Review: Garmin's Emapp

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted October 01, 2000
by Steve Bennett

it's a dark, stormy night and you're hopelessly lost in an unfamiliar city. The morning meeting with your big, new client is just hours away and you just want to find your hotel and get a good night's sleep. You could be fast asleep if you had brought Garmin's eMapp handheld 12-channel GPS unit.

The eMapp is a slick unit that packs immense GPS power into a compact device you can easily carry around wherever your travels might take you. The eMapp ships with a base map that contains information on state and country boundaries, coastlines, cities, towns, airports, federal interstate highway exits (food, lodging, and services), U.S. state and interstate highways, lakes and streams.

The eMapp includes two resettable odometers and timers, as well as average and maximum speeds to track your journey's progress. A screen width scale range of 500 feet to 3,000 miles allows for a more accurate picture of your destination, and the differential-ready, 12 parallel channel GPS receiver uses up to 12 satellites to compute and update your position. For repeat trips, eMapp TracBack and Track Log features remember up to 2,000 track log points plus 10 saved tracks so you won't get lost at the same place twice.

But the real power comes from the ability to download specific maps for various cities and store them on removable cartridges. Each cartridge can contain an impressive amount of data, including addresses (you can actually pinpoint buildings at specific street numbers), services, and points of interest. The service will be as accurate as 49 feet under certain circumstances.

To do this, you'll need to spend an extra $175 for Garmin's MetroGuide U.S.A. CD set (one CD for Eastern United States, one CD for the West). A 16MB rewritable cartridge -- enough to hold all of New York City -- will set you back about $150. The 8MB cartridges are available for about $100. You transmit data from your PC or laptop via a supplied serial cable that connects directly to the unit without a cradle.

On the downside, the screen is mediocre, though readable. The unit is also power hungry, chewing up 2 AA batteries in about 12 hours. One way to conserve juice is to use the battery saver mode. The trade-off is that the unit won't update as frequently.

Finally, when you first set up the unit, be sure to take it to an open space, such as a park, parking lot, or field; the eMapp needs an unobstructed space in which to sync with the satellites.

Despite its minor flaws, the Garmin eMapp is a great way to put a little GPS power in your hand.

Rating: 87

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