Dec 13, 2009 at 9:08 am #1252541
I'm an experienced GPS user, and shopping for a new one. Anyone have any opinions on which way to go?
It seems like Garmin remains the main game in town, I'm OK with that.
Essentially there are three options:
Legend/Vista HCx: best battery life, most readable screen, cheapest, but a small screen with a clunky interface. It's kind of old technology.
Dakota 20: A small, lightweight touch screen. Screen is harder to read in full sun. Reviews of it are mixed but decent. Has a shorter battery life.
Oregon 300: Large, hi-technology option. Poorer battery life but it makes use of the latest in whiz-bang tech. Best for reading maps, etc It's expensive.
What do ya'll recommend?Dec 13, 2009 at 9:15 am #1553249
John S.BPL Member
Garmin foretrex 301 for me.Dec 13, 2009 at 9:25 am #1553251
I'm looking for a mapping GPS. The foretex is nice and simple though.Dec 13, 2009 at 9:28 am #1553252
David W.BPL Member
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
I have an Oregon 200 that I am enjoying. The one negative for me was the maps it came with, which need to replaced/supplemented. After adding a memory card I was able to load North America Topo maps and road maps both of which work great. This model has also been criticized for the screen brightness but I have generally found it not to be an issue. I can read the screen in the sun even with sun glasses on. The battery life is good and its ability to acquire a signal is great. The touch screen controls are excellent.
Here is a review I found helpful:Dec 13, 2009 at 9:53 am #1553264
What source do you use for adding maps?Dec 13, 2009 at 10:29 am #1553267
David W.BPL Member
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
I installed Garmin's Topo 2008 for trails and City Navigator 2009 for roads.
I bookmarked this site: http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/ which someone else on this forum posted as a place to get future maps. However, I have not had a reason to grab maps from this site yet and can't comment on its maps.Dec 13, 2009 at 5:39 pm #1553408
Joe KusterBPL Member
If your adding maps, might as well get the 400T. Simply put, I've changed my expectations for pathfinding after owning it for a year. I now expect to be able to navigate in the worst conditions possible and not only stay on my planned route, but when things get dicey due to conditions, switch routes by using the information on the device. It's simply amazing and the firmware updates have addressed pretty much all of the initial complaints. Battery life is good, but not as good as some B&W models. My 400t with locked screen and only using enough backlight for my needs tends to last as long as my Gecko 301 did.
I went with the 400, but the others can work as you can download 3rd party maps, some of them are quite good and almost all are free. It takes a bit more technical prowest and patience to get it done however.Dec 13, 2009 at 9:51 pm #1553499
Joe, thanks. I'm seriously considering the Oregon model. I think that I'd go with the 300, rather than the 400t. While the 400t has maps included, you cannot load those maps on your computer. If you buy the 300, and the map DVD, then you have the maps on your GPS and computer for the same price.Dec 13, 2009 at 11:11 pm #1553514
Mike WBPL Member
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
…Dec 14, 2009 at 12:16 am #1553525
Right now I'm looking at the delorme PN-40. I like the features + the data plan but they don't have mac support.
Also baffled that Oregon 400 can't load maps but the Oregon 300 can?
Every time I research this decision I end up retreating to a compass, mechanical altimeter and a map. It's always un-appealing interfaces, lack of mac support or bad data plans that send me away. Perhaps I'm misinformed. I would really like to hear people's positive experiences.Dec 14, 2009 at 4:48 am #1553539
"Right now I'm looking at the delorme PN-40. I like the features + the data plan but they don't have mac support."
Yes, but you can set your Mac up for dual boot.
For the record, running Windows under Parallels will *not* let you sync up your GPS – you need to have Windows on bare hardware, although Garmin's Topo program runs fine there, obviously.Dec 14, 2009 at 9:11 am #1553580
I posted this deal in another thread for those who are interested:Dec 14, 2009 at 9:32 am #1553583
"Also baffled that Oregon 400 can't load maps but the Oregon 300 can?"
No, that's not true. Both can load maps, and the 400 also comes preloaded with 100k maps of the entire US.
