MapSource MetroGuide USA (Version 4)
Comments,  Questions and Answers on this Garmin update to Metroguide USA
along with some comparisons with CityNavigator/CitySelect
by Joe Mehaffey
(Last Revised 23 October 2002)

What is MetroGuide USA 4.0?
MetroGuide USA-4 was originally designed for autorouting on the GPS-V, however it will autoroute on most all the new units that support autorouting.  You can recognize the new version by the front cover of the CD says: "WITH PC AUTO ROUTING" and the outer blue box  is a statement that MetroGuide (this new version) can do automatic routing. The product name was not changed and remains MetroGuide USA.  This system has updated map detail, as provided by Garmin's data supplier TeleAtlas (formerly ETAK), for freeways, interstates, national and state highways, local, county and residential roads for all 50 states. The detailed map data is not limited to major metropolitan areas. Coverage is included for rural dirt roads in many areas.  The Map detail contains attributes for automatic routing on the PC using MapSource version 4.03 and later revisions on both the USA and European versions.

NOTE:  The MetroGuide Europe version CANNOT do autorouting WITHIN the GPS,  but it CAN do autorouting on the PC for download into any compatible Garmin GPSR.  MetroGuide USA can do autorouting in BOTH situations.  The following comments apply generally to both MetroGuide USA and MetroGuide Europe with the above exception.

What is CityNavigator (or CitySelect)?
  Answer: CityNavigator and CitySelect are map systems using the MapSource software engine coupled to NavTech vector maps.  NavTech has the most accurate road guidance maps we have seen and NavTech maps are used by almost all of the higher priced Car Navigation systems.  (Such as VDO Dayton,  Alpine,  Philips Carin, etc.)  Garmin's LATEST (June 2002)  version 4.01 of CN (and the coming soon CS maps version) cover about the 120+ largest metro areas in the USA  with full high detailed car navigation database information.  The previous CN/CS version had  sparse coverage in most rural areas BUT!  New NavTech maps are now available and are called CN-4 and CS-4.  The new Garmin offerings have FULL USA ROAD COVERAGE just like MetroGuide.  These new NavTech maps do NOT have complete POI and house numbering and etc in the RURAL areas just as MG-4 does not.  This  improved coverage makes CN and CS much more desirable as a single solution map system as compared with the older CN and CS version 4.00 which had high detail road coverage ONLY in the 120+ largest metro areas.

What are the main features of MetroGuide  USA-4?

MG-4 is similar to the older MetroGuide system (MG) enhanced in a number of important ways.  These include but are not limited to:

1) Information is provided to allow certain of Garmin's newer GPS products (currently the StreetPilot-III and GPS-V) to be able to do automatic address to address routing internally within the GPS receiver without need of an accessory computer except to initially load the map data.  Note that the following GPSRs (among many others) cannot do autorouting internally even when equipped with MG-4 maps:  eMap,  all eTrex Models, G76Map, G-76S, G-162, G-176, NavTalk, G-III, G-III PLUS, G-12Map.  And No... Non mapping GPSRs (such as the eTrex, Summit and Venture,  G12xl, G-II+, and similar) cannot do autorouting or upload any kind of maps.

2) Provision is made for a rudimentary "track along on the MG-4 map" when your GPS is connected via cable to your laptop computer and you are driving about.  This is similar to the capability of Delorme StreetAtlas 9,  but more limited in function.  Functionally, this is the same as in existing MapSource 4.03 and later software.  Note:  ver 4.06 (as of 29Jan02) MapSource is currently available on Garmin's download site for use with the existing MetroGuide and other mapping software.

3) The new MG-4 maps are notably enhanced and more accurate than MG-I maps.  This is NOT to imply that they are perfect or that there will not be significant errors "somewhere".  In fact,  we have heard of a good many errors from users nationwide.  Still,  we think MG-4 is overall an improvement in accuracy as compared with the older MetroGuide version.  We note that of the six major errors that we previously found  in Atlanta area maps of MG-I,  all but one of these are fixed in MG-4 and we have not YET found any new errors.  There are less water features in MG-4 and instead there are more road features and the added highway guidance data.  Many rural areas do not have street numbering just as in MG-I.  Other areas may be found to be better or worse than my experiences,  but overall it seems to be a major accuracy improvement.   POIs are updated and more accurate,  but do not expect that every restaurant, hotel, school, (or anything else) is necessarily included.  However,  the listings are large and most we have examined are in about the right place on the maps.

