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Just how bad (unreadable) is the Oregon screen?


bimbert84
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I'm looking to buy my first GPSr and I think the Oregon 300 is the right one for me. I have but one concern, and that's the readability of the screen while outside. There are lots of reports of it being quite bad, but then there are others that say once you adjust the backlight, it's not too bad.

 

So my question is, how bad is it? How bad is it with the backlight turned all the way up?

 

-- Rob

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With no backlight turned on - it is, at best, difficult to read in most situations. Very dim.

 

With the backlight on about 75% level or higher - it is very readable in most circumstances.

 

The complaints are mostly from those of us with older Garmin models that are very readable in daylight condtions with no backlight at all. Therefore the battery lasts a lot longer.

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I'm looking to buy my first GPSr and I think the Oregon 300 is the right one for me. I have but one concern, and that's the readability of the screen while outside. There are lots of reports of it being quite bad, but then there are others that say once you adjust the backlight, it's not too bad.

 

So my question is, how bad is it? How bad is it with the backlight turned all the way up?

 

-- Rob

 

IMHO. Several things affect the personal responses by various individuals such as:

 

1. Having had a GPS before.

 

2. If previously had a GPS then what your coming from and were used to as far as the screen.

 

3. The amount of sunlight while trying to view the screen.

 

4. A whole conglomerate of various screen settings and what maps are being displayed.

 

5. Being able to alter the viewing angle to improve visibility (if fixed mount in sunlight - can be very difficult -depends on viewing angle)

 

I use the Oregon 400c and also use a 60CSx. So for me the screen display is not near as bright... With backlight at 50%-100% in most all conditions the screen is adequate but does not compare to my 60CSx as far as ease of viewing. Even with 100% backlight in direct bright sunlight I need to either shade the screen or tilt the angle to make it useable. The touch screen is fantastic, the additional features with recent software updates are great. The resolution and detail of the larger screen with more pixels gives a pretty display. So all in all the abiltiy to view the screen in sunlight could definitley be improved alot but the other features and things I've mentioned sort of over shadow the screen's poor display in bright sunlight making me glad I got it.

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Not coming from a Garmin background I find the display works better than I expected from the remarks.

 

I've been out hiking in the Easter sunshine we had in Blighty and rarely had to use the backlight.

 

Although when cycling and want more than an 'overview' of where I am I do need the backlight.

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I personally don't find it very hard to read, but I don't try to compete with the sun. The majority of the time I have the backlight off. The exception is in the car, and when I plug it in the screen goes to 100% brightness which I feel is right in line with my in vehicle nav device. I've found when I'm out and about with it if I have the backlight on it seems to get a little washed out, but with it off I can read it fine. YMMV, but for me it's to be expected for a pressure sensitive touch screen. I would by no means call it unusable as some have.

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With no backlight turned on - it is, at best, difficult to read in most situations. Very dim.

 

With the backlight on about 75% level or higher - it is very readable in most circumstances.

 

The complaints are mostly from those of us with older Garmin models that are very readable in daylight condtions with no backlight at all. Therefore the battery lasts a lot longer.

 

True enough. I was pleasantly suprised at how much better the color screen was in the 60 Series than the GPS V. Then to find the colorado and oregon to be worse than the 60 series? It seemed like a step back since these things get used outside.

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I've read tons and tons of posts, and google searched for images of the 400t (or 300) in action. I found that when care was taken to properly photograph the screen in action that the problems that are often emphasized by some were truly not as bad.

 

I can't find the video but I did find one somewhere and that gave me a good idea of screen readability too.

 

In addition I visited a Dick's Sporting Goods and they had both the Oregon 400t and the 60CSx in stock. I got to play wiht the 60CSx but the 400t didn't have a power supply hooked up and the folks in the store were not interested in helping me with the units (strange considering I was contemplating spending full retail for the device just so I could get it 'that day'). I ended up leaving without getting to see the 400t in action - bummer.

 

None the less - I ordered a 400t (i wanted the Topo feature and got the unit for $465 shipped, before rebate).

