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gallet

Hands on Test. Vista HCx vs 60CSx, and the winner is...

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I've just been testing an out of the box 60CSx and a Vista HCx, there's always a lot of threads about these two and which is better. If all the points were covered accurately then there would be no need of this thread but there have only been opinions rather than objective facts.

 

As far as the actual workings of the two go with regards to locking on to satellites and holding a signal and so forth let me unequivocally state that there is no difference at all that makes a difference. If you want to get pedantic the HCx has the edge but it's so slight that there is no point using this as a decision on which to get.

 

I also note that the aerials on the two are irrelevant. I've heard it said that the patch antenna on the HCx is not as good as the Quad Helix and also that the Quad is better when held in it's preferred vertical position. I have found both these suggestions to be untrue. I will further say that I could see no difference at all in the HCx whether it was held flat or vertical or vertically upside down. So if you want the most accurate chipset in all conditions then it matters not which one you choose, although I feel the HCx is better. The HCx also reported a more accurate position by 1 metre.

 

SIZE: This one is a no brainer, the HCx is smaller, lighter, fits in the hand better (unless you have huge hands with thick fingers) You get nothing at all in exchange for the extra bulk except for a slightly bigger screen.

 

SCREEN: The image on the 60CSx is slightly bigger, but you see less map. Which means if you wanted to see just that little bit extra map then you'd need to go down a zoom level and the map on the 60 would then be considerably smaller. How big a deal is the slightly bigger screen size. Answer, none at all. I tried using each one at normal viewing distance and even with quick glances I found it no easier to read the 60 screen. Whether this was due to the fact that the 60 screen is slightly lower resolution and therefore 'fuzzier' or if it was simply that they were too similar to make a difference, I don't know. Conclusion: You get no advantage at all from the very very small increase in screen size of the 60CSx

 

BRIGHTNESS: I have seen and I've in fact repeated in other threads that the 60 screen is only as bright at full power as the HCx is on half power and that the 60 is no good in bright sunlight as a result. Neither of these is true. What is true is that the HCx screen is as bright on 20% as the 60CSx screen is on 100%. I never have my HCx at 100% because it's too bright, I usually have it at 50% so I thought that the 60 screen would be OK at 100%. However the 60 screen is in fact half the brightness at full power than the HCx is at 50%. This is remarkable. With regards to the sunlight thing, it makes no difference because the backlight is irrelevant, both are equally easy to see in bright sunlight.

 

Where it really makes a difference is if you are using these inside a car where it's in the shade, or outside in the shade on a bright day. The 60 screen is by a long way very inferior, with the 60 and the HCx at the same distance and both units on full power, (which is what you'd use inside a car) the HCx was much easier to read even though the 60 screen was slightly bigger. Not because the HCx is really bright, but because the 60 Screen is really dull. Far too dull. I suppose this has been done to increase the battery life.

 

For me this makes the 60 a bad choice for the car, yes I know it has buttons on the front (more on that soon) but I don't spend much time fiddling with the buttons while using it in a car, I set it and go. But I do spend a lot of time looking at it.

 

RUGGEDNESS: I wasn't going to do any drop tests but I do note that the back cover for the HCx is solid metal whereas the 60 is plastic. Otherwise they seem similarly well made both have a solid feel.

 

BUTTON PLACEMENT: The politically correct thing to say is that it is a matter of preference, but there is some objective facts as well which I will point out. The HCx has true one handed operation although I sometimes use two depending on my mood. The 60 really needs two hands to operate although I will concede that it can be operated with one hand but it doesn't feel good, feels like you will drop it. I thought I was going to prefer the buttons on the 60 but the fact is that I found the plethora of buttons annoying. To scroll and select with the HCx I do it without moving my thumb off the rocker but on the 60 I need to scroll with the rocker and then take my finger off and press a separate button. Further, the 60 rocker has a lot of movement and a very spongy feel to it whereas the HCx rocker is light with a precise 'click'. When entering addresses where there is lots of scrolling around and entering letters, the HCx easily is more convenient to operate. I really hate the spongy feel of the 60 rocker.

 

While I concede that it's a personal decision I feel that any objective person using both for a while would select the HCx once you come to understand the logic of how the buttons work. To mark and name a waypoint you only need to keep your thumb on the HCx rocker with small movents, but to mark and name a waypoint on the 60 you need to continually make big spongy movements and alternate between the rocker and a separate button.

 

BATTERY: The HCx gets it's full reported 25 hours from a pair of 2700 NiMH batteries with the compass running full time. The 60 is reported to have a battery life of 18 hours, but in the real world we do make use of the backlight a fair bit and as the 60 backlight is basically useless at less than 100% and that the HCx can be easily used at 30%, then I would guess with more extensive backlighting, which does draw a lot of power, that the difference between the two would be more than the stated 25 vs 18 hours.

 

Conclusion:

 

I see nothing at all that makes me prefer the 60, not a single feature. It has too many buttons and a very spongy rocker.

 

Big and bulky for no reason.

 

The worst thing about the 60 is the very dull screen. It would be the main reason that I'd recommend not getting it. I fail to understand why no one has said how bad it really is. I suppose they were just guessing that it was 50% less bright rather than setting up the same screen and comparing.

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Great review and I thank you for it. I would agree on all of it except that I think the 60 is more robust.

Regards,

John.

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I also note that the aerials on the two are irrelevant. I've heard it said that the patch antenna on the HCx is not as good as the Quad Helix and also that the Quad is better when held in it's preferred vertical position. I have found both these suggestions to be untrue. I will further say that I could see no difference at all in the HCx whether it was held flat or vertical or vertically upside down. So if you want the most accurate chipset in all conditions then it matters not which one you choose, although I feel the HCx is better. The HCx also reported a more accurate position by 1 metre.