  Questions about MG-4:
     a) Is SP-III going to be able to use MG-4 maps for automatic routing?
         Answer:  Yes, the SP3 and GPS-V can use the updated MetroGuide-4 and can "autoroute" to a specific address with that data.  As noted above, many of the more rural roads do not have house numbers,  but MG-4 will allow autorouting to highway intersections, personal waypoints, or nearby POI on roads where house numbers are missing.

     b) Is it correct that any Garmin GPSR with enough memory can load MG-4 maps?
         Answer:  Yes, that is true.  This specifically includes: SP-III, GPS-V, G-76Map,  eMap, LEGEND, VISTA,  SP, SPCM, and G-176 among others.  Also keep in mind, that with the MG-4, under the MapSource Preferences menu, you can check the box in (Transfer) that you don't want to load the "Route calculation data".  This will reduce the loaded map size and allow more map area in GPSRs that do not support address-to-address routing.  In many cases, the resulting maps will be small enough for a III+ or G12MAP user, but Garmin is not recommending that this product is for them and there is  no support to be provided for MG-4 maps used in GPSRs with less than 8 megs of map memory.  (This means:  If a MG-4 map section will fit into a G-III+,  use it.  If it is too big,  don't call Garmin tech support and ask if there is a way to make it fit.  There is no way.)

         The other thing to keep in mind with the updated MetroGuide is that the maps are now broken into smaller chunks. So SP or SPCM and G-76Map  users are now going to have to select the correct map chunk that they want to "FIND" in.  (See also item (m) below.)  This is done automatically in later designs including the SP-III and GPS-V.  (This means:  You either have to be located IN the map section where the target of a  FIND operation is in -or- you must select the proper map section for display which includes the target of the FIND if you have more than one "map chunk" turned on.  This  for older model GPSRs such as the SP, SPCM, G76Map, etc. when using MG-4 to do a FIND operation.)

     c) Are there any limits as to how many GPSRs a person can own and use MG-4 in all of them?
            Answer: No

     d) Is MG-4 going to require any sort of "unlock code" for users like CityNavigator does?
           Answer: No, MetroGuide-4 is not a locked product.  (Unless of course flagrant copyright abuse occurs and this might change.)

     e) Is there going to be an upgrade policy for MG-I owners wanting to  upgrade to MG-4?
         Answer: Yes..  But the offer expired 12/30/2001. Garmin will still (on a case by case basis) provide a free upgrade if you purchase an older version from a vendor,  have the purchase receipt and call them within 30 days of your purchase.   If you need to buy a copy of MG-4,  we recommend you check the discount GPS vendors (HERE).

     f) What is  the hierarchy of map display in SP-III and G-V?
        Answer:    If you have two or more map types loaded at once, only one of them will be shown even if all are checked.  That is: Only one map type in overlapping areas is shown on a particular display section.  If you have loaded adjacent map areas, both map types will be shown in their respective areas.  Crosshatched areas may appear where the map sections do not exactly coincide.

     The hierarchy actually belongs with the MapSource products, not necessarily the unit.
     Top priority is City Navigator, then, in order,
     MetroGuide I or 4
     Fishing Hot Spots
     Waterways and Lights
     Roads and Rec.
     WorldMap - lowest priority

     g) Does this same hierarchy order apply to all GPS models?
         Answer: Yes, this determination resides within the MapSource product and is not determined by the GPS receiver.

