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Searching_ut

Dakota 20 compared to PN-40

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I just purchased myself an extremely expensive Dakota 20. The GPS was only $350, but talking the wife into letting me pick up a second GPS that I really didn't need this year resulted into my agreeing to a Mexican Rivera cruise this fall, and a new point and shoot camera with a big zoom because she doesn't want to drag here DLSR on the trip......

 

Anway, I've only played with it for a few hours yet, so I'm still early in learning it's quirks. If there are any specifics anyone has questions on, spell them out and I'll try and do a comparison. So far, they behave very similar in a lot of ways, quite different in others..

 

Show me heading out the door to play, er I mean evaluate.......

Edited by Searching_ut

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First impressions and comparisons after a days use of the dakota.

 

Both units have an interesting quirk when first getting a lock where they can show 4 or more solid bars, but not have a fix yet. I don’t recall any other unit I’ve used doing this so it must be something unique to the chipset used. Not a problem, just interesting in it’s difference.

 

The Dakota feels smaller than the dimensions would have you think. It fits very snuggly into your palm and is pretty close to the perfect size for outdoor adventure in my opinion. It’s very similar in feel to an etrex unit. As to how rugged it is, to me it looks and feels a little fragile. Time will tell here.

 

Battery life on the Dakota is noticeably better than the PN-40. It will take awhile to get a good read on how much better though. So far, the PN-40 batteries have been replaced once, the Dakota is still going strong.

 

While stationary, the PN-40 often shows you as moving at something under 2mph while the Dakota doesn’t. On the other end of that, the Dakota often shows you as stationary when you are moving slowly while the PN-40 shows you with slow speed movement. I haven’t played with the trip computers yet, but comparing the differences here will be interesting. It kind of looks like the Dakota might have the same trip computer issues at walking speeds experienced by eTrex users, despite having a different chipset at the core. My impression is that the Delorme will end up being slightly more accurate in the trip computer arena, but only a few weeks comparing will let me know for sure.

 

Display wise, the Dakota isn’t as bad as I expected when used outdoors handheld. When outdoors, in a brightly lit area, the angle at which you can view it well however is fairly small, meaning while when handheld it’s easy to tilt it to where you can see it well, if mounted on a dash, or handlebars you’re probably going to get quite frustrated with the unit. Physical size wise the Dakota display is about the same width as the display of the PN-40, but somewhat longer length wise. Despite the slightly larger physical size, the Dakota display doesn’t offer any additional resolution.

 

After a days use, I’ve had one glitch with the Dakota. I initially calibrated the compass without a memory card in the receiver. When I put a memory card in it, the compass started acting erratically. When I tried to do a calibration, it kept failing as soon as I hit the start key, telling me to hold the unit level, even though it was level. I finally turned the receiver off and back on and it let me calibrate the compass with no further problems.

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Display wise, the Dakota isn’t as bad as I expected when used outdoors handheld. When outdoors, in a brightly lit area, the angle at which you can view it well however is fairly small, meaning while when handheld it’s easy to tilt it to where you can see it well, if mounted on a dash, or handlebars you’re probably going to get quite frustrated with the unit.

In the car, you can try hooking it up to the cigarette lighter and the screen gets MUCH brighter when it's hooked up to an external power source...at least that's the case with my Colorado and a friend's Oregon.

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When you are caching and you are doing a multi, can you change the coords for that cache or do you have to make it as a watpoint? Is it as accurate as the -40? So far is it worth it to get rid my -40 and buy this?

Edited by The Yinnie's

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When you are caching and you are doing a multi, can you change the coords for that cache or do you have to make it as a watpoint? Is it as accurate as the -40? So far is it worth it to get rid my -40 and buy this?

 

As far as I can tell, there is no way to edit the data for a geocache that was uploaded to the Dakota as a geocache. When you try, it saves it as a waypoint with the same name. You can then edit that waypoints data, but you can't change the data for the geocache, at least there isn't a way that I've found to do it yet.

 

As far as accuracy and repeatability, I haven't played with it anywhere near enough to make a call on that yet. The Delorme seems to report an EPE of approximately half that of the Dakota, but EPE values seem to vary by manufacture, and often have no correlation to anything. From what I've seen, the two receivers seem about the same accuracy wise, but I've only played in fairly open areas so far.

 

Regarding getting rid of a PN-40 to get one, what are you looking for that's different. If your primary GPS use is geocaching, I haven't seen anything significant enough to make one stand out that much over the other. Myself, I wanted something that leaned a little more towards handheld backcountry use, primarily track recording, trail, and off trail route finding ability, primarily in the lower 48, but venturing to other countries and alaska one or two times a year, and the ability to store a large area worth of map data so I don't have to pre-plan very much. So far, the Dakota is looking promising. It works fine with my old version of Garmin TOPO, I'll try it with the 24k maps soon. Battery life on enlopes appears to exceed 12 hours, which means I should be able to record a full days hiking tracks without having to worry about a battery swap. I would sometime get under 6 hours with the PN-40, and it tended to vary enough to make predictabilty tough.

 

Bang for the buck, The Dakota seems a little pricey, and you have to pay full retail because it's new. The PN-40 is a better value in my opinion. Data entry wise, the Dakota is much quicker and easier to use thanks to the touch screen. Most of the differences in operating system etc are personal perference sorts of stuff. Accuracy, track recording, trip computer etc will take a lot more testing

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It works fine with my old version of Garmin TOPO, I'll try it with the 24k maps soon.

