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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great maps, poor backward compatibility
UPDATE 1/1/08: I just got a Mac after always previously using Windows. Great news--when I installed this 4.0 software, not only did it work fine, but it also corrected the two most serious objections I previously had with it. I now have no problems importing waypoints from my Garmin GPSmap 60CSx, and the software is now compatible with all the states I own from the...
Published on September 9, 2006 by Stephen W. Hinch

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended for creating cycing routes & elevation profiles
I returned this software after discovering that routes must be hand drawn on a map which makes it impossible to stay on roads, and precludes long routes due to the need to zoom out beyond the view that would include most roads. Thus creating a long road cycling route with elevation profile and total climb turned out to be impossible.
Published on May 2, 2011 by Shannon Henery


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great maps, poor backward compatibility, September 9, 2006
UPDATE 1/1/08: I just got a Mac after always previously using Windows. Great news--when I installed this 4.0 software, not only did it work fine, but it also corrected the two most serious objections I previously had with it. I now have no problems importing waypoints from my Garmin GPSmap 60CSx, and the software is now compatible with all the states I own from the previous Version 3 software. I don't know whether this is unique to Mac or whether it now works just as well with Windows, but when I did the installation, it automatically went to the National Geographic web site and downloaded a software update. I still give it 4 stars because of some of the other non-standard user interface choices, but these are easy enough to get used to. I didn't change the rest of the review, so keep this update in mind as you read it.

National Geographic topo maps are great if your understand their strengths and limitations (I have the Nevada version but they all work the same). First, don't expect to import the actual maps into a GPS receiver. These maps are raster-scanned directly from USGS 7.5' topos; GPS receivers use vector-graphic maps that are only available from your receiver's manufacturer (and they are much less detailed than NG maps). But you should never expect your GPS receiver's display to completely replace a paper map anyway. It's too small to show much detail, and if your receiver fails, you'd be out of luck. NOTE: Magellan has just introduced the Triton series, which is the first product designed to import maps from Topo!. This is a great advancement, but I haven't yet evaluated it to see how well it works.

Since these are based on USGS maps, they have the same high quality including tons of detail, but since many USGS maps are more than 10 years old, you won't necessarily get up-to-date information. Since topographic features don't ordinarily change as frequently as man-made features, you're usually OK, but keep this in mind.

These maps allow you do a lot of other things with your GPS. You can create waypoints on the computer, either by placing a marker on the map or by entering in the latitudes and longitudes of your points, then transferring them to the GPS. This is much easier than manually entering the info through your GPS user interface. You can also download tracks from your GPS receiver onto the map to see where you've been. And you can draw intended journeys directly on the map screen, then measure the distance and elevation profile of the route. The elevation profile is a bit noisy, but you get a pretty good idea of how much elevation change you'll experience on a hike. The tool you use to draw the route on the screen could benefit from an improved user interface, but with a little practice you can get pretty good at it. If you make a mistake, hold down the right mouse button to erase the error. One thing I like is that you can print out a custom paper map, and if you print using your inkjet on NG's waterproof paper, you can get a custom color map that really is waterproof. This latest edition is designed to work with USB receivers like the Garmin GPSMap 60-series. This is a tremendous advantage compared to the previous edition. BUT please note that it isn't completely compatible with the new GPSMap60CSx. It doesn't import waypoint names properly, they end up being simple numbers starting at 001. For some reason this isn't a problem with the older GPSMap60Cs.

The main objection I have is that it isn't easily compatible with the previous edition. In my case, I had the prior edition for California, and expected the California CDs to work with the new software. But for some reason they don't. So I have to leave the old edition installed for the California maps and the new one for Nevada maps. Fortunately I can use the USB capability of the Nevada software to download the California waypoints and tracks from my 60CSx. I then have to save the .tpo file, launch the old edition software and pull up the California map, then import the .tpo file. Very inconvenient, but at least there is a way to make it work. I guess they would prefer I buy a new edition of the California maps.

The only other thing to note is that they still haven't completely adopted Windows user interface conventions. For example, there are no scroll bars on the side and bottom of the map to allow you to move the map on your screen. You have to move your cursor to the edge of the map, watch for the cursor to change to an arrow, and hold down the mouse button. The direction of scroll depends on exactly where on the screen your cursor is. Another observation is that there is no EDIT menu, so I can't easily cut and paste data into other applications. But these are relatively small concerns that you can quickly adapt to. All in all this is a very valuable tool that I highly recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mac: Get 10.6 update or it blows, July 9, 2011
Seriously. I was battling with it for a while and even had a pretty bad review written out on how bad the software is. THen the router went laggy so I didn't send it. Router is back on track and I made my way to the Nat-Geo site to look for updates as there was no way within the software. Made a world of difference. The software functions like it should.

But it still wont connect to my etrex HCx. Which is lame. But you can export GPX files with routes and waypoints and load them on through Garmin Basecamp so it isn't a complete loss.

The maps are great, the compatibility sucks (seriously only a few Magellan modes? misleading...) and usability is ok. The installation is a bit archaic. Seriously, 5 CD-Rom's? How long have DVD's been out? Could fit the whole thing on one DVD. Drag and drop form 5 discs? But this is a one-time annoyance.