    h)  How does the New MetroGuide-4 compare with the NEW CityNavigator (or CitySelect) version 4.01?
    Answer:  a)Some will prefer MG-4 while others will prefer CityNavigator.  The NEW CN-4 is generally preferable because a) the maps are now full USA coverage and b) the maps are more accurate and more detailed than MetroGuide II, and c) the CN/CS guidance information is generally more detailed and more accuate than that in MG-4.  The differences between CN and MG-4 (as far as routing) is the difference between excellent quality routing (CN) and good quality routing (MGII).  MG-4 is lower cost and generally has slightly smaller uploadable data size for a given area.
    1) CN/CS maps are almost perfect in their primary coverage areas,  and the new CN-4/CS-4 cover "all" streets in the nation.  (Well,  most of them anyway.)    NavTech's latest "covered cities listings" can be viewed HERE.   These areas have the maximum amount of detail and other regions OUTSIDE these metro areas may not have as much detail.   Check with Garmin's Cartography Map Viewer to be sure your towns/citys of interest are fully covered by CityNavigator or CitySelect before you buy.  You may find the MG-4 with its full coverage is better for your application especially IF you have a GPS with 8 or 16 meg memory.  Note:  As of June 2002,   you cannot order NavTech Maps for Garmin equipment directly from NavTech.
    2) MG-4 maps are less precisely accurate in detail than the NEW CityNavigator ver 4.01 (or the new CS).  Both  contain almost all of the streets (in our areas where we have looked carefully and in the entire USA as far as we know.)
    3) CN/CS guidance data is excellent.  MG-4 guidance data is "pretty good".
    4) CN has excellent accuracy in street number position in BOTH city and rural coverage where they have prime coverage.  MG-4 has excellent house number accuracy in city areas and most rural streets may not have any street numbers at all.
    5) CN has details down to what lane to be in when you are going into complex interstate interchanges.  With MG-4 you most often have to
figure this out yourself.
    i) Can I do automatic routing within MG-4 or CN/CS and download the route to my Garmin GPS receiver.
    Answer:  Yes.  MG-4 and new CN/CS 4.01 have all the features currently provided in older versions and  with ver 4.06 MapSource  autorouting and position tracking is available on your laptop computer.  However!  SP-III and G-V are optimized for AUTOMATIC ROUTING within the GPS itself.  If you want to generate your own routes and download to these units,  it is possible.  However,  you must turn off automatic reroute and then do not expect it to operate nearly as smoothly as the automatic routing feature does in these units.
    j) Can MG-4 and CN/CS do position tracking when connected to a GPS and run on a laptop computer in your car?
    Answer: Yes.
    k) Does MG-4 have all of the features of MG-I?
    Answer: Yes,  see i) above.
    l) Does MG-4 include Canadian maps?
    Answer: "Some" is the answer here.  My "very early"  copy of MG-4 has most major roads and highways in Canada and "a lot" of major streets in major cities.  However,  best to check Garmin's website map viewer to see what is available in the production maps.  There may be more or less Canadian roads in the released version.   I am told that in production versions,  the Canadian maps cannot be downloaded into the GPS.
    m) MG-4 has smaller "map chunks" than the older MetroGuide.  Older StreetPilot and SP Color Map models can have only 50 "map chunks" in any size memory chip.  This means that it will be impossible to fully load a 128 meg memory chip with R&R, MG-4 or ToPO maps.    Here is information on how many "memory chunks" each Garmin GPSR with removable memory chip can accept:  eMap 525, G-176-525, SP3-525, G295-540, eTrex3-525, G76-525, SP1-50, SP2(SPCM)-50
    n) How big are MG-4 "map chunks"?  The size is not fixed, but they generally range in size from less than 1 to about  2 megs each.  Many will fit in a G-III+ and similar,  but MG-4 is NOT designed for use with Garmin GPSRs having less than 8 megabytes of map memory so don't complain if some chunks do not fit in a G-III+ or similar.  Map chunk size is reduced about 25% if you leave out the autorouting information,  but I am not sure that all chunks will fit into a G-III+ even if the autorouting data is omitted.
    o) Can I fill up the 64 meg (or 128meg) memory in a SP-I or SPCM with MetroGuide-4 maps.  There can be a problem here.  The SP-I and SPCM will only accept a max of 50 "map chunks".  We are told by users that you can hit this 50 chunk limit in from 40 to 64 megs (depends on the road density in the map areas of interest).  Thus,  we would recommend that SP-I and SPCM owners buy either 32 meg memory chips or at most 64 meg chips.  128 meg chips in the SPI and SPCM simply cannot be filled.  This problem does NOT apply to any other Garmin GPS which uses plug in memory (AFAIK).
    p) What AREA around "somewhere" can I get into a Model "xyz" GPS using MG-4 (or some other map system)?  This question cannot be answered with any accuracy.  You can get all of Montana in a G-V,  but not all of the Los Angeles area.  This is because the amount of map memory taken for a particular area depends on: a) road density,  and b) POI density (Montana has fewer McDonalds than Los Angeles per square mile.) among other parameters.  Please take a look at YOUR AREA using Garmin's Map Viewer system HERE.     The little yellow boxes you see on the maps are typically (for MG-II) in the range of 1 to 2 megabytes each.  So you can "make a guess" as to how large an area you can get into a particular GPS receiver.  This "chunk size" varies from one map product to another and from one geographical area to another so it is really NOT POSSIBLE for anyone to give you an accurate answer without actually selecting the desired map sections using MapSource.
    q) There are errors in my MetroGuide (or any other MapSource map).  What can I do to edit in my own corrections.  Answer:  There is no way to edit Garmin (or Magellan) maps.  Some efforts by 3rd parties is being made in this area,  but I have not seen any remarkable results so far.
    r) If I manually generate a route using MetroGuid-4 and download this route to my SP-III (or G-V) will it annunciate the route just as if the route had been generated within the GPS?  Answer: Yes,  if the route sticks to roads and you turn off automatic re-route.  EXPECT to see  a few anomalies,  but generally this works but it is not the "normal" mode for the autorouting GPS receivers and we do not recommend you do this on a normal basis.
    s) I load MetroGuide USA-4 for some areas and CityNavigator in some areas.  In other areas,  I let the routing occur on the base map.  I sometimes get strange routes generated.  Why is that?   Answer,  The maps have variable accuracy and variable routing information.  Here is Garmin's answer to the question:  "Yes, you're right.  We know there is a  map quality difference between City Navigator and MetroGuide.   The routing solution can <sometimes - be quite strange if you have multiple map sources  (such as CityNavigator,  and MetroGuide) loaded and they overlap and you cross over the boundary".

