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Time to upgrade my unit, is the eXplorist 100 the way to go?

 
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gust0208
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Joined: 24 Mar 2003

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 4:42 pm    Post subject: Time to upgrade my unit, is the eXplorist 100 the way to go? Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I have been geocaching for quite a while and it seems like it is time for to upgrade from my first GPS unit, my trusty Magellan GPS315. It is still working and ferreting out caches, but I would like to move up to a WAAS-enabled unit. My uses are very basic with geocaching being its main use, and using AA batteries is nice since I have the new 15min rechargeables at my disposal. From reading here and other forums, it seems like the eXplorist 100 would be a good fit. WAAS-enabled, low price, decent number of waypoints. I am not too put off by no computer interface and I am used to manually typing in points from my GPS315.

I am open to any other suggestions and thanks for any help in advance,

Tom
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Kitch
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 18 May 2003

Posts: 1286

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like not much of an upgrade in models to me....
I wouldn't do it.
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fox55044
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Joined: 29 Oct 2004

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 6:19 pm    Post subject: GPSr deals Reply with quote

I am new and started out using an old Garmin 90 (that I use for aviation) as well as a Dell PDA with a Teletype GPS CF card and Navio S/W. The 90 is "OK" and the PDA is a bit risky (fragile) to take into the woods especially in the upcoming winter.

Since I know I will be doing this as yet another hobby, I ordered a MAGELLAN MERIDIAN GOLD for $159 after $40 rebate (http://stores.ebay.com/RedZuco) and also ordered a Explorist 100 for my Geo-partners for $72 from www.compuplus.com

I chose these after researching posts here and on Groundspeak. Very Happy
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

Posts: 5697

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 6:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Time to upgrade my unit, is the eXplorist 100 the way to Reply with quote

Tom wrote:
but I would like to move up to a WAAS-enabled unit.
Hi Tom -

I have a Garmin Geko 201 which is a WAAS unit. I must say that overall, I'm not overly impressed with WAAS. I'm sure it depends on the receiver that you have but I have found that I cannot receive the WAAS signal in any kind of canopy cover. Even when I have a good lock I don't notice that much more of an improvement over my position. The thing is also a battery hog (although I'm sure that changes depending on the unit as well). Basically I never turn WAAS on anymore (I can barely remember the last time I turned it on -- I can't say that I've ever found something BECAUSE I had it on).

Tom wrote:
I am not too put off by no computer interface and I am used to manually typing in points from my GPS315.
Have you ever tried a computer interface in the past? In my opinion, it is the way to go. I'm not sure I've heard of anyone that has used it that is willing to go back to manually entering coordinates other than the occasional cache.

- Matt
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gust0208
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Joined: 24 Mar 2003

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Time to upgrade my unit, is the eXplorist 100 the way to Reply with quote

Hi Pear Head,

Thanks for the reply and no, I have not yet tried a computer interface for a GPS unit. But it does seem as I may regret it later if I don't have the PC interface. I am looking at it differently now that I know that practically WAAS does not make a big difference.
Pear Head wrote:
Have you ever tried a computer interface in the past? In my opinion, it is the way to go. I'm not sure I've heard of anyone that has used it that is willing to go back to manually entering coordinates other than the occasional cache.


Are there any opinions on the usefulness of a color display versus greyscale?

Other units that seem in my range of features and price are the:
- Geko 201
- eTrex Legend
- eTrex Venture

If you can't tell yet, I am a little lost in where to go for my upgrade.

Thanks again for any help,
Tom
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Moe the Sleaze
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Joined: 10 Jan 2003

Posts: 1146

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Time to upgrade my unit, is the eXplorist 100 the way to Reply with quote

gust0208 wrote:
I am not too put off by no computer interface and I am used to manually typing in points from my GPS315.


The first time you find yourself spending a half hour or more searching the wrong location because you screwed up manually entering the coordinates may make you change your mind.
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sui generis
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Joined: 17 Apr 2004

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a legend before I upgraded to the 60C. I was very happy with it. It you check out the groundspeak forums, you can usually find people who are upgrading selling the legends and the vistas for decent prices.
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Pear Head
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Joined: 04 Apr 2004

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 10:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Time to upgrade my unit, is the eXplorist 100 the way to Reply with quote

Like I say, I am not impressed with WAAS.

I have a Geko 201 and am happy with it. It's small (is there a smaller unit out there?). I can hide it in the palm of my hand with ease. It has a PC interface, holds more waypoints than I use (I think it holds 500 although I'm not sure - I've never hit the limit).

I originally bought it when they first came out because it had WAAS and because it would hold 10k trackpoints. I use GPS in the winter for mapping snowmobile trails.

I've never owned a unit with a color display (in fact, I'm not sure I've seen one...maybe at the fall event) so I can't say much there. I can see my display fairly easily most of the time. I do have a harder time at dusk/dawn while driving. The size of the display is also a common complaint I think although it goes along with the size of the unit which I like.

As suggested earlier, the forums on geocaching.com may be a good place to look as there is a large number of users there that like to continually review products (or so it seems).
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rickrich
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Joined: 06 Jul 2003

Posts: 673

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have a Geko 201 and an Explorist 200 that Dyl1231 won in the Magellan contest, which are now our primary units for "field use" (i.e. parking lot to final). We only rarely loaded waypoints into the Geko 201 using the computer cable, so our usage of both units is similar. We typically "thumb" the coords into the GPSr as we are walking up the trail. We hit "mark waypoint", then modifiy the last 3 digits of the coords as needed. We leave WAAS off on both units. WAAS has proved to be pretty useless for us here in MN.

We've only used the Explorist for a couple of field runs so far, so maybe my impression wil change over time.

