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Not happy with Vista HCx. How is the PN-20 ease of use?


elora_c
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I currently have a an eTrex Legend that I'm looking to upgrade. Last week I asked about the PN-20 vs the Legend HCx and people recommended the PN-20. Well, I second-guessed myself and instead ordered the Vista HCx (it was only $20 more than the Legend). My reasons at the time were:

 

1) Although the imagery available for the PN-20 seems great, after looking at the data download site, I realized that I'd only be able to get about 30 different grid segments of the aerial imagery. This didn't seem to give great coverage area for doing extensive geocaching (of course, I'm only at 65 finds, so I don't do that extensive of geocaching).

 

2) I'm used to the Legend's interface and buttons, so sticking with the familiar seemed good. I figured that if the imagery was only a limited selling point of the PN-20, I might as well choose the familiar.

 

3) I like Garmin and have had good experiences with their products.

 

And then my Vista arrived yesterday, and things went downhill.

 

1) The interface is a little different than the Legend.

2) I put the Vista in my Garmin holster and it doesn't fit as well. It makes it very awkward to use the menu and power buttons, and the rocker.

3) I tried doing a multi-cache this afternoon, and the compass was abysmal. From stage 1 to stage 2, it took me in a triangle. However, I hadn't calibrated the compass first, so maybe it will do better tomorrow when I give it another chance.

4) I find it annoying that I have to change the backlit every time I turn it on. Maybe I've missed something, but I keep setting it to 55% and every time I turn the unit it, it is back down to 0.

 

So, I'm back to looking at the PN-20. I liked the review and pictures posted on 1/2. The elevation profile is one of the things that I want and why I got the Vista instead of Legend. So my questions are more about using it.

 

Basically, how do you use the PN-20 for geocaching?

 

What I used to do with the Legend is

1) Download waypoints into GSAK for organization

2) Send waypoints from GSAK to Legend for a day's outing (I normally only do a couple of geocaches at once, so I just send the waypoints one by one to the unit)

3) When I arrive at the general area of the cache, I would click the rocker to bring up with the menu, and then select Waypoints.

4) From there, I'd select nearest, select the one I was interested in, and then click Goto which automatically took me to the compass page

5) If I wanted more info, I'd click the rocker to go to the map page. Then I would zoom in to the max zoom-in.

 

Is the PN-20 comparable to use? I have read a lot about it being slow. Is it just these actions to start out that are slow? Once on the Compass page and heading towards the cache, does the compass stay accurate and does the distance left indicator update quickly? From the manual, it says you can hold the zoom in button to go to the maximum zoom. How slow is that?

 

I notice that the lanyard hook is at the top of the unit rather than the bottom like the Garmins'. Which means if you have it around your neck, you have to twist it around to see it correctly. Is this a nuisance? Are there any protective cases for the PN-20? Are the buttons easy to use? Can it be used one-handed? And with gloves on? How is the screen brightness? Does the backlight setting stay set?

 

Anything else that would help me decide whether or not to send the Vista HCx back and get a PN-20 instead would be appreciated. :huh:

 

Thanks,

Carole

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Get the 60CSX

 

* Much much better bicycle mount (Etrex Vista HCX is horrible--see other posts)

* Remote antenna interface (Vista has none)

* Easier access to "Find, Mark, Page, Menu," etc.

* Rugged design as compared to etrex

* Better Auto set up

* Bigger screen

* Faster processor (about twice as fast)

 

Just a few things above I found having both units for several weeks...I bought my daughter a Vista HCX for Christmas, she likes it recognizing the short comings, personally I think the etrex Vista HCX is made for females ie small, delicate, fits in a womans purse, the 60CSX is bigger, rugged, more masculine.

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"And then my Vista arrived yesterday, and things went downhill.

 

1) The interface is a little different than the Legend.

2) I put the Vista in my Garmin holster and it doesn't fit as well. It makes it very awkward to use the menu and power buttons, and the rocker.

