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June 29, 2005 in GPS technology and devices
While visiting my parents this weekend, I got a chance to really field test my Dad's new Ifinder GO, and I'm quite impressed by this thing! I've used a Sportrak Pro or Yellow Etrex, and I have to say these units are quite good. A few things stand out:
First off, we bought the Ifinder for our technology-impaired dad this past father's day, and I've been able to walk him through advanced mode over the phone by installing the GPS simulator on my PC (every company should do this!). He's really taken to it quite well, considering he still can't program the VCR Easy mode is truly easy, and unless you're just using it as a gadget you'll change to advanced mode in about 48 hours. Easy mode can only save 2 waypoints ("home" and "man overboard"), and doesn't give you the position screen. You can still see any waypoints you might have saved in advanced mode as well as highway and exit information, but Easy mode is more to get you used to using the buttons that navigating or caching.
The unit is a nice size, just slightly thicker than the Sportrak and longer/wider than the Yellow. Bright yellow cover but black rear panel, so if you drop it face down it's gonna be hard to find in the dark. The only problem with the small size is that the screen is smaller, too, but has GREAT resolution. It can be a bit hard to read, combining the small size with the resolution, but if a 50+ year old guy wearing glasses can read it in direct sunlight, then everyone should be able to. The backlight is great, too, and has a bright and not-as-bright setting. For what it's worth, the unit is waterproof, but I don't know if I'd trust it enough to test it out kayaking.
Reception: GREAT! No problems on startup, as fast or faster than the Sportrak, and held the lock under tree cover better than the Yellow etrex. I'd have to say that the patch antenna finds and holds equal to any QHA I've seen. I also didn't notice a problem when the unit wasn't completely horizontal, something the Yellow is very particular about. We walked right to several trial caches and a benchmark without any issues, the coordinates were right on and EPE was <=25' (on a clear day).
I should note that the menus can be a bit confusing; there were times that I scrolled through the menus for 10 minutes for what would have been a 5 second change on my Sportrak, but part of that might be familiarity with the unit. I also noticed that the map scrolled a little slowly compared to the Magellan, and I had to zoom out to really get around on the map. The small arrow pad proved somewhat difficult to get keystrokes right if you've got big hands or not so nimble thumbs. For me, all that time behind the Nintendo finally paid off!
I'm gonna start recommending it for folks just getting into the sport, despite the manual entry of waypoints (no ability to upload waypoints from your PC). The rest of the features on this baby make up for it's shortcomings.
Also try Dosido's review. Hope that helps!
Nice handy & powerful gadget for a mere $68 eh?
Reception: GREAT! No problems on startup, as fast or faster than the Sportrak, and held the lock under tree cover better than the Yellow etrex. I'd have to say that the patch antenna finds and holds equal to any QHA I've seen. I also didn't notice a problem when the unit wasn't completely horizontal, something the Yellow is very particular about. We walked right to several trial caches and a benchmark without any issues, the coordinates were right on and EPE was <=25' (on a clear day)
Yup I'd rate the GO's patch antenna to be as good as any internal antenna on ANY consumer GPS currently on the market, patch or quad. And to top it off the unit will run for nearly 2 continuous DAYS on a single pair of batteries
Reception is excellent and they're a good deal for the money.
As far as negatives, fonts are small, making the display difficult to read and the lack of PC connectivity is a big issue for semi serious geocachers. Also the base maps are not very detailed and because you can't load detailed maps, little more than a gimmick.
Here's my review (if you're a subscriber).
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