Maybe Google Maps is your first choice for geographical guidance, but what if your Internet connection is on the fritz, or unavailable? Microsoft Corp. has an alternative--a complete map of the US and Canada that you can stash on your computerís hard drive and access anytime.
Streets & Trips maps are stuffed with useful details, like rest stops and tourist attractions, so itís a good tool for long-term travel planning. You can choose alternate routes between two points by dragging a cursor, and pin notes on the map with reminders about sights to see or things to do. If your computer is online, you can send text messages to cellphones, with information about your itinerary. You can also activate Microsoftís Bing Maps site, to view aerial images of your destination.
But Streets & Trips is especially valuable when youíre offline, because your maps remain fully accessible. In addition, the version with a GPS dongle turns a Windows laptop into a turn-by-turn navigation aid that works even in places where cellphone-based GPS wonít.
For most of us, phone-based GPS services are quite good enough. But Streets & Trips is a strong navigation aid for travelers who like to stray from the beaten path.