I will say that I have noticed that antenna orientation does seem to make a difference with my Vista HCx. The reported satellite signal strength and position error both seem to improve when it's facing directly up. You can test it quickly yourself--just hold it sideways and look at the signal strength, then turn it facing up and notice the change. Having said that, it's probably irrelevant to maintaining a position fix. I've only gotten it to lose a signal lock deep inside a parking structure or in a tunnel. Inside a building is usually no problem. When I'm out for a walk, I often keep it in my pants pocket and it has no problem.

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I also note that the aerials on the two are irrelevant. I've heard it said that the patch antenna on the HCx is not as good as the Quad Helix and also that the Quad is better when held in it's preferred vertical position. I have found both these suggestions to be untrue. I will further say that I could see no difference at all in the HCx whether it was held flat or vertical or vertically upside down.

 

Regarding this portion. Certainly the patch got a bad rap from the undersized patch on the orginal etrexs. I agree that one type is no better than the other type. I agree that the patch is not as fussy about positioning, but, though my 60cx does not suffer as much from it, my map76 with the quad helix certainly did suffer from not being vertical. The improvement in this area may be due to the better chip which grabs any and all signals.

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You missed a couple of obvious differences... my 60cx talks to my PDA via the serial connection. Can't do that with the Etrex series, they don't have a serial connection. The HCx is also missing the external antennae attachment. That may be important to some people (add two points for the 60 series!)

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I have a 60cx and vistaCX, I agree the screen is brighter and has more vivid colors on the vistaCX.

 

One thing I notice not mentioned is the very poor rubber surround on all the etrex models. I've had the rubber come loose twice on my legendC and had to send it in, so far I've been lucky with my vistaCX. It doesn't take much to cause the rubber to come completely loose, using the GPSr in a damp environment or having it in a hot car are a few examples. At the other end of the spectrum I have seen the units glue fail and become dry and brittle.

When this rubber comes loose you not only loose the nice look and feel, but maybe the ability to use the GPSr. This is because buttons are all molded parts of the rubber band, so if it tears or stretches to much none of the buttons will line up.

This poor design is one of the major reasons I won't buy another etrex. When garmin added the new chipset they should have redesigned the etrex eliminating this known issue.

 

The sad part is I prefer my etrex size for hiking/biking, so I am kinda stuck with the poor design.

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jcddcjjcd

 

As I said I'm trying to get facts, and I don't have any evidence to support the 60 being more robust, and as I said I wasn't going to do a drop test ;¬) however I've heard reports of both these units surviving very bad accidents. I would get they are equally robust, they both use an equally bad non welded contact from the battery.

 

SiliconFiend

 

You can test it quickly yourself--just hold it sideways and look at the signal strength, then turn it facing up and notice the change.

 

I don't doubt your experience at all but I did to the tests and I found that in *any* orientation the HCx registered about 1 metre more accuracy than the 60CSx.

 

ergomaniac

 

You are correct, I purposely neglected to mention the serial cable and external antenna. The reason is that the circumstances where one would want/need an external antenna are so slim as to be irrelevant to those to whom this review is for. I feel that if it was important to have serial connection or external antenna then those seeking these things would already know what they need. I felt that including these 'features' can not serve any real purpose as to which unit is 'better', which is what all the HCx 60CSx threads are about.

 

hogrod

 

Not just 'brighter' but a hell of a lot brighter. I am amazed that no one has yet mentioned how bad it really is, if you wear sunglasses in the car then the 60CSx would almost be useless.I do not think that the rubber band issue is really relevant as it appears to be a problem with a limited number of older units. However I've owned quite a few second hand Ventures and Vistas over 5 years old, and the rubber bands have been as tight as a fishes ***hole, which as we all know, is waterproof.

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Yup if Garmin would just fix the Etrexes rubber band surround archiles heel they'd have a total winner :huh:

 

As for the "missing" external antenna option, my Lowrance iFinder Pro had that option & I personally never needed it,, the thing had such a great ability to grab satellites while inside a car (or even inside a HOUSE!) that I never even thought of getting an external antenna that could in theory be positioned for better satellite visibility. And my Vista Cx has an even more powerful reciever than the iFinder,, nuff said!

 

I do wish my Vista Cx had a volume control for it's beeper, as I can barely hear it in a car with the radio even 1/2 way on. Hows the sound output compare to the 60?? It SUCKS to miss a turn while autorouting because the peeper/beeper went unnoticed :rolleyes:

Edited by IVxIV

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Interesting, but I was hoping for an objective review. We know you love your Vista, gallet. The vast majority of your observations simpy reflect your personal bias. I don't mean to disparage that. You are biased for a reason. I suspect, though, that it has more to do with your familiarity with the Vista than any real shortcomings with the 60.

 

Some complain that Garmin makes too many models. I guess personal preference is just that. I would suspect that a 60 user "comparing" a Vista would complain that the button placement on the side makes the unit hard to use with one hand, and almost impossible to use in a car mount in the dark. They would also describe the click stick as flimsy. Seasoned Vista users would dispute those claims. Ain't choice grand?

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Although I really like my 60CSx, I must admit that the weak backlight and "spongy" rocker switch are major annoyances.

 

Thanks for the review.

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Yep choice.

 

I owned a Vista for years. I MUCH prefer the button layout on the 60 series. Enough to mak me not want to have an etrex. The etrex is a real PITA in the car as far as button use goes. When power caching it is huge factor.

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the 60 series is the lead series for handhelds and the etrex series is constantly playing catchup.......I own both the vista hcx and 60csx and I agree that the HCX is better

 

but only because of its superior bootup and satelite locking time, and also the battery useage.......the layout for the etrex series blows though, the buttons are hard to push and the roll around tiny mouse is a pain

 

Im a 60 series fan and will rejoice once our model is back ontop with a newer antennae interface and software setup.....and hopefully they will have the mouse type button like the rino series.....and put it in its PROPER place, which is BELOW the screen and NOT above like its forced to be in the etrex series

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Give the 60 CSx a point for its external antenna connector. I find it very handy when hiking, particularly in the Grand Canyon and the slot near the top of the Yosemite Upper Falls trail. Granted, this may not apply to your average geocacher. But I log all my hikes, and having an external antenna (I recommend Gillson) really does improve the quality of the track in deep canyon conditions.

