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What GPS Choice?

 
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Caboman
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Joined: Dec 12, 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:09 pm    Post subject: What GPS Choice? Reply with quote

I am interested in purchasing a new handheld GPS. This will be used for plotting an exact position throughout the UK and overseas.

Track back would be useful and a strong signal strengh is important.

The Garmin 60CX is on my list, but I understand the design of this device is 3 or 4 years old, has technology moved on and would a newer design be a better choice? Is the 60CX reliable and able to withstand a hard life in a rucksack?

Are downloaded maps available, preferably free?

Are there any other recommended manufacturers or devices?

So many questions! Hope someone can help.

Many thanks
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mikealder
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Joined: Jan 14, 2005
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Location: Blackpool , Lancs

PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whilst I appreciate the attraction of the Garmin brandname and the 60CX is a decent device have you taken a look at the SatMap active10?

For walking its an excellent unit with better mapping and its quite at home in a rucksack - Overseas maps are also available, but check where you need coverage for prior to purchase of any device, if the map isn't available or is poor in quality its a waste of time - Mike
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AllyCat
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Joined: Feb 23, 2005
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Location: Catford, London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I agree with Mike who has considerable experience with many devices, so I'll just expand on a few items.

It depends what you mean by "plotting an exact postion" but ANY handheld GPS will give a Grid Reference to within a few metres (to use with a paper map) and record a track which can be followed back (and transferred to a PC, etc.). If you've no experience with GPSs you should at least consider a Garmin Etrex H which has incredible sensitivity and can cost less than £80 (eg. from Amazon).

The 60CSX does at least have the "new generation" of receiver sensitivity, but the shape can be inconvenient and it uses "Vector Maps" which are in no way comparable to OS maps in the UK.

Mapping is ALMOST NEVER free (except by piracy) in fact the cost can be comparable with the GPS hardware. The only significant exception is the SMC contour maps for the GPS60CSX and similar Garmins.

If you want Ordnance Survey mapping on the GPS then you should consider to what extent you will use it in association with a PC. These maps are called "raster scan" with a quality identical to paper maps (but obviously limited by screen size) however, IMHO screen visibility in bright daylight of ALL these devices can sometimes be a problem.

The Satmap is probably the "best" device for walking in the UK, but it's not cheap, particularly if you want a wide range of mapping. If you don't have mapping for the area, an Etrex H is probably much more useful !

The current "hot" product is perhaps the Memory Map Adventurer 2800. It's an interesting device but very new, so look at the MM forum where a number of users are having problems (not helped by there being no proper manual in the box). In the past an advantage of MM has been as an integrated PC and handheld (Windows PPC) package with a very wide range of maps and also the ability to scan and calibrate your own maps (European Edition). However, their new licensing scheme is making this much less convenient and some features have actually been removed.

My advice is to "learn" about GPSs with a cheap Etrex and/or to read the relevant forums on this and the manufacturers' websites.

Cheers, Alan.
_________________
Garmin GPS72H/76/60/45, Etrex H, Mapsource v6.5.
Acer N50,HP114,Loox N560,Dell x50,CF/SD cards to 4/32GB.
RoyalTek,Holux236,Navman B10 & Copilot(Globalsat) BT GPS,TomTom5/6.
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gatorguy6996
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Joined: Feb 16, 2008
Posts: 695
Location: Florida, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to be contrary, but I have a different take. Maps can indeed be free if you stick with Garmin. There's literally thousands of 3rd party Garmin-compatible maps available and no piracy is involved. A quick visit to sites such as cgpsmapper.com or gpsfiledepot.com will show you what I mean. And that's just two of several sites offering free maps. The 24K topographic map of Florida that I downloaded from GPSFileDEpot is downright excellent. It included bathyspheric data for off-shore, poi's, roads, extended descriptions of many landmarks including history, elevation data, even average temps of hot springs. FREE. A recent Garmin application update has even added the ability to easily import and use raster maps(ie, paper maps, attractions maps, etc) in your Dakota (or Oregon for that matter). I'm actually working on adding an early 1900's Central Florida railroad map that I can overlay on my 24K topo for searching out old railway junctions and stations. With any luck I might dig up a little Florida history.


Device-wise, I recently purchased a Garmin Dakota 10 and overall could not be more pleased. This little navigator has been a pleasant surprise. Dead simple to use, the menus made sense right out of the box, screen sensitively is excellent, even text-entry on the touch-screen is surprisingly easy and accurate. Here's the best part, and something I didn't know about in advance. Garmin's "Profiles" is a powerful menu feature. Out of the box, the menus are customized/organized for specific uses like Geocaching, Recreational, Marine and Automotive. I modified my Automotive to use Garmin's City Navigator (2009) map, Florida section only, with my 24K topographic maps disabled. I moved "Active Route" and "Route Planner" to the first page and customized the data I wanted displayed on my trip computer and compass pages, then saved it. Now when I tap Change Profile, then Automotive, all my settings are ready to go. I customized Geocaching in the same manner, disabling road maps and enabling topo's, even disabling "ground cover" display so the map screen is even easier to see.

My only complaint, and it's not even a serious issue, is screen readability. It seems all the newer high-resolution handheld screens suffer screen legibilty issues compared to the older devices like the tried-and-true 60CSx. So far I haven't seen a solution. The Dakota is certainly more readable than the Oregon, even tho the backlight is not as strong. I haven't yet found a lighting condition that rendered the screen unreadable, unlike the Oregon I looked at side by side with it. Even the Oregon only needed to be turned a bit to see in light shade, a problematic light. When used in a fixed position, tie-wrapped to my bike, I never found the Dakota completely unreadable. But as mentioned by others in some reviews, there's room for improvement. For now it's just a necessary trade-off for the better graphics and detail and easier use on these new off-road devices.

