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Help Me Buy a Handheld GPSr

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Since I'm seriously getting into this geocaching stuff with no sign of slowing down, I need some help on buying a hand held GPSr to use on hunts instead of this car unit I have from Magellan (which has served me OK so far but I need something that can give me a little more detailed information about my current location)


I'm looking at Garmin's site now and comparing the eTrex Legend HCx, eTrex Venture HC, and the Summit HC.


I would LOVE to stay under US$200, heck, even a little over $100 would be ideal given my current budget.


Comparing the feature list I see the following criteria that I'm having a tough time with:



Battery Life 25hrs 14hrs 14hrs

Built-in Memory no 24MB 24MB

Accepts Data Cards microSD no no

Waypoints/Favorites 1000 500 500

Track Log 20saved 10 10

Automatic Routing yes no no

Elec. Compass no no yes

Altimeter no no yes

Custom POIs yes no no


According to their suggested prices, the Venture is the only one that's closely in my price range. Battery life isn't really an issue to me since my current one is about 3 hours. Built-in memory isn't that big of a deal either; buying an SD card is more $$ to spend but you're not limited to 24MB that way; not a HUGE determining factor for me either way. Neither are the waypoints/tracklogs.


For geocaching though, how importang are the elec. compass and custom POIs?


Granted, I have only looked at this one website for model comparison so if anyone has any other suggestions I'd love to hear them.


I think my main concerns are having a unit with a high-sensitivity antenna/receiver that updates quickly and reliably, and the ability to display current coordinates more accurately than my current GPSr does (DD MM SS - with no tenths or hundreths of a second)

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If staying under $200.......I picked up a Legend HCx for $183.00 (with free shipping) from navguys.com last week.


Note: Their order system does not seem to be linked to the web page dynamically (they seem to update once every 1.5 days) so you have to e-mail them for current info.

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Do you find the lack of electronic compass to be a problem (not just for geocaching, but also if you were to use this for hiking, etc?)


No……but then I just take a real compass along (when nessasary). All my previous units over the years did not have one either. After all the bad reviews regarding the constant need to recalibrate the compass (and the barometer for that matter) I figured I would be paying $40 more for something that would just be pissing me off all the time.


If your truly doing backwoods type exploring (sans trails) you need to have a real compass with you anyway. If the GPS software locks up or you lose the GPSr in the lake you will be glad you did.

Edited by ryleyinstl
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Just a FYI, I am in the prefer to stay under $200 range as well.

Most places on the Internet (Amazon, REI, TigerGPS to name a few that I have seen listed in the forums here) seem to sell well below Suggested Retail (60CSx for example is suggested at $428.56, but goes on Amazon for a tad under $300), so unless you are running into Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Gander Mountain or something like that, you will pay less than retail. Beyond Amazon, I don't have any personal experiance with the others.

I was looking at the Legend originally but eventually leaned more to for the Vista HCx ($237.49 at Amazon) and really wanted the 60 CSx (but at $300, would take too much of a sacrifice, though I was seriously thinking of going that route as it seems better overall than the Vista).

However, now I am leaning to getting a Referbished DeLorme PN-20. They run $199, and comes with Topo maps, which would be an extra $80 for the Garmins. Plus, DeLorme's topo does street routing, so I figure that is like getting City Navigator as well, another $80 (I am not sure if Garmin's Topo does street routing or if that is City Navigator only, if the Topo does do street routing that would save the extra $80 rather than make a choice between topo or CN). If indeed Garmin's Topo doesn't do street routing, than after adding both the topo and CN to the Legend or Vista, the costs went above what I was ready to spend, even dropping the Topo and getting just CN adds up to a lot... Of course the PN-20 has its own shortfalls, slow screen refresh being the biggest complaint I see, but for $199 who can complain too much... then again, the PN-40 is coming out later this year, and that may drive the prices on the PN-20 down further. Hard choices to be made... thank god I am behind on the mortgage at the moment and don't have to make the choice yet. :)

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One more question, how does that unit display your current coordinates?


ie: mine give me the info as 42 13' 52" when I really wish it had something more like 42 13' 52.078" or the like

You can pretty much set the unit to display in what ever format you want, the website also uses UTM. Here is another exampe:


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