Garmin's G-12 Map Mapping
GPS Receiver with UPLOADABLE MapSource CDRom Maps
Review by Joe Mehaffey and
Revised Oct 9, 1999 (Added MapSource 3 information)
to GPS General Information Home Page
Many people have wanted a Garmin G-III PLUS but have not liked the case
style of the G-III products because they do not fit smoothly in a pocket.
Others have wanted an audio alarm which the G-III products do not have.
The new G-12 MAP receiver takes care
of these problems and adds many new features as compared to the G-12XL's
The G-12MAP is essentially a G-III PLUS mapping GPS receiver packaged in
the G-12XL style case. It has all the features of the G-III PLUS
(except rotatable screen display) and in addition has an audio alarm buzzer.
The G-12MAP expands Garmin's line of GPS receivers capable of uploading
user selected maps from the Garmin MapSource CDROMs. (Note:
Scanned maps cannot be uploaded nor can users edit maps uploaded to the
G-12Map/G-III PLUS.) With MapSource maps, users can select
local areas of interest (by approximate county size map modules) and upload
detailed maps (essentially Tiger maps) into their G-III+ receiver.
The GPS will then provide a moving cursor on the moving map showing your
position on the GPS map. Garmin's MetroGuide maps CANNOT be
used with the G12Map.
By using the "US Roads and Recreation" CD by MapSource, the user
GPS storage area allows uploading of from 1 to 25 (max) counties into the
G-12MAP. Depending on area, our experiments showed you could
usually upload 6 to 12 counties (the boundaries of which are
indicated as dashed lines on the GPS) depending on the road density in
a particular area. The counties do NOT need to be contiguous.
In the dense Atlanta Metropolitan area, an area of about 7500 square
miles of residential street level maps can be uploaded into the approximate
1.4 megabyte user memory, about 65% of the capacity of the Lowrance GM-100.
(Note: The Lowrance GM-100 and the G-12MAP/G-III PLUS are "head on"
competitors in the marketplace and we will make comparisons from time to
time in this review.)
Garmin also has a World Map CDROM providing limited road information
for the world and also a TOPOgraphical Map version (for the USA only) which
provides topo map features. The "outside the USA map detail
is substantially less than the USA road detail. Garmin's World
Map and TOPO MAP CDROM products are also uploadable into the G-12MAP.
(Note: This is because of the very high costs of acquiring accurate
and highly detailed road maps outside of the USA. Auslanders
should be working on this with your government representatives!).
However, the detail on the new WORLD MAP CDROM is considerably better
<everywhere we looked> as compared with the GM100 world maps.
The MapSource WORLD MAP also includes "some" marine navaids whereas
the GM100 world maps do not.
See comparisons of the Lowrance GM-100, G-III, and G-III+ (and G-12MAP)
US and World Maps (HERE). Note: As of September 1999,
NO software other than Garmin's MapSource CDROM Maps can be uploaded into
the G-12MAP/G-III Plus.
Look and Feel
One of the first thing you'll notice is that the maps are more 'readable'
than the Lowrance MapCreate maps. The major streets are heavy-lined
instead of double-lined making them stand out more and have about 10% more
street-vector resolution. Highways and street names are designated
more often too. 'Creeks' are two-dimensional gray-scale instead of
thin lines. However, this may eat up more memory than MapCreate does
for the same 'creek'. Lakes and rivers are gray-scale in both.
The G-12Map Receiver
The new G-12Map is basically a G-III PLUS receiver.
(Click HERE for product review) . Unless noted otherwise,
all features of the G-12Map are the same as in the G-III PLUS all G-III/PLUS/G-12xl/cx
accessories work with the G-12Map. The G-12Map has been enhanced
with additional memory and software (compared to the G-12XL) to permit
the upload of vector maps from Garmin's new MapSource CDROM Map package.
All of the added memory in the G-12MAP is internal as opposed to a removable
cartridge. Unlike the G-III PLUS, the G-12Map is equipped with
an audio alarm. The G-12Map comes with a DATA (only) cable,
wrist strap, manual, batteries (but no carrying case) and is
ready to go right out of the box. The G-12Map has an internal antenna
like the G-12xl as opposed to the external rotatable antenna of the G-III
There are a number of new menus in the G-12Map to support the new mapping
features and zoom in/out buttons for the map screen.
With the G-12Map you can do the usual route/waypoint/track
management, (including TrackBack and MARK) but none of the automated
route functions of the StreetPilot are available in the G-12Map.