The advantage of the 300 is that it DOESN'T come preloaded with those maps. You have to buy them separately. But the map DVD costs $100 (which is the price difference between the 300 and 400, so it's a wash). Owning the DVD lets you install the maps on your computer as well as the GPS. That's an advantage over the preinstalled 400t.Dec 14, 2009 at 1:55 pm #1553659
That makes sense. Thank you.Dec 15, 2009 at 11:19 am #1553954
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I agree, get the Garmin Oregon THREE HUNDRED so you have the maps on your computer. I did the same thing when purchasing a Colorado 300. And buy the "camera ready" SD card W/ the gold contacts, and in a 4 MB size so you have plenty of room for the maps and any improved map version in the future.
To my mind Garmin's Oregon it the best mapping GPS currently on the market. Plus its battery life is somewhat better than my Colorado GPS. BUT, you'll need to go to Cabela's and buy the Bennett Marine DVD on how operate the Oregon's many capabilities as Garmin gives you only rudimentary instructions. That's what I had to do with my Colorado.Dec 15, 2009 at 7:48 pm #1554195
I have a Garmin Legend HCx and strongly recommend the memory card version if you purchase the Legend/Vista. With a 2GB card you can get both road and topo maps loaded for at least 1/4 of the US on one card. Overall I'm very happy with this unit – the high precision receiver tracks well and it is relatively easy to use with just a bit of toying around.
I personally recommend grabbing the free topo and trail maps from GPSFileDepot.com and routable street maps (openmaps) from here:
Once you load them the topo maps are often better than the ones from Garmin, and the road maps are good enough for most applications.
If I'm going to a particular site, I will often download key waypoints/landmarks directly to the unit from google maps to supplement the free maps. Then I'll add the area geocaches and head out.
DocDec 15, 2009 at 8:24 pm #1554212
@goldenmeanieLocale: Los Angeles
The Oregon 300 is on sale at LLBean for $299 at the present…Jan 2, 2010 at 11:33 am #1558802
Ben RBPL Member
@snowfiend131Locale: Western PA
I'm in the same boat, and considering the Oregon or Vista Hcx. What did you end up buying, and why?
BenJan 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm #1558826
At first I wanted something with the cool mapping abilities until I decided that if the unit failed and I didn't carry a backup map I would be out of luck.
In the end I opted for a Garmin Geko 301: cheap and light.
Someone sold it for dirt cheap on ebay because they wanted the cool map stuff. I think I payed $50 with an adapter that lets me run it off a cigarette lighter in the car and upload/download to my computer.
For backpacking/hunting I use it to get a compass setting for my next way-point then turn it off or read the UTM coordinates to find my place on a printed map.Jan 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm #1558866
I personally prefer units free of previously installed maps.
I like creating my own routes,drawing,color cordinating trails,yes…i like to play.
I use Mapsource and Topo USA.
I've always used Garmins as they seem to be "the main game in town".Jan 2, 2010 at 8:39 pm #1558961
I ended up buying the Vista HCx. Mostly because I prefer longer battery life and couldn't justify spending a lot of money on a GPS.Jan 3, 2010 at 5:22 am #1559009
I can recommend the Foretrex 401. I use my GPS to confirm position when the weather closes in.
Works well, includes a pretty good altimeter. Small and light.Jan 5, 2010 at 7:51 pm #1559945
David LewisBPL Member
@davidlewisLocale: Nova Scotia, Canada
The Dakota is another option. It's a new mini version of the Oregon. Smaller and lighter and about $100 cheaper. And the screen is slightly better in full sun. Also better battery life. And in playing with both an Oregon and a Dakota… it was clear that the Dakota has a faster microprocessors. Zooming and panning in map view is almost instantaneous.Jan 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm #1566143
Thomas ByrneBPL Member
"For the record, running Windows under Parallels will *not* let you sync up your GPS – you need to have Windows on bare hardware, although Garmin's Topo program runs fine there, obviously."
I have been able to use VMWare Fusion to run Windows XP within my MAC desktop and have been able to sync with my Garmin Rino and Magellan T500. Fusion lets you drag and drop files between OSs and you can even run the separate programs within MAC desktop so it looks like Windows isn't even running.
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