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DeLorme Earthmate LT-40 GPS

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Review posted September 9, 2008 by Jennifer Shelamer

DeLorme has been publishing maps since 1976 and introduced their first GPS receiver in 1995. In 2005, they introduced the first laptop GPS receiver priced under $100. The LT-40 follows in this tradition with an inexpensive combination of a laptop GPS receiver and DeLorme's Street Atlas USA software.

GPS Hardware

The LT-40 is an NMEA-compliant, WAAS-enabled 16-channel receiver. It comes with an attached 5-foot cable to connect it to a USB port on a laptop, and it gets power from the laptop, so it does not require a power supply or battery. It uses the STMicroelectronics new high-sensitivity Teseo chipset, enhanced with DeLorme ConstantLockm technologies. It claims a cold start in under 39 seconds, a warm start in under 34 seconds, and a hot start in under 3 seconds.

Delorme Earthmate GPS and ThinkPad

In my tests, getting a fix for the first time in a new geographical area took about 1.5 to 2 minutes (this may have been more due to the laptop software than the hardware), but after that, all the starts took 10-15 seconds or less.

Navigation and Guidance Software

The LT-40 comes with Street Atlas USA 2009. There is also a more expensive version that comes with Street Atlas USA Plus DVD. Street Atlas USA 2009 uses DeLorme's own map data and covers the United States and Canada at street level, plus highways for Mexico. It features a NavMode view that makes it easy to use while driving: the map is at the top center, and GPS information is in sidebars on both sides. The turn-by-turn directions are in large print beneath the map. A quick glance will usually give the driver any needed information.

In my testing, the routes were mostly accurate and similar to the ones I would have chosen. You can tell it to make a route by optimizing time or distance, and you can specify whether the route is for a car, bike, or pedestrian. The turn-by-turn directions were available well in advance of the turn, and the spoken directions worked well. I especially appreciated the spoken directions when I encountered a closed road and had to make some quick turns to get back to my route; the software recalculated very quickly and immediately gave me the next turn. If I passed that turn, it immediately gave me the next option.

Delorme Earthmate GPS and ThinkPad

One problem I found with the map was on a road that went under another road without intersecting it. The software told me to turn onto the road that I was driving under; it was obvious I couldn’t do that, so I kept driving, and the software quickly recalculated to give me correct directions.

Another time, the map placed a hotel on the wrong side of the street, so it told me to turn the wrong direction.




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Most of my GPS experience has been with a handheld unit, so I appreciated some of the finer details in the mapping software. One example is what DeLorme calls "GPS Radar Search". I'm used to being able to search for restaurants or gas stations, for example, by distance from my current position, but the DeLorme software checks which direction I'm going and only gives me information about points of interest that I am moving toward – much more useful.

The software includes maps for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile 5.0 and later, and Palm OS devices, but you can’t use the GPS unit with a handheld because it requires a USB connection. You can install a map to an iPod as a photo, but it’s just a picture of the map.

It also supports printing and sharing maps both by e-mail and via DeLorme’s MapShare and Eartha Community Atlas. The software is compatible with UMPCs and netbooks.

Delorme Earthmate GPS and ThinkPad

I had limited success with the voice recognition feature. I was able to train it to recognize my voice, and several times I was able to get the software to respond to a voice command. Other times, it said it was too noisy or there was too much interference (oddly, these were often when the car ignition was turned off and there was little background noise). It takes some time to train it, and then you have to learn the commands. The commands are specific to which tab is showing at the bottom of the display, and that makes the voice recognition considerably less useful because the tabs are small and trying to click on them would take the driver’s attention from the road.

My main complaint about the software is that it is very slow to load, at least on my laptop. It takes several minutes to start up; during this time, messages at the bottom of the splash screen let the user know what the software is doing, but it doesn’t give any sort of progress bar.

The maps and points of interest are updated annually by DeLorme.


Using a GPS with a laptop certainly provides a lot of powerful features, but it is probably most useful for people who drive RVs or trucks. In my minivan, it took up the entire passenger seat, so either the passengers would have to sit in back or the passenger would have to hold the laptop for the entire trip. Also, the laptop has to be plugged in for any lengthy trip, so a power outlet or adapter is required. Setting up the laptop and connecting the GPS, power cord, and microphone/headset (if you want to use voice instructions) is a big enough production that for me it would only be worth it for a pretty long trip (at least a couple hours or more). It's not something I would use for driving around town.

Personally, I would select DeLorme's BT-20 unit, which appears to be almost the same as the LT-40 except that the GPS device can use either Bluetooth or USB. It could then be used with a laptop or a handheld. At $69.95, the LT-40 is an excellent value for a full-featured GPS solution. The BT-20 comes with the PLUS version of Street Atlas for $99.95.

Pros: Full-featured mapping software, voice directions, fast acquisition of GPS signal.

Cons: Laptop/GPS set-up requires a lot of space, voice recognition not as useful as it sounds, software is slow to start up.

Price: $69.95

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Chipset: STMicroelectronics new high-sensitivity Teseo chipset

Size: 1 7/8" w x 2 5/8" h x 9/16" thick

Software: Street Atlas USA 2009

In the Box: Earthmate GPS LT-40 receiver with 5' attached GPS cable, Street Atlas USA 2009 DVD.