 

UPS however decided my 400t needed to go to Wisconsin for some strange reason :laughing: so now I wait for a routing correction on my shipment. . . lovely. :laughing:

 

Having used devices with transflective screens in the past I suspect I'll be fine with the Oregon.

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Bright sunlight is a pain.. luckily (:S) we don't get a lot of it here. If you are wearing sunnies then you will almost certainly have to take them off to see the screen.

 

It isn't unbearable for caching but I've heard a lot of people on bikes complain that it is unusable.

 

I think if you get one being prepared for the worst that you won't be too disappointed but it's a shame that they didn't use a transflective screen to add little more contrast on brighter days.

 

On the plus side it rocks for night caching :laughing:++++

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As far as navigating to a cache no problem in any light condition with no backlight. I just put a bicycle mount on my bike and have been on 2 bike n' caches with it was able to read the map and compass with no back light. I was a little worried but all was good. I also wear prescription Transition glasses and they are usually pretty dark most of the time.

 

The only time I have to use the backlight on mine is when trying to read a cache description.

 

All in all its a great unit :laughing:

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I also you a Zagg screen protector, great item! Wouldn't think of not using one with the amout of sliding your finger across the screen that is done. May slightly affect the touch screen's sensitivity but not enough to matter... benefits greatly outway any loss in touch screen sensitivity which is very negligible.

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I use mine in all conditions and have no complaints.

 

I have the backlight turned on all the time. It consumes more batteries but the OR is not good on batteries anyway. And I carry lots of rechargeables.

 

If paperless is your goal, the OR is perfect. Especially when you complement it with GSAK and the macros.

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5. Being able to alter the viewing angle to improve visibility (if fixed mount in sunlight - can be very difficult -depends on viewing angle)

 

+1

 

I've taken my Oregon 300 on snowshoe hikes as well as summer hikes. During the winter not only do you get the sun, but you also have the reflection from the snow. If I find the screen hard to read, I just tilt it, and I can see the screen just fine.

 

Buy from REI if you can. You can return it, no questions asked, if you don't like how the screen looks.

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It is worse than the 60csx, I use them side by side almost every day. How much worse is matter of preference and you should really look at them yourself.

 

There are several ways to improve readability (and also make sure you have downloaded the latest software which improves readability of the data fields and odometer page).

 

http://garminoregon.wikispaces.com/Miscellaneous#toc7

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I'm looking to buy my first GPSr and I think the Oregon 300 is the right one for me. I have but one concern, and that's the readability of the screen while outside. There are lots of reports of it being quite bad, but then there are others that say once you adjust the backlight, it's not too bad.

 

So my question is, how bad is it? How bad is it with the backlight turned all the way up?

 

-- Rob

 

Just to add my experience to this, the screen brightness in daylight was THE reason that I ended up not getting this unit. I went to the store to buy an Oregon on more than one occasion, but every time I actually tried it outside before making the purchase, I was extremely annoyed by how difficult it was to read, even with the backlight all the way up. I always walked away without buying it. The backlight makes VERY little (if ANY) difference in full daylight, even when shading the screen with my hand. Changing the angle did not help nearly enough in my opinion. With sunglasses on, it is downright unusable -- just WAY to dim.

 

In other words, I had to take my sunglasses off (which is glaring) to read it at ALL, and even then it was still VERY dim. This does not mean it was "impossible" to read in full daylight -- it's just that it took an extra degree of "effort" that was really annoying. Think of doing something like reading a map in your car at night using only dim streetlights from some distance away. You can "do" it, but it's irritating enough that you want to immediately turn the map light on since it makes it MUCH easier to read. That's how the Oregon always felt to me in daylight.

 

Larry

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My 2 cents: Its kind of like having a brand new Porsche 944 (of GPSr units) and complaining that the windows aren't tinted. Yes, the screen dimness can be an issue in direct sunlight but the pros of the unit far outweigh the cons especially with the new beta software installed. We had the 60CSx...we won't go back!

