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Nation Geographics Back Roads Explorer Long Term Report - Kelli Wise

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  • ciyd01
    My bad. I had the due date as mid March in my calendar. I thought I was going to be a bit early, but noooooooo. anyway, sorry for being late. kelli
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2005
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      My bad. I had the due date as mid March in my calendar. I thought I
      was going to be a bit early, but noooooooo. anyway, sorry for being



      National Geographic Back Roads Explorer – Long Term Report March 1,

      Personal biographical information:
      Name: Kelli Wise
      Age: 44
      Gender: Female

      Computer used: genuine Intel processors - Pentium 4
      Operating systems: Windows XP Home Edition
      GPS used: Garmin Geko 301
      Printer used: HP Deskject 950C (color inkjet)

      Email: ciyd@...
      Location: Western Washington, USA
      Date: March 1, 2005

      Backpacking background:
      I've been car camping and hiking for 20 years and sport climbing for
      10 years, but am new to backpacking. My backpacking style is
      lightweight but not ultralight. I am striving for a suitable
      compromise between safety and comfort. The majority of my hiking
      experience is in Western Washington.

      Field information: Washington state.

      Product Information:
      Manufacturer: National Geographic
      Model: Back Roads Explorer
      Year of Manufacture: 2004
      URL: www.nationalgeographic.com
      17 CD set of maps covering the entire United States of America.
      System Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, NT 4.0 and higher.
      Works with all color and black & white printers supported by these
      operating systems. 486 DX/66 MHz PC or higher 16 MB RAM 2X CD-ROM
      drive 256-color monitor

      •Seamlessly scroll across the entire US with four levels of map
      detail, including 1:100,000 scale topographic maps.
      • Customize and print photo-quality maps.
      • Add current road and street information and 3D shaded relief.
      • Draw your own routes and create elevation profiles.
      • Export maps to Palm or Pocket PC.
      • Load your GPS with routes & waypoints.

      The maps are scanned USGS photo quality maps. Levels 1 & 2 are USA
      maps from National Geographic World Atlas. Level 3 are 1:500,000 USGS
      national map series. Level 4 are USGS 1:100,000 maps with up-to-date
      roads and streets. The National Geographic web site also has a page
      called mapXchange where users download maps and routes. There are
      currently no files for Back Roads Explorer on the site.

      Long Term Report:
      In the last few months, I have the opprotunity to continue to use the
      software and evaluate it's stability, accuracy and useability.
      The stability of the program has continued to impress me. I have
      never had the software crash, lock-up, or act oddly. I truly
      appreciate this since I've had software that was so buggy, it forced
      me to pull out my recovery disks and re-load operating systems and
      applications. Not this program. I described it as "rock solid" in
      my field report and it still applies.

      The program also interfaces seamlessly with my GPS unit. It knows
      the maximum length of the waypoint names that my Geko 301 will take
      even if I don't. The waypoints upload quickly and easily and I can
      name them in the program rather than scrolling through the alphabet
      on my GPS unit. I checked the accuracy by taking a reading of my
      home, my mother's home and plotting them out on the Backroads
      Explorer. The software located the GPS coordinates on the correct
      street and in the approximate location on the block where the
      residences are located.

      I've gotten used to the drawing tool and the eraser function and
      found that they both work quite well. Reading the help file has come
      in handy and the information has always been accurate and helpful. I
      would like a little more flexibility in colors because I've found
      that some of the colors blend too readily into the background making
      the drawn items, such as routes and markers, hard to distinguish.
      The program does let me change line width and gives me a choice of
      solid or dashed lines.

      I still find the Back Roads Explorer to have limited use in a city.
      The colors are dark, one way streets are not marked and the street
      names are not visible in the printouts. Reading the maps in the car
      after the sun has set is nearly impossible because of the topographic
      shading – there just isn't enough contrast to be readable in limited

      Using the Back Roads Explorer for planning out trips on the highway
      is a different matter. For long distance trips, I can break the
      route up into sections and measure the distance between those
      sections. The internet mapping tools will simply give you the trip
      in one big bite. Driving Interstate 80 across the US? The internet
      tools will give you the entire distance of over 3000 miles. That's
      going to leave you a little tired of sitting. But, with Back Roads
      Explorer, I can determine how may hours I want to drive every day
      and, based on the average miles per hour I get with stops for fuel
      and meals, I can select where I want to stop for the night.
      I've also used the Back Roads Explorer for finding alternate routes
      in my small city and for exploring parts of the city I've never
      seen. I've found the detailed route of my favorite rails-to-trails
      path, the streets it intersects, and the neighborhood at its
      terminus. I've discovered a couple county parks within a short drive
      of my house that I never knew existed. I've discovered a few
      alternate, and scenic, routes to some of my favorite local
      destinations. I can do this with the Back Roads Explorer software
      more quickly than I can over the internet because the viewing area is
      larger and I don't have to wait for a web page to be refreshed.

      I like the Back Roads Explorer software. Sure, there are things that
      could be improved, but the program provides accurate maps, drawing
      tools, GPS interface, and hasn't crashed my computer. The help files
      are helpful but the the user interface is so intuitive that you won't
      need to reference them until you get into some of the deeper
      features. As an added bonus, if I spill coffee on my maps, I can
      always print out another one instead of having to go out and buy
      another road atlas.

      I would recommend this program to someone looking for comprehensive
      road data for the United States.

      I would like to thank Back Pack Gear Test and National Geographic for
      the opportunity to test the Back Roads Explorer software.
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