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Garmin eTrex Vista HCx


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Hi, we're looking to purchase our first GPS unit and we're wondering what everyone thinks of the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx.


I searched the forums and there doesn't seem to be much talk about it.


We like the idea of being able to download the coordinates (gosh knows I'd get impatient and enter the wrong numbers if I had to do it every time!)


We're not sure how the microSD cards are going to affect us.......we won't be climbing any huge mountains to GeoCache but some turn by turn instructions would be nice so we stop walking into rivers - ha ha.


How much does everyone rely on their compass???


Thanks in advance.

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I have the Legend HCx, it's a little cheaper and doesn't have the compass and altimeter.


The Micro SD card is WONDERFUL! I bought a 2 GB card.


I also have an old GPS V, and it came with City Select North America. By getting a second unlock code for my new Legend, I am able to load detailed maps for the ENTIRE 48 STATES AND CANADA to the Legend and still have room left over to load custom Points of Interest (caches) for a large portion of the country. I still have room left over! This Micro SD card is GREAT!


I think I have the same screen as the Vista, and the color screen just ROCKS compared to the old monochrome screen on the GPS V. I usually can't see the monochrome screen in daylight, but the color screens are great.


The only think I might say is that I would have bought the 60 if I had had the extra cash.




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I have a Legend HCx (same as the Vista but no electronic compass and altimeter). I really like it. It works very well for what I bought it for......frequent use on my bike. However it's also very good for hiking as well.


My wife and I went to the Chicago area this weekend to look at houses in Evanston and run the half marathon (driving from St. Louis). I purposely did not look at any maps before hand to see how the GPSr would do on the highway. The eTrex was perfect for use while walking around downtown Chicago/Evanston and driving on residential streets. However, on the highway while auto routing, the unit could not quite keep up when it was forced to do continual screen redraws when interchanges that we needed to take were spaced close together. This caused us to miss an exit at one point. When I asked the GPSr to recalculate it took over 30 seconds by which we had just missed the best alternative route. With an auto specific unit this may not have happened. With no text to speech you also have to read all the info on small screen. This is usually not a problem but again, when successive exits are close together, you may not have the time.


The small screen, lack of spoken directions and slowish screen redraw rates are a drawback. It's primary focus is handheld use and it’s designed with that in mind. If I was going to use it for auto-nav every week I would look at getting something else for that. That said it's just fine for occasional use.


micoSD is great. Can't see anything wrong with it. 2GB card can fit roadmaps of NA and topo data for half of it.


EDIT: Compass – You will find very different options on whether this is worth it or not. My opinion. No. From what I have read and witnessed the electronic compass was not a replacement for the real thing. The need to calibrate it was also a drawback in my mind. Just something else that made it not as convenient as the real thing.

Edited by ryleyinstl
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I have been using a Vista HCx for almost a year now. It has no internal memory to download maps; so, a media card is a must if you want to install customized POIs, Topo and/or Street maps.


To conserve some battery life, I cache 95% of the time with the e-compass off. But, it comes in useful when you are unable to move in a linear direction the necessary distance to get the compass needle to point in the right direction, such as when caching on a steep hillside, or rocky terrain, or heavy bush area, or on a boat, etc...


It has another feature rarely discussed, and probably rarely used. That is you can mark a line of travel across a big valley, for example, then navigate to the destination when you drop into the valley and can't view the marked endpoint. The GPS keeps you going in a straight line so you don't go off-course. I suppose you can mark a waypoint with the other GPS', then navigate to it, but you better be sure you mark the correct spot.

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