-galaP-

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My 2 cents: Its kind of like having a brand new Porsche 944 (of GPSr units) and complaining that the windows aren't tinted. Yes, the screen dimness can be an issue in direct sunlight but the pros of the unit far outweigh the cons especially with the new beta software installed. We had the 60CSx...we won't go back!

-galaP-

 

I agree. I use mine in my truck & on my ATV and hiking and just leave the backlight always on and no difficulty at all reading in all types of lighting.

My 2600 nimh batteries last at least 9 hours and a second set of batteries are not that heavy to carry...I have the external power cord for the unit and do not even use it in the truck or on the ATV... :D

Love this unit and touchscreen...

The key to great battery life is a quality charger and batteries. I have the La Crosse BC900 and it works great...

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I have had the Oregon 300 for a little over a month and find it to be a great GPSr. I have had no issues with the screen being too dim. I have used it in direct sunlight, filtered sunlight, overcast, and in the dark. I have also used it with the backlight on full time, navigating in auto mode, and a full day of driving and still had juice when I arrived (about 8+ hours on.) Make sure you update to the latest software for the unit. I went from an etrex Vista to the Oregon and I think the Oregon's screen is way better then the eTrex and it's weak backlight. Love the unit, great purchase!

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Got my new Oregon 400t today. I haven't had time to get out and walk to a cache yet but I'll be doing so first thing after work.

 

My initial hour with the unit over lunch was outdoor usage (short walk and in-car). I was pleased with the screen and it performed as I expected. This is a high resolution transflective TFT screen. The backlight does seem to improve readibility outdoors compared to having it off however either is fine for me (light on or off). I feel that it is going to be a great unit.

 

I'm going to test the unit at a benchmark on the way home then try a cache if I have time.

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I kinda like StarBrand's #25 post...that said, I am 63 years old, I wear glasses, I use an Oregon 400t, I do not use any backlight, I do not have any problem viewing/reading/using the screen. I also own a 60CS, 60CSx, RINO 530HCx, and Vista Cx - yes, the Oregon 400t screen is "dimmer" than all of those, but not dim enough to make me revert to using any of the aforementioned receivers.

 

Bill

Edited by 2Wheel'in
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Interesting to read through this one - you'd think we were all using different units!!!!

Yes indeed. I've never had a problem seeing the screen on my 300.

 

One thing that really stood out to me when I was reading up about this issue before I bought my 300 was that people are almost always in one of two groups :

 

Group 1 - People who say it's a problem. These people don't actually own Oregons. They've tried one in a shop, or bought one and turned it on and immediately turned it off again and returned it, or looked at a friend's unit for a minute or so, and that's the entire basis on which they claim it's unreadable.

 

Group 2 - People who say it's not as bright as older low-res units but it's perfectly usable. These people own and use Oregons.

 

You can see this split perfectly in this thread - the only person who said the screen is a problem is lalittle who doesn't own one. The rest of us, who do own them, are pretty well agreed that it could be better but it's certainly not unreadable.

 

Gary

Edited by ceeG
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..This is a high resolution transflective TFT screen...

 

Actually it isn't transflective.

 

From Garmin's Website - Oregon 400t Specifications list the display as:

 

"Transflective color TFT touchscreen"

 

Just looking at the screen easily identifies it as a transflective LCD - which is why changing angles helps read the screen more than on non-transflective screens.

 

My point in referencing 'high resolution' was basically because the higher resolution means more LCD pixels and less light passing back through as reflected light to help read the screen. I think back to my Palm m505 which had a large but low resolution color transflective screen. It performed much like the Oregon but was a little brighter in bright sunlight. My theory would be the lower pixel density as at least one part of it.

 

None the less - my experience this afternoon (bright and sunny here earlier, then overcast late this afternoon) was that the 400t is very readable in most any circumstance. I could understand there being some situations where it won't be ideal but I used in it a windshield mount with the BL on and it was great in the car. Out walking without the backlight in bright sun was great - with backlight was great as well.

 

I loaded a GPX file and walked right up to a micro here in town that I've been to before. Accuracy was great and the ability to now function paperless for caching is GREAT!

 

Don't let the screen be the reason you don't buy an Oregon...