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If all the points were covered accurately then there would be no need of this thread but there have only been opinions rather than objective facts.

ergomaniac

 

You are correct, I purposely neglected to mention the serial cable and external antenna...

 

 

 

A very objective review... thanks for your "opinions".

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I'll just keep my 76 csx,works fine for me,I dont have any issues with any of the items mentioned,and mine floats and takes an external ant. I don't like beta testing new products,and in a year that Vista is just going to be another dinosuar just like mine .It sounds like some people have to buy every new model that comes along just because its a little better.Thats exactly what Garmin wants you to do to,its built into their marketing plan.

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I personally would miss the tide tables that are on my 60csx.

BOY, YOU BET! I'd miss that too. I don't have an Etrex but I like my 60CX fine. I also loved the feel of my old map76. I think the smaller sized etrex would bother me as well as the button features. Choice is a good thing.

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Apologies for the long post.

 

Interesting, but I was hoping for an objective review. We know you love your Vista, gallet. The vast majority of your observations simpy reflect your personal bias. I don't mean to disparage that. You are biased for a reason. I suspect, though, that it has more to do with your familiarity with the Vista than any real shortcomings with the 60.

 

... would also describe the click stick as flimsy.

 

Yes, you are correct in that up until this review, my opinions were based on common sense, I spent a month agonising over whether to get the HCx or 60CSx, for me the decision boiled down to how much difference the screen size made, and was the extra bulk worth it. I spent hours pulling out of proportion images off the Garmin site and measuring and resizing them in Photoshop so I could use the measure tool to take accurate measurements. I ended up deciding that the extra size made no difference but I wasn't 100% sure just about 95%. The only other consideration was which chip was better and I was satisfied that the HCx chip was not inferior.

 

Up until now I have given my opinions. But I had an opportunity to buy a 60CSx for no risk as I could easily sell it, so I bought it with the idea that if I had made an error that I would keep the 60CSx and sell the Vista, there would be no financial penalty to me. I wanted to put up a review where I would not be accused of being a Vista Fanboy and pushing my own agenda.

 

So at the moment I own both 60CSx and Vista and I'm happy to get rid of either. However it may appear to you, the truth is that I have no bias because I own both. I must be honest and say that I did not think that the less bright screen on the 60 would be much of a problem because I had heard that it was half as bright and I rarely want my Vista at 100%. This was the biggest surprise and I kept having to check that I had set the screen properly at 100% for the 60CSx because I couldn't believe it could be so dull. It was shocking to me to find that I needed to put the Vista screen at 20% to match the 60CSx at 100%. It was shocking for two reasons, one, that it's far too dull in twilight conditions at 100% and two, because no one has yet mentioned how bad it really is.

 

In fact as soon as I saw how dull the screen was, I knew that even if there was an advantage gained by the extra size it would not be worth it. There is no bias here at all. It's a simple objective fact my vista screen at 30% is what I consider the absolute minimum I'd be happy with under ideal conditions. At 20% which is what the 60 is at 100%, is manifestly inadequate. I consider this to be the most important point because if you can't see the screen well under all circumstances then it defeats the whole machine.

 

I have a couple of pairs of ziess roof prism binoculars 8 x 20's and 10 x 25's the 8's are nicer and it is very difficult to notice any real difference in magnification and this is a 25% difference. The difference between the 60 and HCx is that the 60 is 10% bigger, and that is even discounting the lower res, so in effect it is worse than 10% bigger. But my logic and my testing has shown that 10% bigger really makes the amount of difference that you would expect. None. This is not my bias it's just a fact you can easily test it yourself by say, holding your gps at your normal viewing distance and then moving it 10% further away, can you tell? I doubt it.

 

Regarding the buttons. I really thought that I'd prefer the buttons on the front notwithstanding I'd need to get used to them. I was expecting to like them. I thought for sure the big rocker button on the 60 would be superior and I was prepared to say so. I almost laughed out loud at how spongy it was, there is no tactile feedback at all, unlike say a Stahlwille torque wrench. It is very counter intuitive to have the rocker on the 60 have such a big throw and provide no feedback, it's subtle but having no feedback means you always have to press the rocker more than you need to otherwise if you press it less you need to press it again. I thought the big 60 rocker would be like other big 4 way rockers like on my Nikon D70s where it has a nice tactile feedback and short throw. But it isn't.

 

I'll admit that I was not too happy about the rocker on the etrex at first, but that was a Venture and then a Vista, but the new rockers on the Vista HCx are a vast improvement on earlier models. I was using an old Venture a couple of days ago and the difference is big. It takes a fair bit of force. But the new Vista's are really nice. They have a soft tactile 'click' and a very short throw and the centre press is much easier too. If the 60 had a rocker like on my Nikon then it would definitely be better than the eTrex one, but it is not. I can see no reason why the rocker is so spongy on the 60, it is a definite design mistake and I'll put money on it that the new model 60's will fix this. And these all *objective facts* not opinions.

 

Now whether one prefers buttons on the front or not *is* an opinion and I freely admit that and have done so in my review. But that the 60 rocker is a design cock up by not having a short throw with a tactile detente, is objectivly bad. The only type of switches that use this system is where it needs to be continually variable over the whole range like a pitch bender on a keyboard, but when the switch must press a button, it needs to have a tactile detente.

