Sunday, March 8, 2009

DeLorme PN-40 Review - TOPO7

You may have read that TOPO7 has a steep learning curve. While this is somewhat true, it is important to keep two things in mind: first, that TOPO7 is not required to load vector map data onto the PN-40, as the included pre-cut map DVD's can be loaded onto the PN-40 with nothing more than the included USB cable and the DVD; second, TOPO7 is extremely powerful, and all powerful software tends to be more complicated than less powerful software.

TOPO7 is certainly not as complicated as say, Photoshop or Matlab, but it is no MS-Paint or Calculator, for that matter. There is a learning curve, and it is steeper than many less computer-savy users would probably prefer. But... If you can figure out Word, you can figure out TOPO7.

While some people complain about the complexity of the TOPO7 software. I don't, and here is why... I often spend 4 to 5 times as much time planning a trip as I do actually taking the trip, and TOPO7 is the ideal method to research an area. Right from the TOPO7 DVD you have access to 100k vector topo coverage the entire United States. You also have access to all of the map files you have downloaded from Netlink, like USGS topo quads and aerial photography. Having all of this information in one place, plus the powerful tools that TOPO7 has, makes TOPO7 ideal for trip planning.

TOPO7 is integrated with DeLorme's map download system, Netlink. Via the Netlink tab in TOPO7, you can download, cut the maps for the PN-40 (select areas and convert them for use on the PN-40), and transfer them to the PN-40. Copying the files directly to the SDHC card via a card reader greatly speeds up the copying process, and I highly recommend transferring maps this way. The Netlink software is pretty easy to figure out, and I'll spare you the details of exactly how it works. The strengths and weaknesses of Netlink have been heavily discussed on the DeLorme Forums, and I won't bore you with them.

For the bushwhacker, I think the TOPO7 package is the icing that makes the PN-40 totally worth it.

I've also done a review of DeLorme's Topo 7. Click here to read it.

Next: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Conclusions
Back: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Maps

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