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I have had the Oregon 300 for about a month now and I love it. I was a little hesitant buying it at first due lots of negative screen comments. But once I started using it I quickly adapted to the difference between the 60 and the Oregon.

 

I really only use it for caching, and I have found it to be as accurate, and have had no problems finding caches. The paperless advantage is awesome and makes up for any issues with the screen.

 

In the car I use a Nuvi to navigate to parking points and trailheads. So I can't comment on the Oregon as a street navigator.

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I've had an Etrex, and a PN-40. The PN-40 has quite a bright screen. Although the Oregon is no where near as bright as the PN-40, I find absolutely nothing wrong with it. In direct light, if I angle it the right way, it is completely readable without the backlight. Probably around 20 finds so far, and I have ZERO complaints regarding screen brightness. For geocaching it is fine. For other hobbies, such as bicycling or off-roading, with no hands being free, it might be a bit difficult.

 

I couldn't be happier with my Oregon 300. Just got the newest City Navigator NT USA, the Garmin Auto Navigation kit, ZAGG invisibleshield screen protector, and a detachable lanyard. This is almost the perfect geocaching device. If it had hi-res maps like the DeLorme PN series, and a slightly brighter screen, it would be perfect. Or almost perfect. I find it hard to believe that you can't charge rechargeable batteries while in the unit, and have it plugged into a USB device.

 

I'm digressing.

 

-Adam

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From Garmin's Website - Oregon 400t Specifications list the display as:

 

"Transflective color TFT touchscreen"

 

I noticed they changed that which prompted me to return to this thread... I got to wondering if Garmin had silently issued a new revision product.

 

(note the manual still states Backlit TFT display)

 

Having just taken my OR out into the bright sunlight and turned the brightness right down I can see no perceptible difference between it on full or completely off so I think it probably is transflective although it lacks an illuminance sensor that most such devices have.

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Now that I've had my Oregon for a while longer and logged a few more hours with it I wanted to update my experiences so far.

 

First - I still feel the same. My first 4 outings were fine with all weather conditions, including a light drizzle. Visibility was fine in all circumstances both with and without my polarized Bolle sunglasses. Note that polarized sunglasses do create a bit of a 'rainbow effect' where the polarizing filter on the TFT screen has some wavy rainbow like colors that shift as angles change. You get used to it but it's not a blackout like some of the other displays - my Legend turns black when I tilt my head with polarized sunglasses.

 

Since purchasing I've added an Invisible Shield screen protector. I like some things and dislike others: I like: Better contrast on the screen with the protector, the Invisible Shield is more glossy than the matte finish of the 'naked' screen which yields a better contrast and color richness. I also like the fact that the Invisible Shield is very durable (so far) and has a lifetime warranty. Things I don't like about the Invisible Shield (IS for the remainder of this post): The IS is tacky making dragging a finger across the screen a little difficult. The 'naked' matte screen finish is easier to glide your finger on. I just use the calloused edge of a finger or a light press of my finger nail on the screen now - the IS is holding up to that fine. The IS is more glossy causing reflective glare than the standard screen. It's annoying at times but when you get the glare on the matte screen you have to adjust viewing angle just as with the glossy - so no real biggie.

 

Overall I'm quite pleased. I'll try to post a picture when I have a chance of a side by side of my Oregon by my Legend in the noon sun.

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I need to wear reading glasses, and with them I have no problem reading the Oregon 300 screen.

But when out in the bush, I find it awkward to be constantly getting the glasses out just to read the screen, so I got a pair of these Bifocal sunglasses and problem solved.

Anyone who needs reading glasses, just google Bifocal sunglasses and you'll get lots of options.

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I own a Oregon 300 and I have never had a problem reading it in daylight. I was worried about the same thing, but after purchasing it, I found that the bad readability was way over-hyped. Yes it is dimmer than other screens (Picture above is a good example) but it is still 100% readable. I love the 300 and am happy I bought it.

 

For street navigation, you will need a car set, but just set it for the back light to remain on at 100% at all times for that profile. The street navigation works very well.

