September 17, 2009, 9:32 AM — For trip planning, it's always been hard to beat Microsoft Streets and Trips. And that remains true of the latest version, Streets and Trips 2010, even though many of its new features are less than compelling.
If you're not familiar with it, Streets and Trips turns your laptop or netbook into a full-fledged GPS-navigation and trip-planning device. As with previous versions, Streets and Trips 2010 ships in two packages: a software-only version for $40; and a combo of software plus GPS locator for $70. Streets and Trips will work with most GPS receivers that are NMEA 2.0-compatible, so if you have such a receiver from a previous version, all you need is the software.
Microsoft hasn't broken much new ground with the latest version of Streets and Trips. You do get updated maps for the U.S. and Canada, along with some welcome additions to points-of-interest categories. The major additions to the product, however, consist of a new "Send to GPS" feature as well as the ability to export route information in the standard GPX format. These are nice additions, but their usefulness is limited. In order to send directly to a GPS, the device must support MSN Direct and have an active subscription; Microsoft's supported device list indicates that only a few models from Garmin, Nextar, and Pioneer can take advantage of this feature. (Alternatively, some Garmin devices can be upgraded with a USB cable.) As for the GPX export feature, not all GPS devices support this format. However, I was able to successfully export a route and import it as a "Favorite" into a test Garmin nüvi 770.
Trip planning, however, is where Streets and Trips really shines. You merely enter one or more addresses or names of places, and you're off. You can arrange multiple trip segments in any order, or let Streets and Trips optimize the route if you have three or more waypoints. Based on route preferences that you can customize, Streets and Trips calculates your route, complete with turn-by-turn directions and a map overview. You can even input the size of your gas tank, gas mileage, and the status of your tank at the beginning of the trip, and Streets and Trips will include a prompt for refueling. If you enter the current cost of gas, the estimated fuel cost of your trip appears at the bottom of the directions list.