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Spent a weekend cahcing with an Explorist 610


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So - we decided to pick up a second GPS for a weekend geocaching trip to the San Bernardino National Forest. The two contenders looking to join our current GPS (an Oregon 450) was a Delorme PN-60 and the new Magellan Explorist 610. After trying out the PN-60 for a day - the Delorme maps and 'unlimited' (kinda) geocaches were great selling points - but the sluggishness of the unit was a deal-breaker. We swapped that out for the 610.

 

Compared to the Oregon, the 610 seems a little quicker. Scrolling over satellite images or raster maps, the 610 wins hands-down. The display seems a tad more colorful and vivid as well. In the field, both units gave similar results in navigating to GZ. The 610 ate thru the rechargable AAs a tad faster.

 

At first glance, there's no easy way to get satellite imagery (like Garmin's BirdsEye on the unit.) WIth a little help from Google, I located Mobile Atlas Creator (MOAC). In every way possible, grabbing maps using this application is superior to BirdsEye. In my cases, the Google Earth images fetched by MOAC surpassed BirdsEye. The download speed was light-years faster - and the file size limit (supposedly) is 2GB. The largest Explorist map I created was about 400MB and that worked just fine. BirdsEye seemed on par with a "level 17" zoom in MOAC. MOAC has two levels beyond that that are even sharper - but you'll have some really big files. MOAC also allows you to create HUGE 24K raster topos using the MyTopo service. I've done this on my Oregon using TopoFusion - but you're limited to 100 tiles on the Oregon. The 610 does not have any such limitation. It was just a couple of clicks to create one big 24K raster topo covering the entire San Bernardino National Forest. Oh - best of all MOAC is free!

 

Getting caches on the 610 was easy using GSAK (GPS->Send Waypoints). With a cache limit of 10,000 (2x the Oregon's 450) - there was no problem fitting our local cache area on the unit. One weird thing is that the mini-USB connector is on a 45 degree angle... not sure what they were thinking with that one.

 

On the downside, there are a lot of menus and a lot of scrolling thru menus. For example, on the Oregon, if I wanted to search for all caches beginning with "Alpine": Main Menu -> Geocaches -> Find -> the 'ABC' button and type in the name - no scrolling, very quick. Using the 610: Main Menu -> Geocaches -> Lower Right Menu Button -> Sort and Search -> Scroll all the way down to 'Search by Name or ID". Kind of a pain.

 

The unit comes with a camera, but I won't be ditching my SLR any time soon.

 

Anyways, to sum it up - a very nice unit.

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