Joe's comment and recommendations for map loading in G-V and SP-III:  If  you use three different sources -- the basemap, City Navigator and MetroGuide, and they overlap at all - or in some cases - are adjacent to one another -- the SP3 will probably not provide the optimum route every time.  Therefore,  Joe (and Garmin)  recommends using one or the other if an occasional strange route is too much to bear..  (In ANY event,  do not expect the automatic router to choose the same optimium route YOU would.  It is just a machine and cannot know nearly as much about local traffic and road conditions.)  Use either all MetroGuide or all City Navigator or all base map.  We advise that  (when you can) you  load ALL the maps for the area of your route.  If the unit has to jump to the basemap for routing, the system can generate strange routing at places where different maps intersect.  This situation will improve as map technology moves forward.  While this "strange routing" situation is certainly noticeable when it occurs,  use common sense and just keep driving and the router will straighten itself out.
    t)  What are the capabilities and limitations of MetroGuide Europe?  Answer:  MetroGuide Europe will NOT provide autorouting functionality WITHIN the GPS-V or the SP-III.  It WILL provide automatic routing ON THE PC which routes can be downloaded into any Garmin GPS.  MetroGuide Europe is designed to be used with NON-Autorouting GPS receivers.
    u) Why did Garmin not provide autorouting in MetroGuide Europe?  Because in Europe and the UK,  the CityNavigator and CitySelect maps provide high detailed maps of all covered areas and there is no need for any other auxiliary map system to provide autorouting for Garmin's autorouting GPS receivers.    Note:  In the USA,  the situation is different.  CN and CS do NOT provide universal high road detail coverage of the entire USA so MetroGuide USA (version 2) was provided as a stop-gap measure so that full coverage of the entire USA is available.
    v) Where can I get MORE information about MetroGuide Europe?  Answer:  Gilles Kohl tells more HERE.
    w) I want to buy a USA SP-III and use it in Europe (or Australia when CN-Oz is available).  Will my USA unit route properly?  Answer: Yes,  it will work just fine IF you load CityNavigator maps for Europe (or Oz) into the unit.  Since there is no basemap outside of the USA,  you must load maps for the ENTIRE road trip so that routing can work properly.  If you just load partial maps,  routing will not function if you try and route through areas where there is no map coverage.
    x) CAUTION to buyers of USED GPS-V and StreetPilot III equipment.   Garmin tells me that while they WILL exchange new copies of CN/CS for defective disks,  they WILL NOT replace the original CityNavigator or CitySelect disks if they are lost.  You will not be able to buy a copy at any price from Garmin so you should guard your CN/CS disks closely and make backup copies!  Also,  if you buy a G-V or SP-III second hand (say on eBay or from a friend) and you fail to get the disks to go with it,  you are out of luck as the disks will NOT be replaced and you cannot buy a new copy from Garmin USA at any price.  (Strangely, you are able to buy a copy of CS or CN USA from Garmin UK.)   This policy seems overly restrictive and it seems to me that there should be SOME way for a person to get replacement disks,  but apparently this is not the case at this time.

