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DeLorme Street Atlas USA 2006 Handheld GPS Software for Palm OS and Pocket PC


DeLorme’s Street Atlas USA Handheld hasn’t always been the most popular piece of software among Palm and Pocket PC GPS users. Complaints of buggy software, and slow routing are common. Nonetheless, for a handheld GPS solution it does do some pretty amazing things. I’ve spend the last two weeks putting the software through my paces and tracks.


I had no problems installing the Street Atlas 2006 Handheld (SA2006HH) software onto my computer. I even installed it on my Mac running Virtual PC (more on that later) and didn’t come across any snags. I chose to install all of the maps on my drive (for faster access).

PC Software

The software that installs on your PC is basically a stripped down version of Street Atlas USA (non-handheld version). The purpose of this software is to provide an easier platform for generating routes as well as creating the map files that will sync with your desktop.

The software felt a little sluggish, even on my otherwise zippy computer. But that didn’t compromise the software. I wouldn’t say the software is overly intuitive, but once I read through a couple topics of the Help sections things became more clear.

I wish Street Atlas 2006 Handheld could have been a little more intelligent locating addresses. When searching for a specific address in a certain city/state it seemed to want you to enter the data in a very specific format or else it couldn’t locate the address. Better guessing that what you are looking for would be appreciated, especially if you are used to services like Google that are very good at guessing at what you are looking for.

Creating maps based on certain geographical locations was easy, and the software conveniently sets your sync software so the maps are loaded on the next sync. (A word of warning for Apple Mac users running Virtual PC… generating maps and routes will take a very long time… Creating the necessary maps to cover my single state took about four hours on my G4.) Enough about the PC software, let’s get into the handheld software.

Handheld GPS Software

Street Atlas 2006 Handheld connected seamlessly to my Bluetooth GPS as it should have. I highly suggest you make a trip to the ‘Options’ menu and read through both ‘Getting Started’ as well as ‘Help’. While I’m normally a jump right in without reading the directions kind-of guy this was very helpful. Especially if you are used to other vehicle navigation software some of the things in SA2006HH might puzzle you.

I found the maps to be highly accurate. While most mapping applications all seem to use the same underlying data, DeLorme appears to use something that is different than the rest. (And this makes sense given the business of the company.) I’d assume that this could be good or bad. In my case Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, MapQuest, etc all draw my street perpendicular to where it should be. DeLorme’s software was the only one that seems to have it correct. Small rivers and streams and other notable landmarks are all there as they should be.

Finding Addresses, Landmarks

The first time I performed a “find” I tried to lookup my home address. I limited the search to my own zipcode, state, and type of search as “streets/road”. I thought something was wrong with the software or perhaps I didn’t install everything I should have because five minutes later it was still searching for my address. About five minutes later it came up with a close match.

So if you get lost somewhere don’t expect to keep looking around while finding the location on your GPS. Pull over and plan to stop for five to ten minutes waiting for the “find” to find anything. To make matters worse once it did find the location I was looking for I pressed the wrong button and had to find it again. (Not the software’s fault I hit the wrong button.)

The database of landmarks is quite in depth though… it even found a little grass-strip airport near my home I searched for.


Routing was also much slower than even I have the patience for. A route I ran for about 135 miles took about eight minutes and another route I ran for 45 miles took about four minutes. What amazed me was that reversing an existing route seems to take just as long.?.?. The software has all of the intermediate points, what takes so long to reverse the order of the points it already found and still has stored? Oh well.

Most of the times routes were quite accurate. It even found a shortcut through a town I occasionally drive through that I didn’t know about before. On the other hand it also instructed me to get off a state highway and turn onto a dirt road for one mile before going back to the same state highway I was on before.

