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Newbie's plea for Monterra advice...

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I am an avid outdoorsman. I have Multiple Sclerosis, and the last few years had been thinking of purchasing a GPS, since I love taking my Setter into the woods hunting or whatever, but can easily get "turned around", so never strayed too far from the truck, however always wanted to see "what's beyond the next bend". So for my recent 60th birthday decided a GPS was in order.

I blindly started looking online, soon deciding Garmin seemed the leader in the field. From reading their website, I discovered Geocaching, and the many other things a GPS could introduce to me. Still not really knowing anything about GPS's, I decided the Montana 650T seemed like a good choice, pushing my financial limit. But then I noticed the Monterra and it's dizzying (for me) capabilities, so I decided to forgo the installed topo maps, and with the $50 discount coupon I just conveniently received from Cabela's making the cost comparable, ordered the Monterra, figuring I could learn it and GPS in general as I go. I soon realized I bought a Stealth Fighter when I maybe should have bought a Piper Cub. I don't know if it's me and my MS, or the lack of "how-to" guidance in the included online manuals, but I so far am totally confused. This led me to searching the web, and discovering this very advanced and active site.


The knowledge and expertise here is mind boggling to me, and way out of my league, but I can see unfortunately I should have discovered this site before making my purchase, because I would have learned how "new" the Monterra is, and the many bugs you folks have discovered. Between the harsh weather here in NWNJ and my MS, i thought I could teach myself how to become proficient with my new GPS sitting on my couch. But now to add to my confusion, my Monterra "blinked" the other day and now the compass is missing, which is what I was looking into when I found your site, and your many posts about compass issues and complaints. Geocaching really piqued my interest and sounded like a great way to learn to use my Monterra, but between what I have read here, and my disappearing compass, I'm wondering if I should return it to Cabela's before my 30 days are up, (I purchased it a week or so ago) considering all of your similar compass problems and complaints.


I greatly apologize for this long first post, but I figure all of you have more knowledge in your pinkie than I will ever have, and desperately need your advise. I truly do not want to return it, now knowing all the fun and security my Monterra could provide, and hope it might be something only software related that will soon be remedied, and this Spring I can go off into the woods with my dog, or begin my first geocaching adventures.

I thank you all in advance for your knowledgeable advice...I am now lost, right in my living room.


Edited by Brdhntr54
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That unit has the possibility of being something great. However (my opinion) there are too many bugs yet to be worked out with it.


If you can, you really ought to return it (I would), and get a less complicated unit that has been around for a bit (most bugs worked out). The Garmin line has a great number of fine units (other makes do too).


Even at that... being a "virgin" in terms of using a GPSr, you have a learning curve confronting you.

Whether you return the Monterra or not, you really need to play with it. The manual helps of course, but you really need to use a GPSr to learn it. Upgrading to a more expensive unit later makes more sense.


It's tough to fly a jumbo jet when you haven't learned how to drive a Cessna, yet.



My 2¢ ... for whatever it is worth. :)

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Frankly, if I were you I would return the Monterra. This is coming from someone who had a Montana, sold it in anticipation of the Monterra and then bought the Monterra as soon as I could. I was then extremely disappointed and surprised at how it didn't do many things I expect a GPS to do. I ended up waiting a little bit to see if there were to be any firmware updates to correct some or all of the problems and it didn't happen (still hasn't) and then I returned it and (embarrassingly) re-purchased a Montana. Check out Monterra Wiki Common Issues and save yourself a head ache and return the Monterra and buy a Montana. It's probably going to be a long wait for the Monterra to be brought up to consumer readiness.

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As the others said return the unit, because it has some hardware problems they probably can't solve with software updates.

The fact that the new unit has errors is normal with Garmin, but with the other problematic units they had about one software update every 2 weeks, for the Monterra no error resolving updates in about 4 month now.


If you have no clue how it is working AND the unit is more or less defective (software) it is almost impossible to learn how to use the unit. As an extra argument, if you REALLY need the Gps to get you to the truck because of a condition, on this moment you cannot trust the Monterra at all.