 

A small digression: Garmin have shown a willingness in the past to go against everyone else in the world with their own crazy logic for example when they had a problem with the batteries seating in the some of the old eTrex's. Instead of putting a little piece of rubber under the flat spring like they have done on the new models, what did Garmin do. Horror of horrors they replaced one of the flat springs that pressed up against the positive battery nipple with...wait for it... a freaking coil spring!!! So one of the batteries had to be inserted with the nipple end in first against the coil spring and then slide the negative terminal down against the remaining flat spring. In no other electrical appliance will you ever see such idiocy. Unless you see it in front of you it's difficult to appreciate how ludicrous it is. If you do think about the geometry of this you will quickly understand that this increases the *effective* length of the battery (as there is no cut away shoulder) making it a real problem to insert and remove. I used to have to use a fork to get the batteries out of my old venture and Vista that had this problem but two other Ventures I have owned have had normal flat springs all around. So probably not many have experienced the horror this this 'solution'.

 

Another objective *fact* is that the rocker switch is used a lot with the enter switch like when you need to search for an address or name a waypoint or write some info. While it may be easier to press the find button once on the 60 and it's very slightly less easy on the HCx because you have to press the left button twice and click the rocker down, it's not something that you need to do a lot of. Unlike naming and writing stuff or finding and address. This entails extensive rocker use and every single rocker movement to scroll to a letter required the finger to come off the rocker and move to another key then back again. For every single letter. This is objectively a PITA. If anyone thinks pressing an extra key twice to get to the find menu on the HCx is a problem then god only knows what they think of the using the 60 rocker and 'enter' button to type in a series of letters.

 

Objectively what does one need to press buttons for in the car? I mean if you are navigating to an address then you set it up before you start, why do you need to press buttons again. When I'm using the HCx on my motorbike with it around my neck all I ever do is sometimes switch the light on and to do that I just need a very gentle sideways movement on the rockker, much better than pressing in a button. But even in a car I cannot imagine any situation where one somehow needs to keep pressing buttons. And in the car the most important thing is legibility. Obviously. And the 60 is objectively very very dull. 20% of the HCx is bad. I'd like to know how many HCx owners would ever set their HCx less than 50% in a car, let alone 25%.

 

In conclusion it is simply wrong of you to suggest I'm pushing my own barrow for my own reasons. I was genuinely shocked at the shoddily designed rocker and even more shocked at the dull screen. And I've not seen *any* reference to these problems in any other thread about the 60 vs HCx.

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I swore by my 12 until I bought my yellow eTrex, then my blue Legend, then my V and now my 60CSx.

 

I luv 'em all the same AND I still own them all. I'm just sentimental that way! :(

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However it may appear to you, the truth is that I have no bias because I own both.

 

. . .

I'll admit that I was not too happy about the rocker on the etrex at first, but that was a Venture and then a Vista, but the new rockers on the Vista HCx are a vast improvement on earlier models.

 

. . .

 

In conclusion it is simply wrong of you to suggest I'm pushing my own barrow for my own reasons.

Far be it from me to impune your motives, gallet. I really do appreciate the effort that you have put into describing your experience with these units. I simply meant to suggest that your prior experience may give you a perspective that others would not necessarily share. Never having owned a Nikon or a Vista, I find the rocker function on the 60 to be fine. I have a good friend with a Legend Cx, and while the screen is noticeably brighter, it isn't a deal breaker for me. If I had become accustomed to that unit first, I might not find the 60 as acceptable.

 

Keep up the good work. It is pretty clear that Garmin trolls these forums. Anything that can be done to raise functionality of their units deserves to be aired.

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Interesting, but I was hoping for an objective review. We know you love your Vista, gallet. .....

That's true. :(

 

I also have both systems and have not the same opinion. :(

e.g.: For driving a car i would take none of these two systems.

For biking i would prefer this one and for hiking that one,... for.... ...

 

So it depends what you are going to do - there is no system which is absolutely the best.

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I personally would miss the tide tables that are on my 60csx.

BOY, YOU BET! I'd miss that too. I don't have an Etrex but I like my 60CX fine. I also loved the feel of my old map76. I think the smaller sized etrex would bother me as well as the button features. Choice is a good thing.

If those are truly important to you, it's possible to get North American tide stations on the Vista HCx. It may take some work, but it can be done. Search this forum; the answer is there. Basically it involves downloading and installing the GPSMAP 162/168 tide points from Garmin. Hint: It's much easier if you already own a Garmin map product.

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If you have MapSource, you can download the tide tables used in the GPSMap 162 or 168 and load them into a Legend or Vista. The Garmin tide information can be found here. Neo Geo's thread gives instructions for loading them on the Legend C and Vista C. Same steps for a Legend or Vista HCx.

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The thing is, Gallet, that you are giving us some facts, but then you are mixing them with opinions and confusing the opinions with the facts. You are not the first person to own both of these devices and report on your experiences here. You have pulled the 60CSx out of its box and held it up next to the HCx for a day or so. I have also reported in detail on my experiences with the two, but I have used the 60CSx in the field for over a year and the HCx for a couple of months. There have been plenty of facts presented before and, while you have indeed added some additional ones that others of us didn't think of, your suggestion that our experiences are opinions while yours are facts is total nonsense. Your exact words were "there have only been opinions rather than objective facts" and that is really rather insulting given that many of us have spent a lot of time providing both facts and opinions to people trying to make a decision between the two. At least the rest of us understood the difference between the facts and the opinions we reported.

 

So let's really look at what has been added and what hasn't.

 

New Facts:

 

1. Your observation of the two units' reported accuracy in several different orientations.

2. Your quantifying the HCx setting that is as bright as the CSx 100% setting.

 

Both of those are useful... good work. But that's about it.

 

Everything else in your post has either already been posted and discussed at length or is pure opinion. Similar reception with slight edge to HCx... reported many times. Everything you say about which size and button placement is preferable is just your opinion. You can claim objective fact about what the sizes are, and where the buttons are, but your preference for one over the other is just... well, your preference. There's nothing objective about that.