***Update***Since writing this review I’ve found that you can substantially increase the speed of searching for POIs and routing if you move your maps onto the handheld’s primary memory rather than storing it on an SD card or equivalent. Of course some handhelds don’t have tons of built in memory so you might need to limit the amount of maps you put in the primary memory of the device and store less frequently used maps on secondary memory cards.


off-courseWhen the software finally calculates a route and you enable tracking (don’t forget!) following the route on the moving map is easy thanks to the route being well highlighted. What seemed odd was the frequency of trackpoints that were generated. Sometimes there were several within a mile while other times a mile or so would pass without any trackpoints. This was fine except that when the road winds and there are not many trackpoints you are are frequently told you are off course. There is a preference setting where you can specify how many feet triggers the off course alarm although I found that in some instances even when the preference was set as high as 700 feet I would still trigger the alarm.

track_upThe software does allow you to have any of the cardinal directions (north, north east, etc.) as the “up” on the maps. It also allows you to have “Track” as up… However this doesn’t work as expected. When the map is initially drawn it takes your current direction of travel and draws the map track up. However it keeps that orientation until you drive off that map. Your location on the map changes instead of keeping yourself in the center and moving the map around you. Therefore if you start off one block south, and then turn west, south will still be at the top of the map until you travel far enough to go off the edge of the map.

turnThis causes further problems while looking ahead on the maps for new turns. Often a turn can be within one mile, but you can’t see it yet on the map. If you were to zoom in our out or pan the map you could see the next turn… but that defeats the purpose. I want my hands on the wheel when a turn is coming up, not fiddling with the map.

zoomSometimes the maps didn’t draw completely on the screen, a corner wouldn’t be drawn. However you could get around this bug if you really needed to by changing the zoom and then moving it back.

Voice Alerts

I’ve already mentioned the alarm that triggers when you are off course. If your handheld supports it a voice will actually come out of your handheld’s speaker alerting you that you are off course. Likewise turns are announced with voices that say “Turn left less than one mile”. My handheld’s volume couldn’t be turned up loud enough to make it audible at highway speeds, even with the volume turned off but that isn’t the fault of the software. I’ll turn the volume off while driving in an unfamiliar area anyway.


highcontrastPerhaps the feature I was most excited about was the ability to change the map colors from default to high-contrast for night driving. Everything is still just as readable however it keeps your vehicle dark so you can concentrate on the road. This is a very welcome feature!

Overall after spending a couple of weeks with the software I really enjoy it. While it does have some shortcomings, you can’t beat the $39.95 price! For $39.95 you certainly get what you have paid for and probably more. Thirty-nine dollars is a bargain for this handheld GPS software.

34 Responses

  1. Though I’d agree with most of what was reported here, but I can’t imagine for the life of me the problems with speed here. I’ve been using Street Atlas since version 2 and have never experienced such problems. I currently run it on a Athlon 1800+ and run 2000-3000+ miles with no problem. I also occasionally run it on my OLD laptop with a 233 mhz processor and only 256 megs of ram with MUCH better results. The only thing I can think of is that he was using it on a Mac through a emulator. I have no experience with a Mac but I can assure you that it run’s MUCH better on a PC.

    Street Atlas USA is far from perfect (there’s no such thing) but it’s by far the best that I’v used and it keeps getting better each year. The accuracy can’t be matched by any thing out there.

    Don - August 23rd, 2005
  2. Thanks for the comments, Don. My speed complaints were not regarding the PC side of the software, but the handheld side of the software. The speed of the software running on the PC (to generate the routes, create maps, etc) was adequate. The speed of routing and locating addresses on the handheld however, took a long time.

    GPS Review - August 23rd, 2005
  3. I am so lost in all this tech stuff,lol. I have a delorme earthmate receiver with usb connectivity – not the lt-20 or bluetooth that works fine on my pc with topo quad2.0. Can I use this with the Street Atlas 2006 on a pda/cell phone devise? If not what is needed to use Street Atlas with a pda/cell phone? Must the cell phone have some preinstalled software? My goal is buy a cell phone/pda that this software works with — suggestions?

    Glen - December 16th, 2005
  4. I’m assuming by the nature of your question that you do not currently have a phone/PDA (smartphone) that runs either the Palm OS or Windows CE? That is a requirement for the Street Atlas USA Handheld software to work.

    Once you acquire such a device, then you will need to connect a GPS to the unit. The most common way to do that is by using a Bluetooth (wireless) connection to a Bluetooth GPS device. I’m not aware of any Palm OS or Windows CE phones that support USB connections to GPS devices, so your USB Earthmate will not likely work. You would likely need to use the Blue Logger GPS which uses Bluetooth versus USB.

