better! AS a test we looked up Coober Pedy and found fine street detail. Similarly it will route from the tiny lighthouse on Bruny Island in Tassie - it even gives the correct route for the Spirit of Tasmania. Yes, we were impressed! You can try this new version for yourself online, before parting with any money - always a prudent move in our book. Have a look at this Garmin page. When you click on Navigator 6 Australia the window to the left below opens showing a map of Australia. Just click the area you wish to check. It is very slow navigating around the maps, but you get there in the end! Trust us, it takes a heck of a lot of clicks to drill down to street level. But, nevertheless it is a most welcomed step in the right direction, possibly brought about by lots of moans and groans from users. We have met a few disgruntled purchasers. Apparently the USA versions of Metroguide do auto route. These users bought Street Pilots in Australia in the USA boxes and it clearly states "autorouting". However, Garmin have rectified this problem with the 2610 as it is 100% aimed at Australia. Garmin do eventually rectify user complaints. We must say that from a motorhomers perspective we were very disappointed with City Navigator Version 5 as it just didn't go anywhere close to meeting our expectations. We thought we did the right thing, at the time of ordering, by explaining to Johnny Appleseed exactly what we wanted to do, but sadly like so many businesses they didn't seem to understand the special needs of motorhomers/RV'ers. The screen shots below right show what you see on the Garmin map preview page. The grey areas indicate that street level info, even with street numbers will be available when used in your Garmin GPS (Quest, Street Pilot, 2610, iQue etc.) It always gives us a buzz when arriving at a street address that the Garmin knows what side of the road its on - amazing technology! We listed the problems with Version 5 on this page in case you are thinking of buying a used unit. We strongly urge you to upgrade to Version 6 SAP!!


Upgrading and Installing
OK so you have your CD and you have successfully put it on your computer and unlocked the maps (and had a strong cup of coffee!!). Lets get into getting it into the GPS itself. Now the first problem is the new complete map of Australia with rural roads/towns, wont fit completely on the 128 Meg Flash Card (varies with model) as it now needs 132 Meg. (opposition Destinator 3 needs a whopping 170 meg) All is not lost, as if you leave off poor old Tassie the rest will all fit. To select which maps you want use the "map tool" (far left with a touch of yellow). Now there are ways around you having to do this yourself if you aren't at all at home around computers. GPS-OZ will sell you a larger 256 Meg card for $45.00 (good price) and they will dump the version six on this for you for $35.00 which includes delivery. More info on this page. If you want to do it yourself the disk itself is available for free from Garmin (GME in Australia) or possibly from your selling dealer. You must then install it and apply for an "unlock code" online. This is fairly messy and we suggest you allow plenty of time to instal. We had zero troubles with Version 5, BUT the upgrade process took 4 hours. We ran into trouble because our original code was included in the box, so we were unknown customers to Garmin USA. (we never register anything unless we have to - reduces emails!) We therefore couldn't complete the installation. Both versions had to be uninstalled twice (registry problems) until we coached it back to life. Contacting Garmin support in the USA results in a 5-7 day wait. We got good assistance from Andrew Barry - Technical Specialist at GME in Australia. We got a same day email response and he can be reached on (02) 9844 6666. Our disk came from Johny Appleseed (free) however we were a bit perturbed by this little gem that came with it - "We cannot provide free technical support if you encounter any problems updating your software". Rather oddly none of this is mentioned on their Website when we were purchasing and really we feel it isn't unrealistic to expect ongoing care, particularly if you want to get recommendations from other RV'ers. GPS-OZ seem to be exactly the opposite. They advertise that they are willing to help you even if you didn't buy from them. Where we came unstuck was we didn't know that the Garmin Customer Number and the Registration Code on your original software are one and the same! If Garmin were to write this on the original yellow slip then this would no longer be confusing. Our troubles really started when we couldn't go any further and the Sony Vaio then decided it wouldn't shut down. There is a nice little page here with step by step instructions - far clearer than Garmins! Please keep your documentation safe otherwise you will have to buy another CD if your system crashes. GME can obtain an unlock code for you if you are entitled to a free upgrade (installed after 1/4/05). Our best advice aided by hinhsight, is to go down this path - much safer computer wise!


Downloading the Maps to Your GPS
The screen shot above shows map download in progress to the GPS. This does take around 30 minutes as it goes in sections. Avoid touching anything during this process. Selecting what maps to download is very simple and a little box in the bottom left on the map page tells you what you are up to in Megs. Can't find the map page?? To the right of the Zoom in/out magnifying glasses there is a drop down menu box. Click on the little triangle and select 1000 km. We left of the 4 middle maps in WA. Yes we will get a larger chip as soon as we get back to Brisbane. A bit on costs. To buy the complete product costs $349.00. Remember it comes bundled if you purchase a new GPS now, BUT be certain that Version 6 is in the box! Don't fall for all the messing around you will have to do to install it later. If you registered Version 5 after 1/4/05 then the upgrade is free. The upgrade to Version 6 via the unlock code method is $176.00. This can be paid for online to the Garmin USA site. If you haven't registered Version 5 we strongly urge you to this BEFORE attempting to load Version 6. This however is not mentioned anywhere either. It is a good move to read this Garmin page BEFORE attempting to load Version 6. In our view Garmin make what should be a simple process very difficult for us grey haired nomads! After all Microsoft are doing the same thing with far less complication. Rather oddly you cant download the CD at all.


Graphical Example of the Massive Improvements!
Well if you needed convincing to upgrade well the two two screenshots should totally swing you round! The shot on the left shows the Casino Village at the "missing" airport, whilst the one on the right shows all the new detail - even shows the runway apron - wonderful stuff. Have a look at the exact detail now shown on the twisting Richmond River and railway lines are shown - so important if you want a restfull nights sleep! All the servos in town are now listed BUT sadly they only list one of the three caravan parks and shopping centres don't exist! Now to one of our biggest beefs! The advertising sort of suggests that you can use the unit to find nearby restaurants, fuel etc. Well you can PROVIDED they advertise with Garmin/Sensis etc. We are writing this story in Casino Village in Northern NSW. Our suggestion to Garmin is to maybe try what the banks do - provide a service for free for a couple of years. Then when everybody can't live without it (EFTOS - Internet Banking) start charging for it. Many caravan park guides already, most successfully, use this system, with the non paying parks only getting a plain entry. Memory is just so cheap nowadays, so why the omissions? We would love to see "opposition" mapping come onto the market from say Hema. This would really open it up for all RV'ers as Camps Australia Wide could be linked, rest areas etc. Having said all this we prefer dealing with companies such as Garmin who specialise in one product.

Summing Up
In our humble view you are totally nuts if you are into the RV lifestyle, have Version 5, and don't upgrade! The coverage is massively greater, service stations are mostly all listed, hospitals at long last are listed, airports are in there (even Casino folks!) but sadly shopping centres have a long way to go, as have caravan parks and of course rest areas and cemeteries. Look, it is a dreadful clunky upgrade, but you do have the option of buying the card for some models and it could be the best $35.00 you ever spend stress wise. The interface is vastly improved and everything works more simply than in Version 5.

Absolutely recommended!

Bob & Chrissy Eustace

NOTE: This review ONLY focuses on using the software from the point of view of an RV'er, and as such if you are not into this lifestyle the advice/opinions given could well be erroneous.


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Last updated: March 30, 2006
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