My concern on the lack of additional SD storage for maps was unwarranted. Loading the 24K map for the entire State of Florida, routable City Navigator road maps for all of Florida, 100K topos for Georgia and Alabama and a hundred or so geocache locations with details (gpx files) took less than 300MB of the available 850MB+ of on board storage. The Dakota 10 also lacks the tri-axial compass and barometric altimeter of the Dakota 20 (and Oregons), but I can't see any situations where I would need those. The electronic compass on the Dakota 10 is fine for all my uses and I have no need for the altimeter anyway, especially in Florida.

So all in all, I really have only a single complaint. Screen brightness in certain specific lighting conditions could be improved. But in MOST sun and shade conditions it's not any problem whatsoever. My 14 year old son used it all day yesterday as both a highway navigator, calling out turns to me to an EarthCache, and a geocaching device once we got there with not a single complaint. Why is that important? He's never used a handheld before. I only pointed out the "Profiles" feature and a one-minute tutorial on getting to and reading the road map screen. The rest he figured out on his own. That's how simple it is to use. I'm really quite pleased with it in case you can't tell.

Some good videos here on using some of the features:
http://www8.garmin.com/learningcenter/training/dakota/index.html
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Jay1967
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Joined: Mar 01, 2006
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:27 pm    Post subject: Re: What GPS Choice? Reply with quote

Caboman wrote:
I am interested in purchasing a new handheld GPS. This will be used for plotting an exact position throughout the UK and overseas.

Track back would be useful and a strong signal strengh is important.

The Garmin 60CX is on my list, but I understand the design of this device is 3 or 4 years old, has technology moved on and would a newer design be a better choice? Is the 60CX reliable and able to withstand a hard life in a rucksack?

Are downloaded maps available, preferably free?

Are there any other recommended manufacturers or devices?

So many questions! Hope someone can help.

Many thanks


Hello,

I have owned both devices.. a SatMap (albeit in Jan 2008 when it was in its initial rollout stage, but later sent it back through its sheer underdevelopment); A Garmin 60CSx & I’ve recently purchased an Oregon 550T.

SatMap:

Pluses:
1. Good design, plus a 3.5” screen.
2. This unit has available to it 1:25k but are expensive if you want to cover a wide area.
3. A ‘fairly’ rugged design (not as good as Garmin though!)

Downside:
1. Battery life was only a few hours using Energisers Lithium type. There is available now a Lithium-Polymer type battery that i believe gives longer life.
2. Satellite acquisition was SLOW.. very slow. Compared to my Garmin 60CSx.. “60CSx acquire 6m accuracy from cold in approx 28 seconds sitting in my living room! – SatMap only got 5 Satellites after 9 minutes” This fact was taken from once typical test in Jan 2008.
3. Digi-Compass very unreliable.. I found it unusable.. not 3-Axis.
4. Maps were (and I believe they still are very expensive for 1:25k and you cannot use any other 3rd party mapping) the 1:50k are reasonable.
5. NOT IPX7 standard.. You cannot submerge this unit in water!
Please note this test was done in January 2008.. I believe SatMap have vastly improved this unit, however, with mapping a battery kit you will have to shell out well over £500! International mapping is limited.

Garmin 60CSx

Pluses:
1. Very rugged and feels more sturdy than the SatMap.
2. I get typically 22hours battery life on two AA 2700mAh NiMH Batteries. That means I never turn the unit off when Im using it!
3. Fully (Vectorised Mapping) of the UK Topo DVD is about £120.
4. Deadly Accurate! Sitting in my living room I ‘nearly-always’ get full sat acquisition and about 5meter accuracy... and acquisition is ALWAYS FAST. when Im out-and-about.. never a problem getting a signal, even under deep forest canopy.

5. IPX7 standard waterproofing. Unit can be submerged into water.
6. 60CSx can be bought cheaply now plus to Topo Map!

Downside:
1.DVD Topo UK - This is NOT OSGB, but is a hotchpotch of 1:50 & 1:25K m apping. Its not bad for walking! But.. doesn’t beat a raster map of say Ordnance Survey - However, Vector based and Raster based maps are a little bit of a double-edged sword only because Vector maps vary a lot in their quality and operation. Vector maps technically are far superior in that they optimise resolution in real time meaning the image is always sharp. Raster maps are fixed res so zooming in starts to look messy and detail can be difficult to see - (Not so much of a downside this one!!)

2. Screen is smaller than SatMap but still bright and very readable.

3. This unit is over 3 years old.. As far as im aware, Topo Mapping is not updated for it anymore.

4. You CAN use Raster custom maps (as ive recently found out!), but you have to create and GeoReference these yourself.

5. Digi-Compas not 3-Axis BUT much much much better than the SatMaps!

hope this helps.

Im soon (Jan 2010) to do a video review on YouTube with the Oregon (550t) & MemoryMap (all latest versions inc. OSGB mapping Southern UK).

http://www.youtube.com/user/Jay1967
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Visit my Walking Blog: http://jswalks.blogspot.com/
Visit my Tech Blog: http://jtech2010.blogspot.com/

TT GO920, Honda in-Car system, Garmin Oregon 550T + (OSGB 1:50k S.Eng), Garmin 60CSx, TT BT, QSTARZ QBT1000 Data Logger, MemoryMap v5 - Uk 1:50kOSG
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