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Six cool ways to use your GPS satnav

Golf, drink and be merry with your GPS

4. Find coffee shops, Wi-Fi hotspots, libraries or just about any public place

If you aren't interested in hunting for buried treasure, you might like hunting for dark roast coffee instead. Waymarking.com let's you search for just about any public place and then load the waypoint in your GPS.

Loading a waypoint is just a matter of connecting your GPS with a USB cable, and then using the software included with the GPS to transfer waypoint markers.

There's a marker for just about any taste. From follies in Cumbria to all of the historical markers in the US state of Texas, coffee shops with high-speed wireless access, the birthplace location of famous people, the best restaurants in small towns, pizza places located close to shopping centres and church listing by denomination, for examples.

5. Go for a hike, run, walk or bike ride and never get lost

Of course, one of the most common uses for a GPS is just going for a hike, walk, run or bike ride. Garmin makes the Forerunner 305, which is a GPS watch you wear on your wrist that shows you exercise data such as current heart rate, speed and distance, and your total workout time.

Software included with the Forerunner lets you map out your route on a PC and then track your workout progress. You can load a "ghost" runner on the GPS to see if you are running behind or ahead of previous workout times.

The Forerunner 305 also works with the website Motionbased.com, which lets you compare workout statistics with other users. It's similar to what you can do with the Nike + iPod workout system. Of course, any GPS will work for a hike in the woods - you can just set a waypoint marker for your start and finish location, and then track your speed and completion time.

One interesting marriage of technology and the great outdoors: Google provides a street-mapping feature that shows you a 360-degree digital photo for every street. You can use it to plan your walk for the day, and then use a GPS to set waypoint markers for the street locations. (So far, it works only in some major cities.)

6. Find your way around town

One last innovative use for a GPS is in-car navigation. A GPS system in a car - such as the Garmin Nuvi or the recently announced Harman-Kardon GPS-300 - lets you plan a route just by typing in an address, and then following voice prompts that tell you where (and when) to turn. The on-screen display shows you a bright easy-to-see find arrow for directions. As a corporate event, in-car systems can be a fun team-building activity.

For example, PlayTime hosts urban driving games where participants must complete various vehicular tasks. "Each task is linked to a business analogy," says Ed Cohen, a senior vice president at Satyam School of Leadership in India. "In San Francisco, we had them visit Lombard Street to represent 'twists and turns'; Coit Tower to represent 'climbing the ivory tower' and chocolates at Ghirardelli Square to represent 'sweetening the deal.' "

Many recent model cars include built-in car navigation systems as well, such as the MyGig system in many Chrysler models that shows you points-of-interest such as parks, wayside rests and libraries. The device has a USB port for loading waypoints from your laptop. Also, many rental car companies offer a GPS as a low-cost add-on for business travellers.

Get the latest GPS and satnav reviews here


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