 

I've got all the 24k TopoWest loaded into one file on my Dakota 20. They're a little over 4GB. You'll need an 8GB card because a 4GB card is actually too small to hold all the maps. I've also got Topo2008 maps of ID, MT, UT, WY, AZ, CO, and NM in a seperate file on the same card. Also CN2009, Inland Lakes and Bluecharts for the western states (CO and west). All these are in seperate files, off the top of my head I believe there's a total of around 3600 (maybe 3300) map segments and total size around 6 GB. I can turn on or off each set of maps and also set which maps are used for different profiles. I've been using an eTrex Vista HCX since they came out but I'm really liking the Dakota 20.

 

Pete

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Thanks Pete, now I know how big a card to get. The only one I have of the micro size is only half a gig.

 

I ended up taking my Dakota back and swapping it out for a new one at REI (They're really great to work with on returns) The compass issue I had mentioned got much worse, and would start spinning when stopped. The calibration would only last around 20 minutes towards the end, and I couldn't re-calibrate without cycling the power off. It would immediately fail the calibration every time I tried. So far, the new unit is quite stable.

 

Good to my word, we bought the wife her little point and shoot camera while out returning my Dakota. Those little cameras sure offer a lot more bang for the buck than the GPS units do. That little canon sx200IS has a cpu with some pretty fancy programing, rechargable battery and charger, optics with necessary motors etc to extend and focus, comes with a memory card, and has the electronics necessary to provide for optical image stabalization all packed into a very solid metal chasis, with of course an LCD screen. Seems you get a lot more technology for the money than you do with GPS units.

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Of course the camera isn't required to help you find your way out with satellites either. :wub:

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... you get a lot more technology for the money than you do with GPS units...
Economies of scale and market forces. A lot more cameras than GPS users in the world.

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As an update to the Dakota, the new one I picked up today seems to have compass calibration issues as well. The compass seems to work okay when you move regularly, with only occasional stops for a few minutes to a half hour or so. Seems if you let it set while turned on for much more than half an hour or so though it goes nuts and you have to turn the power off. It will take me a little longer to figure out for sure what set the thing off, as I’ve only repeated it a couple times so far. I e-mailed garmin on the issue and will wait to see what I learn from them.

 

Continuing on with comparisons, while it’s well known I’m not a fan of the Delorme maps, I’m going to give the edge in street navigation to the PN-40. The garmin cn maps are far better, and the garmins tend to pick better routes a lot more quickly (Based on other units, I haven’t unlocked and CN maps for the Dakota yet) Maps aside, The Dakota 20 is too hard to see on the dash, and the beeps aren’t loud enough to be heard in my truck so you’ll have a hard time knowing when to turn. It might get my attention in the car, but only if I’m not listening to the radio.

 

Battery life definitely goes to the Dakota. So far it’s giving me about twice the run time on a set of eneloops than what I get out of the PN-40

 

Interface wise, I prefer the Garmin. The touch screen is fast and convenient, although I’m not sure how it will hold up to dirty finger over time. Due to the screens small size, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to use it with gloves on, so I’ll need to use one of my PDA styluses in the winter, or something similar I would think.

 

Magnetic compass wise, when it works the Dakota one seems a little more smooth in operation and slightly more useable. The calibration issue however has me concerned about this. We’ll have to see how this works out.

 

Life didn’t work out to where I was able to cache or hike this weekend, due to a new grandkid being added to the pack, so performance comparisons on those lines are still to come

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As an update to the Dakota, the new one I picked up today seems to have compass calibration issues as well. The compass seems to work okay when you move regularly, with only occasional stops for a few minutes to a half hour or so. Seems if you let it set while turned on for much more than half an hour or so though it goes nuts and you have to turn the power off. It will take me a little longer to figure out for sure what set the thing off, as I’ve only repeated it a couple times so far. I e-mailed garmin on the issue and will wait to see what I learn from them.

 

Continuing on with comparisons, while it’s well known I’m not a fan of the Delorme maps, I’m going to give the edge in street navigation to the PN-40. The garmin cn maps are far better, and the garmins tend to pick better routes a lot more quickly (Based on other units, I haven’t unlocked and CN maps for the Dakota yet) Maps aside, The Dakota 20 is too hard to see on the dash, and the beeps aren’t loud enough to be heard in my truck so you’ll have a hard time knowing when to turn. It might get my attention in the car, but only if I’m not listening to the radio.

 

Battery life definitely goes to the Dakota. So far it’s giving me about twice the run time on a set of eneloops than what I get out of the PN-40

 

Interface wise, I prefer the Garmin. The touch screen is fast and convenient, although I’m not sure how it will hold up to dirty finger over time. Due to the screens small size, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to use it with gloves on, so I’ll need to use one of my PDA styluses in the winter, or something similar I would think.

 

Magnetic compass wise, when it works the Dakota one seems a little more smooth in operation and slightly more useable. The calibration issue however has me concerned about this. We’ll have to see how this works out.

 

Life didn’t work out to where I was able to cache or hike this weekend, due to a new grandkid being added to the pack, so performance comparisons on those lines are still to come

So you like the maps on the Dakota better than the -40 but would rather use the -40 for street navigation? And the accuracy and the compass, better, same or worse than the -40? I know you only had it for a very short time.

Thanks

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I have a very specific question about Garmin Dakota: as in old models of Garmins, isn't possible to create groups / folders of Waypoints? Do we have to leave all the wayppoints all mixed?