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Group 1 - People who say it's a problem. These people don't actually own Oregons. They've tried one in a shop, or bought one and turned it on and immediately turned it off again and returned it, or looked at a friend's unit for a minute or so, and that's the entire basis on which they claim it's unreadable.

 

Group 2 - People who say it's not as bright as older low-res units but it's perfectly usable. These people own and use Oregons.

 

You can see this split perfectly in this thread - the only person who said the screen is a problem is lalittle who doesn't own one. The rest of us, who do own them, are pretty well agreed that it could be better but it's certainly not unreadable.

 

Gary

 

Your reasoning appears to be that the opinions of people who don't own Oregons are not valid. Consider, however, that the dim screen could be the very REASON these people don't own one. This is the case with me. I did not try the Oregon for "a minute or so" as you assumed. I went to REI on several occasions and tested both the Oregon and the Colorado for enough time to become clearly aware that the dim screen was in MY opinion a deal breaker. I actually WANTED to like the Oregon since I really like DEM shading, which the 60CSx (which is VASTLY easier to read in the sun) did not have. In the end, however, I had to admit to myself that the dim screen was just going to be too frustrating.

 

It should also be noted that I am definitely not the only person to feel this way -- a LOT of people have complained about this.

 

Regarding the statement that the Oregon is "certainly not unreadable," please note that I did not say it was. This is what I actually said in my post above:

 

This does not mean it was "impossible" to read in full daylight -- it's just that it took an extra degree of "effort" that was really annoying. Think of doing something like reading a map in your car at night using only dim streetlights from some distance away. You can "do" it, but it's irritating enough that you want to immediately turn the map light on since it makes it MUCH easier to read. That's how the Oregon always felt to me in daylight.

 

Larry

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Group 1 - People who say it's a problem. These people don't actually own Oregons.

Group 2 - People who say it's not as bright as older low-res units but it's perfectly usable. These people own and use Oregons.

Your reasoning appears to be that the opinions of people who don't own Oregons are not valid.

People who don't own Oregons have perfectly valid opinions about the Oregon. It just so happens that their opinions are consistently contrary to the opinions of people who do own Oregons.

 

That is my reasoning, and that is all that I said.

 

Gary

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People who don't own Oregons have perfectly valid opinions about the Oregon. It just so happens that their opinions are consistently contrary to the opinions of people who do own Oregons.

 

That is my reasoning, and that is all that I said.

 

Gary

 

Yes -- the people who don't like Oregons for any given reason are less likely to own them then people who do like them. I'm simply pointing out that this is a rather moot point since it does not change the fact that for some people, the dim screen is a deal breaker.

 

Larry

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Group 1 - People who say it's a problem. These people don't actually own Oregons.

Group 2 - People who say it's not as bright as older low-res units but it's perfectly usable. These people own and use Oregons.

Your reasoning appears to be that the opinions of people who don't own Oregons are not valid.

People who don't own Oregons have perfectly valid opinions about the Oregon. It just so happens that their opinions are consistently contrary to the opinions of people who do own Oregons.

 

 

Feel free to continue the argument, but you need to start calling out the 400. rather than the 'Oregon' when discussing screen issues. The new Oregon 500 series has, apparently, a new brighter screen.

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Feel free to continue the argument, but you need to start calling out the 400. rather than the 'Oregon' when discussing screen issues. The new Oregon 500 series has, apparently, a new brighter screen.

 

It's actually ANY of the Oregon versions prior to the 500 series that I was addressing. I haven't seen a 500 yet, so I can't say if it's "going" to be brighter or not. The original poster was asking about an Oregon 300, however, which absolutely does have the brightness issue I was referring to. If the 500 series is in fact brighter, then I'll certainly start referring to 300/400 models that have the brightness issue.

 

I definitely hope that the Oregon 500 has a brighter screen since this would put it back in the running for me. So far, however, I have read that the only significant difference between the 400 and 500 series is the camera. I also saw some video of the 550T, and it was not obvious that the screen was any brighter than the previous models -- I honestly couldn't tell.

