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Montana 650


Paragon33
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I have had the 650 for a little over a year. I am still new to Geocaching, but wanted a unit that worked "everywhere". My cell lost signal a few times which was bad. Irregardless, I have to be honest I am still not very impressed with the unit. Now, quite frankly, I could be missing out on quite a bit of features because I don't know how to use it. So I will list some questions and my comparison to the iPhone paid app.

 

1. My iphone shows a map, and quite detailed one at that, when I hit "show nearby geocaches". It shows trees and clusters of bushes, streams and rivers. The Garmin shows a white screen. and a little blue arrow. I prefer the iPhone approach, personally. Is there something I'm missing?

 

2. My phone shows each cache on the screen. I can then pick them sequentially after each visit and head down the path to the next one in the order I choose. All in a "satellite" type of image. The 650 doesn't. I have to know the next one I want to visit, if for instance there are say 6 caches in a park. I find the phone easier and FAR more intuitive. Heck most times the phone shows the actual walking trail thru the woods. Is there a way to show such detail on the 650? I know it shows caches, but there are no streets or landmarks?

 

3. When I find a cache, I simply, log it as found, type a short message about condition or weather. Unless its a super busy area and it was a quite unspectacular find. I hit send and post and voila. I can even see if there are TB's and stuff quickly, and log them into my inventory instantly. All on the phone. I have to back out of like 3 screens to get to a point that I can say one is found on my 650. And then I have to connect to computer and remember how to sync it to the site to get them in there. Which I usually forget how. And inevitably watch a you-tube video to get it. Better way on 650 or that's it? Sometimes, I get home and have to be somewhere or something. And then days later remember I have to sync it to show them as found. Just seems like a pain.

 

4. Speed of update. I swear my phone updates about once every 1/4 second. If I walk 10 feet it continually counts down the feet as I walk. On my 650 I walk 30 feet, wait a few seconds and then see where I need to go. Holding the two side by side, the phone updates faster and more reliably. What am I missing? Or does battery life play a role here? Less updates means longer battery life?

 

There are I'm sure about 12,000 other questions. But these are the ones that are most frustrating to me after this weekend. The lack of true satellite imagery is super disconcerting. It's super cool to see that path and where the next path leads. A blank white screen is just terrible. In all fairness, I finally got a little box at the top this weekend with a giant red arrow pointing me in the proper direction with a distance to target. I don't know why it never showed up before. But I was excited about that, it made getting close to GZ easier. I do understand that cell coverage is a factor. But to be honest, 95% of the places I go, are 5 bar areas. So, in short, the dudes and or dudettes that did the iPhone app, well give them a raise. I am super impressed a 6 dollar app kicks my $600.00 Montana units butt. Or I'm using my unit wrong and my feeble mind needs assistance turning on the features that I like in the phone.

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I have had the 650 for a little over a year. I am still new to Geocaching, but wanted a unit that worked "everywhere". My cell lost signal a few times which was bad. Irregardless, I have to be honest I am still not very impressed with the unit. Now, quite frankly, I could be missing out on quite a bit of features because I don't know how to use it. So I will list some questions and my comparison to the iPhone paid app.

 

1. My iphone shows a map, and quite detailed one at that, when I hit "show nearby geocaches". It shows trees and clusters of bushes, streams and rivers. The Garmin shows a white screen. and a little blue arrow. I prefer the iPhone approach, personally. Is there something I'm missing?

 

2. My phone shows each cache on the screen. I can then pick them sequentially after each visit and head down the path to the next one in the order I choose. All in a "satellite" type of image. The 650 doesn't. I have to know the next one I want to visit, if for instance there are say 6 caches in a park. I find the phone easier and FAR more intuitive. Heck most times the phone shows the actual walking trail thru the woods. Is there a way to show such detail on the 650? I know it shows caches, but there are no streets or landmarks?

 

3. When I find a cache, I simply, log it as found, type a short message about condition or weather. Unless its a super busy area and it was a quite unspectacular find. I hit send and post and voila. I can even see if there are TB's and stuff quickly, and log them into my inventory instantly. All on the phone. I have to back out of like 3 screens to get to a point that I can say one is found on my 650. And then I have to connect to computer and remember how to sync it to the site to get them in there. Which I usually forget how. And inevitably watch a you-tube video to get it. Better way on 650 or that's it? Sometimes, I get home and have to be somewhere or something. And then days later remember I have to sync it to show them as found. Just seems like a pain.