 

I've been using a Magellan eXplorist in the last years - which I lost yesterday - and now considering options. This may sound like an insignicant detail but I'm not sure I could live with a waypoints all-together system again (before the Magellan I owned a Garmin).

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.......

So you like the maps on the Dakota better than the -40 but would rather use the -40 for street navigation? And the accuracy and the compass, better, same or worse than the -40? I know you only had it for a very short time.

Thanks

 

The map thing does indeed sound pretty contradictory when I read it back, but here is where I see things.

To start with, Maps are regional, so this might not apply to everyone. That said, I’ve found that for just about everywhere I’ve gone, the CN maps are more up to date, and quite a bit more accurate than the street data available in Delormes TOPO product. Routing tends to be better with the Garmin products as well, making it the obvious choice for navigation, with one major exception: If you’re using the Dakota with the maps in a vehicle, accessing that great navigation data is difficult at best. Mounting the Dakota in such a way that I can see it while turning and navigating through variations of lighting is all but impossible. As a result, I lose the ability to see the display without significant difficulty, and turns etc. aren’t going to jump out at me immediately so that I’m going to see them. You end up needing to spend too much time staring at the GPS unit and trying to access the data rather than paying attention to the road. Because of the display issue, despite great data, I can’t necessarily access it real time, making the device of little use to me for street navigation in a vehicle.

 

With the PN on the other hand, more often than not a quick glance is all it takes to see the maps when in the vehicle, Thus, while the maps aren’t as good, they are at least available to me. My thoughts are that a so so map that is available is better than a good map that isn’t. If your dash layout, or eyes are such that you can see the Dakota while driving, It would be a better choice. That said, I’m not planning to use either for street use, and will stick to my Streetpilots and Nuvi. Good maps and voice make things a whole lot better here.

Finally, despite the difficulty with seeing the Dakota in my vehicle, I find I have no problems with it when handheld. It’s kind of like my hand instinctively turns it to where I don’t have glare, and the existing light makes the display quite readable. Outdoors, even in mixed lighting the display is actually quite good, it’s just that the sweet spot of an angle required to make it viewable isn’t very big, and changes with changes to the lighting angle. With the unit in my hand, dealing with the tilt adjustments necessary to allow me to see the display adequately isn’t an issue to me. So far, I prefer the Dakota for hand held use, but this is an area where Garmins topo maps aren’t necessarily much of an improvement if at all, which means neither unit really has an edge over the other. It’s just a preference thing.

 

Regarding the compass, both units are much better and more accurate than the 2 axis counterparts in most other units in my opinion. The PN and Dakota compasses seem quite comparable in accuracy to one another, and quite accurate when compared to a magnetic compass, at least when held somewhat level. You do notice a few degrees of variation when you tilt them significantly, but they seem to even handle that pretty well. The Dakota compass appears to be somewhat more filtered, and is very smooth and stable in it’s rotation, but not necessarily more accurate from what I’ve seen. The Dakota’s loss of compass calibration issue has me a bit concerned though because I don’t know if it’s a software or hardware issue.

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I have a very specific question about Garmin Dakota: as in old models of Garmins, isn't possible to create groups / folders of Waypoints? Do we have to leave all the wayppoints all mixed?

 

I've been using a Magellan eXplorist in the last years - which I lost yesterday - and now considering options. This may sound like an insignicant detail but I'm not sure I could live with a waypoints all-together system again (before the Magellan I owned a Garmin).

 

If there is any way to sort things in the geocache, or waypoint storage areas it isn't immediately obvious to me on how to do it. I'll play with it some more and see if I can find a way to break them into groups or folders.

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If you’re using the Dakota with the maps in a vehicle, accessing that great navigation data is difficult at best. Mounting the Dakota in such a way that I can see it while turning and navigating through variations of lighting is all but impossible.

 

You just need a power cord for use in the car. If it's anything like my Oregon, it will be super bright once you do that.

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Finally, despite the difficulty with seeing the Dakota in my vehicle, I find I have no problems with it when handheld. It’s kind of like my hand instinctively turns it to where I don’t have glare, and the existing light makes the display quite readable. Outdoors, even in mixed lighting the display is actually quite good, it’s just that the sweet spot of an angle required to make it viewable isn’t very big, and changes with changes to the lighting angle. With the unit in my hand, dealing with the tilt adjustments necessary to allow me to see the display adequately isn’t an issue to me.

 

I've found using a pair of polarizing sunglasses reduces the glare by quite a bit.

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... despite the difficulty with seeing the Dakota in my vehicle, I find I have no problems with it when handheld. It's kind of like my hand instinctively turns it to where I don't have glare
Hurray! Someone else saying EXACTLY the same thing I've been saying for years :wub:

 

The fact that you instintively position a handheld device for the best view is lost on a lot of folks. There are really very few* color handheld units (touchscreen or otherwise) that are as visible/usable in a vehicle mount (car or bike) as they are in handheld use. Fixed viewing angle for variable lighting angles/direction is the problem.

 

---

* edit to add ... any second now, someone will be here telling me I'm wrong, because they have no problem reading the screen on their favorite gps in their car, bike, or kayak. hey, I did say there were a few....

Edited by lee_rimar

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.......

So you like the maps on the Dakota better than the -40 but would rather use the -40 for street navigation? And the accuracy and the compass, better, same or worse than the -40? I know you only had it for a very short time.

Thanks

 

The map thing does indeed sound pretty contradictory when I read it back, but here is where I see things.