SA5 or SA6 can be used to upload routes into the G-12Map as in other
Garmin products. G7TO 3.04.04 (or higher) can be used to up/download
waypoints, routes, tracks and screen photographs just as with
the G-III PLUS.
Detailed differences between
the G-12Map and the G-III PLUS
The case of the G-12Map is like the G-12XL case and with a
MCX connector for the external amplified antenna. Although the G-12Map
takes four size AA batteries, the antenna voltage output is in the range
of 2.5 volts, and so you cannot use the unit with the standard (nominal
5 volts) amplified external antennas. Instead, you must use either
the Garmin GA-27C or the Tri-M 2.5volt antennas (which are also compatible
with nominal 5 volt GPS receivers) with the G-12Map (and with the eMap).
The G12Map has an audible alarm beeper. There are three settings:
None, "Message Only", and "Key & Message" (sounds every time you
press a key) . There is no option to allow sounding the beeper on selected
messages only (for example only on approaching a destination).
Even in the "Message Only" mode, the beeper still seems to sound more often
than I like.
Case: The case is identical to the 12 CX. The buttons
are labeled QUIT, (Light), GOTO, IN, OUT, PAGE, MENU, and ENTER/MARK.
Screen: Identical to the III+ (100x160 4 level gray).
10 levels of backlighting are supported. LANDSCAPE display
mode is NOT supported on the G-12MAP.
Other features in the G-12Map
The G-12Map has new features that permit you to locate the nearest
cities and expressway exits. This feature does not recognize major
state freeways (such as Georgia 400) as expressways and only recognizes
Interstate Highway exits with the "nearest exit feature". Airports
and some service facilities are also marked on the new base maps.
The receiver displays 56 waypoint icons as compared to the G-III's 48.
Garmin has removed the firmware revision level from the initial screen
so customers will not have an easy way to determine which software revision
level is in a unit at time of purchase. (You can get it by holding
ENTER while powering up.) However, software updates
should be available on their website as usual for recent equipment.
The software revision level of the G-12MAP does appear on the information
window that appears on MapSource when maps are being uploaded to the GPS.
The unit used for review had 2.01 with background (Land Data) map
Battery life in the NORMAL mode on the G-12Map is somewhat more than
20 hours of continuous operation on five different sets of Sony AA
alkaline batteries. A "power save" mode that provides a fix every
five seconds as opposed to once per second is supposed to increase battery
life "up to 36 hours" according to Garmin. (We got 29 hours
continuous running in battery save mode.) A new feature (common to
the G-III PLUS) in the trip computer allows you to select TOTAL TIME
or TIME MOVING TIME for speed calculations. It is possible
to turn OFF the MapSource maps and just use the base map if desired.
Features in the G-III PLUS
but NOT in the G-12Map
The G-12Map screen cannot be rotated horizontal and vertical as can
the G-III PLUS. The G-III PLUS has a removable (quadrifilar) external
antenna with a BNC connector.
MapSource CDROM Electronic
Maps ( Now updated to version 3)
The Garmin MapSource maps are high quality electronic maps and the
system is easy to understand and use. The USA maps ("Roads
and Recreation") are of the same general quality as Delorme SA5 maps
but lack the "tourist interest" and highway detail provided in SA6.
MapSource road accuracy is judged "good" by Jack and Joe.
MapSource maps are more up to date and contain slightly more detailed water
features as compared to the Lowrance CityStreets Maps provided with the
GM-100 family of GPS. (Click HERE for product review)
For a side-by-side comparison of the features of the G-III+ and GM-100
MapSource was designed to provide uploadable maps to the G-12Map/G-III+
and other Garmin GPS products. In addition, starting with version
3.0, MapSource systems provide the ability to: a) upload/download
routes, tracks, and waypoints to the GPS, b) allow the user
to manually generate a route and upload, c) print maps,
d) manually input waypoints and routes onto the map for later upload,
e) allows waypoint editing both on the map and in text form. In addition,
there are many convenience improvements and bug fixes. Note:
MapSource 3.0 is a free update from the Garmin website for purchasers of
ANY MapSource product. In addition, prior purchasers of PCX5
can receive an $80 discount on the purchase of any MapSource product since
PCX5 is being discontinued as all PCX5 functions are now included in MapSource
It is still necessary to use an accessory package such as SA6 for
automatic route generation and route tracking on your PC.
NOTE: The G-12Map *is not* a StreetPilot and it does not have the
routing or "address finding" capability of the StreetPilot.