    Also keep in mind that Street Atlas is different software than Street Atlas Handheld, so if you don’t already own the Handheld version you would need to purchase that as well.

    GPS Review - December 18th, 2005
  5. The thing about Delorme’s software is that its not intended for widespread adoption by every idiot on the planet. If you expect your mapping software to be as simple to use as a TV, you need TomTom (and pay $150 too…).

    That said, the ability to display topo maps and provide routing is something none of the other packages can do. Also, all of the mapping packages will be much slower when reading maps from a memory card. One thing that can help is to get one of the new 150x memory cards on the market.

    This software is really serious navigational software that can replace a top of the line Garmin mapping GPS. I wouldn’t recommend it if your sole objective is to just get directions in your car. Go with TomTom for that.

    Jon - February 21st, 2006
  6. Hi Jon,

    I completely agree with everything you wrote with one small exception. Other mapping packages I have tried have not been significantly slower when reading maps from the memory card.

    For example TomTom Navigator 5 running on a Palm still provides long distance routing very quickly even though I’ve got nearly 1 GB of maps stored on the memory card (which isn’t 150x).

    I completely agree that if your sole objective is vehicle navigation the DeLorme system will probably not meet everyone’s expectations.

    GPS Review - February 21st, 2006
  7. Will the DeLorme Blue Logger Bluetooth Wireless GPS Receiver be compatible with a smartphone running Microsoft® Windows MobileTM 5.0 Smartphone Edition? I have a Cingular 8125 and just wanted to make sure of the compatibility before I order the GPS receiver.

    Mark - February 26th, 2006
  8. Mark, Since the Cingular 8125 supports Bluetooth, the DeLorme BlueLogger should work fine with it. However, DeLorme’s Street Atlas USA software doesn’t work with Windows Mobile 5 yet. They are working on it though. Of course you can always use other GPS software for Windows Mobile 5.0 which supports Bluetooth connections to NEMA GPS receivers.

    GPS Review - February 26th, 2006
  9. Hey, it’s Mark again, thanks for the quick response. Would you know when DeLorme’s Street Altas USA might be ready for the Windows Mobile 5.0? And can you suggest any GPS software and compatible bluetooth GPS receiver that should work with the 8125? Thanks..you can probably tell that I’m new at this.

    Mark - March 1st, 2006
  10. Hey, me again. I kinda got my mind set on all this gps tech and simply can’t stop. I’ve been looking through the internet for gps software that would work with Windows Mobile 5.0 and the best one I came up with is that by VitoTechnology (http://vitotechnology.com/en/products/ppc.html). It was close to what I was going for but when it came to the sample pics of their maps, let’s just say it wasn’t what I expected. I’m looking for something close to the quality of Google Maps. The fact that Google Maps can be used together with Google Earth is a plus in addition to their user friendly interface. Is there such a program that exists? Hasn’t Google come up with anything yet? When it came to GPS bluetooth receivers, I tried eBay. Do you have any word on brands like Holux or Nemerix? They do claim to support NMEA.

    Mark - March 1st, 2006
  11. Hi Mark,

    DeLorme hasn’t announced a release date. Based on the information I have seen it looks like it will be a couple months away. Previously I’ve seen DeLorme introduce new products in the July/August timeframe so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it then.

    What kind of navigation are you looking to do with your GPS, auto navigation, topo navigation, etc?

    If you are looking for auto navigation then check out either TomTom Navigator 5 or Garmin GPS10. Since the 8125 is so new neither company lists it as definitely being compatible, so make sure to purchase it from somewhere that has a good return policy.

    GPS Review - March 1st, 2006
  12. Hi Mark,

    Most GPS software for auto navigation use data from one of two companies, Tele Atlas or NAVTEQ. In the case of Google Maps, they use data from both companies depending on the location.

    TomTom uses Tele Atlas maps and Garmin uses NAVTEQ maps. Therefore both of those products should have maps of similar quality that you see in Google Maps.