3) I tried doing a multi-cache this afternoon, and the compass was abysmal. From stage 1 to stage 2, it took me in a triangle. However, I hadn't calibrated the compass first, so maybe it will do better tomorrow when I give it another chance.

4) I find it annoying that I have to change the backlit every time I turn it on. Maybe I've missed something, but I keep setting it to 55% and every time I turn the unit it, it is back down to 0."

 

1) The PN-20 will be completely different. You'll get the hang of the Vista HCx in no time.

2) The PN-20 is taller, wider, and thicker than the Vista HCx, and doesn't even have a thumbstick. It probably won't fit in your Garmin holster at all.

3) You do need to calibrate the compass. It takes about 20 seconds.

4) After you turn on your Vista HCx and the "welcome screen" goes away, simply press the "on/off" button once to get the backlight "slider" to appear. Now press the "on/off" button a few times and you'll see the backlight slider switches from "off" to "your preset" to "100%" each time you press the button. So if you want the screen to be at 55%, press the on/off button twice (to get the slider to your preset position) and then press "enter" (the thumbstick). It's sounds convoluted in text, but it really just takes 3 seconds - it'll become second nature in no time.

 

Bottom line? I think you're disappointed because you expected the Vista to be basically the same as your old Legend. It's not - it is vastly superior in every way and it will take a little playing with to get the hang of it. Any way you slice it though, it's more like your old Legend than the PN-20 will be.

Edited by palmfish
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Basically, how do you use the PN-20 for geocaching?

 

What I used to do with the Legend is

1) Download waypoints into GSAK for organization

2) Send waypoints from GSAK to Legend for a day's outing (I normally only do a couple of geocaches at once, so I just send the waypoints one by one to the unit)

Currently the only way to send waypoints to the PN-20 is via the Delorme Topo software. You can send the pocket query gpx file directly to Topo7 and then to the PN-20. I am one who likes to bring the gpx file into GSAK and then send what I want to T7. This is an extra step from what you're able to do now.

 

3) When I arrive at the general area of the cache, I would click the rocker to bring up with the menu, and then select Waypoints.

4) From there, I'd select nearest, select the one I was interested in, and then click Goto which automatically took me to the compass page

5) If I wanted more info, I'd click the rocker to go to the map page. Then I would zoom in to the max zoom-in.

On the PN-20, the Find button brings up a waypoint list sorted by distance from position (or alphabetically if one wants, the GPS remembers the sort from previous use). Rocker down and hit enter to select.

 

This brings up the waypoint page. Rocker right and hit enter to select route.

 

This brings up the route page. Rocker down twice to Navigate and hit enter.

 

This puts you on the map page. Hitting Page button brings up the compass page. Quit button cycles screen back one to map screen if desired.

 

There is no geocaching mode per se on the PN-20. After finding a cache you have to edit the waypoint manually for a different symbol, delete it, or leave it as it is after finding it. I usually delete them after finding them (I log the find on my PDA using Cachemate). After finding I either pick a new waypoint from the map or the waypoint list and repeat the above.

 

I have read a lot about it being slow. Is it just these actions to start out that are slow? Once on the Compass page and heading towards the cache, does the compass stay accurate and does the distance left indicator update quickly? From the manual, it says you can hold the zoom in button to go to the maximum zoom. How slow is that?

Mostly the slowness shows up in screen redraws that take 2-5 seconds on the map screen. All of the steps described occur reasonably quickly, although it may take a few seconds for the waypoint list to sort and populate itself. There are no problems with the compass screen staying current and updated. When you hold the zoom button, I'd say it steps through each zoom level at the rate of 1 every 3/4 seconds. Zoom levels are 500 mi to 10 ft.

 

I notice that the lanyard hook is at the top of the unit rather than the bottom like the Garmins'. Which means if you have it around your neck, you have to twist it around to see it correctly. Is this a nuisance?

I use the lanyard as a wrist lanyard when I use it, so it's not a nuisance for me. But yes, as a neck lanyard it's a little awkward to flip it around. Some people get around this by running the lanyard through the screw eyeholes of one or both the screws that secure the battery case.

