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Best GPS on the market today


Mghattas10
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I have read about so many I think I am going to rely on the professionals. I am an amatuer and now addicted to GeaCaching. I have been borrowing gps devices from friends and need on of my own.

 

Facts:

 

I am an amatuer

 

I want a large color screen

 

Don't want to spend more than $300, make than $500.00

 

Want it to be fairly light

Edited by Mghattas10
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You can go with the Church of Garmin or the Church of Magellan. (GPSr users are extremely faithful to their brand) Both companies make very fine units, but Garmin has the best customer service. Magellan's customer service is horrible.

 

In the price range under $300 for the best value of the two companies:

 

Garmin Etrex Venture Cx for about $200

Magellan Explorist 500LE for about $200

 

Both will need accessories like extra batteries, memory, maps, brackets for your auto, motorcycle, etc. depending on your wants and needs. So, that will probably use up your $300 budget.

 

I like the way that the Explorist 500 navigates. It is also a bit more sensitive than the Venture Cx. But as I said, if you have a problem with the Explorist - you might as well forget about any (Magellan) knowlegable support. On the other hand Garmin (Venture Cx) tends to bend over backwards to help their customers.

 

This may end up confusing you more than help! :laughing: But, either unit will serve you fine - it may be more important which company you want to buy from if you have an issue. :ph34r:

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It's most likely true that the Venture or Explorist would serve the purpose fine, however, for $300 or less you can pick up a Lowrance H2O C Plus with a considerably larger color screen. The "Plus" means that it includes MapCreate -- Lowrance's mapping software including detailed roads, POIs, and topographical lines, but not steet driving directions. It is heavier, on average, but it isn't that much heavier and the extra weight kinda comes along with the larger screen.

 

If I were you, I'd let the recommendations pile up here for a day or two, then look up the specs for those and figure out what you want.

 

Oh, and I attend a Catholic Church.

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And Never forget, that once you buy it, there will be something better/faster/bigger/smaller/cheaper than the one you just purchased..... :)

 

Unless ofcourse you have a 60CSx (OK fine, you could get a smaller unit) lol

 

I'd suggest Garmin, I'm a garmin customer for life because of their incredible customer support. They sent me free mapsource software because my WAY old version didn't do what i wanted it it to. :)

 

You should get an etrex Cx line for a $300 price range.

 

Good luck!

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... however, for $300 or less you can pick up a Lowrance H2O C Plus with a considerably larger color screen.

 

SCS,

 

I was curious about this GPSr after reading your recommendation. Are there any reviews on this? How does it compare with the Garmin GPSMap 60CSx? Or the Explorist series? Have you used it under heavy tree cover? I noticed from the specs that it only zooms down to .02 mile (100 feet). But it does have a 16 channel receiver (as opposed to Garmin's 12 channel or Magellan's 14 channel)!

 

It looks like it is a nice unit. But reviews would help, especially if a side by side comparison with other popular models was done.

 

Thanks,

Tom

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O.K., here we go.

 

I had looked for comparisons, reviews, etc. for quite some time before purchasing my receiver, and continue to do so. Unfortunately, such comparisons are few and far between. I can offer a few links and a little insight based on mine and others’ experiences, but the bottom line is that there isn’t much in the way of solid, technical analysis and you have to rely a lot on opinions. That’s why I said in my original post that the OP should look at recommendations and then take that list and compare features, etc. to determine what he or she wants, and threw what I consider to be very worthy of consideration into the pot.

 

I’m only aware of one what I would call solid technical comparison with these receivers, and it is the one by robertlipe that was cited by geonerd. That’s an Explorist and one of the new Garmin GPSMap “x” series receivers that concluded, if I recall correctly, that there was minimal difference in their ability to hold a signal in an enclosed building.

 

The only halfway-decent review of the newer Lowrance that I’m aware of can be found here:

 

http://www.gpsinformation.org/Lowrance/Exp...Expedition.html

 

The review is of an Expedition C, which is essentially an H2O C with the addition of an electronic compass and altimeter as well as a few other goodies like the Scout mode to measure perimeters. (I just want to caveat this so I don’t step in it, but there are a few even better than halfway-decent reviews of other Lowrances such as Briansnat’s review of the H2O at Today’s Cacher, however, the H2O is not the latest receiver with the 16-channel receiver).

 

Also, I think there is an error in the above post in that I’m pretty sure that the Garmin GPSMap “x” receivers are 16 channel rather than 12, but I didn’t look that up just now.