    GPS Review - March 1st, 2006
  13. I am inclined to buy this piece of software along with the Blue Logger GPS, however I have an old Palm Tungsten T, and my main concern is memory. Can I load up 1gb of maps onto the SD card and have the application access them directly or the maps will have to be moved from the memory card to the main memory for the SA 2006 HH to use them?

    Piotr - April 18th, 2006
  14. Piotr, You can access maps stored on an SD card, however it will significantly impact the speed of the program running on your Palm. Activities like creating routes on the Palm will be extremely slow if the maps are on the SD card.

    I’ve been running this program off an SD card, however I cut up the maps into many, many smaller individual maps before putting them on the SD card. The smaller the map the faster it will run.

    One other thing I’ve done is to put lots of small maps on my SD card, then depending on where I am at the time I can move individual small maps from the SD card into the main memory.

    GPS Review - April 18th, 2006
  15. Hi, I’m new to the GPS world and have just purchased a Palm Treo 650. The artice and the comments thus far have been helpful as I am thinking of gettimg Palm’s Gps kit bundled with TOM TOM Navigator 5. It has a cradle with built in GPS receiver. But I gather form a linked article that signal reception from the cradle integrated GPS receiver doesn’t work to well and that phone calls can’t be made while the GPS is being used.
    Any confirmation on this and is there anyway of boosting the GPS receiver reception ie. attaching an antennae to the cardle…. if it can be done? Thank you

    Walt - April 30th, 2006
  16. Walt, Palm’s current kit which includes TomTom Navigator 5 doesn’t have the GPS built into the cradle. The GPS receiver is separate and connects to the Treo 650 via Bluetooth. So this should work better as you can locate the GPS receiver wherever you need to in your car to achieve a good signal.

    If a phone call comes in you can pick to ignore or answer the call. If you ignore the call you will be placed back into the TomTom software and not miss anything. If you accept the call then the ‘Phone’ application will be running on your phone. After you hang up from the call you will need to go back into the TomTom software to resume navigation.

    While not the perfect solution, it has worked okay for me. If a call comes in and I really need to keep navigating I can just ignore the call. If I really need to take the call then I can temporarily forgo navigation and take the call and pull over to the side of the road. (I should probably do anyway rather than drive and talk.)

    Even if you exit the TomTom program and take a call, the Bluetooth GPS receiver is still working and keeping track of your position. So it isn’t like you will need to start over and enter your destination again. Just open the TomTom application again and it will resume navigation from where you currently are.

    GPS Review - April 30th, 2006
  17. Thank you for your prompt reply.
    I just went into the Palm website,

    and this is what it states “…The car cradle recharges the smartphone’s battery and features a built-in SiRFstar III GPS receiver for improved signal acquisition..” which I would take to mean that there is no separate BT GPS receiver and that signal acquisition would not be a problem even with certain windscreen types! This is where the confusion begins…. A cradle with built-in Gps receiver or a separate BT receiver with the ensuing wire mess with separate chargers that comes with it! Is this new on the market or Palm’s sale’s pitch!! Your advice is much appreciated. Thank you.

    Walter - May 1st, 2006
  18. I see your (and my) confusion now. That product doesn’t appear on Palm’s US website. Instead the following product appears.


    Perhaps if you purchased everything separate you could get what you need. I know there are a few companies who make auto cradles for the Treos. TomTom sells their Palm software with our without a Bluetooth GPS receiver.

    Otherwise, since the product you linked to comes with a SiRF Star III GPS receiver I wouldn’t worry about reception. That chipset provides fantastic signal strength.

    GPS Review - May 1st, 2006
  19. Thank you for the quick reply. I think I will get it and see how it works… fingers crossed….


    Walter - May 1st, 2006
  20. I’m running SA 2005 on my laptop and finally bought a Windows Mobile 5 PDA. Does the mobile version also allow routing using “stops” and “vias” the same way the laptop version does?

    Brian - May 10th, 2006
  21. Brian, you can actually take routes created on your laptop and sync them to your PDA. This is often much easier than creating the route on the PDA. But yes, you can use “via” when creating routes on StreetAtlas USA Handheld.