To start with, Maps are regional, so this might not apply to everyone. That said, I’ve found that for just about everywhere I’ve gone, the CN maps are more up to date, and quite a bit more accurate than the street data available in Delormes TOPO product. Routing tends to be better with the Garmin products as well, making it the obvious choice for navigation, with one major exception: If you’re using the Dakota with the maps in a vehicle, accessing that great navigation data is difficult at best. Mounting the Dakota in such a way that I can see it while turning and navigating through variations of lighting is all but impossible. As a result, I lose the ability to see the display without significant difficulty, and turns etc. aren’t going to jump out at me immediately so that I’m going to see them. You end up needing to spend too much time staring at the GPS unit and trying to access the data rather than paying attention to the road. Because of the display issue, despite great data, I can’t necessarily access it real time, making the device of little use to me for street navigation in a vehicle.

 

With the PN on the other hand, more often than not a quick glance is all it takes to see the maps when in the vehicle, Thus, while the maps aren’t as good, they are at least available to me. My thoughts are that a so so map that is available is better than a good map that isn’t. If your dash layout, or eyes are such that you can see the Dakota while driving, It would be a better choice. That said, I’m not planning to use either for street use, and will stick to my Streetpilots and Nuvi. Good maps and voice make things a whole lot better here.

Finally, despite the difficulty with seeing the Dakota in my vehicle, I find I have no problems with it when handheld. It’s kind of like my hand instinctively turns it to where I don’t have glare, and the existing light makes the display quite readable. Outdoors, even in mixed lighting the display is actually quite good, it’s just that the sweet spot of an angle required to make it viewable isn’t very big, and changes with changes to the lighting angle. With the unit in my hand, dealing with the tilt adjustments necessary to allow me to see the display adequately isn’t an issue to me. So far, I prefer the Dakota for hand held use, but this is an area where Garmins topo maps aren’t necessarily much of an improvement if at all, which means neither unit really has an edge over the other. It’s just a preference thing.

 

Regarding the compass, both units are much better and more accurate than the 2 axis counterparts in most other units in my opinion. The PN and Dakota compasses seem quite comparable in accuracy to one another, and quite accurate when compared to a magnetic compass, at least when held somewhat level. You do notice a few degrees of variation when you tilt them significantly, but they seem to even handle that pretty well. The Dakota compass appears to be somewhat more filtered, and is very smooth and stable in it’s rotation, but not necessarily more accurate from what I’ve seen. The Dakota’s loss of compass calibration issue has me a bit concerned though because I don’t know if it’s a software or hardware issue.

Do you think that it is as accurate as the -40?

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.......

So you like the maps on the Dakota better than the -40 but would rather use the -40 for street navigation? And the accuracy and the compass, better, same or worse than the -40? I know you only had it for a very short time.

Thanks

 

The map thing does indeed sound pretty contradictory when I read it back, but here is where I see things.

To start with, Maps are regional, so this might not apply to everyone. That said, I’ve found that for just about everywhere I’ve gone, the CN maps are more up to date, and quite a bit more accurate than the street data available in Delormes TOPO product. Routing tends to be better with the Garmin products as well, making it the obvious choice for navigation, with one major exception: If you’re using the Dakota with the maps in a vehicle, accessing that great navigation data is difficult at best. Mounting the Dakota in such a way that I can see it while turning and navigating through variations of lighting is all but impossible. As a result, I lose the ability to see the display without significant difficulty, and turns etc. aren’t going to jump out at me immediately so that I’m going to see them. You end up needing to spend too much time staring at the GPS unit and trying to access the data rather than paying attention to the road. Because of the display issue, despite great data, I can’t necessarily access it real time, making the device of little use to me for street navigation in a vehicle.

 

With the PN on the other hand, more often than not a quick glance is all it takes to see the maps when in the vehicle, Thus, while the maps aren’t as good, they are at least available to me. My thoughts are that a so so map that is available is better than a good map that isn’t. If your dash layout, or eyes are such that you can see the Dakota while driving, It would be a better choice. That said, I’m not planning to use either for street use, and will stick to my Streetpilots and Nuvi. Good maps and voice make things a whole lot better here.

Finally, despite the difficulty with seeing the Dakota in my vehicle, I find I have no problems with it when handheld. It’s kind of like my hand instinctively turns it to where I don’t have glare, and the existing light makes the display quite readable. Outdoors, even in mixed lighting the display is actually quite good, it’s just that the sweet spot of an angle required to make it viewable isn’t very big, and changes with changes to the lighting angle. With the unit in my hand, dealing with the tilt adjustments necessary to allow me to see the display adequately isn’t an issue to me. So far, I prefer the Dakota for hand held use, but this is an area where Garmins topo maps aren’t necessarily much of an improvement if at all, which means neither unit really has an edge over the other. It’s just a preference thing.

 

Regarding the compass, both units are much better and more accurate than the 2 axis counterparts in most other units in my opinion. The PN and Dakota compasses seem quite comparable in accuracy to one another, and quite accurate when compared to a magnetic compass, at least when held somewhat level. You do notice a few degrees of variation when you tilt them significantly, but they seem to even handle that pretty well. The Dakota compass appears to be somewhat more filtered, and is very smooth and stable in it’s rotation, but not necessarily more accurate from what I’ve seen. The Dakota’s loss of compass calibration issue has me a bit concerned though because I don’t know if it’s a software or hardware issue.

Do you think that it is as accurate as the -40?

 

Not an owner of the Dakota, but if it's anything close to the Oregon, NO! I do a lot of the drunken bee dance while using the Oregon, I did very little of this when i owned my PN-40.

