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Garmin Rino 520,530


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I think the idea of having a radio and GPS as one unit is neat, and I also like that you can see the position of another person on your screen, but I'd still steer clear of these because of the rechargable lithium-ion battery. I don't like the idea of having my gps run out of power in the middle of nowhere and not being able to toss a couple alkaline or rechargable AA batteries in it.

 

Most of the time I am using my gps, I am not using my FRS/GMRS radio. Both my GPS and radios take standard batteries and I like the peace of mind knowing I could get batteries at any gas station if it came down to it.

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I have the Rino 130, and a friend of mine has the 120. We love ours. But they love batteries. I would assume ( dare I? ) that the 500 series might as well if not more so. I was unaware that they ran only on rechargeables. Though they say its good for 16 Hrs of use. Id say thats optimistic and under unreal conditions.

But for functionality, they fit the bill. Radio range on the 500 series is improved over the 100 series, but I would think that that came with a cost to your battery.

Since Garmin did not put the SiRF chip set into this unit, I couldn't justify it myself. The color screen didnt mean that much to me.

I guess I didnt help much... sorry.

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my father and I are thinking of buying the rino 520 or 530 has anyone used these products and what do you think of them

 

I'd try the usegroups (I think it's rec.family.radios or something like that) and the Yahoo usegroup (Garmin Rino) to see their thoughts. From most of the things I read about their past Rinos they weren't too positive, especially on the radio aspect of the units. Their biggest complaints were that the units were useless without line of sight radio transmission.

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I've had the Rino 530 for about a year.

-Took it to Ecuador where there is alot of elevation change. The barametric altimiter is a great tool. It does a great job of tracking what sort of terrain you've been over

-I've taken it on several long backpacking trips, and it performs much like any other non-SIRF garmin reciever. Get it surrounded by steep hills or under a thick canopy and you'll loose reception. But I've found that in Indiana and Alabama, it only looses reception under the thickest of canopies.

-As for the batteries, they are indeed rechargables. Those who criticize these units for using a battpack instead of AAs need to remember that this thing packs a radio that can transmitt at 5 watts. Put two AAs into that and it will die very quickly. The battpack was a necessary evil. If you don't use the radio and only use it as a GPS, the battpack will stun you with how long it can last. I've used mine for up to 5 days (using it all day and turning it off at night) without recharging. If you use the radio, turn it down to 1 or 3 watts and you'll save some power.

-The built-in weather radio is very nice for backpacking.

-The thermometer is worthless. It is imbedded inside the unit, nestled amongs the electronics, so it's never accurate.

-Accuracy is OK, but I've never seen it better than 15m. Makes finding geocaches difficult.

 

Overall I'm happy with it. If you're not going to use the radio, go with something else. Personally, I can't wait until they come out with the next generation Rino. SIRF chipset anyone?

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The Rinos are only really useful if you are with other people who also have them. The position broadcasting is a great feature and can be helpful to hunters, skiers, snowmobilers, etc...

 

That said, I'm never crazy about hybrid electronics. There are usually compromises within each component and if one component breaks, you lose the other(s) while you get it fixed. I think you are probably better off getting a separate GPS and radio.

Edited by briansnat
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