Screen Size - Computer Navigation

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 at 16:30
ThreadID: 123252 Views:6374 Replies:5 FollowUps:5
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To all those using a computer for satelite navigation can you assist me with what size screen is best suited for viewing in your opinions. I currently have a Dell 15.4" screen laptop computer but I feel this is to big for inside the vehicle.

As all the in car Garmin and Magellen only have small screens with the biggest being in the Garmin range with a 7" screen but is very narrow are to small.

Some people say 7" is to small so maybe 12" would be the ideal size.

I would also be interested in what make of computer you use and if it has stood up to dust and vibration. I have looked at several makes of computers in various sizes some of which are in different configurations like the:

Toshiba Liretto which is the smallest computer I have seen, tiny, full computer function with a 7.2" screen
Dell XPS M1210 with a 12.1" screen and Fujitsu computers that have a large variety of screen sizes 8.2, 10.1, 12.1, 13.2 and so on.

I am also interested in the tablet style computers that are around as you can swivel the screen to whatever angle you like and write notes on them even with your finger, pen top etc. Has anybody used this type of computer for navigation.

Secondly mounting the laptop for viewing moving map images where have you done this. As you probably know I have a F250 and was thinking of some how rigging it up on the centre console which is quite large, just using a simple velcro adaption.

I have even read where someone bought a leather filing tray from officeworks, turned it upside down and, glued a small whiteboard on base of the filing tray and used velcro to secure the computer to it. They then strapped the whole item to the lid of the centre console via straps and easily removeable.

I have looked at the following web sites, who have an aussie site, and a WA site these all do various laptop mounts, has anyone used any of them.

Any info on what you have used would asist greatly and thank you all in advance for your replies.

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Reply By: Fosssil - Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 at 19:34

Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 at 19:34
Hi Stewart,
there are 3 of those links do not work for one reason or commas or no au, so I have just redone them for members convenience...hope thats ok with you...

AnswerID: 570354

Follow Up By: Fosssil - Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 at 19:42

Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 at 19:42
and to make mine easier to read ...... ......
FollowupID: 847024

Reply By: Noosa Fox - Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 at 19:43

Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 at 19:43

For some time I used an ACER laptop with velcro holding it to the centre consol. I was running Track Ranger geographic maps from it and the computer handled the rough roads without a problem.
There is a bit of a problem in that you have to take your eyes off the road to view it in this position, and I have now removed the whole set up from the vehicle and my grandson now has the computer.

I have had the Garmin Street Pilot III for several years and this has a screen size that is ideal for reading on 300 metre scale while on the move. Last year we won the Garmin Quest unit which has a very small screen and has to be zoomed in to 120 metres to get all streets and you reach the street soon after it appears on screen.

Prior to Christmas we bought the Garmin 7200 unit which has the lagerest screen available. I found that it can be mounted on the dash directly above the air vent to the left of the radio. This allows easy operation by the passenger, and is easily visible from drivers seat. It has a remote control also, but we don't use it. This size would probably be too large for most 4WDs but is just OK in an F250 as it can be mounted in this position without causing interference to forward vision.

The Garmin Nuva 600 (or similar) have a reasonably large screen and probably give a good viewing scale.

The new Garmin 7200 has a very fast start up and processing speed and has so many features that we probably won't use them all. The version 7 maps seem to now have most of Australia's roads on them, and can accept more up dates onto its hard drive, where the old Street Pilot III would have required the purchase of a new memory card to be able to update and was very slow with limited features compared to the current models.

Hope this is of some help.

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AnswerID: 570355

Reply By: Luvntravln - Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 01:39

Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 01:39

When we did the East-West we set our Toshiba with a 14" screen between the seats and worked just fine. Used OzExplorer moving map and it was fantastic to know where you were all of the time in the outback.

On another note, we currently have the Street Pilot III. Intended to change to the 7200 to load USA maps.

Investigation revealed that the new 7200 has the old antenna technology. I received the following from Garmin in response to my question about the benefits of the newer antenna system:

"Tang, Sharon"wrote:


1. The 3 key advantages of the SiRF star III chipset are 1) Faster fix
times, 2) High sensitivity for better locking of satellite signals in tough
areas like under dense foliage or in urban canyons of sky scrapers, and
3) Low power drain for longer battery life.

2. The StreetPilot 7200's huge 7-inch touch-screen is designed for larger
vehicles such as RVs, semi-trucks, and buses. the reason why it doesn't apply Sirf III is that when we designed it, SiRF star III did not come out yet.

I was going to make the change now so that I had a unit to take to the USA and load with USA maps; now I will wait a year and continue to the use the III which is still a great unit.

When considering GPSs, something to consider and very important to me is the ability to interface with my computer so that I can do routings and waypoints and then upload.

Most of the new Garmin units do not have the ability to either interface with your computer, or to have multiple routes with multiple waypoints.

Cheers, Jay
AnswerID: 570356

Follow Up By: Noosa Fox - Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 03:27

Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 03:27
Both the Quest and 7200 models can upload and down load data between the unit and computer, and do it quickly.

They both lock onto satellites much quicker than the old Street Pilot III does.

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Follow Up By: Black Cobra - Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 08:15

Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 08:15

I too are going to purchase the OzExplorer software and I emailed ExploreOz to ask them a few questions. I was thinking of going the way of:-

OziExplorer Mapping software
Austrailian City Streets DVD
Australian 4WD Raster Map Collection on DVD or Natmap Rastar 2005 Premium – DVD
Laptop Computer

The questions I asked are as follows for any ones info:-

Q1. What is the difference between the Natmap Rastar 2005 Premium – DVD and the Australian 4WD Rastar Map Collection on DVD or do they both cover the same or similar things and do I need both of these products and if not which one do you recommend?