 

Are there any protective cases for the PN-20? Are the buttons easy to use? Can it be used one-handed? And with gloves on? How is the screen brightness? Does the backlight setting stay set?

I don't know of any specific cases for the PN-20, although a generic one would probably work ok. It's so rugged, I just put a screen protector on it and carry it around in my pocket. One handed operation is pretty easy, and you can do it with a glove that has good tactile capabilities (a well- insulated finger has a hard time with the find, mark, and power buttons which are close together). Screen brightness is good; backlighting needs to be on unless you have direct sunshine to be able to use. Intensity is set by a slider (and stays where you set it), and a timer can be set for 15, 30,45,60 seconds or always on.

 

That's my take; ask if there's any clarification needed.

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The PN-20 will be totally different than any other GPSr on the market. There is a learning curve with all new products but once you start learning how to really use the Topo7/PN-20, you will be amazed. There is plenty of help if needed.

 

1) Although the imagery available for the PN-20 seems great, after looking at the data download site, I realized that I'd only be able to get about 30 different grid segments of the aerial imagery. This didn't seem to give great coverage area for doing extensive geocaching (of course, I'm only at 65 finds, so I don't do that extensive of geocaching).
The aerial imagery is nice to have but the Topo7 mapping is really quite nice to cache with, among other things.

 

2) I'm used to the Legend's interface and buttons, so sticking with the familiar seemed good. I figured that if the imagery was only a limited selling point of the PN-20, I might as well choose the familiar.
The button configuration is a moot point as far as I am concerned and very easy to use.

 

Geocaching

Max pretty much summed it up.

 

I'll add a couple of other thoughts:

1) Next firmware update should have the ability to have 800 characters (compared to the 256 we have now), so paperless caching just even better.

2) I have just about stopped using the direct arrow to a cache because the mapping is that good.

 

I notice that the lanyard hook is at the top of the unit rather than the bottom like the Garmins'. Which means if you have it around your neck, you have to twist it around to see it correctly.
I use the bottom screw tab on the battery cover to attach the lanyard. This allows the PN-20 to hang down in the correct position to just grab it and pull it up to look at, no twisting. Works great for me.

 

Here is the case they have for it.

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I don't have much to add to that which Embra and Ben have posted. However, please allow me to expand a bit on the slowness issue. Much has been written about this as a deficiency by those who expect it to function like a Tom Tom while driving at freeway speeds. They are correct in this assessment, it was not designed with this type of automotive usage as its primary function. For outdoor uses such as geocaching, it can redraw faster than I care to walk.

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...And then my Vista arrived yesterday, and things went downhill...

2) I put the Vista in my Garmin holster and it doesn't fit as well. It makes it very awkward to use the menu and power buttons, and the rocker.

3) I tried doing a multi-cache this afternoon, and the compass was abysmal. From stage 1 to stage 2, it took me in a triangle. However, I hadn't calibrated the compass first, so maybe it will do better tomorrow when I give it another chance.

4) I find it annoying that I have to change the backlit every time I turn it on. Maybe I've missed something, but I keep setting it to 55% and every time I turn the unit it, it is back down to 0...

Anything else that would help me decide whether or not to send the Vista HCx back and get a PN-20 instead would be appreciated. :laughing:

 

Thanks,

Carole

2. The previous 'holsters' are different 'cause the screen size on the monochome Etrex' are longer.

3. Calibrating should help. Also check to make sure the electronic compass is on; press on hold screen page button to toggle between electronic and non-electronic.

4. There are two backlight settings. When you first turn on the unit and hit the backlight, it is off; hit it again and it goes to 1st setting; hit it a third time and it goes to 2nd setting. Once you set it, just hit the backlight button once or twice for the desired setting.

 

Here are two relatively neutral reviews of the PN20.

GPS Tracklog and

PC World.

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Thanks for all the quick responses. I played with the Vista some more and will give it a second chance at caching this afternoon.