 

As of right now, I would say the PN-40 is more accurate! This is MHO and based on my observations only.

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When you are caching and you are doing a multi, can you change the coords for that cache or do you have to make it as a watpoint? Is it as accurate as the -40? So far is it worth it to get rid my -40 and buy this?

No. Cache data cannot be changed, deleted or added to in the field. You need to add this information as waypoints. If you've seen an Oregon it works exactly the same way.

 

I can't comment on the PN-40 comparison but I can say that it does not seem to be a accurate as an Oregon 400t. I've been comparing tracklogs and the DK has more track noise and short distance "jitter" than an Oregon. No major drifts yet so it might be a matter of tuning the Dakota. The Oregon, PN-40 and Dakota do share the same chipset so differences are only in software and antenna design.

 

I have a very specific question about Garmin Dakota: as in old models of Garmins, isn't possible to create groups / folders of Waypoints? Do we have to leave all the wayppoints all mixed?

 

I've been using a Magellan eXplorist in the last years - which I lost yesterday - and now considering options. This may sound like an insignicant detail but I'm not sure I could live with a waypoints all-together system again (before the Magellan I owned a Garmin).

 

No but you can create groups of custom POIs for "waypoints" you always want on the unit.

 

If you’re using the Dakota with the maps in a vehicle, accessing that great navigation data is difficult at best. Mounting the Dakota in such a way that I can see it while turning and navigating through variations of lighting is all but impossible.

 

You just need a power cord for use in the car. If it's anything like my Oregon, it will be super bright once you do that.

 

Dakota is the same, it gets brighter but the backlight w/ or w/o external power is weaker on the Oregon.

 

I use the Oregon to do a lot of in car nav and I think it works pretty good, the Dakota I find a little too small and too hard to see to use regularly -- but it would work in a pinch.

Edited by g-o-cashers

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If you’re using the Dakota with the maps in a vehicle, accessing that great navigation data is difficult at best. Mounting the Dakota in such a way that I can see it while turning and navigating through variations of lighting is all but impossible.

 

You just need a power cord for use in the car. If it's anything like my Oregon, it will be super bright once you do that.

 

I tried it with a car power cord, and it does boost the brightness a fair amount, maybe almost double, but it still isn't very bright. I adjusted the brightness on my NUVI 265WT to get approximately the same brightness and found that setting the nuvi to 30 percent gave about the same display. The nuvi screen however isn't as reflective and doesn't have as much glare, so even when plugged in, the Dakota isn't as readable as the NUVI set to 30% brightness.

 

I also found that not all garmin cigarette adaptors are the same. The first one I tried was off my old i3. When I plugged in the dakota, it went into the same mode as it does when hooked to the computer. Using the traffic receiver/power adapter from the nuvi, the Dakota screen said I had the wrong accessory plugged in, but it worked anyway.

 

I'm heading out to do some walking speed track comparisons, and repeatability tests in wide open conditions. Canyons and trees will come later.

Edited by Searching_ut

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Searching_ut :

First, Congratulations on the new generation, hoping for happy, healthy, and good (pack) structure.

Nice critique, looking forward to more of your insights (and outsights).

 

Norm

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Took both units out on a boardwalk in a wetlands, with about as open of skys as you'll find in these parts, with the boardwalk giving me something to confine my route for repeatability purposes. After two loops, Dakota recorded 2.55 miles traveled, the Pn-40 said I did 2.50. I saved a couple waypoints on the way, then navigated back, it was a split as to which one was off the mark, with the errors being very similar. I can't say I saw anything that made one stand out above the other.

 

Currently, I'm having trouble getting the tracks into the same program so I can overlay them, preferably on an aerial photo. Anyone figure out how to easily export a track from TOPO 7? If not, what's the best way to pull the track from the Dakota into topo 7? So far, I can't get it to import it as a GPX file, or read it directly from the receiver. Topo will download data directly out of my older garmin units, but doesn't seem to want to dance with the Dakota.

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Took both units out on a boardwalk in a wetlands, with about as open of skys as you'll find in these parts, with the boardwalk giving me something to confine my route for repeatability purposes. After two loops, Dakota recorded 2.55 miles traveled, the Pn-40 said I did 2.50. I saved a couple waypoints on the way, then navigated back, it was a split as to which one was off the mark, with the errors being very similar. I can't say I saw anything that made one stand out above the other.

 

Currently, I'm having trouble getting the tracks into the same program so I can overlay them, preferably on an aerial photo. Anyone figure out how to easily export a track from TOPO 7? If not, what's the best way to pull the track from the Dakota into topo 7? So far, I can't get it to import it as a GPX file, or read it directly from the receiver. Topo will download data directly out of my older garmin units, but doesn't seem to want to dance with the Dakota.

I'm in the middle of a download right now, but I think if you copy the track to a draw layer, you can then export it as a GPX file.

 

As far as importing from the Dakota, that's going to take some fiddling with the Topo and GPS (if possible) settings. It sounds like a communication error. If the Dakota outputs NMEA, you might want to try to go to the slowest denominator. My experience has been if the GPS talks too fast, Topo loses the handshake. That was with Topo 6. I'm going to assume T7 is probably the same.

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I also found that not all garmin cigarette adaptors are the same. The first one I tried was off my old i3. When I plugged in the dakota, it went into the same mode as it does when hooked to the computer. Using the traffic receiver/power adapter from the nuvi, the Dakota screen said I had the wrong accessory plugged in, but it worked anyway.

 

I'm heading out to do some walking speed track comparisons, and repeatability tests in wide open conditions. Canyons and trees will come later.