You could get a Montana it has profiles also, or the Oregon 450, still (on sale on the moment) much higher than a Cessna lol, very nice Gps.


For the normal use, you basically need a 3 ax compass and a screen with good visibility in bright sunlight. Depending on the eyes a larger screen and depending from person to person touchscreen of buttons. So even an Etrex new model works fine, but has a small screen, just to give an impression.

A must is a SD slot, for the rest all outdoor units are able to do the same. Like navigation, tracks, wayponts and maps.


On the website


you can select different models, then checkout the video's from that model to get a good impression how it all works.

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As someone who has decided to stick out the long wait for a Monterra update I wish I could tell you to keep the unit. But honestly I just can't. I've been using GPS for about 15 years now and if the Monterra was frustrating at times for me I couldn't imagine how it would be for you or the 53 brdhntr's before you. It will be a fine unit someday, maybe even a legend, but it's not right now and probably won't be for a while.


My suggestion is for you to take it back and get a Montana. You can even get a Montana in camouflage color!


Whatever you decide, good luck!

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As a current owner whose Monterra is gathering dust (and hoping for some sort of fix or recall), I can +1 all the suggestions to return it and get something else. The Montana has been trusty (for the most part) and is very similar in nature and size. The new Oregons are nice but you can't beat the 450 for a good unit that doesn't cost a lot. They're discontinued but they still will support them. You might want to consider seeing if there are some local cachers in your area that can help you with some GPS advice and might even let you use some in the field.


As an aside, I sent an email to Garmin support for ANY sort of update about resolving the issues with the Monterra and will post here once I hear back from them.

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I am an avid outdoorsman. I have Multiple Sclerosis, and the last few years had been thinking of purchasing a GPS, since I love taking my Setter into the woods hunting or whatever, but can easily get "turned around", so never strayed too far from the truck, however always wanted to see "what's beyond the next bend".


If this could potentially be cause a medical emergency situation if you lose your bearings on your truck "around the next bend"...or three...or four, then I wouldn't rely on GPS at all. Seriously.

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That was a pathetic reply. No recognition of the problem, just asked if I had the most current version of software and how to go about getting it. I don't know if I'm surprised or not, but at least I thought they would act like they knew it was a problem instead of asking me if I was current or not.


Which email address did you use? If you emailed garmin support then you can probably forget any kind of nuance or specifics. They sound like they read from a script. They also sometimes sound like we all were born yesterday. Playing to the lowest common denominator I guess and I really can't blame them. There's probably a stat somewhere that reads something like 80% of issues can be resolved if people update their unit and/or perform a master reset. Is there a monterrabeta@garmin.com? The beta email addresses go straight to the software engineers working on your model.



I am an avid outdoorsman. I have Multiple Sclerosis, and the last few years had been thinking of purchasing a GPS, since I love taking my Setter into the woods hunting or whatever, but can easily get "turned around", so never strayed too far from the truck, however always wanted to see "what's beyond the next bend".


If this could potentially be cause a medical emergency situation if you lose your bearings on your truck "around the next bend"...or three...or four, then I wouldn't rely on GPS at all. Seriously.


What then would you have the OP rely on? In my opinion relying on a GPS to find your way back is a pretty good option over staying home. In fact relying on your GPS is what millions of people do every day. Kudos to the OP for not letting his situation slow him down.

Edited by yogazoo
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I used the standard address and I hope that it gets forwarded on to someone that might actually know what's going on (but I don't have high hopes). I replied and also included the link to the Monterra Wiki to show them that the compass issue is bug #1 (as well as the other ones that haven't been addressed). Again, no high hopes that anything will get done. Perhaps an email to the CEO? Can't hurt.

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Check this wiki, as there might be an answer there:http://garminmonterra.wikispaces.com/


I don't know how to fix your compass, but there are many compass apps you could download from the Play Store, many are free. There are also good teaching apps, like c:geo and others. Garmin is known for releasing hardware that is in its infancy. My experience is that eventually, they catch up and you end with a tool that does more than was originally advertised. I don't read this forum that often. If you want/ need further help, email me at k9chp at arrl dot net




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Sure that is possible, but the wrong approach, because you camouflage the errors, not solve them.