 

Larry

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From Garmin's Website - Oregon 400t Specifications list the display as:

 

"Transflective color TFT touchscreen"

 

I noticed they changed that which prompted me to return to this thread... I got to wondering if Garmin had silently issued a new revision product.

 

(note the manual still states Backlit TFT display)

 

Having just taken my OR out into the bright sunlight and turned the brightness right down I can see no perceptible difference between it on full or completely off so I think it probably is transflective although it lacks an illuminance sensor that most such devices have.

Hi folks, I don't own any of the mentioned units so I can't comment on them but from the pictures I can see here there is certainly a difference in the readability of the screens, I will be buying a new GPS later in the year, from what I can see the Garmin 60 series might be a winner for me. Nifty

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I've seen the video that Garmin release of the 500. I didn't see anything in that video to indicate that it's brighter. It looked rather the same as my Oregon 400t.

 

The specifications on the Garmin website also do not specifically mention any difference in the screen. The marketing descriptions also do not mention any 'brighter' or 'improved' screen. They still use the same 'sunlight readable' description for both. There was however a press release from someone (don't know who the source was) that mentioned it was an improved screen. I would think Garmin would want to differentiate this model from the others from a screen standpoint if they had in fact made changes.

 

I'll be interested to see opinions and side by sides of owners once it comes out - but I'm still tickled pink with my Oregon 400t's performance in all lighting situations I've encountered so far.

Edited by andynshe
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Have a look at reply #38 in this thread.

 

To save you actually looking :(, it says

 

Ok, so this will not be very thorough because I was rushed but I actually had my hands on a 550t today at Geowoodstock. I was able to have the 400t and 550t side by side. The screens did look different, but the cords on each were six inches long so I could not get them out in the sun. My wife said the screen on the 400t looked more "pearly" than the 550t. I took some photos with the camera and it was not bad. I did not look at the Firmware installed, like I said I was rushed, but the overall look of the screen does have me inspired to make the jump from my 400t. Again, I was rushed so I was not able to check out the compass, basically because I forgot. I know this in not much but I was excited just to get my hands on one.

Cheers

Gary

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I have the 400 and just returned from a week in the southern NM desert mountians. Lots of sun.

I live in SW FL. Lots of sun.

I always wear polarized sunglasses.

 

I have had only automotive gps units prior to the 400.

 

The 400 is easy enough to use but the screen is frustrating to say the least. To see it in any useful manner in the sunlight I have to lift up the polarized glasses and then adjust the angle of the unit to get just the right conditions. Better in the shade with the backlight but overall something Garmin really needs to work on.

 

Given the high price of the unit compared to other garmins with the similar functions and better screen visiblity, (although no touchscreen; definitely a nice feature) I would recommend trying them out side by side, in conditions similar to what you anticipate in your hiking, before purchasing. I didn't really have that option.

 

The touchscreen and the screen size and other features may outweigh the visibility issue but I found that, during a long hike, the numerous times I needed to look at the screen and the difficulty of doing so was very frustrating. Basically I had to come to a complete stop every time. Sometimes all I wanted was a quick glance at information or the map but that was not possible due to the issues mentioned.

 

All I can say in conclusion is that after returning from NM I was back in Best Buy looking at the screens on the other units and comparing the ease of the touchscreen controls vs the various options on the other units.

 

If the screen was better I'd say this unit beats all for ease of use but check for yourself before buying if you can. Obviously, from all of the posts, while everyone agrees the screen is inferior in its brightness, etc., there is a significant variance in opinion as to how much that affects its usefulness.

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I got my Oregon 400t about a month and had minimal GPSr exposure prior to that. Like the previous poster I also wear Polarized sunglasses. I also have a Zagg Invisible Shield on it although that shouldn't affect the display at all.

 

I find the display to be most readable in bright, direct sunlight, and less readable in cloudy conditions or indoors. It is in those situations that I turn the backlight up to 100%, normally I have it at 50%. If I'm in the woods and having trouble reading the screen I'll move so that I can hold the GPSr in a shaft of sunlight coming through the canopy.

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