 

I also plan to stop by Dick's Sporting Goods or Sports Authority to see if I can actually play with a PN-20. It seems like a great mapping device, and I think I'd actually like its buttons better than the eTrex buttons. I was familiar with the eTrex buttons due to the Legend, which is why I thought I'd be more comfortable with the Vista. But since they don't work exactly the same, and I have a hard time using the buttons with the holster, I'm open to a new design.

 

I still have a few questions on the PN-20.

 

1) Can you export track logs to Google Earth?

2) How is its accuracy under tree cover? I live in SE Pennsylvania, so rollings hills with lots and lots of trees.

 

Thanks again,

Carole

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Get the 60CSX

 

* Remote antenna interface (Vista has none)

You'll have to decide if that's really important to you. The Vista HCx has great reception--hard to see a need for an external antenna.

* Bigger screen

This is true, but it's also quite a bit dimmer, due to the fluorescent backlight instead of the HCx's LED backlight. Also the HCx has a slight edge in resolution.

* Faster processor (about twice as fast)

You're the first person I've heard say that (and I've read a lot of comparisons). If you're talking about the older model of Vistas (C or Cx), I can see that, but the HCx is plenty quick.

Just a few things above I found having both units for several weeks...I bought my daughter a Vista HCX for Christmas, she likes it recognizing the short comings, personally I think the etrex Vista HCX is made for females ie small, delicate, fits in a womans purse, the 60CSX is bigger, rugged, more masculine.

Oh, brother... Making up for some "shortcomings", are we?

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Thanks for all the quick responses. I played with the Vista some more and will give it a second chance at caching this afternoon.

 

I also plan to stop by Dick's Sporting Goods or Sports Authority to see if I can actually play with a PN-20. It seems like a great mapping device, and I think I'd actually like its buttons better than the eTrex buttons. I was familiar with the eTrex buttons due to the Legend, which is why I thought I'd be more comfortable with the Vista. But since they don't work exactly the same, and I have a hard time using the buttons with the holster, I'm open to a new design.

 

I still have a few questions on the PN-20.

 

1) Can you export track logs to Google Earth?

2) How is its accuracy under tree cover? I live in SE Pennsylvania, so rollings hills with lots and lots of trees.

 

Thanks again,

Carole

 

You can load PN-20 tracks into Google Earth.

 

I own both PN-20 and 60CX and this weekend I took both along on a snowmobile trip. The PN-20 was located in my Jacket breast pocket and the Garmin was hooked to an external antenna. The two tracks were very similar but the 60CX had (3) wayward points that distorted the track whereas the PN-20 did not have any stray or lost track points.

 

I realize this is a small sample but I'm convinced the PN-20 will hold lock better in varying condition.

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I take my PN-20 into the Michaux State Forest west of Gettysburg. It holds lock quite well under foliage. My recollection of those who have experiences with both the PN-20 and something like the 60csx have been about like what centme37 described: they seem to be roughly comparable sensitivity.

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* Much much better bicycle mount (Etrex Vista HCX is horrible--see other posts)

 

you can get equally good after market bicycle mounts.

 

* Remote antenna interface (Vista has none)

 

not many people actually use the external antenna

 

* Easier access to "Find, Mark, Page, Menu," etc.

 

An illusion. The 'mark' button could not be easier on the hxc, same for the Page button and menu button.

 

* Rugged design as compared to etrex

 

Agreed it may *look* 'more rugged' but is in fact equally flimsy.

 

* Better Auto set up

 

Inconclusive

 

* Bigger screen

 

Yet lower resolution and very very dull.

 

* Faster processor (about twice as fast)

 

faster doing what?

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<snip>

 

1) The interface is a little different than the Legend.

-- Yup, it is newer, and once you get used to the difference, far easier to navigate. :ph34r:

2) I put the Vista in my Garmin holster and it doesn't fit as well. It makes it very awkward to use the menu and power buttons, and the rocker.

-- Yup . . . I've been waiting for more than two years for Garmin to redesign that neoprene cover, nevertheless, I still use it on my Vista HCx. I've learned to take it off and put it back on at times when I'm trying to see detail. It is worth having it to protect the GPSr.

