Never Ask for Directions Again

Two hundred years ago, when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their famed expedition, maps labeled much of the western United States as terra incognita--unknown territory. For today's traveler, terra incognita can be the next state, the next town, even the next neighborhood. But unlike Lewis and Clark, we have a wealth of tools not only to help us get where we're going but to find services--fuel, shelter, and the all-important latte--along the way.

For this review, I looked at four free Web-based mapping tools and five portable GPS navigation devices costing $460 to $600, all of which provide descriptive and graphical guidance in real time. I also tried two PC software packages that offer comprehensive mapping and trip-planning features. These services and products may not always reflect the most recent road changes, but hey--your old paper maps will never update themselves.

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