October 26, 2010

Upgrade for Garmin BaseCamp ver. 3.1.1


Garmin has an upgrade available for BaseCamp, their mapping software companion that allows users to plan trips, add waypoints, download Birdseye Imagery, and generally interact with handheld GPS units in its product line. The software can be powerful and help users get the most out of their GPS but has been criticized in the past for its slow performance, specifically related to Birdseye image downloading and work.

The upgrade is 3.1.1, and adds some nice features to the BaseCamp repertoire, but the main enhancement is the fact that BaseCamp continues to get faster. Garmin has been focused on this for the last several months, which is good, because early on BirdsEye was barely worth using it took so long to download and put onto your device. I am thoroughly addicted to having the imagery on my handheld, and value it not only for hiking but also when I use it for road biking too. Here's a list from Garmin on the upgrades:

  1. Added support for additional BirdsEye products. (This relates to additional country specific BirdsEye products for Europe)
  2. Added ability to select non-rectangular area for BirdsEye download.
  3. Added ability to search through all text in user data for specified string.
  4. Consolidated POI, address and new user data search.
  5. Enhanced display of find results on the map.
  6. Added support for custom waypoint symbols, including ability to send and receive symbols to non-mass storage devices like the GPSMap 60 series.
  7. Added support for address search on maps read from a device.
  8. Made a significant improvement in memory efficiency for BirdsEye images.
  9. Added ability to search for and download Garmin Connect activities. Use Find Garmin Connect Activities under the Find menu.
  10. Added ability to transfer tracks to Garmin Connect.
  11. Added support for a new plug-in architecture that allows users to add new import and export formats. A separate post on these forums will give more details.
  12. Added ability to import TCX files, using the plug-in architecture.
  13. Added ability to export TCX, CSV and tabbed text files, using the plug-in architecture.
  14. Fixed numerous issues reported from the field.

If you upgrade, you will need to allow the BirdsEye products to "update", which can take over 30 minutes. If you upgrade, you will not be able to use the software without doing so. I have a small handful of BirdsEye images, and my computer took 25 minutes running in the background.


Results of Installing BaseCamp ver 3.1.1?

Well, the speed of using the BaseCamp product was a lot faster than I have ever seen. Not as dramatic as some previous updates (moving the speed from glacial to acceptable), but the speed continues to improve and at this point (very good), with speed issues out of the way, I highly recommend it. The $29/yr subscription is well worth it. (I am running the BaseCamp for the Mac currently.)


Problems or issues? Others have reported losing their data in the upgrade, I did not; it was all there. BaseCamp does think that I don't have an active subscription to BirdsEye, but I do, and can still download the images. Doesn't seem to be a problem and may just be a bad flag.

One of the best new features is that you can now download non-rectangular selections of imagery. I previously had to patch together a series of squares to get a long diagonal tract of land, now you can draw a circle with the cursor, or just highlight a series of points in a polygon to indicate what you want downloaded. I drew a polygon around downtown Boston and out into the Back Bay as an example, with a smooth line along the Charles River to the north.

In a few seconds BaseCamp converts that to the underlying (square) images that get downloaded (see below). Much easier to create an efficient download that gives you what you need and leaves out what you don't. In a world where memory is abundant, the images and more importantly the space on your GPS are still limited, so having just what you want is a good thing. The results of drawing an odd shape around just downtown Boston are below.

How to Download the Basecamp Update If you already have BaseCamp, a quick update check will alert you that you have a new version ready. If not, here is the link for the Mac version of BaseCamp 3.1.1, or the PC version of BaseCamp 3.1.1.

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Posted by Scott Martin at October 26, 2010 11:28 AM

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