Comparison of Offline 4WD Maps & GPS Navigation Apps & Software

ExplorOz has been a leading reference and supplier in the digital mapping market for the past 18 years. We've worked with thousands of travellers and we know all the history of the various mapping products and the pros cons of the various systems because not only do we develop mapping products we are travellers too so we know what features are important to travellers. Are you ready for a crash course in digital offline mapping? Read on. The prize at the end is you'll know exactly what to buy and you won't waste a cent. Plus if you're still unsure, just contact us via LiveChat, phone, or email. .
Created: June 2016
Revised: June 2018
Latest Feedback: June 2018

How to Choose What Maps to Buy

Things You Need to Know First

It is now 13 years since GPS and mobile phone technology really started to change the way we use maps in Australia. Paper maps and printed atlases are no longer the norm and digital devices such as smartphones and tablets have proven reliable with travellers and are now widely in use - even for remote area 4WD travellers. In fact, digital maps have many advantages over paper maps for the majority of users.

Digital mapping is quite simply, maps that you use on a digital device - a computer, tablet or smartphone. However, the complexities of digital mapping is three-fold because there are 3 parts to the system and lots of personal choice. The 3 parts are:- the device, the mapping engine (software), and the actual maps.

Many people don't realise how the choice of mapping software or device you buy can directly limit the use of available maps you can use. The novice can mistakenly assume that most factory car-fitted or aftermarket sat/nav devices, Android Auto or Apple Car Play systems will be compatible with anything they want to load into it - sorry, nope. Same with Garmin, Magellan GPS units and Navman navigators.

As surprising as it might seem, there are only 2 publishers that produce a whole of Australia offline 4WD detailed map specifically suited to travellers wanting to travel around Australia - namely, from ExplorOz, the map is called EOTopo (available in 200K or 144K scale), or from Hema the map is called Australia Topo (available in 250K or 150K scale). Note that the higher detail is in the smaller number. There are lots of other map publishers offering digital maps to consumers but these are touring maps and regional maps. There are no other recent whole of Australia maps at good detail for 4WD tracks such as as these and the advantages of a whole of Australia map are endless.

So let's look at these two map products in more detail:-

EOTopo Maps

Online Maps

For whole of Australia maps, nothing beats the free EOTopo 18K online map published here on the ExplorOz website (see EOTopo) - click the icon near the zoom controls to view fullscreen. This map is displayed in a tiled raster zoom system that is unique to the ExplorOz webserver and when zoomed into the maximum at Level 16 shows map data at a scale of 18K. You need to be on the ExplorOz website to view this page. Another way to view the online EOTopo 18K map is available from within the ExplorOz Traveller App. The app actually provides access to both ONLINE AND OFFLINE versions of EOTopo maps and offers active navigation, offline route planning, access to post/view traveller comments for Places & Trek Notes and much more. The offline map system also uses a unique tiled raster zoom system with more map data revealed as you zoom in.

Offline Maps

There are 2 different formats of EOTopo available for offline use and depending which device you have there is a different license to be purchased. Both offer the same 144K detail for the whole of Australia, however functionality is somewhat different.

For the ExplorOz Traveller App, you can purchase the offline 144K Premium EOTopo maps for just $49.99. After purchase of the license you will have access to download the files within the app. Whilst these files can be stored on SD card you cannot transfer the downloaded files to other programs or devices, however the one license enables you to download the maps through the Traveller app running on any other device you log into. See ExplorOz Traveller for more info.

For access to ECW, OZF and MMR map files, a different EOTopo license can be purchased allowing you to download the files to other programs such as OziExplorer, TrackRanger, Mud Map and even Hema Navigator, HN7 and HN6 (not HX-1). Plus it comes with the added bonus that this license will also allow your to download the EOTopo maps from within the ExplorOz Traveller app if you wish to run multiple programs, or decide to get the app at a later stage. This EOTopo license is non-expiring for the life of the product. The EOTopo raster map pack contains over 39 map files offering a range of scales and formats. TheEOTopo raster map license is only available from the ExplorOz Shop. After purchase, you'll be able to access the download links to select any of the map files you need. As this is a license, you can return to download the files again at any time. ADDED BONUS: purchase of this product qualifies you to also download the ExplorOz Traveller Premium Offline Maps for free when you purchase the ExplorOz Traveller app (saving $49.99). The full EOTopo Premium license is RRP$99.95.

Hema's Australia Topo Maps

Hema is a much larger company than ExplorOz and has a very big advertising budget so no doubt you've heard about them already, however it's worth noting that they originate as a paper map publisher and do not have in-house technical developers, like ExplorOz does so their digital production techniques different significantly to that used by ExplorOz and it pays to take a good look at what you're actually getting.

