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Which GPS unit should I buy?

 
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RJ
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 14 Mar 2003

Posts: 326
Location: St Louis Park

PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2003 8:28 pm    Post subject: Which GPS unit should I buy? Reply with quote

Mad Okay, so my Garmin Etrex Legend just broke Mad (the little cursor mousey thing on the front doesn't move when told to) so I am getting a full rebate from Best Buy cause I bought the replacement warranty. So, my question to everyone out there is which one should I buy with my in-store credit. Naturally, I feel like stepping up a notch and getting a more expensive one but I would like to get other opinions on which units have worked out best for them. My final selection will be limited to what Best Buy offers and I probably won't spend more than $350 bucks. I know of cachers who go out with $80 units and seem to have no problems at all. Thanks for any input. Smile
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rickrich
Geocacher


Joined: 06 Jul 2003

Posts: 673

PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2003 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure you have different requirements than we do, since we use a dedicated car GPS and laptop for maps and the cache descriptions, then go into the woods with a dumb handheld. We always ask my friend "robertlipe" (1754 finds, author of GpsBabel software) which unit to get, then ignore his advice Smile I'm pretty sure that Robert prefers Magellan over Garmin in general, and hates laptops. I'll forward your request to him and see if he has any advice that you can ignore as well.. In the meantime, here is his response to my quite specific recent requirements...
Quote:
> I left my PDA and Magellan GPS companion on the trail in a heavily
> used park. By the time I got back there this morning, it was gone.

Bummer. "Took golf ball. Left GPS".

> Disposable, compact, with lanyard would be the features I seek Smile.
> AAA batteries would be a plus.

Very few use AAAs, but if you want compact, don't care about the PC interface,
and you want AAA's, the low-end Geko 101 from Garmin might tickle your
fancy.

It embodies almost everything I personally hate in a GPS: no upgradeable
firmware, no PC interface, it uses AAA's instead of AA's, no maps, a screen
too tiny to be useful, and it's just plain funny-looking. So it's odd that
the things I hate about it the most are all things you consider requirements.
Smile

I can't recall if it comes with a lanyard or not. Street price on those is
around $100. This is probably the replacment for the aging Banana (the
yellow Etrex). The big brother (201? 301?) adds a PC interface and an
internal compass.

You can probably find a Banana for $80 on the street or on a local shelf.
You can at least add the cable to it to attach to your laptop.

We have locals in the club with both that swear by them. I think both use
"real" GPSes to navigate to the site and then just take to the woods with
these.

I don't know what your toy budget is, but the difference between a $100 unit
with no future and a $200 (admittedly a refurb) unit with compass and PC cable
and very reasonable maps that I can expand more with SD chips and topo
software (and soon turn-by-turn navigation) is a pretty easy choice:

http://www.shopharmony.com/product.asp?i=MAGMRD59803rb

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drat19
Geocacher


Joined: 21 Sep 2003

Posts: 377
Location: Biloxi, MS

PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2003 7:11 am    Post subject: More $, but worth it IMHO Reply with quote

I swear by my Garmin GPS V. Big value-add over the eTrex series (I also own an eTrex Vista as a backup unit) is turn-by-turn routing. You can download street-level detail (software included) of the area to which you're traveling, and then you're good to go with the directions. As y'all know, I travel all over the country for my job - there's NO WAY I could have bagged as many caches after work each evening the way I did the 2 weeks I was there in the Twin Cities without this feature to save me the time of working it out via maps and/or dead reckoning with the GPS arrow.

Another bonus is a feature it has called "average location", where when you choose this feature it will continually "ping" the sats and average the readings for you. The more pings, the better the average. When I place a cache, I usually will let it ping 200-300 times, and unless it's a weird sat day (happens from time to time), my coords for my hidden caches are pretty much always spot on.

I dunno if Best Buy offers this unit, though; you may have to go on-line to find the best deal (I recommend TVNAV.COM...best prices and great service).

FWIW...
-Dave R. in Biloxi, MS, the Twin Cities' favorite guest cacher Wink
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towlebooth
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 26 Nov 2002

Posts: 1270
Location: Saint Paul

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I upgraded from the eTrex Legend to the Garmain Map76s and love it. Lots of memory and a larger screen. Also a good car mount is availible (more handy than I thought) as well as some other bells and whistles that can be fun. I have also noticed that it is a bit more accurate and finds satalites a lot faster than the Legend did.

Irvingdog might speak to this thread as well. He's quite knowedgeable on this subject.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

towlebooth wrote:
I upgraded from the eTrex Legend to the Garmain Map76s and love it. Lots of memory and a larger screen. Also a good car mount is availible (more handy than I thought) as well as some other bells and whistles that can be fun. I have also noticed that it is a bit more accurate and finds satalites a lot faster than the Legend did.


I prefer my Garmin Vista -> Ipaq (cable that powers both units in the car as well). I use Pocket Streets (Streets and Trips 2004) on the ipaq and have full mapping (with pushpins of the cache locations via GPSBabel).

It's pretty nice when trying to find caches in the middle of no-where.

The cable wasn't cheap (about $63 with shipping) but has worked very well for me. I believe S&T runs about $39.99 before $10 mail-in-rebate.

