entry into computerized mapping programs meets its usual high standards
for ease of use and accuracy.
Automap Streets Plus Deluxe Edition comes on two CD-ROMs; one is the mapping program, while the other is American Business Information Inc.'s American Yellow Pages, a listing of your familiar telephone yellow pages compiled for the entire U.S.
Using both together lets you find an address in the yellow pages, then see where it is located on the map. That can be very useful if you are a salesperson making calls on prospective business clients, or if you are an avid shopper wanting to find exciting an new store to visit.
But for this review, let's focus on the mapping software itself, which is available in Standard Edition for about $40.
The basic purpose of Streets Plus is to find an address of any place in the United States and show a detailed street map of its location. To find our general meeting place, Alamo Heights High School at 6900 Broadway, I just clicked on the Find Address icon and entered the address data. Streets Plus immediately displayed a map shoing the location, with a little pushpin showing the address data. I zoomed in and out, for more detailed and wider-reaching maps.
Good mapping programs must make it easy for you to move around the screen to look at different areas. When you move your cursor close to the edge of the screen, Streets Plus provides arrows that point to adjacent areas on the map. Just click, and the program displays the next area. Or, you can select the icon that looks like a hand and use your pointer to drag the map around to see adjacent areas. Microsoft Intellimouse users can click with their center ball to bring up the drag function directly.
My first test of a mapping program is to tell it to find my home address, and Streets Plus passed the test. My neighborhood has been in existance for about five years, so I figure there has been sufficient time for maps to be updated. By comparison, DeLorme Street Atlas USA 4.0 failed the home test. It claims it provides updated maps via the Internet, but I was unable to find one.
One of Stereets Plus's features is a route marker. This is an electronic highlighter that lets you mark a route between two points to show a travel route. After you have completed the route, Streets Plus tells you how long the route is. It would be much neater if the program plotted the route for you, requiring you indicate only the starting and ending points. But Microsoft wants to sell you another program, Automap Trip Planner, which does that.
Trip Planner integrates well with Streets Plus, and generally does a good job of plotting a route. But when I told it to find the quickest route between my house and Alamo Heights High School, it plotted a route that would have me driving across an open field. Maybe it though I drive a jeep. Fortunately, it did better for a recent trip to Montogomery, Alabama.
Reflecting Microsoft's determination to integrate the Internet into its software, Streets Plus dials up a Web site that displays local information about places of interest. When I linked to the San Antonio information, I clicked on the weather link and got a local weather forecast.
One of the requisite features of any mapping program is to print easy-to-read paper copies of maps so you can use them to navigate in your car. Streets Plus does that very well, with sharp detail to help you pinpoint your destination. Streets Plus also has the excellent help files that are becoming a hallmark of Microsoft programs.
Automap Streets Plus can readily be found at most software retail stores. Expect to pay around $40.
In summary, Automap Streets Plus is a fine program that emphasizes ease of use. DeLorme's Street Atlas USA 4.0 has more features, including t5he nifty Tripmate GPS terminal, but Streets Plus is easier to use and has more accurate maps.