So far, the Geko 201 wins for ease of use. The button position is much better for one-handed thumbing on the Geko. The little joystick thingy on the Explorist is badly positioned and very hard to use one handed. Its also very easy to enter the wrong coords on the Explorist, or to accidentally press down on it before you are completely done.

The Explorist uses AA batteries, which can be a consideration if your headlamp or other gear uses AAA's. The Geko uses AAA batteries, which can be a consideration if your headlamp or other gear uses AA batteries. It is way more convenient to buy just one size of battery. Well, those days are over for us now, because we now have three headlamps that take AAA's, and one headlamp that take AA's. Rechargeables are a PITA and just another thing that makes you a slave to managing your equipment. Like the computer interface. Smile Just buy the cheap alkalines at Northern or other China, Inc. storefront.

Both units get you to the final equally well. The display on the Explorist is easier to read, but you pay for that with its larger size.

Neither unit will display the current and final coords on the display at the same time. This is my #1 pet peeve, because you need this when you get to the final and the compass becomes useless. People still looking at the compass when near the final seem to be doing some kind of insect mating dance. After 5 minutes of dancing they proclaim "Hey, I zeroed it out!". If you know where North is and know the numeric difference between where you are and where you want to be, then you can zero it out in 10 seconds. Thats why you always see me with a GPSr in one hand, and a piece of paper with the last 3 digits (decimal minutes) of the coords written on it in the other. Thats also one reason why I gave up on preloading the coordinates from the computer interface -- I have to write them down on a piece of paper anyway!

As far as computer interfaces go, if I were to buy a unit specifically because I wanted to use the computer interface, I would not buy any Garmin at all. I'm not sure if Magellan's are any better, since the Explorist doesn't have a computer interface. Garmin protocol does not have the ability to delete waypoints. Waypoint updating by the computer SHOULD be 1) Jack it into the serial port 2) Press power button 3) Run program. Or, if USB attached, just jack it into the USB port. Garmins for sure are not this streamlined. You have to manually delete the old waypoints before sending a new set, making waypoint updating yet another slavish task of cables, buttons, and clicks that I grew to hate.

YMMV, especially w.r.t. the computer interface. Some people enjoy dinking around with their equipment, over and over. I'd prefer to have the source code for the firmware so I could fix it so I never have to dink around.

IMHO, the one time that the value of the computer interface overweighs its drawbacks is at events. There, if you are lucky, will be somebody with a laptop that already has entered the waypoints for the temp caches. So you can download them, hit find nearest, and go.

-Rick
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Kitch
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 18 May 2003

Posts: 1286

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure almost everybody agrees ....

WAAS is overrated and just a battery HOG.

Nobody would EVER go back to a cheaper unit after you spent over $300 and got a nice unit (auto-routing, maps, etc.)



** but my view.....don't consider upgrading until you can Fork out the extra cash and get a TOP of the line GPS.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kitch wrote:
WAAS is overrated and just a battery HOG.

** but my view.....don't consider upgrading until you can Fork out the extra cash and get a TOP of the line GPS.

Well, I know that Arcticabn's GPS III w/o WAAS was routinely 30 feet+ off when we were caching. Maybe his coords were the right ones? Wink

I spent $75 on a used GPSMap76 that was in great shape. I can only imagine that once the next line of new GPS units come out the first gen color/autorouting ones will drop sharply and the used market will be flooded w/them.

I'm crossing my fingers.
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sui generis
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
don't consider upgrading until you can Fork out the extra cash and get a TOP of the line GPS.


As much as I hate to admit it, Kitch makes a good point. Wink go top of the line and you only upgrade once. Move to midline, and you may find yourself wanting to upgrade again. The Garmin 60C with color screen is far more efficient with battery life than my black and white legend was (by about 3 times it seems). It also has autorouting if you load the maps into it. Finally, the better antenna system DOES make a big difference. (this has nothing to do with WAAS). I find myself walking in circles a lot less, and hitting caches with greater accuracy.

As far as loading points from the computer, I like this feature because I can set the dotcom to send me a file of all caches I have not hit within an x mile radius of my house. I get this report a couple times a week. Every once in a while, I simply delete all of my waypoints and load in a new file. (this gets rid of the caches I have already found.) The process takes about 15 seconds. The nice thing about having all of the caches loaded in then, is that if I am running errands and have a few minutes, I can check to see if there are any caches nearby begging for a quick hit.
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eagleyes
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Joined: 03 Jun 2003

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 11:51 am    Post subject: Hi Pearhead Reply with quote

You saw our color GPS at the event at Veteran's Park this fall- the Etrex Vista C.
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Buzzygirl
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like I'm the holdout here. I'll give a thumbs-up to my eXplorist 100. I really like its performance and the price is very reasonable- I paid $95 for mine. I don't care that it doesn't have a computer interface, as I usually only load a few waypoints at a time and I really don't mind it. The accuracy listed in the manual is said to be 3 meters (roughly 10') and I've found this to be the case with mine, usually it's within more like 6-8 feet, in my experience.

I had a regular old yellow eTrex that was not so accurate. The readings often bounced around wildly if I even moved it only a few feet. That drove me nuts. I'm not sure why, but the eXplorist doesn't do that. Maybe I had a bad sample of the eTrex.

I could have gotten more of a GPSr if I had more to spend, but even then, I don't need advanced mapping capabilities or a color screen, which are surely both nice to have, but for me, not necessary and not worth the extra money I would have to pay. The eXplorist is a good basic GPSr that should serve you well, provided you don't need a computer interface. For many, that leaves it out as a possibility right there, but for me, a balance of price, accuracy and simplicity were more important factors in choice of GPSr than other bells and whistles.
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