3) I tried doing a multi-cache this afternoon, and the compass was abysmal. From stage 1 to stage 2, it took me in a triangle. However, I hadn't calibrated the compass first, so maybe it will do better tomorrow when I give it another chance.

--It is important to recalibrate the compass after changing the batteries. Although, I frequently cache with the compass turned off.

4) I find it annoying that I have to change the backlit every time I turn it on. Maybe I've missed something, but I keep setting it to 55% and every time I turn the unit it, it is back down to 0.

--In Setup, you can change the options for the Backlight.

 

<snip>

 

What I used to do with the Legend is

1) Download waypoints into GSAK for organization

-- No difference for the Vista HCx, but with the Vista HCx, you can use Garmin's POI loader to load thousands of Geocaches or Benchmarks or Starbuck's locations in the GPS unit as Points of Interest. :sad:

2) Send waypoints from GSAK to Legend for a day's outing (I normally only do a couple of geocaches at once, so I just send the waypoints one by one to the unit)

-- From GSAK, you can send 1000 waypoints to the GPSr in case you change your mind about which direction you are going, although I usually only send 950 or so to leave room for any waypoints I might want to create during the day.

3) When I arrive at the general area of the cache, I would click the rocker to bring up with the menu, and then select Waypoints.

-- You can change the Pages, and the Page order, on the Vista HCx for efficiency. I only have three pages -- Map, Compass, and Find, so it is very easy to get to the page for finding Geocaches, Waypoints, POIs, or my Custom POIs. Any other options are easily gotten to by pushing the Menu button. :huh:

4) From there, I'd select nearest, select the one I was interested in, and then click Goto which automatically took me to the compass page

-- Same on the Vista HCx :huh:

5) If I wanted more info, I'd click the rocker to go to the map page. Then I would zoom in to the max zoom-in.

-- Just hit the Page button and depending on which order you have set up for the pages, it could be the next Page after the Compass page. :drama:

 

<snip>

I hope you stick with the Vista HCx. It is a great GPS unit. I have used the GPS Map60CSx and prefer the Vista HCx and the action of the "click stick." I also prefer the smaller size for hiking.

 

As for changing brands, since you are somewhat used to the way a Garmin works, but are having problems with a newer Garmin model, you might really have trouble figuring out the PN-20 . . . ;):anicute::P

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If I were setting priorities for the various characteristics, I would put considerations of which button to push and when to push it last.

I'd would make my selection based on the other features.

In the fullness of time, you will get the knack of pushing the buttons.

 

Slim

Who is looking for an in dash radio with volume knob on the right and tuning rocker on the left. :anicute:

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the vista hcx can be mounted much sturdier to my bike than my old 60csx, the vista has a nice metal backing which makes it rock solid if you do it properly

 

the lowrance units in my opinion are allright, a friend has the expedition C....but when I think of lowrance handhelds I only imagine a chevy caprice classic, built and drives like a tank and only getting around 7mpg, whereas garmin units try and mix both durability and efficiency

 

maybe I am wrong, and my friend stands by them so they must be doing something??? right.....but bleh!!!!!!!!!

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Just to throw my two cents in. I have a Megellan Crossover 2500T and i recently ordered the PN-20 and have made my 50 caches with it this weekend working side by side with the crossover. I let my non technical wife use the PN-20 so she can see why i spent the money. While i love my Crossover the support from magellan sucks bad. The PN-20 I had figured out within a couple of hours. The documentation was easy and straightforward....they have information on how to use it for Geocaching and what to do with it.

 

The 2nd day I used the PN-20. I found this unit great to work with. The search button pulling up the nearest caches to me was a pleasant treat. The compass is dead on and on top of that it seems to do really well when rolling up on buildings that obstruct sat view and still keeps you on course....

 

I have enjoyed the unit and it will be my primary. Then if magellan fixes its stop tracking issue i will have two great units to use.

 

Oh and you can navigate to the cache directly or by using the roads then wanders you in the field. I thought that was a nice feature. Others might have it but i would not know.

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