 

Does the Dakota have the Garmin spanner option as an interface?? This will get rid of these problems with using a non-Type A USB cable.

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I also found that not all garmin cigarette adaptors are the same. The first one I tried was off my old i3. When I plugged in the dakota, it went into the same mode as it does when hooked to the computer. Using the traffic receiver/power adapter from the nuvi, the Dakota screen said I had the wrong accessory plugged in, but it worked anyway.

 

I'm heading out to do some walking speed track comparisons, and repeatability tests in wide open conditions. Canyons and trees will come later.

 

Does the Dakota have the Garmin spanner option as an interface?? This will get rid of these problems with using a non-Type A USB cable.

 

I have an Oregon 300 and now a Dakota 20 and I see no evidence of a spanner mode on the Dakota. Zeide

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Took both units out on a boardwalk in a wetlands, with about as open of skys as you'll find in these parts, with the boardwalk giving me something to confine my route for repeatability purposes. After two loops, Dakota recorded 2.55 miles traveled, the Pn-40 said I did 2.50. I saved a couple waypoints on the way, then navigated back, it was a split as to which one was off the mark, with the errors being very similar. I can't say I saw anything that made one stand out above the other.

 

Currently, I'm having trouble getting the tracks into the same program so I can overlay them, preferably on an aerial photo. Anyone figure out how to easily export a track from TOPO 7? If not, what's the best way to pull the track from the Dakota into topo 7? So far, I can't get it to import it as a GPX file, or read it directly from the receiver. Topo will download data directly out of my older garmin units, but doesn't seem to want to dance with the Dakota.

I'm in the middle of a download right now, but I think if you copy the track to a draw layer, you can then export it as a GPX file.

 

As far as importing from the Dakota, that's going to take some fiddling with the Topo and GPS (if possible) settings. It sounds like a communication error. If the Dakota outputs NMEA, you might want to try to go to the slowest denominator. My experience has been if the GPS talks too fast, Topo loses the handshake. That was with Topo 6. I'm going to assume T7 is probably the same.

 

It would appear that the Dakota doesn’t do NMEA output. I’m not sure if the programs such as mapsource I’ve been using to communicate with it actually establish a communication protocol, or if they simply let it mount itself as a removable storage device then go in and pluck out the GPX files stored inside. Anyway, it appears the device simply stores track and waypoint data in internal memory as a GPX file, so I should be able to at least import into TOPO USA as recommended by Redwood biker. I don’t recall if TOPO USA allows you to export a track as a gpx file or not, but I’ll give that a try this evening as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to use my desktop computer much lately, which is the only machine I have Delormes TOPO installed on. I’ve mostly been using my netbook, which only has sportracks and mapsource on it.

 

On the other hand, while I didn’t see anything of significant difference while checking out the receivers, I finally managed to venture into an area where TOPO USA was very detailed and up to date. The road data for the area only appeared to be a few years old, and the boardwalk was actually on the map. So far I haven’t encountered accurate road and trail data like that on any of the off the beaten path areas I’ve explored, but now it’s showing promise if I do my back country adventures in the city.

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It would appear that the Dakota doesn’t do NMEA output. I’m not sure if the programs such as mapsource I’ve been using to communicate with it actually establish a communication protocol, or if they simply let it mount itself as a removable storage device then go in and pluck out the GPX files stored inside. Anyway, it appears the device simply stores track and waypoint data in internal memory as a GPX file, so I should be able to at least import into TOPO USA as recommended by Redwood biker. I don’t recall if TOPO USA allows you to export a track as a gpx file or not, but I’ll give that a try this evening as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to use my desktop computer much lately, which is the only machine I have Delormes TOPO installed on. I’ve mostly been using my netbook, which only has sportracks and mapsource on it.

 

On the other hand, while I didn’t see anything of significant difference while checking out the receivers, I finally managed to venture into an area where TOPO USA was very detailed and up to date. The road data for the area only appeared to be a few years old, and the boardwalk was actually on the map. So far I haven’t encountered accurate road and trail data like that on any of the off the beaten path areas I’ve explored, but now it’s showing promise if I do my back country adventures in the city.

When I get home tonight I'll check it out to be sure. I know I exported to GPX from T7 and T8 is no different in that regard. I export in three formats, TXT, TXT w/ Data and GPX and I believe it is from the Draw layer I do this from.

 

Btw, nice oxymoron usage. :)

Edited by TotemLake

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Thanks to everyone for the inputs on how to access the track data. As mentioned, from a draw layer you can import GPX files, so although I couldn’t get the Dakota to directly download into TOPO USA, I can easily access the data through the draw layer import dialog. I can also export the PN-40 tracks as a GPX file to use in other programs, so all is good.

 

Comparing both tracks, the most obvious difference is the default trackpoint collection is different on the two units, with the PN-40 dropping a couple breadcrumbs for every one dropped by the Dakota. Next time out I’ll set them both to record at the same interval. Other than that, neither one ever drifted off the boardwalk by more than a few feet when overviewed on a high res aerial photo. Both tracks had a split of 10 feet or so in areas, but not much more than that ever, with both seeming to be quite comparable. Now that I’ve got a better idea of how to set up each unit for a good comparison, and how to display my results, I’ll try and do a better comparison, then post the maps on-line so all can see. It will probably be a couple days though

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Thanks to everyone for the inputs on how to access the track data. As mentioned, from a draw layer you can import GPX files, so although I couldn’t get the Dakota to directly download into TOPO USA, I can easily access the data through the draw layer import dialog. I can also export the PN-40 tracks as a GPX file to use in other programs, so all is good.