 

That the HCx has a stick and the CSx has a rocker is fact. That you prefer the stick is just your opinion again. I know it seems obvious to you that your preference is better... that's why it's your preference. But there's nothing objective about it. Personally, although I prefer the HCx overall, the stick is one of the things I don't like about it. I find the stick irritating in that it is easy to click it sideways when you meant to push enter. It's also in an awkward location. When I have two hands free, I can enter text in the 60CSx much more quickly than I can in the HCx. My left thumb runs the rocker and my right one hits enter. It's very fast. I'd rather enter text on the 60CSx, though I'd rather have the HCx in my hand while actually walking. It's not being politically correct to acknowledge that people have different preferences. People really do have different preferences. Yours aren't facts, they're just yours.

 

The battery life question was an opportunity for facts, but then you didn't go there. Heck, since you actually measured the hours on the HCx I was surprised you didn't go ahead and measure the CSx too. That would have given us real numbers for both, but instead you just assumed the CSx would give worse than advertised battery life through some really twisted logic. Battery use isn't based on what percentage of brightness each unit is set to; it's based on the actual brightness. If the HCx is twice as bright at 50% as the CSx is at 100%, then the CSx isn't pulling more juice because it's at 100% as you suggest. The HCx is pulling more juice because it takes more juice to make it brighter. There's no magic about it. More light is more energy and more energy takes more from the batteries. The HCx gets better battery life because the chipset is more efficient, not because you have the backlight on 30%.

 

The only other thing I'll comment on is your opinion that the CSx screen lighting being so bad as to be practically unusable. As I mentioned before, I've had the 60CSx for quite awhile now. I've used it to navigate vehicles, I've used it for geocaching, I've used it to navigate on foot and driving off-road in the African bush and I've used it to find my way back to my hotels while wandering the streets in China. That's a lot of time looking at the screen under a lot of different conditions and I have never been unable to see the screen clearly.

 

Now that's not to say that I disagree about how much brighter the HCx screen is. (I repeated your test and agree that it's about 30%-vs-100%.) But your conclusion about the CSx screen being so bad is affected by the fact that you are only looking at the two side-by-side. I guarantee that, if you didn't have the HCx, you wouldn't give the brightness of the CSx a second thought. That's my personal experience and, if you don't believe me, then go back in these forums to before the HCx was released and see if you can find anyone complaining about the brightness of the 60CSx screen. It's only relative. So while you definitely have to give the HCx the nod for the brighter screen, that doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with the CSx screen, it just means the HCx screen is brighter. It's one more factor to weigh in on when deciding which one to buy.

 

Okay, that's really enough. (Probably more than enough... please excuse my wordiness.) I'd just like to leave people who are trying to make this decision with a final thought. Both of these are excellent products and you really can't go wrong with either one. If you can, go to a store and hold both. Play with them and see which one feels better in your hand. Consider the screen issues, but also consider the handling, the button placement, and the HCx odometer bug, which is one fact that got left out of Gallet's review. Then buy the one that you think best meets your needs and don't look back. You will not be disappointed by either one (unless you really need the odometer to be accurate, which a lot of people don't.)

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<snip>

If the HCx is twice as bright at 50% as the CSx is at 100%, then the CSx isn't pulling more juice because it's at 100% as you suggest. The HCx is pulling more juice because it takes more juice to make it brighter. There's no magic about it. More light is more energy and more energy takes more from the batteries. The HCx gets better battery life because the chipset is more efficient, not because you have the backlight on 30%.

<snip>

You're correct about the backlight and battery consumption, of course, but there is the possibility that there is something about the screen construction on the 60CSx that makes the backlight less efficient. It's likely that the Vista HCx uses a newer LCD possibly from a different manufacturer, and perhaps some work has been done to make the transflective LCD better at passing backlight through. There is also the issue that the 60CSx has a physically larger screen (by a good percentage), so for the same electrical power, you get less light intensity. All in all, though, good points. I do think the biggest difference is the chipset.

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SIZE: I also like the smaller size.

SCREEN: The image on the 60CSx is slightly bigger, but you see less map.

I'm a bit confused by this, shouldn't it be that you see more map?

I'm looking at both, at level 500m and I can see more area with the 60. Perhaps you mean something else.

 

BRIGHTNESS: the vista is capable of being twice as bright, what this means for battery life I don't know, perhaps I should do one of these comparison tests.

Ive personally never had a problem with not being able to easily read the 60 screen, nor have I used the vista at 100% and rarely at 50%.

 

BUTTON PLACEMENT: I prefer the 60, because I find I have to use double the effort to press the side buttons on the vista (same as when I was using my yellow which got REAL tyring after the first few cache coordinates). I also hold the 60 in one had no problem, I don't get a felling that isn't going to drop.

The rocker is better on the vista but you get used to the 60 quick.

 

BATTERY: I'm of the opinion that so long as you bring a spare set, battery life isn't an issue.

(On a 5/6 day canoe/portage trip I changes the batteries for the 60 once. Which is good enough for me.)

 

Conclusion:It's all personal preference so you'd best visit your local outdoors store and test both of them.

And when your testing try entering 10 coordinates on both units.

If I'm out caching its the vista that stays home. :)

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You missed a couple of obvious differences... my 60cx talks to my PDA via the serial connection. Can't do that with the Etrex series, they don't have a serial connection. The HCx is also missing the external antennae attachment. That may be important to some people (add two points for the 60 series!)

 

This was almost the main selling point for me. I will be deploying soon, and signal lock can be difficult inside an up-armored vehicle I have been told. An external antenna can be mounted on the roof, allowing the best position fix possible.

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I haven't used a HCx (though, I have played with a couple of the older etrex with sticks - not my favorite placement), but if the joystick is like the Rino (which I've used for over two years) it only allows vertical and horizontal movement of the cursor on the map. The 60CSx rocker allows for diagonal movement on the map, a very nice change IMO.

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SCREEN: The image on the 60CSx is slightly bigger, but you see less map.