As it looks now, it's a faulty product, and should be returned.

The Gps should do it's integrated tricks, not all kind of work around app's (as nice. good and modern as they are) that don't work together like the Garmin system should.

Else you better buy a smartphone.

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Did the compass app go away or just the icon? Touch the icon with the six dots on it, just above the one that looks like a house, bottom center of the Monterra. Look on the screen that appeared. Do you see the compass app? Touch it. If it worked, then it can be fixed. Use the back key to get to the screen with the compass icon. Press on the compass icon for a second or so and now move it to the left edge, the screen will flip to the former one, let go of the icon in your desired location. I hope it was that simple



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I have to come to the defense of the Garmin techs that worked with the 60csx,I have had no problems with it for many,many years.I call it "old reliable".I am not against advanced technology,but, I do not like frustration.I look at the price of the latest gps's and the complaints and I know ,there are better units at a 3rd of the cost.I am going to take a look at the Garmin 64 series just to see if they measure up to "old reliable".

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Well, to illustrate how new I am to all of this, I had trouble finding the (this) website again that I asked for help on! Lol

And then when I did, I was overwhelmed by how involved, technical, and complete it is, so I had to sign in to see if I was on the correct site, then search for my post. I guess the learning curve for this website is going to be almost as tough as for my GPS!


That said, I am amazed at all of the replies I've received, and thank you all so much. I am hoping to learn more about caching, because the community certainly seems friendly and helpful. And it certainly looks like a fun way to learn.

I immediately started looking at Garmin products because I read online how good their customer support was, and sure enough, yesterday they helped me put my compass back...apparently in "playing" with my Monterra I did something to lose it, or just wasn't on the correct screen, not sure.

I'm torn about returning it, which is the majority of advice I've received so far. The more I explore it, the more I like it. And even though I am a complete newbie at this, it's hard for me to believe a company as big and successful as Garmin would introduce a defective product and screw their believers purposely, and not make things right as problems are discovered. (Ok, you can call me naive, or worse)

Not to say I don't value all of your input. I checked and have 60 days to return to Cabela's, so since I've only had the Monterra for a little over a week, I might try to become more familiar with it for a bit. I'd hate to return it then read the issue was resolved, and how everyone loves their Monterra.

I realize I should have started out with something more simple, but me being me, know I would have wished I had bought the newest thing I could have, so now I'm just paying the price. ( I still get confused with my iPhone, too! )


So I am very happy to have found this site, along with all of you, and hope to continue to learn and enjoy this new hobby, and maybe someday in the distant future be able to give some other newbie good advice.

I'll let you know if I decide to return the Monterra after all, then ask for more advice! :-)


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You wrote "it's hard for me to believe a company as big and successful as Garmin would introduce a defective product and screw their believers purposely",


nobody is talking about screw and purposely, they obviously didn't test it and as always the beta testers are the first buyers. Even that isn't so bad, but with the Montana model we had a softwareupdates about every 2 weeks in the beginning, now nothing is resolved with the Monterra in about 4 month.


They had major problems with the first series of

Colorado, it was swapped for a new model or for the Oregon, Colorado was taken of the market after about 7 month

Monterra some had to swap it 4 times, the whole first series was swapped.

Nuviphone (Androidphone) was taken of the market about 5 month after introduction

Oregon 600 has issues.

Monterra is not wise to keep, if you can return it. Don't keep it because it looks so nice, you can always order a new one once the major issues are resolved.


Monterra issues http://garminmonterra.wikispaces.com/Common+Issues

Edited by splashy
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Well, look at it this way Splashy,what fun geocachers will have when people try to find caches placed with these Monterras,with compass problems.I hope they don't place any caches after all that is the other fun side of caching.I for one don't relish searching a long way from posted gz.I will stick with my"old reliable".Garmin does have other good gps's,they have the same name,(Discontinued).

