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Help in pulling the trigger on a new Garmin – features vs price – usefulness of features.


I know this has probably been asked and answered a few dozen times, but I couldn't find it in search, so I apologize for re-asking.


I have a 10-year-old Garmin GPS12 – no maps, no cables, plain jane. It works fine. It generally puts me within 1 to 3 steps of caches that are in the open. My only complaints and reasons to upgrade: it is big and heavy, takes 4 batteries for about 8 to 10 hours use, it is slow to acquire sats and readings, under trees it can be verrrrrry slooooow and inaccurate.


All the new Garmins use only 2 batteries and deliver from 75 to 250% more run time than my GPS12 on 4 batts.


How useful are the features and whistles and bells as you move up the purchase price?


I am pretty much narrowed down to:


eTrex H ($100) pretty much the same as my old unit except, 17 hr batts, High antenna and has serial cable.

Venture HC ($155) 14hr batts, USB

Legend HCx ($195) 25hr batts, USB, auto route turns, micro-slot

Vista HCx ($250) 25hr batts, USB, auto route turns, micro-slot, compass/baro,


I think I do not need or care about the electronic compass or barometric altimeter features.

I have never come close to using all the memory in my old unit, waypoints, tracks or routes.


How worthwhile is the map feature? It looks cool and fun; is it useful as a practical matter?


Auto route Turns? What is this?


Memory vs data cards? Venture has 24MB built in and no slot for data card, the Legend and Vista have slot and no memory? Do cards normally come with the unit and do you need to buy them if they don’t?


Well, I guess writing this out has helped me organize my thinking and I am leaning towards the Legend for the maps and battery life issue. But I am unclear about built-in memory vs a card?


It looks like all I would gain with the Vista HCx is the compass and baro alt. that I doubt I would need. If I walk 5 or10 feet with my old Garmin the compass works. I live in Florida where the altitude in most of the state varies only from 0 to about 30 feet. If I hike in North GA or NC I always have a topo map with me and know the altitude from that.


Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice.

Edited by HopsMaltYeast
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I find the electronic compass in the Vista series to be very useful. As I'm standing there looking for the cache, it continues to point in the right direction instead of spinning around waiting for me to move a sufficient distance. When hiking, too, it is useful when you take a break to look around and still need to get your bearings.


I live in Colorado, so the altimeter is a nice feature. One of my latest caching adventures involved a 2,500 ft vertical descent!

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I would definitely get one with the memory card slot. Once you have maps you'll probably want more and more maps and for auto-routing 24mb isn't enough at all.


I have 1.7gb of maps loaded on my 60csx's microSD card. This includes some super detailed topos, less detailed topos, roads for the entire south (from east coast to west coast), world map, etc.



And just based on what you've said above the Legend HCx is probably a good call. The internal memory is for waypoints and storing and index of what maps exist while the external memory holds daily track logs (which is sweet, a track of every single movement every day), maps, and custom points of interest.

Edited by -Oz-
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