Their digital Australia map is released in 4 different forms;

1. for users with OziExplorer mapping software you can buy the Hema Australia 4WD Digital Map collection that includes the Australia 150K map at a cost of $149 (these are raster maps in OZF format). OziExplorer software is also required, cost from $25 for the Android version, up to $130 for the PC version. Note that OziExplorer allows import of EOTopo OZF files
2. for iPad/iPhone users there is the Hema 4WD Maps iOS App (a custom packaged version of the Memory-Map app) but does not include the 150K scale map, only the old 250K scale Australia topo map that is exactly the same data as the old NATMAP 250K circa 2008 data. App with Hema maps costs $99.99. Additional costs for purchase of other old State Government maps ($69-$99) per map and a fee of $29.99 to import 3rd party maps (not compatible with ECW, OZF formats). Note that with this app you cannot import any version of EOTopo maps at all.
3. for Hema Navigator HN7 & HN6 owners, the Hema Explorer 150K map can be purchased and downloaded for $50 using their online system. EOTopo Premium is also available for import into HN7 & HN6.
4. Hema also have the Hema Explorer App, this was their first app (for Android & iOS) before offering the custom-packaged Memory-Map app). This app cost $49.99 but does not appear to have had any updates since 2016., which was prior to the release of the 150K map so only includes the 250K Australia map. A monthly or annual subscription of $10/mth gives access the Hema cloud to view their more detailed maps.

Comparing Hema & EOTopo

As you'll note there is a significant difference between what is offered from Hema and ExplorOz. So what does it all mean? Basically, if you want to have the ability to install either EOTopo or Hema Topo then you will need either:

1) a Hema Navigator HN7 or HN6 - and you'll need to purchase the EOTopo Premium 144K raster download pack, selecting the OZF files to import,

OR

2) OziExplorer software which you can run on PC, Windows CE, or Android. This is mapping software only, so you would then need to purchase and install maps. You could buy the Hema Australia 4WD Digital Map collection (available from the OziExplorer website), plus the EOTopo Premium 144K download raster map pack (available from ExplorOz).

NOTE: none of the Hema apps will enable you to install EOTopo maps due to incompatibility with the file formats.

OR

3) Make a choice which map publisher you want to align yourself with and purchase the applicable app. ExplorOz Traveller is more widely available for all device platforms - Windows 10, Android, and iOS. And if you want to run the app across multiple platforms (eg. your Android phone plus your Apple iPad, you don't need to pay for multiple map licenses).

Our Recommended Solution


The ExplorOz app, ExplorOz Traveller, compares very favourably when you consider all the factors. The offline map is the very latest, fully updated map of Australia available (EOTopo) with the most detailed offline scale of any Australia map available at 144K, and is the only app from the list above that offers free access to the most detailed mapping - no subscription fee. It also contains the entire suite of 182 offline driving routes (Treks), and the largest POI database of over 85,000 Places of all Types (Free Camps, Camping Grounds, Caravan Parks, Station-Stays, Heritage Sites, Services, Utilities, Geography Features, Mines, Roadhouses, Dump Points, Stations, Mountains, Beaches, National Parks, Reserves, etc). The app has full navigation capability and if you have Membership, it will track your trip and send to a webpage for your family/friends to log into to view your journey whilst you're away. It is also fully interactive so app users are updating and adding new content, new Places, photos, traveller reviews, and each app user can build custom data that can be saved for future reference. Treks, Places, and Comments database are synced live with the ExplorOz website so that app users have continuous access to the updated data and free updates upon demand.

From a cost perspective, ExplorOz Traveller will be the cheapest solution of all the options - even when paying $59.99 for the app download, plus $49.99 for the Premium Offline Map Pack that is still only $110.

However, if you really want to stay with another mapping software program and just want to import EOTopo maps then you will need to buy EOTopo from our shop. RRP $99.95.

About ExplorOz Mapping & App Development


Here at ExplorOz, we focus on database technology and web/app infrastructure development for the collation, storage and management of our mapping data. We own/manage a very unique high-powered mapping server that contains all the data in complex databases. Management of the mapping data at this level is not possible without an in-house database expert and this is unparalleled by any other Australian mapping publisher. Furthermore, the extension of our mapping products into deliverable offline apps such as ExplorOz Traveller is all written in-house by the same software developer - David Martin, which ensures there is a constant link between the data, the server, the consumer, and customer-support which is all handled by the one company, here locally in Australia. When you buy EOTopo you are supporting a truly locally developed product.

EOTopo 2018 maps have been fully updated to bring the very best data possible within our technology. (For more about the EOTopo map data see EOTopo).

We may not spend as much on advertising as Hema does, but we invest in making the best map and GPS navigation products possible. When comparing map products the proof is in the customer satisfaction, not the marketing so make sure you do your research.

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Article Tags

Offline 4Wd Maps, Hema 4Wd Maps, Oziexplorer Maps, Mapping Software, Interactive Maps, Online Maps

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