Q2. If you purchase the Natmap Rastar maps do you get free updates or do you have to purchase them?

Q3. Do the above digital maps cover whats in the Australian City Streets DVD or do I have to get this DVD as well for when I am in the cities?

Q4. OziExplorer appears from material read that it is an excellent product and I know you sell this product and might be a bit bias but what are your thoughts on other products like TrackRanger and other products as software?

Q5. Does OziExplorer purchasers get free updates or do you have to purchase them?

Q6. What OziExplorer Software would I need, OziExplorer CE (CD & CE upgrade), OziExplorer Software CD, or OziExplorer CD Pack (CD, 3D & CE upgrade)?

The answers received were as follows:-

Thank you for your enquiry.

From what you have described it appears you have made the right decision in choices. It would be recommended that you use the OziExplorer software CD, the CE version is also required if using with a PDA, but I don’t believe you will need this as it appears you will be using a GPS and Laptop?

One of the “Navigators Pack” ( would be recommended as this will save you in the total cost.

The Natmap Raster do not have free updates. A new edition is released every 2-3 years. At the moment I am unsure when a new edition is being released. I will try and check that for you soon. The OziExplorer software however does have free updates, you just need to go their website.

It is really a personal choice on whether to purchase the Natmap Raster or the 4WD Raster Map Collection. The difference is that the 4WD Raster comes with all the Hema Maps. The Natmap Raster is topographic maps.

I am unaware of the TrackRanger product so I can’t assist further with that query I am sorry.

The Raster DVD do not include details city streets so if you require this it is best to use the Australian City Streets DVD, which might I add has just been updated.

So Jay questions for you.
Do you use any of the Natmap Raster maps and if so which one as described above?

I noticed you said that you were going to load the USA maps into the Garmin 7200, does it have enough memory to do this and if so do you know what size memory it has as i could not find that on the Garmin site.

I am just wondering about the above as I have two Garmin 60CS handheld units which I obtained here in the Middle East and thought they would be ok to use anywhere in the world which they are but with one small problem.

They come with basemaps loaded of the region of the world that they were purchased in and I have since found out from Garmin that these base maps cannot be removed.

Having said that the 60CS has 56Mb of memory and I have purchased the Australia maps on CD from Garmin and was only able to load WA maps into the GPS before it ran out of memory.

I can delete the WA maps and install any other states maps at any time from the computer and still use the hand unit as a GPS receiver even though that states maps are not installed so that is why I am going the computer, GPS way using the handhelds as a receiver only and when in other states will load that states maps when using the handheld unit for walking trails etc.

Now out of all of this, thats is why I was asking what the memory of the 7200 is and can it work with the OzExplorer maps and can these maps be loaded into the 7200.

Also has anybody out there used either the
Natmap Rastar 2005 Premium – DVD or the
Australian 4WD Rastar Map Collection on DVD and if so how have you found these digital maps.


FollowupID: 847026

Follow Up By: Luvntravln - Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 09:11

Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 09:11
Stewart, here is a follow-up to the follow-up:

Let's work backwards - Nothing is loaded into the 7200! It has a fixed memory and contains all of Version 7. When Version 8 is released you will erase Version 7 and load Version 8 into the internal memorhy.

All other maps will be handled via a memory card. When I was going to buy the 7200 I was also going to buy the US cd and a 2gb memory card.

Now that I am keeping the Street Pilot, I will purchase Version 7 and load a portion at a time.

You certainly can use your handheld solely for GPS fixes and load all of the maps into your computer. There are times when we use our GPS just for a fix either when using the moving maps - Raster Premium from Geoscience Australia - or when using the maps from Garmin and I want a larger screen to show all of the streets as we navigate in a foreign city.

Hope this helps.


FollowupID: 847027

Reply By: Theywent Thataway - Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 11:41

Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 11:41
Hi Stewart,

I run an IBM T22 laptop which sits in a pouch behind the drivers seat. Into this I have a feed from a Garman Etrex. I then have a 10" touch screen which I have mounted on the dash of my 100series with velcro. I run this screen as an auxillary screen. The only time I need to open the laptop now is to turn it on. It works well and has been to Cape York and all through south western Qld. I bought the screen through Ebay.
Best of luck
the scruB ark...on The Way

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AnswerID: 570357

Follow Up By: Luvntravln - Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 21:21

Friday, Jan 26, 2007 at 21:21

Please provide more details regarding the touch screen.

How about a pic or two showing your velcro mounting?

Cheers, Jay

FollowupID: 847028

Reply By: Wally's a Bushie - Monday, Jan 29, 2007 at 20:01

Monday, Jan 29, 2007 at 20:01
Sounds like David (Notes 1952) has it all sorted.
I use my full size Dell with Natraster, GPS & Trackranger (sitting on Sandy's lap) when doing detailed navigation or open on the back seat of the 100 series when just tracing our trip.
I was thinking of some type of mount for a flat screen on the dash above the glove box area - love the sound of the velcro.
Do you find the 10" large enough? I currently like the 17.5" as you can usually size the map to get a 1/2 days travel on one screen.

My Dell gets bloody hot when driving the GPS - & I wonder how it would go closed on the back seat - any comments?
With the screen closed and computer travelling on the back seat, I was thinking of a wireless keyboard and trackball for the instructions needed from time to time but the tablet arrangement sounds interesting.

Isn't technology wonderful!

AnswerID: 570358

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