Garmin GPS 18


Active Member
I just saw this gizmo in Popular Science. I have a cheapo GPS unit but would like fool around with something like this. Does anyone have any insight into this model? It's only $120 and uses your laptop.

I'm not familiar with the software you need. I have explored Garmin's website, but it's all confusing to me.

What do you need, and what's missing from this?


Active Member
well, it appears that for $120 you get GPS route directions thru your laptop. From what I read, it includes the GPS unit and the s/w. I don't think you need anything else -in which case it sounds pretty inexpensive to me....


Senior Member

The microsoft software "Streets and Trips" allows you to install new maps. The standard map is of US and Canada. But if you wanted to go on a cruise you could install the Nautical map and track your location from the sea. It comes with a GPS Locator and I am sure the software is much more user friendly.

One thing to keep in mind is that GPS units are standardized. They all use a protocol known as NEMA (National Marine Electronics Association). Basically the messages are in the form of text strings when can easily be passed through any serial port.

So when buying a GPS unit you can shop around and do not need to buy one for a particular software. In fact some of us here including electron in my self have programed our own software (Nothing to fancy) for use with the Garmin GPS-35. Double check for your self but I have never seen a software application that did not ask you to select a COM port. I know that the Streets and Trips works with the com port.

When you toss in USB the software may be able to find the device on its own and you may not need to select the com port. I would check into this first before buying because you may buy a GPS unit that can not be used with other software. I highly doubt this will be the case but just make sure.


Senior Member
I am not sure what the real question is here, but I will toss in my $.02.

Basically, there are two types of software that get used with a GPS.

The first class is mapping software that runs on a PC or laptop and accepts position data from a GPS. Software such as Delorme "Street Atlas" & Microsoft "Streets & Trips". These software titles are popular even without GPS use. The software is a personal choice and works with most GPS receivers, including the little displayless receivers.

The second class is software that is designed let you load maps and data into your GPS while at home, then lets the GPS run on its own. This means you don't need a laptop open in your vehicle, but you don't have the nice big display either. I believe most of the software that Garmin sells falls into this category, but they do try to sell some software to compete with the stuff mentioned above. The GPS needs to support uploadable maps, which includes lots of the more modern GPS units meant for vehicle navigation.


Senior Member
Apparently, some of the newer Garmin GPS receivers no longer support the NMEA standards. They only support Garmin's own data format. I do not know the reason for this - it does not make sense to me.

While many programs will probably support Garmin, this means that they will not work with programs that don't.

I do not know if this receiver supports NMEA or not. They don't have the manual online.

It looks like the Garmin unit comes with routing software but I'm not familiar with it.

I have a Garmin Etrex receiver which can be hooked up to a PC or PDA but I don't usually use it. I currently use a Globalsat BT-338 Bluetooth receiver with iGuidance software on my PDA to do routing.

There are many options out there and it may be worth doing some research to figure out which is best for you.


Active Member
Thanks to all for the lessons! I am really a rookie on this one.

Turn your laptop PC into a powerful street navigator with the GPS 18 — a GPS sensor bundled with nRoute™ and City Select software that automatically guides you with turn-by-turn directions and voice prompts to get you safely to your destination.

My interpretation of this quote off the site means that it comes complete with software that would allow me to:
- enter start and end points of a trip and get realtime directions
- voice directions
- city maps included

Is this a correct interpretation?

When I did some searching, it seemed that the software was typically $100. In addition, it seemed that the city maps (CDs) was also around $100. If this stuff is included in the $129 they are quoting for the device, I've got to believe that it's either poor s/w or it's outdated and wouldn't included my cities.


Active Member
Thanks for pointing me to alternatives. This stuff is less expensive than I thought.

What features do you find important? (I really want a toy for the car)