GPS and mapping software help needed
November 30, 2007 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm a product rep and have to visit stores all over the city. I'm looking for a reasonably priced GPS that will allow me to enter various addresses, then the software will organize it and plan an itinerary. Do tomtoms, etc. have this functionality? If not, is there software or mapping programs that will do this?

I've used a tomtom xl, and it does have an itinerary feature, but it doesn't plan it out based on location, it just goes in the order that the waypoints were entered. If I can find software to do this, I could just enter the waypoints in the right order, but as of now, I have no way to plan store visits in a logical order. Which software/gps should I buy?

For a GPS, wish list items include:
Itinerary planning
Voice prompts
Under $200

Help me figure out what I need to buy to organize my maps and find my way around!
posted by birdlady to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The feature you are looking for will probably be called "the travelling salesman", and is a classic computational complexity problem. As the number of waypoints increases, the exhaustive search space grows insanely large. According to one webpage I've seen, the garmin street pilot 2720 and 2820 have this capacity.
posted by nomisxid at 3:38 PM on November 30, 2007

There's a nice piece about this at Travelling Salesman Problem though maybe the gender is wrong in this case.

claims that the Magellan RoadMate 6000 has this "Multi-destination Route Optimization" feature.
posted by mdoar at 3:41 PM on November 30, 2007

Response by poster: Desjardins, I may have been using it wrong, but the one I used allowed you to put in a bunch of places, but it directed you to those places in the order that they were entered. In my case, I have a bunch of stores I need to visit, but I'm having trouble working out a logical order in which I should visit them, because they are not located along a simple east-west or north-south grid.
posted by birdlady at 4:07 PM on November 30, 2007

If spending under $200 is a firm requirement, a self-contained solution is out unless you want to buy something like a refurbished TomTom with outdated maps.

Instead, if you have a laptop I would buy computer software and a USB/Bluetooth GPS unit. Microsoft Street and Trips 2008 with a USB GPS included is under $100. It has an "optimize route" function that will do it's best to keep your mileage down. You do have to set fixed start and end waypoints. S&T also does turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts.

My experience is only with S&T 2007, but I have no reason to believe '08 would be significantly different.
posted by indyz at 8:25 PM on November 30, 2007

Late to the game, but I'll second indyz's recommendation of MS Streets & Trips--the trip optimization really works well, and you can modify it as needed (say, stopping at location x by lunch) without mucking up the calculations. Also, if you should have access to a GPS already, the Streets & Trips sold without a GPS can often work with that.
posted by zachxman at 5:14 AM on December 1, 2007

Load up MS Streets & Trips with GPS locator on your laptop, get a power inverter for your cigarette lighter so you don't kill your laptop's battery life, and off you go.

MS Streets & Trips w/GPS Locator: $100
Power Inverter: $30 ish
posted by desjardins at 11:47 AM on December 1, 2007

OptiMap lets you pass in addresses and uses Google Maps to map out the optimal route. More about his methodology, for the curious.
posted by waxpancake at 1:27 PM on December 9, 2007

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