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Memory Map OS Edition Version 5 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £25
inc VAT (for 25,000km2)

Hikers and ramblers have relied on printed Ordnance Survey (OS) maps since the 19th Century.

The popular Landranger (50,000:1 scale) and the more detailed Explorer (25,000:1 scale) maps are ideal for navigating the paths that criss-cross the British countryside. Printed maps have their limitations, however, and inevitably get wet, torn or lost. A better idea is to buy digital OS mapping data and mapping software, such as Mapyx Quo or Memory Map.

Both programs are really just shop fronts for OS maps. Once you’ve bought the mapping data you need, you can set about planning routes, usually via waypoints, and print the results with your own printer to produce a personalised map for every excursion. You can even print multiple copies in case your party gets separated, or transfer the waypoints to a GPS device for a paperless trip.

Using Mapyx Quo

This is only the second version of Mapyx Quo, but it has everything you need and is free. The application is a hefty 186MB, but it’s easy to download and install thanks to Mapyx’s clear website. Once installed, you get a large-scale overview map of the UK, along with a couple of sample OS maps.

Buying additional maps, or tiles, of the area you want to explore is straightforward. An icon on the main screen opens the tile shop, which offers a choice of Landranger or Explorer mapping data. A grid appears on the overview map and you simply click on the tiles you want. You then pay with PayPal and the appropriate files, which are around 20MB each, are downloaded to your PC. At 99p per 1,600km2 Landranger tile, it’s very cheap, although you may have to buy tiles that consist largely of water in order to complete a particular section of coastline.

Once you’ve bought your map tiles, zooming in on those areas replaces the overview map with the OS one. Switching between different maps at different zoom levels like this helps to improve performance. We found it annoying at first, as the application jumped out to the overview map far too soon for our liking. You can turn this off, but you can’t set the switchover point yourself. Dragging the map around is done with the right mouse button, although we found this rather jittery, even on our powerful test PC.

Creating routes on the map is easy. You can set waypoints one click at a time or draw a track freehand. You can even set the mouse pointer to prefer a certain colour, which makes plotting routes quicker and more accurate. The 3D map looks poor to begin with, and you’ll need to tweak the hill scale settings to get an informative view. Seeing the OS map’s contours in 3D helps you plan easier or more challenging routes. With just two clicks you can transpose your route to Google Earth and use its free satellite imagery to double-check trickier sections.

Once you’ve plotted your route you can either print it or transfer the waypoints to a GPS device. The software makes printing easy, as it automatically places pages to cover your entire route. You can drag these around as desired, which is handy as we prefer our map pages to overlap slightly. One downside is that you can’t mix portrait and landscape pages in the same print run. You also have the option to print a route card with total distances, waypoint coordinates, personal notes and an elevation graph.

Quo has impressive support for exporting your routes to GPS-capable devices. It exports route data in a wide variety of file formats. It even allows you to scan and import maps of your own, line them up with the coordinates within Quo and then plot routes using them as a guide, which is great if you’ve got old walks that you want to store or update.

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Price £25
Rating ****

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