Sunday, July 27, 2008

Garmin Bobcat and the Potential Removal of Windows

I run Parallels on my computer for one reason; so that I can manage routes on my Garmin StreetPilot 2610 GPS unit.

All the software that shipped with the GPS is Windows based. That sucks but what are you going to do?

Garmin make the best affordable GPS systems out there for my needs; on the bike and in the car.

The 2610 lets me plot routes on the computer and transfer them to the GPS. That capability allows me to plot to the street level the route I want to take. Not so important when you're going for the quickest route to an address you haven't been to before but really important when you're trying to plot a route for your friends to travel on a Sunday ride.

So Garmin have a beta of Bobcat that they're introducing. In theory, this software will allow me to do everything that I've been doing on my Windows virtual machine in the native Mac OS: transfer waypoints, tracks, and routes between your Mac and Garmin device and manage your data using your Garmin maps.

The software downlaod comes with a basic set of maps but you have to convert your Windows maps to be able to work with Bobcat. You need to use MapConverter on the PC and then MapInstall and MapManager on the Mac to be able to do that. All this software is free but the converter, in my experience, is the part of the software bundle is very buggy. So I can play with Bobcat using the base maps but I can't yet use the full maps for which I've paid.

If and when Garmin fixes the map conversion program or offers you the opportunity to trade in your Windows disks for Mac disks, this software might become a viable option. Right now, it's not.

Which is a real shame as it is the last Windows program that I have to use and the only reason I still have Windows on my Mac. I am excited to see how they proceed with the updates. But for now, I'm still holding out for the next beta version.

Edit (9.6.08): See updated post.

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