 

Comparing both tracks, the most obvious difference is the default trackpoint collection is different on the two units, with the PN-40 dropping a couple breadcrumbs for every one dropped by the Dakota. Next time out I’ll set them both to record at the same interval. Other than that, neither one ever drifted off the boardwalk by more than a few feet when overviewed on a high res aerial photo. Both tracks had a split of 10 feet or so in areas, but not much more than that ever, with both seeming to be quite comparable. Now that I’ve got a better idea of how to set up each unit for a good comparison, and how to display my results, I’ll try and do a better comparison, then post the maps on-line so all can see. It will probably be a couple days though

I have one coming this week and want to know about the accuracy. The way it seems it is close to the PN-40. I have one and really like it but the small touch screen has me interested. So far are they pretty close overall. Also does anyone know how to get a copy of mapsource?

Thanks

Edited by The Yinnie's

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One question about the display for those who own a Dakota.

 

Is it still necessary to turn off terrain shading in bright sun in order to make out what's on the map? I found that with my Oregon 300 It was just about necessary to turn off terrain shading in bright sun.

 

The first impression review has made me weary of purchasing one for the better screen viewability. It didn't fill me with confidence that it was worth it.

Edited by yogazoo

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The Dakota is better than the Oregon (both the 400t and 550t) in bright sun but not as good as a 60csx. I still have a profile on my DK which is setup for bright sun that has the terrain shading disabled.

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I know I should get my carcass in to an REI to see it for myself but for the benefit of myself and the community can someone post an in depth screen brightness analysis between the units? It's seriously the biggest factor in my decision to upgrade.

 

I've been waiting patiently for a decent comparison between the two whether or not it's possible I don't know. Anyone out there with a few different models want to take a stab at trying to get a few good pics in bright sun?

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Yeah, I need to get off my duff and get some sunlight pictures.

 

It is cloudy here today (per usual this summer) but I'll try tomorrow or Friday.

 

Under bright sunlight here's my ranking, best to worst:

 

- 60csx

- Dakota 20

- Colorado 400t

- Oregon 550t

- Oregon 400t

 

The middle three are pretty similar but noticeably better than the 400t. The 60csx is obviously better than all of them.

 

The Dakota's lower resolution screen is more reflective than the higher resolution CO's and OR's but it looks like the outer touchscreen cover is made of a matte plastic (similar to the OR400t) but it also is has a gray hue that makes bright colors like white and yellow look a little washed out. I notice the color differences more with the backlight on but it has an impact under bright sun too.

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I know I should get my carcass in to an REI to see it for myself but for the benefit of myself and the community can someone post an in depth screen brightness analysis between the units? It's seriously the biggest factor in my decision to upgrade.

 

I've been waiting patiently for a decent comparison between the two whether or not it's possible I don't know. Anyone out there with a few different models want to take a stab at trying to get a few good pics in bright sun?

 

I've been doing a battery rundown comparision between the etrex vista hcx and dakota 20 and collecting trackpoints 15 secs at the same location for an accuracy comparison. The vista is still running, I'll post those after the vista dies. I'll try and take some pics later.

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For all those looking for photos of the displays, I’ll try and take some and see if I can get them posted within the next couple days. Trying to describe readability is kind of tough because of the subjective nature of it. My own experience is that I don’t have trouble with either unit handheld, but as I’ve mentioned, if I mount the Dakota, it can be difficult to see sometimes because of less than optimal viewing angle. For comparison purposes, I don’t have an Oregon, so you’ll have to settle for VistaC, PN-40, and Dakota 20

 

Doing the side by sides, I am noticing that the PN-40 seems to do a fair amount of smoothing, or averaging of position when you’re moving slowly or stationary. For instance, if I approach a waypoint with my arm outstretched, bringing the GPS to within 10 feet or so, then stop, the unit quickly stabilizes to a fixed distance from the destination, as an example 7.65 feet. Instead of bouncing around the distance to destination tends to hold quite steady. The reason I think it’s averaging is because if I for instance turn around so my outstretched arm has the unit behind me, a distance of about 6 feet from where the receiver originally was, the unit will still read 7.65 feet to destination, or if it does change it’s only by tenths of a foot. If I leave the unit in the new position for an extended time, it will slowly change, but it can take a minute or so. It seems to do the averaging even more than my old sportrak did, while so far I haven’t noticed any off the strange effects like position lag and slingshotting that the Sportrak was prone to. Regarding repeatability, and accuracy, I’ll need to do a lot more comparing to see if there is anything repeatable and consistent in that regard.

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Some short questions about the Dakota 20:

 

- Are the backrounds customizable?

 

- Is it possible to define the fields displaying info in the compass screen?

 

- No averaging waypoint, right?

 

- They do have POI's so one can edit them with software and create categories and etc, I suppose?

 

Thanks!

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Some short questions about the Dakota 20:

 

- Are the backrounds customizable?

 

- Is it possible to define the fields displaying info in the compass screen?

 

- No averaging waypoint, right?

 

- They do have POI's so one can edit them with software and create categories and etc, I suppose?

 

Thanks!

 

No, you can only select from 14 or so different colors.

Yes, there are 4 data fields on the compass page.

Yes, there is a waypoint averaging tool.

Yes.

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Okay, as requested, here are some photos. It's hard to display them in such a way as to give a really good idea of the displays because the camera doesn't necessarily capture the way your eyes adjust to the screen, and slight changes of angle change what you see. I tried to make it as real world as possible.

