DeLorme TOPO USA Version 8.0 - A Review

Tired of hiking only where there is a park approved trail? Afraid of venturing into the outback because you don't trust your paper maps? Always wanted to know what was beyond that electrified and closely guarded fence line? Have no fear, the DeLorme product family is the place for you.

DeLorme TOPO software is a product that gets better with each iteration and DeLorme TOPO USA Version 8.0 is no exception. This software is designed to work with PN series of handheld GPS receivers from DeLorme as well as the yearly $29.99 subscription to DeLorme's Netlink server, but also works fine as a stand-alone product for those wishing to dip their toe into this expansive and useful topography package. This time DeLorme has married the best parts of its popular road routing Street Atlas software with its well known TOPO product line, now giving the TOPO user voice commands to control the map and routing features, and TOPO V8 not only understands you but can respond verbally. If the user chooses to take their laptop on the road with them and activate the GPS functionality they can use a new feature which is Nav Mode, allowing a driver to view next turn directions, speed, compass heading as well as a detailed road and contour map in the 2D map pane. GPS Radar is another addition that allows the user to search for general Points-of-Interest that may be a few miles ahead of them as one drives along a route.

Also new to TOPO 8.0 is a feature that allows the user to download from the Netlink server a map package not only for TOPO 8.0 but also the same map package already prepped for exchange with the DeLorme PN handheld family, no more map cell cutting! (NOAA charts not available for this feature yet). Netlink will allow you to download some High Resolution City aerial data, color aerial imagery, black and white aerial imagery and NOAA charts. Within the TOPO 8.0 software is detailed road data for Canada and major and secondary road data for Mexico. No contour data yet for those 2 countries but I would suppose they are working on it.

My gut feeling is that some of you not familiar with DeLorme products didn't understand a single word I wrote. But that's okay, I can speak English too. Let's say you want to go for a walk in the woods but you don't want to use a simple paper map that you buy at the store, you want more. You want to know exactly what geographical features are in the area, what your walk would be like in terms of the elevation profile, detailed directions to get to the trailhead and where the nearest Taco Bell is located for an after-hike burrito. You also want to mark up your map with notes and details that you might need along the way and you want it to look nice so you can print some copies to give to your buddies. This software will let you do that. If you spend more money and buy a DeLorme handheld GPS and the $30 yearly Netlink subscription you can do much, much more, you will never have to work with paper again and you will have much more fun in the woods. You will be given the tools to go wherever you want whenever you want without worry of ever getting lost or discombobulated.

Is all of this complicated? I'm not going to lie to you, it's complicated. Don't get into this unless you expect a learning curve. After working with this software for years now, I'm convinced that to make this vast array of features work effortlessly there is no other way to make it happen without some pain at the beginning. This isn't Garmin/MapSource amateur hour. But, as always, the good news is that DeLorme doesn't leave you without help. There is a DeLorme Wiki that can take you through the applications step by step that you need, there is a DeLorme forum that is available for you 24/7 frequented by seasoned DeLorme users that can help you with any snag, and you can always search the extensive forum archives for help if you are shy. If you have technical problems you can call DeLorme directly during daytime hours.