 

Further, I can’t offer direct experience with an H2O C, however, I do (did – lost it) own an iFinder Explorer as well as an Explorist 100. The Explorer is a 12 channel receiver and I’m assuming not directly comparable to the 16 channel H2O C. Nonetheless, I offer the following based on my experience. The Lowrance always acquired a signal faster than the Explorist and always tracked 1-3 more satellites in any conditions. On one occasion, the two receivers reported a difference of about 250 feet in positioning and continued this disagreement. This wouldn’t normally bother me, but we were looking for a stage of a cache at the time and it was a tad inconvenient. If you really have a lot of time to waste, you can see where I posted about it here:

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/log.aspx?LU...0f-64f8b2df4e67

 

On another occasion, before we had the Lowrance, the Explorist performed similarly. I was a bit disgruntled because we unnecessarily climbed to the top of a large hill to where it zeroed in on a cache location. Upon reaching the top of the hill we came upon an open-sky power line and the Explorist snapped to the correct location. In both instances, we parked the car, then started the Explorist, and then headed into tree cover immediately after it reported a fix. I think it must have still been settling down, but it maintained an inaccurate position until we left the canopy.

 

Although I was a bit perturbed with these two instances, I want it to be perfectly clear that I would not specifically recommend against an Explorist and will point out that my Explorist has been used on many other occasions – some geocaching and some not – and it has worked quite well. I transferred many of my personal waypoints from the Explorist to the Lowrance when I got it and they were all reasonably close.

 

The Lowrance performs well in tree cover, although similar to the older Garmins, it very much prefers to be held flat to report a position. Sometimes, I’d carry the receiver upright in a pocket and it would report a loss of position when I pulled it out and looked at it. It did, however, re-find itself in the correct place after a second or two.

 

It has been alleged, but not confirmed by anyone, that the H2O C and the other receivers in the Lowrance color screen stable have SirfIII receivers, similar to the GPSMap “x” series.

 

I did find some discussion on the Yahoo! Lowrance Group where one user posted his experience using both an H2O C and a 60 Cx. He offered that the 60 Cx acquired a fix faster, but that both units showed the same number of satellites and offered similar results in accuracy. In addition, he pointed out that the battery life of the 60Cx was considerably better, and the screen of the H2O shows better resolution although the 60Cx was easier to read in direct sunlight, and the buttons on the H2O C were bigger and easier to operate particularly with gloves. I’m pretty sure you have to be a member of the group, but the post is here:

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ifinder_gps/message/3184

 

Finally, I’ll throw in a word (well, okay an entire anlysis) about cost. A few days ago, I was curious, so I looked up some prices on Tiger GPS to compare the possibilities of purchasing a 60Cx with all of its associated software versus buying an H2O C Plus in addition to a stand-alone voice-guided vehicle receiver.

 

Here’s what I came up with:

 

Garmin 60 Cx-------------------------376.81

Garmin NA City Navigatior 8---------124.99

Garmin MapSource Topo-------------- 89.99

Total------------------------------------591.79

 

Lowrance iFinder H2O C Plus--------299.32

Garmin StreetPilot i5 w/ maps------299.99

Total-----------------------------------599.31

 

A guy in our office got a color Garmin car receiver for less than $150 at a recent Radio Shack sale, but I kept all of the comparisons from the same retailer for consistency.

 

So, if you’re still reading, you are even crazier than I am. The OP’s limited description of wants – especially when it was a $300 price point – seemed to fit the H2O C Plus perfectly because you could get a highly-capable receiver and its associated software for that money.

 

As for me, I will be ordering a new H2O C soon to replace my lost friend.

Edited by Steel City Seekers
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I don't place much significance on the 12 channel versus 16 channel factor. If your 12 channel gps is in a situation where it can only pick up 10 channels, then the 16 channel gps will probably only pick up 10 as well. Plus if there are enough sattelites available to pick up 12 at one time, i doubt that being able to pick up 13 or 14 would give you any measurable increase in accuracy. The accuracy you will get from receiving signals from 12 sats (even perhaps 7 or 8) is probably going to give you as much accuracy as is possible with a consumer gps. From what I understand, the 16 channel receivers have the capability to pick up more than 12 sats at one time if they are available. I've rarely seen my gps lock on 12 sats, even if they are available. Just my thoughts, so if anyone knows differently, chime in and let us know.

Edited by GreatCanadian
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I don't place much significance on the 12 channel versus 16 channel factor. If your 12 channel gps is in a situation where it can only pick up 10 channels, then the 16 channel gps will probably only pick up 10 as well. Plus if there are enough sattelites available to pick up 12 at one time, i doubt that being able to pick up 13 or 14 would give you any measurable increase in accuracy. The accuracy you will get from receiving signals from 12 sats (even perhaps 7 or 8) is probably going to give you as much accuracy as is possible with a consumer gps. From what I understand, the 16 channel receivers have the capability to pick up more than 12 sats at one time if they are available. I've rarely seen my gps lock on 12 sats, even if they are available. Just my thoughts, so if anyone knows differently, chime in and let us know.