 

4. Speed of update. I swear my phone updates about once every 1/4 second. If I walk 10 feet it continually counts down the feet as I walk. On my 650 I walk 30 feet, wait a few seconds and then see where I need to go. Holding the two side by side, the phone updates faster and more reliably. What am I missing? Or does battery life play a role here? Less updates means longer battery life?

 

There are I'm sure about 12,000 other questions. But these are the ones that are most frustrating to me after this weekend. The lack of true satellite imagery is super disconcerting. It's super cool to see that path and where the next path leads. A blank white screen is just terrible. In all fairness, I finally got a little box at the top this weekend with a giant red arrow pointing me in the proper direction with a distance to target. I don't know why it never showed up before. But I was excited about that, it made getting close to GZ easier. I do understand that cell coverage is a factor. But to be honest, 95% of the places I go, are 5 bar areas. So, in short, the dudes and or dudettes that did the iPhone app, well give them a raise. I am super impressed a 6 dollar app kicks my $600.00 Montana units butt. Or I'm using my unit wrong and my feeble mind needs assistance turning on the features that I like in the phone.

 

This is just a brief answer to some of your questions:

Here's the Montana User Manual.

Here's an unofficial wiki.

For satellite imagery, check out BirdsEye Satellite Imagery from Garmin.

You can also create your own raster imagery overlays (like a picture of a park or trail map). See Trail Tech blog for details.

If you want road maps, the official City Nav maps will give you speed limits and TTS information (example: "Turn left on Main Street"). You'll need the automotive mount or a set of headphones to get it to talk to you.

 

Free alternative map sources:

http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/ contains a lot of free topographical maps.

http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/ will get you free street maps, but it won't speak the road names to you. It will only tell you "in one quarter mile, turn left" for example. Also, there isn't any speed limit information available.

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I am super impressed a 6 dollar app kicks my $600.00 Montana units butt.

 

Well, if you're going to compare prices, be fair. How much did you spend for the iphone? and how much does the service cost each month?

 

Much of what you're praising the iphone for is included in that monthly charge.

 

I've only had my Montana since December, but everytime I use it I learn new features.

 

1. I don't know why you seem to have no map display on yours; check your Setup > Appearance > Background.

I have great road maps on mine, which I paid extra for (but since I'm not paying a monthly charge for a smart phone, I can afford it.) If I wanted the satelllite image maps I could get those too.

 

2. My Montana shows each cache that I have downloaded in the map on the screen.

 

3. That's all about your monthily service on your iphone.

 

The little box aat the top with the giant red arrow--tap the "Compass" icon to get a truly giant red arrow; it can be changed to look more like a compass, but I forgot how I did it.

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I have had the 650 for a little over a year. I am still new to Geocaching, but wanted a unit that worked "everywhere". My cell lost signal a few times which was bad. Irregardless, I have to be honest I am still not very impressed with the unit. Now, quite frankly, I could be missing out on quite a bit of features because I don't know how to use it. So I will list some questions and my comparison to the iPhone paid app.

 

1. My iphone shows a map, and quite detailed one at that, when I hit "show nearby geocaches". It shows trees and clusters of bushes, streams and rivers. The Garmin shows a white screen. and a little blue arrow. I prefer the iPhone approach, personally. Is there something I'm missing?

 

2. My phone shows each cache on the screen. I can then pick them sequentially after each visit and head down the path to the next one in the order I choose. All in a "satellite" type of image. The 650 doesn't. I have to know the next one I want to visit, if for instance there are say 6 caches in a park. I find the phone easier and FAR more intuitive. Heck most times the phone shows the actual walking trail thru the woods. Is there a way to show such detail on the 650? I know it shows caches, but there are no streets or landmarks?

 

3. When I find a cache, I simply, log it as found, type a short message about condition or weather. Unless its a super busy area and it was a quite unspectacular find. I hit send and post and voila. I can even see if there are TB's and stuff quickly, and log them into my inventory instantly. All on the phone. I have to back out of like 3 screens to get to a point that I can say one is found on my 650. And then I have to connect to computer and remember how to sync it to the site to get them in there. Which I usually forget how. And inevitably watch a you-tube video to get it. Better way on 650 or that's it? Sometimes, I get home and have to be somewhere or something. And then days later remember I have to sync it to show them as found. Just seems like a pain.

 

4. Speed of update. I swear my phone updates about once every 1/4 second. If I walk 10 feet it continually counts down the feet as I walk. On my 650 I walk 30 feet, wait a few seconds and then see where I need to go. Holding the two side by side, the phone updates faster and more reliably. What am I missing? Or does battery life play a role here? Less updates means longer battery life?