The following is Garmin's description of the differences between MetroGuide-4 and CityNavigator.

MapSource™ City Navigator versus MapSource MetroGuide™ USA

Which one should you use?
Depending on where you will be traveling, you may find one CD provides better coverage AND better automatic routing capability than the other. If in doubt, run the MapSource program and check the coverage on your PC for both versions. Or, load both versions into your compatible GARMIN GPS and check each to see which provides the best information for your area of interest.

City Navigator Coverage
The StreetPilot III GPS was designed specifically for the MapSource City Navigator data and will generally perform best when used with this CD. Within most major metropolitan areas in the continental United States and Canada, the City Navigator CD provides superior road detail and routing performance. When outside these metropolitan areas, significantly less road detail is included, but it is typically sufficient to navigate from city to city along major roads. The StreetPilot III package includes access to one unlockable region of City Navigator coverage. Additional regions may be purchased at extra cost. Information on specific metropolitan coverage areas and unlockable regions are listed on the Garmin  web site HERE.

MetroGuide USA Coverage
The MapSource MetroGuide USA CD provides road details and basic routing information throughout the United States, and is not limited to any specific metropolitan areas or unlock region. While generally not as precise or feature- rich as our premium City Navigator product, the MetroGuide USA CD can be used alone, or to augment the coverage provided by the City Navigator product. When traveling outside the metropolitan areas covered by City Navigator, you may wish to use the MetroGuide USA CD to provide more complete roadway and routing coverage.

Loading both City Navigator and MetroGuide USA Data for the Same Area

When data from both CDs is loaded for the same area, City Navigator data takes precedence. You can override this priority scheme by telling the StreetPilot III which map information to use.

To select between two MapSource maps for the same area:
1. Load map information from both CDs, as described under “Creating and Using Map Sets” in the MapSource User's Manual.
2. With the StreetPilot III unit turned on, press MENU twice to display the Main Menu.
3. Use the ROCKER KEYPAD to select ‘MapSource Info’ and press ENTER.
4a. A list of the maps loaded in the StreetPilot III unit will appear. The check boxes to the left of each map name indicate if the map information is enabled or disabled. The map information is enabled when a check mark appears in the box. To cycle between enabled/ disabled, use the ROCKER KEYPAD to select the desired map name, then press ENTER.
4b. With the list of maps displayed, press MENU. Use the ROCKER KEYPAD to select ‘Enable Only MetroGuide’ or ‘Enable Only City Navigator’ and press ENTER.

Any unanswered questions?  Comments?

Email Joe Mehaffey