3 April 2007

Garmin v9?

When I bought my Garmin Quest a couple of years ago it was just before the Quest 2 came out and the prices was very advantageous. Since then they are even cheaper but you can’t be bitter!

For what I need the Quest is pretty good. It has just enough memory to plan some pretty long trips. I’ve had the maps in form UK to Austria and back and have space to spare. It is a limitation that Garmin could have looked at and perhaps offered a return-to-base upgrade with a larger chip?

Mine came with the European mapping v6 and I got the free upgrade to v7. It was all quite painless. When v8 came out I didn’t bother, as it didn’t seem to offer any benefits for the $75 upgrade fee. But v9 was announced earlier this year with extended mapping of Spain and Eastern Europe.

As I am off to Spain in October I decided to splash out the $75 (plus tax!) to get the enhanced mapping. This is when the palaver starts.

It seems Garmin have made improvements and you need to have a “My Garmin” place on the website. It was easy to register but registering my Quest wouldn’t work as I am already registered on the system through the “old” way. A simple conversion routine once it recognised my name and postcode, plus unit serial number would have been a good idea

In the end I managed, after several emails, to register and order the DVD. Then on Sunday, my buddy Nigel Jones gave me his copy and I started the install in Sunday afternoon. Through “My Garmin” it wouldn’t accept the amount to be paid, issuing error messages to be sent to Garmin Tech Support, which I did. No answer yet.

Then I had a go unlocking the maps through Mapsource itself and it worked a treat. Charging me $75 plus VAT and unlocking the maps.

Version 9 does have a vastly better job of Spain the v7. Swapping between maps shows that there are far more towns marked in v9. Plus some places or interest (attractions) I had entered as waypoints with co-ords from Google Earth are now in the system itself.

The only bugbear I found was that although my existing routes show there to be maps, none shows up as pink on the main map. I have a base map I use that has all the southern half of UK plus departments 59 & 62 in France and most of Belgium already saved as “UK.gdb”. I use this as a basis of a trip and then “save as” to the event name. May be long winded but it means my maps are consistent. To get the maps to show I added a few and it duplicated them. In the end I deleted all the maps and re-added them. Now they show us a pink and I expect are the v9 maps.

Reports on UKGSer forum look as though v9 is not as good as previous versions for Eastern Europe. It doesn’t affect me in 2007 as I am unlikely to go there, but in 2008 we are off to Hungary. There seems to be less routing on v9 than on the unit’s basemaps. I assume this covers all Garmin GPS units?

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