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Topo USA 8.0 National Edition

1 rating: 1.0
Software

Scout your destination as if you were there, with up-to-date terrain, trail, and road detail. Explore or fly over realistic 3-D. Import aerial imagery. Route your travels over roads and trails. Find public recreation lands. See elevation profiles. Customize … see full wiki

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1 review about Topo USA 8.0 National Edition

Forever mediocre, but still best in its class.

  • Oct 14, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+1
I've been buying DeLorme map products for years - and with each passing year, my love/hate relationship tilts a little more toward hate.

My reasons for buying DeLorme Topo are perhaps a bit different than most of its users. I am not an avid hiker, camper or outdoors person. I use Topo USA 8 and its predecessor to scout out good locations for landscape photography. Pretty simple stuff - and Topo doesn't handle it very well, but it is still the best in its class as far as similarly priced commercial products are concerned.

The GUI is, putting it charitably, weird. DeLorme insists on using its own graphical interface, eschewing ordinary Windows conventions. At the bottom of the screen are a series of tabs, many of which are of no interest to the casual user such as myself. Fortunately, the tabs can be managed to meet user desires. Everything is cumbersome. If computers had existed in the 1930s, the DeLorme Topo USA 8.0 interface would be right at home. However, this is 2009 and even the act of performing a simple location find is a burden. Zooming in an out of the map is accomplished with a bizarre set of icons, controls or drags on the screen..

The screen display is divided into three parts: an overview map, a default 2-D map and a switchable panel that provides a 3-D view if chosen. You can choose from three different map styles, only two of which are provided with the program. The instructions on using each of these panels is buried somewhere in the abbreviated help file. I've figure out enough of how to use the 3-D function to use it for my purposes.

DeLorme has become annoying in pushing extra-cost options at the customer, whether it is their handheld GPS map device, aerial imagery or other data. I am sure all these things are useful to some people, but I wish there were a way to disable all the advertising prompts, toggles and switches.

Map accuracy is better than Microsoft Streets & Trips 2009, but it is still not the greatest. A few days ago, I wanted to find a vantage point for photographing a lock and dam on the Upper Mississippi. It took me a while to figure out that the lock and dam which stretch across several hundred feet of the river are shown on the map as only a single dot.

As I noted above, my use of the product is a bit unusual and perhaps hikers and others will find the product more useful. Things are not helped by the failure to provide any worthwhile printed information. The help file is sparse, to say the least.

The program is relatively stable under Vista 64-bit.

On the whole, I think Google Maps are increasingly more suitable for my specific needs and, of course, are free. This is the second or third version of DeLorme Topo I've purchased. The interface has remained essentially the same: awful. The only other product of this kind at this price point that I've seen was worse, so DeLorme wins by default. But as I said, Google maps is a strong contender. It offers topographical maps for many locations.

I would advise caution for the first-time buyer of DeLorme Topo USA. It may not be a product you'll find usable. DeLorme itself offers a 30-day Satisfaction Guaranty. I don't know if this extends to products that aren't purchased directly from them.

Jerry

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