 

First, bright sun, bad maps for the garmin units as it's an old version of TOPO (The first version actually). Those of you familiar with these maps probably know that the green forest areas are the hardest to read on the trail.

 

116027001.jpg

 

Next comes the compass page with decent angles for viewing all of the displays:

 

116027000.jpg

 

Finally, the units running backlights indoors

 

116026997.jpg

 

Finally, so as not to tie up bandwidth for the dial up guys, I have a few more photos with different viewing agles posted here:

 

My Webpage

 

Again, I don't really have much difficulty with any of the displays when handheld, even in various light. The Delorme unit is the brightest though, followed by the etrex with the dakota bringing up the rear. With the old version of topo, both of the garmins can be somewhat hard to see in when you have the map displaying areas with the dark green background, with the problem being the worst with the Dakota.

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Thanks for the images Searching_UT!! These are some of the best screen comparison photo's I've seen in ANY review. You really captured it well. Thanks Again!

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First, bright sun, bad maps for the garmin units as it's an old version of TOPO (The first version actually). Those of you familiar with these maps probably know that the green forest areas are the hardest to read on the trail.
Totally agree. I was on a recent backpack and I had both the Garmin 24K SW Topos and the Above the Timber Topos, the dramatically lighter colors of the ATT maps had me using them most of the time.

 

116027001.jpg
The most stricking thing about this side-by-side shot is the size comparison.

 

The Dakota is even smaller than the eTrex, yet it has the largest display. The PN-40 is the monster in the group. Since you've used all three, what is your take?

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GREAT images! Captured the angle problem with the OR very well. Correct angle it looks fine.

 

The Dakota is so cute looking. I still think the etrexes have the best form factor for any GPS..that thumb stick was so useful. Buttons on the front are so fiddly for hiking, but better for auto use.

Edited by Maingray

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First, bright sun, bad maps for the garmin units as it's an old version of TOPO (The first version actually). Those of you familiar with these maps probably know that the green forest areas are the hardest to read on the trail.
Totally agree. I was on a recent backpack and I had both the Garmin 24K SW Topos and the Above the Timber Topos, the dramatically lighter colors of the ATT maps had me using them most of the time.

 

116027001.jpg
The most stricking thing about this side-by-side shot is the size comparison.

 

The Dakota is even smaller than the eTrex, yet it has the largest display. The PN-40 is the monster in the group. Since you've used all three, what is your take?

 

Yes, the Dakota is indeed the smallest unit, and it has the largest display, although the resolution on all three is pretty much the same. For my tastes, the Dakota fits in your hand the best. It has a rounded back and fits in you palm very snugly and securely. The Etrex also seems to fit my had quite nicely. The PN-40 isn’t at all awkward to carry, but it doesn’t seem to have the same made for the hand feel the other two units do, at least based on my personal preferences. The PN-40 display appears to be the brightest and most crisp to me.

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I read the following in a Wiki about Oregon and would love to know if such features are present in the Dakota:

 

"The Oregon offers a couple of other minor but glitzy features that I wouldn't be surprised to see show up on the Colorado. Setup->Geocaching allows you to set your find count and see it on the odometer dashboard. The Geocaching dashboard also includes distance and bearing to the nearest cache and the time since your last find was marked."

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I kept making this overly complicated, finally decided it needed a little KISS principle applied.

 

What I did was walk a boardwalk in a wildlife sanctuary area, which provides roughly a 1 mile loop. Wide open skies, no power lines etc in the area, boardwalk keeps you on the same path so you can compare consistency, easy to see in aerial photos which hopefully allows an idea of accuracy, assuming this area is properly referenced aerial photo wise, which I think it is. Both receivers were set to record trackpoints at two second intervals, which tends to reflect what sort of information the unit would have been providing you real time when you were using it. The Dakota track is in blue, the PN-40 in orange of course. I made three loops, first with the Dakota in my left pants pocket and the PN-40 in my right, the PN 40 in left pocket and Dakota in right, and finally with both units handheld. As you look, notice how the Dakota tracks dances around a fair bit, which is something the unit reflects with compass indications as you get close to your destination. The PN-40 on the other hand seems to buffer, or filter it’s indication position indication, providing a more steady position indication in the field.

 

Here you’ll see both tracks overlaid on an aerial photo. It’s a very large picture, so to see the results make sure you’re viewing at the full size, and scroll around to see the individual areas of interest.

 

Large file raw tracks

 

Next, in order to get a better idea of actual accuracy, I made trail networks for each receiver. Basically, that is averaging out and combining the three tracks into one. I then did the same thing with the PN-40, then overlaid both results on the aerial photo map, which hopefully gives a good idea of actual accuracy. To me it looks like the PN-40 might have had slightly better accuracy, but I can see plenty of room for debate here.

 

Results averaged out

 

Regarding my take on this, to me, the PN-40 seems to provide more useful information for something like geocaching. While either unit is great for navigating to your car in a parking lot, or your campsite, or tree stand hidden in the woods, the PN-40’s buffered data seems to work better for me in navigating to ground zero so to speak.

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I just got back from doing a little caching. I used a Dakota 20 and my PN-40. The -40 was on the caches better than the Dakota. I found one because of the hint. They were both off by 25ft. The Dakota's compass seams to float a lot where the -40 would hold steady. I used the -40 to check where they were because I have been using it for awhile. It did seam to get me closer to the cache, but I did find them with the Dakota.

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