 

There are I'm sure about 12,000 other questions. But these are the ones that are most frustrating to me after this weekend. The lack of true satellite imagery is super disconcerting. It's super cool to see that path and where the next path leads. A blank white screen is just terrible. In all fairness, I finally got a little box at the top this weekend with a giant red arrow pointing me in the proper direction with a distance to target. I don't know why it never showed up before. But I was excited about that, it made getting close to GZ easier. I do understand that cell coverage is a factor. But to be honest, 95% of the places I go, are 5 bar areas. So, in short, the dudes and or dudettes that did the iPhone app, well give them a raise. I am super impressed a 6 dollar app kicks my $600.00 Montana units butt. Or I'm using my unit wrong and my feeble mind needs assistance turning on the features that I like in the phone.

 

I wonder how well your iPhone will work if you drop it, it bounces on a rock and then lands in the river. Or how well it will work if you do head out of the areas with solid cellphone signal, in which case you're more likely to be in the kind of place where dropping it in the river is more likely.

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Ok, let me clarify a bit further. I like the GPS unit, but it is not very user friendly compared to the iphone. Lets imagine for an instant that I have a waterproof and shock resistant case (I do see http://www.lifeproof.com/en/why-lifeproof/water/). It works well under water. Lets also imagine that the phone was "free" for keeping my service with them. I don't have a home phone, so having a phone is a necessity. So yes, service cost is an issue. But I see that as a necessary "expense". Along the lines of internet and car insurance. Anyways.

 

My point is, maybe I am using this gps unit wrong. I am going to check the background setting when I get home. You say you purchased maps? Is that normal to buy maps? I just assumed it was preloaded with some quality maps. I don't use it as a car unit, although it crossed my mind, pay that kind of money it should work well for navigation. But I have one and don't care to use it for that. I assume when you say you could get satellite images, you pay for those as well?

 

The compass I mentioned, because prior to this weekend, all I had was a white screen and this little triangle on the screen. I would walk 15 feet or so and then look to see if I was closer or farther than my intended target. As you can imagine, that's a lot of mileage trying to obtain direction. Again, I will say, I could be dumb when it comes to setting this thing to work for caching only.

 

I wouldn't mind paying for maps, although they are built into the phone per se, IF it was like the phone. I agree battery life is horrendous on a phone. Totally agree. I did buy the unit to replace my phone. I was just wondering if all these items I like are actually part of the GPS but I didn't know how to enable them.

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The GPS does not come with maps. There are free ones and there are ones you can buy. A quick search will answer your question.

 

Maybe a phone is good enough for you. For people that do not travel anywhere that need battery life or outside of cell phone reception or anywhere that it is hard to get GPS reception, they work fine.

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As Red90 stated, sounds like you don't have any maps installed besides the base-map (all that the 650 comes with, the 650T comes with TOPO maps which may not be exactly what you want) it come with which only shows major highways. You can purchase and install Garmin maps like the city navigator stuff (which are much cheaper if purchased from Amazon dot com or get free OSM maps from their site (http://www.openstreetmap.org/) and give them a try.

 

Hope this helps

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You say you purchased maps? Is that normal to buy maps? I just assumed it was preloaded with some quality maps. I don't use it as a car unit, although it crossed my mind, pay that kind of money it should work well for navigation. But I have one and don't care to use it for that. I assume when you say you could get satellite images, you pay for those as well?

 

I bought the maps primariy to be able to use the GPS for car navigation turn-by-turn. Yes, the satellite maps would be an additional cost, one that I haven't seen a reason for yet.

 

I was just wondering if all these items I like are actually part of the GPS but I didn't know how to enable them.

 

Many of the features you like about your iphone are not part of the phone per se, but part of the data plan that you pay for every month. To that extent, no, since the GPS does not have internet access capability there is no way to get those features on it.

 

 

btw, do you use the camera on your 650? I bought the 600 because I already have several cameras including the one on my stupid phone.

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Paragon33,

 

Load some OpenStreetMaps (free). This website:

http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin/Download

scroll all the way to the bottom for pre-made USA maps. I use the approach where I download the img file and deposit that in a Garmin folder in the Montana. Restart and you should then see maps.

 

These files do give your Montana the ability to autoroute, so if you have the dash-mount, the Montana will speak to you to autoroute you to the cache.

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Ok, let me clarify a bit further. I like the GPS unit, but it is not very user friendly compared to the iphone. Lets imagine for an instant that I have a waterproof and shock resistant case (I do see http://www.lifeproof.com/en/why-lifeproof/water/). It works well under water. Lets also imagine that the phone was "free" for keeping my service with them. I don't have a home phone, so having a phone is a necessity. So yes, service cost is an issue. But I see that as a necessary "expense". Along the lines of internet and car insurance. Anyways.