Nor does it have the capability to 'LOCK' the GPS tracking icon to the
roadway as does SP. So far there is no program like OziExplorer/MapCreate
that provides editing the MapSource files. Waypoint+ and G7TO have
the same capabilities with the G-12Map, G-III+ as with the G-III.
Richard Bollar has collected a fine group of G-III and G-III PLUS comparative
screen shots. CLICK
HERE to see how the G-III and G-12Map/G-III PLUS with MapSource
uploaded maps compare in street detail in Richard's area.
Water Data and Nautical Navigational
Lowrance has historically included the most detailed water data in any
available low-cost GPS receiver. But a review of the maps comparing
the G-12MAP/G-III+ with the GM100 reveals that the Garmin MapSelect has
a noticeably higher shoreline vector resolution than the Lowrance MapCreate.
This is now a reversal of the situation with the GM100 and the G-III.
(Screen shots via G7ToWin)
Maps of Lake Lanier Shoreline
Map of a Small Lake Near Joe's House
However when it comes to Nautical Nav Aids, MapSource has considerably
fewer than MapCreate and no obstruction markers..
Comparing Nautical Nav Aids of
MapCreate and MapSource near Savannah, GA
the cursor over the nav aid reveals additional information.)
Still, nautical navigational aids in the G-12MAP/G-III+ are quite
extensive. Garmin informs us that the USA CD has all the US Nautical
navigation aids of day beacons, radiobeacons, RACONS, fog signals, lights,
buoys and other navaids for the 50 states. (This is basically the
same marine nav-aids found in the GPS 48) It also contains inland
nav-aids, including boat ramps, marinas, campgrounds, ranger stations,
mile markers, first aid stations, etc. (same information as in Garmin's
Inland G-charts). (See comparison of inland mile marker, state
park and marina icons on Chickamauga Lake near Chattanooga, Tennessee (HERE).
The WorldMap CD will have nautical navaids for the entire world.
Fonts and Rectangles
The font size of most all the names in the G-12MAP maps can be controlled
INCLUDING the street-name font. The greater number of
street names and larger font of the Garmin sometimes obscures the road
at certain zoom levels. By selecting 500' instead of Auto in the
Map Setup> Line> Street Label and/or reducing the street name font size
in map setup, this clutter can be reduced or eliminated.
A distraction (to Jack) are the boxes drawn around each county loaded in
the GPS. (See below.) Their purpose is to indicate what
areas have been loaded in the GPS The boxes can't be turned off when
using the G-III+ for navigating. (Joe did not have any problem
with the boxes, so the question of "will the boxes will be a distraction?"
is quite subjective.) See below left. Also, the extensive
"crosshatch" which was present at the intersection of the basemap and the
overlaid MapSource detailed maps has been substantially reduced in MapSource
version 3.0. At any time the crosshatch is bothersome (and overlays
the base map area you are trying to use), you can turn off the MapSource
maps in map setup temporarily.
The G-12MAP (and G-III+) has enhanced BASE MAPS compared with
the G-III. Included are more major city streets, and airport
locations. Many Interstate Highway exit services and facilities are
included in G-III base maps.
"Boxes" around counties uploaded to the GPS *
Streets and Exit Information on G-12MAP/G-III+
Features of MapSource include:
1) Detailed residential street level maps of the entire USA including
Alaska and Hawaii.
2) The user interface is easy to use.
3) The system operates on a Windows 95, 98, or NT environment.
4) Pentium Processor, 16 megs RAM, CDROM drive, mouse, 256
color display, 10 megs hard drive space required.
5) Upload of a selected group of maps (called a "map set")
runs at up to 115kbaud.
6) You can preselect any number of map sets and later select
a map set and upload it.
7) It is easy to zoom in/out and slide the map around or use
"hand" to view map details.
8) A "find city" feature is provided to permit quick location
of a particular map area.
9) A Garmin (or 3rd party) PC to GPS interface cable
is required to upload mapsource files to the G-12MAP.
1) Generate an address-to-address route automatically.
2) Track your current position on your laptop computer.
3) Operate on a MAC computer without a PC emulator.
The Garmin G-12MAP (about $340, includes DATA CABLE) and the accessory
MapSource CDROM Map system (about $100) constitute a quality and capable
road navigation accessory. (Check
latest prices HERE.)
Comments? Questions? Additions? Errors?
Contact: Joe Mehaffey
or Jack Yeazel
Thanks to Michael Polymenikos for his G-12MAP experiences which are
incorporated into this review.