 

Very good point. I agree that picking up 13 or 14 would probably not provide any measurable increase in accuracy, however, I disagree that the 16 channel will necessarily track the same number of satellites even if fewer than 12 are availalble. I think the difference is that the 16 channel receivers are an indication* of a newer, and perhaps SirfIII-equipped, receiver with greater sensitivity. These newer receivers, to the extent that they have a SirfIII or similar, will typically acquire perhaps 7 or 8 satellites where the older receivers might acquire fewer and maybe not enough to report a lock. If they both receive 10 sats, then yes, similar accuracy. However, an increased sensitivity would lead to a greater number of satellites tracked. Although I don't purport to fully understand it, this article should give some indication of why people think so highly of the SirfIII receivers:

 

http://www.gpspassion.com/fr/articles.asp?id=143

 

Also, in what I've read and experienced (having used a SirfIII bluetooth GPS), the newer receivers acquire a satellite lock much faster, which is important to me, but maybe not others.

 

* I put indication in italics because I recall reading somewhere that all SirfIII receivers are 16 channel. Therefore, the indication of 16 channel would be indication of greater sensitivity. Greater sensitivity can mean acquisition and tracking of more satellites.

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Don't want to spend more than $300, make than $500.00

 

Ok, now you have changed everything! :D But now you have your choice of the Explorist XL, the Lowrance H20 C, Garmin GPSMap 60CSx, et all. :yikes:

 

Everyone has contributed much to the discussion. If you really want to do this right, you should try one of each in actual circumstances to determine the price/features package that you would like. And also call each customer service department to see what it will be like when you really need some support!! :D

 

Better yet, buy one of each. Then pick one depending on how you feel that day... :wacko:

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Go to a store where you can physically handle different receivers. When I was a n00b and didn't know much about GPS, I had narrowed down my choices to the eTrex Legend and eXplorist 100 based on internet research. I opted for the eX100 because it felt sturdier to me. When there was a $100 rebate on the GPSmap 76Cx last year, I considered buying one. I was concerned about the buttons being above the screen instead of below. I went to a sporting goods store and played with a 76C. I was surprised and found the button placement to be just fine. This is stuff you can't figure out just by reading the forums and websites.

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I'll throw a wrench into this: I'd get a Palm Tungsten (or Treo if you want a cell phone, too) that has BT and the best Global Sat BT GPSr. For software, GeoNiche. Big beautiful color screen. SD cards so storage is unlimited. TomTom Navigator for Palm if you want street navigator. And, there is infinite software for doing many other things. For example, I like Planetarium so I can learn about the celestial bodies I see when I am out. All in one package.

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I once belonged to The Church of Magellan but I have converted to The First Church of Garmin. I’ve owned over 30 GPS receivers. Some Magellans (about 60%) and some Garmins (about 40%) but no Lowrance. In my opinion the best unit I’ve owned is a Garmin and the worst was a Garmin. I love my 60CSx and I hated the Legend that I once had. Right now I have a 60CSx and an eXplorist 600 to compare. Granted I have a couple hundred more dollars invested in the 60CSx package but I would never recommend the 600 over the 60CSx. The Garmin City Navigator V8 is awesome and the Magellan DirectRoute V3.0 stinks. Here in Pennsylvania the state in split up into counties. Counties are divided into townships. Towns and cities are located within townships. Garmin has it exactly right. Magellan sometimes uses the township name as the city. According to DirectRoute I live in Cherryhill, PA (that does not exist) but I actually live in Indiana, PA. This makes searching by address worthless since I don’t know what city DirectRoute decided to use. Then there is customer service. Call Garmin and you will talk to some one from USA. Call Magellan and you will talk to someone who speaks poor English from who knows where, that you must ask them to constantly repeat themselves. The icing on the cake was last week when I was experiencing trouble installing DirectRoute V3.0. I was asked to call back after spending…no wasting 20 minutes with a so called service rep. She said that they are not supposed to spend too much time on a problem. I just thanked her for nothing and hung up. I never heard that from Garmin!

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Garmin GPSMap 60CSx

 

I personally own the Garmin Vista C but I am planning on upgrading to the Vista Cx. I recommend this unit over the 60CSx because the Vista Cx is smaller and easier to use and has all the same features. With the removable miro SD chip you can get however much memory you want. The screen is not as big as the 60 but it is big enough.

 

Check out this site: www.gpsdiscount.com for great deals and comparisons. Trust me this is one of the cheapest sites I have ever found and have purchased several units through this company. The package deals are awesome for instance you can get the Garmin Vista Cx, bean bag mount, auto mount, AC adaptor, and Version 7 software with full unlock code for $429.00

 

Good luck in your search and Happy Geocaching!!

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