 

Sure, if you put your phone in a waterproof and shockproof case, and add external batteries, and never go outside areas of phone coverage, you may find it works as well for you. Once you go outside the areas of cellphone coverage and can't get your maps then having pre-downloaded maps works out a lot better.

 

Where you are you may consider a cellphone with data package to be a necessary expense, but a lot of people don't and so consider the monthly cost of the data plan against a one-off purchase. The trouble with doing comparisons and trying to make them universal is that you're basically arguing that a free device (which isn't really free because it comes with a monthly bill) is cheaper than one that isn't free, but even then you discount the monthly charge because you need it anyway. If you truly need it anyway then it may well be that a dedicated GPS unit offers you no value.

 

My point is, maybe I am using this gps unit wrong. I am going to check the background setting when I get home. You say you purchased maps? Is that normal to buy maps? I just assumed it was preloaded with some quality maps. I don't use it as a car unit, although it crossed my mind, pay that kind of money it should work well for navigation. But I have one and don't care to use it for that. I assume when you say you could get satellite images, you pay for those as well?

 

I didn't buy maps, I use the free OSM maps because for my purposes they are almost as good as the Garmin maps and the small advantage the Garmin maps give (typically where routing is concerned) isn't worth their price.

 

The compass I mentioned, because prior to this weekend, all I had was a white screen and this little triangle on the screen. I would walk 15 feet or so and then look to see if I was closer or farther than my intended target. As you can imagine, that's a lot of mileage trying to obtain direction. Again, I will say, I could be dumb when it comes to setting this thing to work for caching only.

 

If you don't have maps that's all you'd expect to see and gauging your distance based on relative positions of a green box and a blue triangle is pointless unless you've got some points of reference in there too. It's easier to set up a "small data fields" dashboard and set one of the fields to be "distance to destination".

 

I wouldn't mind paying for maps, although they are built into the phone per se, IF it was like the phone. I agree battery life is horrendous on a phone. Totally agree. I did buy the unit to replace my phone. I was just wondering if all these items I like are actually part of the GPS but I didn't know how to enable them.

 

Are maps built into the phone, or just accessible through your data connection? If you've got a decent map built in then in your position it may just be another strike in favour of the iPhone. If they're accessed through your data plan and you only ever use it in areas where you've got a decent data signal, score one for the iPhone anyway. If you find yourself without the map tiles you need and in an area where you've only got GPRS signal (or no signal at all) then online maps aren't much use to you, in which case score one for the Montana.

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Iphone and android Gps Apps are years ahead of Garmin. because they adjust more often, where the phones fail is battery life and rudgetness and be aware that you might use your network for the geocache and continuasly mapupdates, try to do this roaming, you won't be that happy. Also a phonescreen is not good readable in snow or at bright sunny days.

 

Find an App that does the trick with offline maps and geocaches and update the status only when you are near to wifi or your own network.

 

For the out of the car navigation or geocaching use of a < 2 years old phone is almost perfect, if you go to the middle of nowhere or out for a longer time you better have a dedicated gps with you.

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I have a Montana 600 and an iphone 5. They complement each other well, although I have been leaving the Montana home more often than not there are situations where I am grateful to have them both.

 

Either unit will get me to the cache. In some situations, I might trust the Montana more. In others, I might trust the iphone. When I have used them side by side, there has not been much difference.

 

To me, the cache descriptions on the iphone (using geosphere) are far better than the Montana's, particularly if there are pictures on the cache page. If there is anything that is particularly important to read (earthcaches, letterboxes, virtuals), I use geosphere. If it is just a quick check at the cache description or hint, and I already have the Montana in hand, I will use that.

 

I do not need network reception with the iphone, so that is not an issue for that either the cache descriptions, routing with offline maps, or for hiking. The last time I went out of state, I did not take the Montana, but I am planning a trip overseas and for simplicity's sake, will take it there.

 

The last time I used the Montana was for a 13 mile hike. I can use a battery extender or a rugged case for the iphone, but it was easier just to grab the Montana and go.

 

The iphone gives me access to wherigos. The Montana theoretically gives me access to chirps (it is not as reliable for these as some of the other garmin units I have used).

 

Take the time to get to know the Montana. The maps have already been discussed, but you can customize many of its features so that it works like you want. I like the main screen arranged in a certain way, a dashboard on the map page that shows the distance, heading, and pointer for direct routing; and shortcuts that easily switch between automotive and recreational (or geocaching) uses. It offers a lot of flexibility.

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