I'm a bit confused by this, shouldn't it be that you see more map?

I'm looking at both, at level 500m and I can see more area with the 60. Perhaps you mean something else.

 

Here is the explanation

 

In pixels the screen area of the vista is larger than the 60: 38,720 pixels versus 38,400 pixels

 

In inches, the screen area of the vista is smaller: 2.2 sq" versus 3.3 sq"

 

So while the vista screen is smaller in physical size, the image will contain more data. But each point on the vista screen will be smaller than a point on the 60 screen

 

Think of your computer screen. A 17" screen at 1280x1024 pixels will show more Mapsource (or anything else) than a 19" computer at 1024x768 pixels. And the ponts on the 17" screen will be much smaller.

 

Now take my 60" LCD TV. When I load Mapsource on that.............oh never mind

Edited by Hiker2008

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Im considering getting a gps60 standard, but the garmin website doesnt explian what exactly the 'geocaching function' does. Is it just a gloryfied waypoint system, or does it store cache info and logs etc, so i can paperless cache without a PDA.

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Im considering getting a gps60 standard, but the garmin website doesnt explian what exactly the 'geocaching function' does. Is it just a gloryfied waypoint system, or does it store cache info and logs etc, so i can paperless cache without a PDA.

 

It is a function for managing waypoints that include the geocaching symbol in the waypoint description.

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SCREEN: The image on the 60CSx is slightly bigger, but you see less map.

I'm a bit confused by this, shouldn't it be that you see more map?

I'm looking at both, at level 500m and I can see more area with the 60. Perhaps you mean something else.

 

Here is the explanation

 

In pixels the screen area of the vista is larger than the 60: 38,720 pixels versus 38,400 pixels

 

In inches, the screen area of the vista is smaller: 2.2 sq" versus 3.3 sq"

 

So while the vista screen is smaller in physical size, the image will contain more data. But each point on the vista screen will be smaller than a point on the 60 screen

 

Think of your computer screen. A 17" screen at 1280x1024 pixels will show more Mapsource (or anything else) than a 19" computer at 1024x768 pixels. And the ponts on the 17" screen will be much smaller.

 

Now take my 60" LCD TV. When I load Mapsource on that.............oh never mind

 

I got an HCx, relying among others on that screen real estate rationale.

I like the unit, but in this respect, I have to warn other people who might consider buying it:

I cannot compare it to the 60CSx, but at least compared to my old MAP76S, there is a considerable loss of screen usability, due to the fact that the data fields are huge: On the 76S I could make them smaller and see three data fields would show in one narrow row. In the HCx, I cannot do that, so I can see only 2 data fields in a wide row, or alternatively, see 4 fields in TWO wide rows. Add to that that an additional row with huge characters is added to the screen to tell me where I am going (as if I don't know), there isn't much screen left for the map.

I don't know how that is on the 60CSx, but I certainly preferred the 76 in that respect.

 

One other issue I have with my new HCx is that I can rotate through the page sequence only in one direction. On the 76S I could go either forward or backward. On the 76S, however, I could have the small data fields and the map on the same page, and I didn't NEED to rotate pages, whereas on the HCx, I need to see my data fields on a different page, but then I can't go back to the map without going through the entire page sequence first - which I have therefore reduced to a minimum 4.

 

Disclaimer: I am new to the HCx. I am probably missing something, and am open to suggestions...

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my suggestion:

 

nothing is perfect.......so live with the MINOR imperfections

 

I own a 60csx and a vista hcx, love them both equally.....

 

the ONLY reason (from my perspective and belief) that the 60csx is superior to the vista hcx, is simply its buttons are below the screen and easier to push

 

if the etrex vista hcx had the mouse along with buttons on the front of the unit below the screen.......then I guess it wouldnt belong in the etrex series anymore

 

but a new series called SUPER AWSEM tubular HCX

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. . . compared to my old MAP76S, there is a considerable loss of screen usability, due to the fact that the data fields are huge: On the 76S I could make them smaller and see three data fields would show in one narrow row. In the HCx, I cannot do that, so

 

. . . One other issue I have with my new HCx is that I can rotate through the page sequence only in one direction.

Lots of 76S users have griped about not being able to change the size of the data fields. This is true on both the 60C/76C series and the HCx units. Too bad Garmin can't seem to offer this ability on color units.

 

I would be surprised to learn that you can't cycle through pages forward and back on the HCx. I have never heard that issue raised before. Can anyone comment on that? One the 60C series, you hit PAGE to go forward and QUIT to go back. Not very intuitive, but it works.

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you cant on the vista HCX.......its forward only :D......but maybe that will teach people to not hit buttons compulsively

 

and I mean how hard is it really, in the overall scheme of things, to cycle through the menu's again, sure its a pain.....but for the PRICE ill take it

 

DAG nabit....SUCK it up people, yall are getting like the princess and the pea. Imagine not knowing where you are at all, in virgin forest.....atleast your +/- 15 feet of your exact position

 

typical american drama, always have to complain about something

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...Where it really makes a difference is if you are using these inside a car where it's in the shade, or outside in the shade on a bright day. The 60 screen is by a long way very inferior, with the 60 and the HCx at the same distance and both units on full power, (which is what you'd use inside a car) the HCx was much easier to read even though the 60 screen was slightly bigger. Not because the HCx is really bright, but because the 60 Screen is really dull. Far too dull. I suppose this has been done to increase the battery life.

...

The worst thing about the 60 is the very dull screen. It would be the main reason that I'd recommend not getting it. I fail to understand why no one has said how bad it really is. I suppose they were just guessing that it was 50% less bright rather than setting up the same screen and comparing.

 

I'm unsure where you figure the 60 screen is dull except in comparison to the vista.