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Well, I'm beginning to be convinced, with so many negative opinions. My mind is buzzing with confusion, and that was before I even asked for help. I just thought so many of the features listed sounded nice, in particular the ability to take a photo and automatically have it's location attached. Geocaching was something I discovered after I started looking for answers, not realizing what a big following the hobby has.


I was basically looking for something to carry while out in the woods, to give me some peace of mind. And since I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to hunt or venture into the woods with my dog, (I trip easily on the brush) I've thought about a mountain bike for exercise (oh, also had a heart attack 3 hrs. ago).

So a GPS would also allow me to ride the old railroad tracks that have been converted to trails around here, and not get lost.


I have an iPhone with its GPS, (sort of), but wanted something more. And since I financially wouldn't be able to keep upgrading, tried to buy the best I could from the start. So my question to any of you feeling kind enough to reply is...what would you recommend?


I originally was going to go for the Montana 650, without the Topo, (since I have no need to see topo of areas I'll probably never go to) then buy the more detailed topo of my area when I could. I also wanted something that could do the driving directions, since I'll only be purchasing one GPS. The "Bird-Eye" subscription was also an imminent purchase, but the I started reading negative opinions on that, too. Thank God I didn't go right out and buy that and the 24K topo right away.

The only other GPS I ever considers was one of those Rhinos with the two-way radios, but that was long ago, and I don't believe the GPS is as thorough, which is now more important to me.


I am honestly saddened by all of this, but it's my own fault for blindly pissing away money I don't have without researching it more completely. It never occurred to me that there could be so many issues unresolved, before something was put on the market with all the wonderful hype of the advertising.


So I ask, would the Montana 650 be a good replacement, or are there things I should know about that one? OR, should I consider another brand of GPS?

Or, should I just forget it, stay home and smoke cigars on my deck? (I could buy a lot of cigars for $500+)


Thank you all very much for all of your help.

Edited by Brdhntr54
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The Montana is a great unit. If you have a bike, get a mount for it as well (I got a Ram mount) and you'll be a happy camper. It might not have all the bells and whistles the Monterra has but it still has plenty of things older models don't have. Not sure why you'd want the 650 over the 600 unless it's just for the 100K topo maps.

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So a GPS would also allow me to ride the old railroad tracks that have been converted to trails around here, and not get lost.


Then, all you "need" is a pretty simple unit. I'd go for something more rugged than a unit with a touchscreen. You'd get much better battery life, too. Certainly, something a lot less complicated than an Android based device. Sounds like all you need is the ability to mark a waypoint (your truck) and leave a breadcrumb type trail that you can follow back. Or, just use the arrow pointing directly back to where you marked your truck. You don't even "need" any pre-installed or uploaded maps on the unit. Today's version of the basic Etrex sounds perfect for your application and a LOT less expensive. If I were you, I'd return that Monterra ASAP if that's still an option.

Edited by sviking
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I have a few suggestions.


1. note that on any issue at this website you will typically get both sides of the story. It is quite rare that an issue is discussed where the opinions are as unanimous as what you are seeing here.


2. I have the Montana 650t and it is my opinion that the "t" is not worth the money because in my region (Northern California) streets on the topo map are not resolved with adequate accuracy. I installed routable OpenStreet maps and that is adequate for my needs. I sometimes turn the topo on when I am in areas where the contour lines are interesting but have found the accuracy to not be to my liking. I bought my 650t when it was on sale at a price that was essentially the same as the 650. I bought a 650 (without the camera) for my wife for her birthday and she loves it. I feel that the Montana is the best GPSr I have had (I have had about 10 of them). It is not perfect, but it serves me very well. I have found that I really need the big screen.


3. But before you pull the trigger: go to a nearby geocaching event as soon as you can; take your Monterra with you and at some point announce that you have one and are looking for help. You might also mention that you are considering trading it in for a Montana and that you'd like to hold one to see how it works. I guarantee you that you will make some new friends and come away with the correct decision.

Edited by Hynr
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