    GPS Review - May 11th, 2006
  22. Update on the Palm Plug n Go GPS Navigator II. The kit looks very similar to the Seidio G2350S GPS car kit. Infac the box that contained the builtin GPS receiver cradle had Seidio written on it!!
    It works well since I got it two weeks ago. Has a TOMTOM navigator 5 software bundled with a Treo headset thrown in. Even with detours, got to the address that I had wanted to go to originally. I think one has to be specific with the set-up, I say this because, the supermarket the I regularly go to, I use a familiar route that doesn’t take the Motorway. The route plottted for me took the Motorway that I normally avoid.
    I could make and receive phone calls while the GPS software was running and there was no interruption to the routing guide.
    The Treo headset has a ear hook that can be shaped to fit the ear. Sound quality is good. I am discovering that this beats looking at a map and trying to drive at the same time. Hope this helps.

    Walter - June 5th, 2006
  23. Hello-

    I’m looking to get into mobile GPS. My dad just got a Cingular 8125 and I like it a lot. I was looking into a Garmin Nuvi 350 but now I’m thinking I can kill multiple birds with one cheaper stone.

    Questions are:
    1) Does this Delorme Software have 3-D maps when you’re using the handheld? Do I have to get the topo version?

    2) Any hope for these softwares on the 8125? I saw earlier that we didn’t think it would work with Windows Mobile 5.

    I need to make a decision either way soon, so any help will be appreciated. Thanks.

    Dan - June 19th, 2006
  24. Dan – (1) There are no 3D maps. (2) It isn’t available yet for Windows Mobile 5, see this post for more info.

    GPS Review - June 20th, 2006
  25. Dan, it looks as though the Windows mobile version of Street Atlas USA will be available in a couple of weeks.

    GPS Review - July 28th, 2006
  26. OK, read through this thread, want to ensure “I get it”…for my Treo 650 to aid me in auto navigation. Best for me to get TomTom Navigator 5 and best for me to get a memory card? Please advise. Thanks

    Daniel - February 5th, 2007
  27. Yes, for strictly auto navigation I would get something like TomTom Navigator. It typically comes in packages that include the GPS and SD card.

    Tim - February 5th, 2007
  28. Just to verify: In order to create
    1. on-the-fly topographical directions
    2. using my windows mobile 5 handheld,
    3. with a GPS position indication displayed on the map.

    I need to purchase both:
    1. DeLorme Street Atlas USA 2006 Handheld GPS Software
    2. DeLorme Topo USA Version 6.0

    Robert Wiktorski - June 10th, 2007
  29. Robert, I haven’t used that exact product combination before, but I believe you are correct. I’d give DeLorme a call at 1.800.561.5105 to be sure.

    Tim - June 10th, 2007
  30. Very informative, great to hear actual experience from a user. I’m in the process of figuring out the Treo 650 gps software and which I would like to go with. I like TomTom 6 and it’s user friendly automotive use, which is what I will primarily be using this for, but I would like something cheaper, and may be using this for hiking (off road). Do you know much on the ‘other’ functionality of TomTom, as in off road capability? Would it just be better to purchase two different programs? I guess the two programs I am looking at are TomTom 6 and DeLorme 2008, any others I should think about? Any info is very much welcomed.

    Andy - June 11th, 2007
  31. Andy, the routing engine on the DeLorme handheld software tends to be so slow that it often isn’t practical to use it as a serious auto navigation system. If you are looking for something with on and off road capabilities, I’d consider two systems, one for each task. Getting both TomTom Navigator 6 and the DeLorme SA on there would be a good pair.

    Tim - June 12th, 2007
  32. Will the DeLorme street Atlas USA 2008 work with my Dell bluetooth GPS. I had been using, Dell GPS Navigation System NAVTEQ ON BOARD with an AXIM Pocket PC.

    Larry E - August 11th, 2007
  33. the g4 is slow don’t expect too much especially when running virtual windows

    Timbo - September 6th, 2007
  34. I have purchased a HTC AT&T TILT KAISER TYTN II PDA CELL PHONE. It is working on Windows Mobile 6 Professional.

    It has a inbuilt GPS Receiver. Please let me know which GPS Mapping software will suit my handheld.

    Sai - October 24th, 2007

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