When using a GPS V which has a perfectly good screen in the sunlight and shade etc. I found the 60CS to be noticably better. I would expect the 60x versions to be at least as good. When you use the term "dull" I think it's fair to qualify it to say that "dull" is better than all prior generation GPSs. Either that or your 60 is defective.

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<snip>

If the HCx is twice as bright at 50% as the CSx is at 100%, then the CSx isn't pulling more juice because it's at 100% as you suggest. The HCx is pulling more juice because it takes more juice to make it brighter. There's no magic about it. More light is more energy and more energy takes more from the batteries. The HCx gets better battery life because the chipset is more efficient, not because you have the backlight on 30%.

<snip>

You're correct about the backlight and battery consumption, of course, but there is the possibility that there is something about the screen construction on the 60CSx that makes the backlight less efficient. It's likely that the Vista HCx uses a newer LCD possibly from a different manufacturer, and perhaps some work has been done to make the transflective LCD better at passing backlight through. There is also the issue that the 60CSx has a physically larger screen (by a good percentage), so for the same electrical power, you get less light intensity. All in all, though, good points. I do think the biggest difference is the chipset.

LED backlighting vs. Flourescent backlighting makes a difference in power consumption. I have no idea what Garmin uses or if they have upgraded to LED as the newer more efficient tech.

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GARMIN eTrex Vista HCx Hand Held Receiver w/ Built in GPS Patch Antenna. MicroSD card slot allows for storage of optional MapSource detail /MicroSd card not included. WAAS enabled, 12 parallel channel GPS receiver. Electronic compass displays accurate heading while standing still. Barometric altimeter with automatic pressure trend recording. Built in GPS patch antenna. Display: 1.3 in W x 1.7 in H, 256 color, high resolution, transflective TFT /176 x 220 pixels. LED backlit display and keypad.

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GARMIN eTrex Vista HCx Hand Held Receiver w/ Built in GPS Patch Antenna. MicroSD card slot allows for storage of optional MapSource detail /MicroSd card not included. WAAS enabled, 12 parallel channel GPS receiver. Electronic compass displays accurate heading while standing still. Barometric altimeter with automatic pressure trend recording. Built in GPS patch antenna. Display: 1.3 in W x 1.7 in H, 256 color, high resolution, transflective TFT /176 x 220 pixels. LED backlit display and keypad.

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Add to that that an additional row with huge characters is added to the screen to tell me where I am going (as if I don't know), there isn't much screen left for the map.

 

...

 

Disclaimer: I am new to the HCx. I am probably missing something, and am open to suggestions...

Here's how to get rid of that extra row you don't want:

 

On the Map page, press the menu button.

Select "Guidance Text..."

Select "Never Show"

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SCREEN: The image on the 60CSx is slightly bigger, but you see less map.

I'm a bit confused by this, shouldn't it be that you see more map?

I'm looking at both, at level 500m and I can see more area with the 60. Perhaps you mean something else.

 

Here is the explanation

 

In pixels the screen area of the vista is larger than the 60: 38,720 pixels versus 38,400 pixels

 

In inches, the screen area of the vista is smaller: 2.2 sq" versus 3.3 sq"

 

So while the vista screen is smaller in physical size, the image will contain more data. But each point on the vista screen will be smaller than a point on the 60 screen

 

Think of your computer screen. A 17" screen at 1280x1024 pixels will show more Mapsource (or anything else) than a 19" computer at 1024x768 pixels. And the ponts on the 17" screen will be much smaller.

 

Now take my 60" LCD TV. When I load Mapsource on that.............oh never mind

 

I got an HCx, relying among others on that screen real estate rationale.

I like the unit, but in this respect, I have to warn other people who might consider buying it:

I cannot compare it to the 60CSx, but at least compared to my old MAP76S, there is a considerable loss of screen usability, due to the fact that the data fields are huge: On the 76S I could make them smaller and see three data fields would show in one narrow row. In the HCx, I cannot do that, so I can see only 2 data fields in a wide row, or alternatively, see 4 fields in TWO wide rows. Add to that that an additional row with huge characters is added to the screen to tell me where I am going (as if I don't know), there isn't much screen left for the map.

I don't know how that is on the 60CSx, but I certainly preferred the 76 in that respect.

 

One other issue I have with my new HCx is that I can rotate through the page sequence only in one direction. On the 76S I could go either forward or backward. On the 76S, however, I could have the small data fields and the map on the same page, and I didn't NEED to rotate pages, whereas on the HCx, I need to see my data fields on a different page, but then I can't go back to the map without going through the entire page sequence first - which I have therefore reduced to a minimum 4.

 

Disclaimer: I am new to the HCx. I am probably missing something, and am open to suggestions...

 

I don't put any data fields on my map. I use the compass page and the trip computer page to display all the data fields I need.

 

Additionally, you can change the sequence in the page rotation. You can also add pages to the sequence.

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you cant on the vista HCX.......its forward only :laughing:......but maybe that will teach people to not hit buttons compulsively

 

and I mean how hard is it really, in the overall scheme of things, to cycle through the menu's again, sure its a pain.....but for the PRICE ill take it

 

DAG nabit....SUCK it up people, yall are getting like the princess and the pea. Imagine not knowing where you are at all, in virgin forest.....atleast your +/- 15 feet of your exact position

 

Not at all like princess or pea.

 

I was assuming that when I replace a 4 year old model with a new one, I get a great deal of improvement, and I indeed did.

 

I read lots of threads before making my decision, in particular your hands-on test.

 

I assume you didn't comment on the lost feature to reduce the data field size, because that feature is lost to all current units.

 

So when I asked for workarounds, and people tell me to put the fields on another page, and then I find I cannot toggle between map and units but have to go through the whole sequence of pages, I find that the inability to go back and forth is a feature missing in the HCx that should have been included in the hands-on review.

 

And hey, I never complained about anything, I just asked for your workarounds.

 

typical American drama, always have to complain about something

 

I am neither American, not complaining. Nor do I think I should have bought something else.