Overall the most valuable part is the maps and it gives them to you reasonably well. I knew the lack of map compatibility with Garmin before hand and after the update the software actually works reasonably well. I think 4 stars is fair.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Montana Topo!, April 16, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I like the maps, in order to get all the states work in Windows 7 I had to uninstall the other states; or rather delete what I had copied from disk 1 for each state. Then in Topo! Version 4 go under View -> Topo! Product Setup select "I don't have a serial number" and click on "Activate New Product." It will ask you to insert Disk 2 or higher of the other state and then will ask for the Topo! 4 installer disk again. Repeat until all your states are installed. I just copied the data files into the folder the default installation for Version 4 had selected, so I didn't have to wait around for the program to re-install all the data. But it updated all the old maps, so that is nice.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended for creating cycing routes & elevation profiles, May 2, 2011
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I returned this software after discovering that routes must be hand drawn on a map which makes it impossible to stay on roads, and precludes long routes due to the need to zoom out beyond the view that would include most roads. Thus creating a long road cycling route with elevation profile and total climb turned out to be impossible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly Horrible Product and Customer Service, March 6, 2012
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I'm pretty floored that National Geographic would put their name on a product of such poor quality. I have struggled to get this software to work reliably under both Windows XP and MacOS X. While it does launch sometimes, it frequently crashes. It is slow and full of bugs. Map quality is ok. There are much better products out there. If you're a Mac user, check out MacGPS Pro. Night and day difference in terms of application and map quality.

What really blows me away, though, is National Geographic's unwillingness to help paying customers. Calls to the mapping software division simply go into a voicemail black hole. It doesn't matter if you select customer service or tech support. No one ever answers and calls are never returned. If you're lucky enough to get an email response, you'll wait days, maybe weeks and then it's usually just a boilerplate support message with no real help. Today, out of sheer frustration, I called the National Geographic Magazine customer service department and spoke with a very nice representative who informed me that he has received multiple calls from frustrated TOPO customers like me and that calls are never returned by the mapping division. He told me that he himself has tried calling them numerous times and has never received a call back, much less had a person answer the phone. He told me that there was, essentially, nothing I can do, that the mapping division is known for being indifferent to customer issues, and that I would simply have to wait for an email response if they felt like responding. Wow. He then he gave me the main National Geographic Society number in DC to call. So I called them and explained my situation to the receptionist. She hung up the phone.

Furthermore, National Geographic's support site is woefully out of date. The MapXchange service is supposed to update your TOPO maps. Despite being referenced repeatedly throughout support documents and FAQs, the service is no longer offered. Instead, National Geographic says that by signing up for AllTrails.com one can receive TOPO updates. So I did that. But there are no updates. It's a joke.

BUYER BEWARE: If you buy any software with the National Geographic name on it, you will receive software that does NOT work reliably, and you will receive NO support and NO assistance from the manufacturer. This entire experience has so soiled my opinion of National Geographic as an organization that I will NEVER buy anything with their name on it again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to set up, July 17, 2010
By 
B. Bates (Santa Fe, NM USA) - See all my reviews
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Great to have the topo maps at my finger tips, and I can customize and print exactly what I want. Don't have to buy the maps anymore. Why is it that I always had to buy three or for of the printed maps to get the area I wanted? Not anymore. These are great maps and easy to use...once set up. But, it is not intuitive on how to set up the maps. Took me several hours to figure out the process of how to download and set up the software. Recommended for the final product, but beware the issues are tough in getting there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Will never buy from NG again, May 8, 2012
After what National Geographic did with the online Topo Explorer! program, I'll never buy anything from them again.

They gave until February to use the $25 worth of quad credits I bought. Even when I explained I didn't know which quads I'd need until the hiking season they refused to change the date.

The inability to purchase new quads made the $25 worth of quads I had virtually useless.

Repeated emails to them have resulted in no response. All I'm asking is for what I had. Instead, they want us to buy a subscription to another program. This is after I'd already paid for what I thought was a "permanent" program with free updates.

Fool me once...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Items, January 4, 2012
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I love the TOPOs. Along with a GPS unit, I am able to map my mtb rides annotate, and find again. Also, you have the ability to overlay other people's .gpx files, so you can really create a great map before starting out. Still helps to do other research, but these are a great starting point. Couple this with the water resistant paper
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT user friendly, August 1, 2011
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This is a fair program at best. Not user friendly, but maps are better than garmins. I would not buy it again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great if you have a Magellan Triton, otherwise..., August 7, 2010
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I own 4 states worth of these. Though the $ start to really add up, it works great with my Triton 2000.

The data is old-ish (which is preferred, depending on your interests!) official USGS topographic data. You can do all the easy stuff like waypoints, etc. but the big benefit is direct download of arbitrarily-shaped maps straight to a Magellan Triton series GPS unit. Without this last feature, I'm not sure why the product should exist.

Nat Geo seems to have a new web-based service that charges you per-map to get files onto your GPS. Lacking a better alternative, maybe this makes sense - though to me this is a very bad trend, and one that will make me leave a product line. In this case, the product line is a GPS platform plus Map Data software combo.

Note that you must go in to VIEW-PREFERENCES AND SETTINGS-GPS-UNIT TYPE and change to your Triton to be able to attempt map downloads - and after that it is very simple!

Still waiting for a product that does all I want. I could'nt care less about instant sharing data to social networks, blah, blah, blah - but I REALLY want USGS, *Land Status*, and Aerial/Satellite on the same device that also properly handles my geo-tagged pictures and waypoints.

Until then, or until/if I leave the Magellan product line, then I'll probably end up with another few states worth of this series.
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