It's rare to encounter free software as well designed and powerful as this informative application, but the folks at Google have done it again. When you first fire up Google Earth, you'll immediately notice that most of the interface's real estate is used to display a rendering of the globe, complete with topographical markings. You simply enter information for the location you'd like to visit--such as city name, country, or specific street address--and Google Earth will begin slowly zooming in on your destination. After a moment, you'll see a satellite image of the place you entered. Controls below the location window let you zoom in or out even further; move north, south, east, and west; and save specific locations on the map.
The program's Layers panes allows you to determine what sort of information appears on the map. For instance you can choose to display roads, hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, golf courses, bars, and even crime statistics. We also appreciate the tool that provides point-to-point driving directions. Google Earth's active user community has produced several nifty mods, including topographic and historical maps. The only potential downside to the program is that it can consume a fairly large amount of RAM when running in the background, so as the developer notes, folks with older machines might experience performance issues. But everyone else is bound to love Google Earth, either as an informational tool or an entertaining novelty.
Google Earth puts a planet's worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop. View exotic locales like Maui and Paris, as well as points of interest such as local restaurants, hospitals, and schools. Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps, and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips. With Google Earth you can fly from space to your neighborhood--just type in an address and zoom right in, search for schools, parks, restaurants, and hotels. Get driving directions, tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings, save and share your searches and favorites and even add your own annotations.
Release 4-BETA offers integrated Google Sketchup support for 3D modeling, expanded support for user generated geographical data, and a new UI.
Note: Google Earth is a broadband, 3D application that not all computers can run. Windows-based desktop PCs older than four years may not be able to run Google Earth and Windows-based notebook PCs older than two years may not be able to run it.