 

I am asking for workarounds.

 

What's the best way to divide up the real estate on the little HCx screen when hunting for a cache, in order to help you find it?

 

I *think* that the best thing to do is to switch to the compass page with the data fields when you're close, and forget about the map, rather than cluttering up the map with data fields and making it practically unusable, but maybe there are better ways?

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Add to that that an additional row with huge characters is added to the screen to tell me where I am going (as if I don't know), there isn't much screen left for the map.

 

...

 

Disclaimer: I am new to the HCx. I am probably missing something, and am open to suggestions...

Here's how to get rid of that extra row you don't want:

 

On the Map page, press the menu button.

Select "Guidance Text..."

Select "Never Show"

 

Ah, Thanks!!!!!

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I don't put any data fields on my map. I use the compass page and the trip computer page to display all the data fields I need.

 

Additionally, you can change the sequence in the page rotation. You can also add pages to the sequence.

 

That gives me an idea, I'll have to check:

 

I wonder if it is possible to put the same page more than once into the sequence. Then I'd do:

 

Map

Compass with data fields

Elevation

Map

Compass with data fields

Satellites

Map

Compass with data fields

XXX

Map

Compass with data fields

XXX

Map

Compass with data fields

XXX

 

That way, I'd never be more than 2 clicks away from the two most important fields...

 

(But the ability to move back would be so much easier...)

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There's where the 60cx series ability to navigate back and forth between pages is a big advantage... I have my data fields on my compass page and leave the map screen as a full display. Pretty quick to page back and forth (one click) when you need more info.

 

I find the whole HCX vs 60cx discussion kind of funny.... My 60cx is coming up on two years old and if it's still holding it's own against the latest technology, I feel like a made a really good purchase when I bought mine! If I was in the market for a new GPS I would wait to see what Garmin is going to replace their aging "premier tier" of handhelds with (60 and 70 series). I would bet that we will hear something announced at CES 2008 but I've not heard any rumours yet...

 

All Garmin would have to do is start reading and writing unlimited tracks to the card in the 60 and 70 series and I'd upgrade!! Also, add the new receiver and a brighter hi-res screen and they'd have a real winner!

 

I very much doubt the Etrex line will compete with Garmin's top tier for much longer.

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I very much doubt the Etrex line will compete with Garmin's top tier for much longer.

 

Unless you wanted a substantially smaller full-featured unit that could keep a lock undercover, which many do. You make some good points - I just sold my 60cs and I must admit I loved it, would have loved the x unit even more I'm sure. But for my uses the form factor itself was enough to go hcx - the fact that it was substantially cheaper was just a bonus. If I was in the car more than on foot I'd have gone the other way but the hcx is fine in the car to be honest. As others have said, choice is a wonderful thing. I'll go with what I have for at least two years but I am also anxious to see what garmin comes up with next.

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well..........new technology does not mean new design, especially when you are talking about different lines of a product

 

ofcourse the newer HCX has a receiver setup that interprets the signal a bit more accurately resulting in less fluctuation.....but you cant compare the two when looking at case layout, they are two different speciments........Oil and Water

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You are correct, I purposely neglected to mention the serial cable and external antenna. The reason is that the circumstances where one would want/need an external antenna are so slim as to be irrelevant to those to whom this review is for. I feel that if it was important to have serial connection or external antenna then those seeking these things would already know what they need. I felt that including these 'features' can not serve any real purpose as to which unit is 'better', which is what all the HCx 60CSx threads are about.

 

The bolded statement (bolded by me) above indicates that you cherry picked the features you wanted. 90% of the people would not think of something like that unless you brought it up. Some car windshields do not pass satellite signals making external antennas very important. And if you're operating in the field with an older laptop with a serial connector only, it would be nice to know that before you bought a GPS. I don't want to seem like I'm piling on, but your excuses for cherry picking diminishes your otherwise good analysis by highlighting your prejudices. Just state all the facts and let others decide.

Edited by Alan2

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I'm looking at upgrading my old MAP 330, so I decided to stop by REI today for a side-by-side comparison of the 60csx and eTrex Vista hcx.

 

Here are my own observations:

 

* The Vista locked onto four satellites from within the store. The 60csx tried, but was unable to establish a single satellite lock. (Both units showed full battery strength.)

 

* I was able to enter text about twice as fast using two hands on the 60csx versus one hand on the Vista. However, the two-hand operation is very similar to the MAP 330, to which I am accustomed. I found both systems very easy to use, but the Vista felt much more natural during one-hand operation.

 

* The Vista is clearly designed to be held in the left hand. This works great for me, because I'm right-handed and tend to use my left hand for the GPSr. However, my wife is left-handed and prefers using her right hand for the GPSr. This meant she was covering the screen with her thumb while navigating the UI, which was a bit frustrating for her. Neither of us had a problem using the 60csx with one hand, although it would be easy to accidentally drop it while entering text.

 

* The resolution of both systems appeared similar (and are similar), although the 60csx has a much bigger screen. This wasn't a problem in the store, but I could see that the 60csx would have an advantage in unfavorable reading conditions (bright sunlight, rain, poor vision, etc.) The brighter backlight on the Vista should help compensate under these conditions. The smaller pixels on the Vista gave the impression of a sharper image for icons and maps, but the larger pixels on the 60csx made the text more readable.

 

* The Vista has a good backlight, but it wasn't nearly as bright as I imagined after reading this thread. It seemed like what I would expect from a modern GPSr. I didn't try the backlight on the 60csx.

 

* The firmware is very similar on the two units.

 

After using both units, my wife and I have a slight preference for the Vista hcx, even though the 60csx is more similar to the unit we already have.

 

After we factor in the $100-$150 price difference, it's a no-brainer for us. The Vista seems to be a far better value for our needs.

 

Although there seems to be a lot of tension in this thread, I found it very useful reading before evaluating the units myself.

 

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the discussion!

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