Silent Bob
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CB-GPSERS
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 17 Dec 2002

Posts: 44
Location: White Bear Lake

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2003 10:28 pm    Post subject: You can't go wrong with the GPS V. Reply with quote

http://www.mngca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=179
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rickrich
Geocacher


Joined: 06 Jul 2003

Posts: 673

PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2003 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As promised, here is my friend Robert Lipe's opinion (just back from trashing the caches in St. Loius).

Quote:

> Okay, so my Garmin Etrex Legend just broke (the little cursor mousey
> thing on the front doesn't move when told to) so I am getting a full

The click sticks are a common source of problems on that family of
Garmins. Everyone I know with one has had it in for service at least
once. Sad

I walked by the GPS display in BB just the other day; they have units
that aren't on their web site.

What's important to him? turn-by-turns? Portability? screen size?
batter life? use in a car over use in the woods?

$350 will get you into the land of mapping units without a lot of
excuses. Take a look at

Magellan Sportrak Map Pro (23MB of maps in a compact factor)
Magellan Meridian Gold (SD memory cards)
Magellan Plat (Gold with integrated 3-axis compass, barometer)
All three of these will do TBT's via Mapsend Direct Route due
Any Day Now.
Garmin Vista (nice screen, 2 axis compass, but has click stick)
Garmin GPS 76S (compass, bigger screen)
Garmin GPS V (turn by turns, but kind of klunky, requires 4 AA's)

About half of these units will bump right into the $350 range at bestbuy
pricing. If you're a backpacker that values weight and battery life
over features you'd like in a car (battery life no object, big screen
and turn-by-turns a plus) or even a boat (external antenna) your choice
will differ.

I can't recall if BB carries the ST Map Color - it may not yet be
discounted down to that range yet since it's pretty new. It adds hi-res
color screen (1/8 VGA) and 3-axis compass (like Plat).

I've hunted with every other one of the above units other than the ST
Map Color. The 76 wasn't a total embarrassment, but the reception on
the other two Garmins was terrible. Three different V's would lose lock
with an external rooftop antenna on an interstate for tens of minutes at
a time. And heaven forbid you're actually in the woods with a tree on
the horizon. Yes, "point and shoot" and integrated calculator are nice,
but if it won't hold a lock, it's failed the primary objective.

This is why I don't buy Garmins...They can't ALL suck that hard or
people would be lost in thier own driveways. But several rounds of
repairs and replacements haven't made them right.

(The Garmins in question were owned by JoGPS and Southpaw, the number 4
and 5 geocachers on the planet...)
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RJ
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 14 Mar 2003

Posts: 326
Location: St Louis Park

PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2003 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got my BestBuy voucher for my broken Legend Very Happy back so I'm on my way today to get the Garmin V Deluxe. Thanks everyone for their input. Hopefully I'll like it as much as everyone else has that owns it. Oh yeah, anyone interested in buying/trading for a leather case for my old Etrex Legend? It's just sitting here. Thanks again
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RJ
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 14 Mar 2003

Posts: 326
Location: St Louis Park

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2003 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just an update on my Garmin V. I love it! The autorouting and the accuracy are so much better than the Legend. I have fond memories with the Legend though and would still be using it if not for the clik-stick breaking.

One thing though, I had to buy a new computer to be able to load the mapping software onto the Garmin V. My old dinosaur Pentium 1 didn't have enough memory. Oh well, we needed a new one anyway!
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hardware
Geocacher


Joined: 13 Jan 2003

Posts: 157

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

this thread was the most helpful in my quest for info. (i think this is the first time i've ever searched the tech talk forum.)

i have a chance to upgrade my no frills garmin Etrex. i have the generic yellow one. it works fine for my purposes, usually, although i'm told the coordinate reading it gave me for my most recent hide of 'moving 123' was 100 feet off.

the biggest benefit i can determine in purchasing a Magellan SporTrak Map GPSr is that it has the built-in maps.

i had no intention of upgrading, but i'm able to buy one, brand new, for $75. the going rate at your retail behemoths is about $200, and the going rate on ebay is about $150. (obviously it can vary quite a bit.)

so, given that i don't travel with a laptop computer, internet-accessible mobile phone, or any other frill, are there any other benefits i'll receive from spending $75 i don't need to? (i'm assuming the re-sale value of my yellow garmin banana is so low that it's not worth unloading.)

am i likely to experience an accuracy improvement in my readings?
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SirPoonga
Geocacher


Joined: 07 Feb 2003

Posts: 144
Location: Marshfield, WI :(

PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool you made a decision. I'd like a GPS V sometime, that autoroutin is really cool.

My broke GPS III+ sold for $51, bought a used eTrex Yellow for $44. I should get that tomorrow. I wish my GPS III+ was in better shape, I loved that. Maps are nice around the cities. But for geocaching here in cnetral WI the etrex should do.

BTW, if you want to make your own cables for your V it is really easy. www.pfranc.com. Luckily the GPS series can take a wide range of voltage through the external port, like 10-30V. You can make power and data cables easily. The V comes with data though right, because it comes witht he software.

I will be selling my external GPS antenna that I put a BNC connetor on (what the GPS series uses). Since my III+ started getting the antenna probs when I got it I haven;t had a chance to try it out Sad
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