CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS review: Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS

Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS

Jeff Bertolucci
4 min read
Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS locator is a bargain alternative compared to expensive auto-navigation systems that cost hundreds of dollars more. Combining the latest version of Microsoft's popular mapping software with a two-inch square GPS receiver, Streets & Trips 2005 pinpoints your vehicle's exact location on street and highway maps, and it even tracks speed, direction, altitude, and other coordinates. Unfortunately, it's clunky to use. The GPS receiver has trouble getting a satellite signal unless placed near a car window, the software lacks voice commands to guide you, and cruising while reading a laptop screen is so dangerous it should be illegal. That said, the software is handy for planning long-distance trips or when driving with a passenger. Our recommendation: Buy Streets & Trips without GPS. You'll save money, and your insurance agent will thank you. The setup for Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS locator is a two-step process. First, you load the Streets & Trips CD, which by default installs 1GB of data, including program files and maps, on your hard drive. You'll save 450MB of disk space by running Streets & Trips from the CD, but that'll make the software as slow as a Yugo up a 9 percent grade. We installed the software, including the GPS driver, in about 10 minutes without incident.

Second, after the software is installed, you connect the GPS receiver to your PC. It's effortless: just plug one end of the supplied USB cable to the PC and the other to the biscuit-size GPS device. The Streets & Trips software immediately recognizes the receiver, but you'll need to click the Track position box in the GPS Task Pane to view your location on a street map.


Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS

The Good

Plug-and-play GPS setup; tracks your location in real time; displays speed, altitude, heading, and other directional coordinates.

The Bad

Vehicle frame may block GPS signal; checking map location while driving is dangerous; no voice navigation.

The Bottom Line

Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS locator is fun and inexpensive, but it's awkward and needs voice navigation to be a full-fledged alternative to other GPS-based vehicle navigation systems.

"="" --="">/sc/30974557-2-200-SS1.gif" width="200" height="150" alt="" />
The GPS Task Pane dynamically monitors your speed, direction, altitude, latitude, and longitude.

Attached to the GPS's USB cable is a simple suction cup, which should be used to attach the GPS receiver to a location with a clear view of the sky, such as your car's dashboard or rear package shelf. Unfortunately, the suction cup we tested couldn't support the GPS device. We wound up hanging the receiver outside our car window instead.

The Streets & Trips 2005 interface retains much of last year's appearance, except for the new and nifty GPS Task Pane that displays your speed, heading, altitude, and even (for lost off-roaders) latitude and longitude. The display, which changes in real time as you cruise down the road, is fun to watch but, therefore, distracting and dangerous, particularly if your laptop is perched solo on the passenger seat.

Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS locator could be helpful to lost travelers trying to navigate an unfamiliar city, but it is not a replacement for a full-fledged GPS navigation system with a dash-mounted LCD screen and voice navigation or one of the several available PDA solutions with voice prompts, such as CoPilot Live Pocket PC 5.0. Streets' lack of voice navigation is, in fact, its biggest shortcoming. Unless you have a passenger who can help you navigate while you drive, you'll want a GPS system that tells you when to turn, not one that makes you read onscreen directions. If alone in the car, you should pull over, launch Streets & Trips, find your position (represented by a car icon on a street map), enter the address of your destination, and memorize the directions the product gives you. Needless to say, that's asking too much, but we cannot recommend that you attempt to read the directions while driving, unless you're fond of whiplash and the sound of crunching metal.

"="" --="">/sc/30974557-2-200-SS2.gif" width="200" height="150" alt="" />
With the GPS trail feature activated, Streets & Trips 2005 displays the territory you've covered, as indicated by the blue line on the map.

Still, Streets & Trips with GPS is a good first step toward a portable navigation system that isn't hard-wired to your car. For example, it's something for older kids to use while navigating from the backseat. There's a lot to like here, including the GPS-trail feature that tracks your progress as you drive and detailed maps that rotate to follow your travel direction. We also like the annotation tools that let you mark up maps with arrows, text, pushpins, and other symbols--try that with online mapping sites. Another plus is the Reroute From Here tool that recalculates your route from your current location to a specific destination. This gives you the flexibility to alter your itinerary on the fly. And map updates with the latest road-construction warnings are easy to download.

As a route planning tool, Streets & Trips is very good. It produces better maps than Web-based route-finding products, and its printouts and driving directions are also better. But you can get these features with the software-only version of the product.

Overall, Microsoft's software support is excellent. Streets & Trips 2005 users get one year of free telephone support, an unusually generous perk for a consumer software program. Our support calls were answered promptly--wait times didn't exceed one minute during regular business hours--and our questions were answered accurately. Phone support is available from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., on weekends PT. E-mail and online support are available 24/7. You must register your copy of Streets & Trips to send queries via e-mail, and Microsoft promises a 24-hour response time. For some reason, the Microsoft support site wouldn't allow us to register online (it said our product ID was invalid), but we were able to register via phone with no problem.

Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS

Score Breakdown

Setup 6Features 6Support 8