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Your laptop isn’t just for boring work reports and term papers any more. In combination with a GPS receiver and laptop GPS software you can use it to pinpoint specific locations or even keep track of anyone with a compatible GPS device.

If you’re wondering what “GPS” is and what on earth it has to do with your laptop, you’re not alone. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and works through satellites. These satellites continuously transmit high frequency signals showing the relationship of the satellite to the earth. A GPS receiver uses at least three satellite signals and good old fashioned geometry (don’t worry, you don’t have to do the calculations) to pinpoint exact locations.

Many people are combining the benefits of GPS receivers with laptop GPS software for good reason. Imagine being a retiree able to pilot your motorhome around the country without fear of getting lost (and with the ability to let your family know where you are at all times). Imagine being a business owner able to track your fleet of delivery trucks at the push of a button. Or, imagine being a busy mom able to monitor your kids from the safety of your living room.

There are several things to bear in mind as you consider how you can use your Laptop GPS software for tracking purposes.

The receiver: Some laptops come equipped with a wireless GPS receiver built-in, but for most of us, we will likely need to rely on an outside product, such as a Garmin Nuvi or Magellan Road Mate. Or, with the right kind of laptop, you can purchase a peripheral device that will instantly turn your laptop into a GPS receiver. Options in this category include the Garmin GPS 18 GPS Receiver

The information: The GPS device usually includes basic mapping software, but additional laptop GPS software is available to make your experience much more personalized and useful. For example, Microsoft offers Microsoft Streets and Trips, which provides over 16.7 million miles of roads as well as “places of interest” such as museums and national parks. This approach is terrifically useful for the road enthusiast seeking to get from point A to point B – with several stops along the way. Another option in this line isRand McNally’s StreetFinder and TripMaker, which offers similar services to the Microsoft product.

In addition, many companies offer more specialized software with up to the minute information on construction, traffic, road closing and the like to professional drivers for whom every minute counts. You can explore many of these through a service like Trackmytruck.com or accutracking.com

There are also a number of free or share ware GPS software services available. One of the best with the easiest interface is Easy GPS, although it does not offer as many features as the less-than-free laptop GPS software products.

The service: Whichever direction you decide to go, as the user your ease of use is absolutely critical. As with any new product, there is a learning curve with laptop GPS software. That said, you’ll want to find a product with a user-friendly interface and clear instructions for interfacing with your GPS receiver – and a strong online or telephone customer service line doesn’t hurt either.

Armed with your GPS receiver, your laptop and your laptop GPS software, you’re ready to see the world!

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