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yet another which gps thread....

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I have been caching with my smartphone and official app for 6 months now. My current phone is proving unreliable as to coords (it doesn't update my location, points left instead of right, etc.) So I am debating getting a GPS unit.

One option would be to continue to use my phone to get me in the area, then switch to gps. Guessing a cheap one would work? Which cheap one then.

Option 2 would be replace my phone with a swanky gps. Are there any gps that are close to as easy to use as a phone? Which ones? Also, would I always be required to preplan at home and download caches? I tend to cache on the fly now.


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Sorry you are having problems navigating.

Two things to remember:


1] Cheap does as cheap is... If you are looking about for a cheap GPSr because it is cheap, you are going to be more disappointed than you apparently already are by your phone!

Now, I'm not saying that you should buy the newest or most expensive -- not at all -- but, you need to concentrate on a reliable unit much more-so than on a cheap one. There are plenty of both out there.


2] There are no dedicated units that work as does a phone -- really, an app (not the phone). They are different animals.

Each device has a learning curve. Switching from one type device to another type, isn't necessarily as easy as you may think. Basically, you would need to totally forget what and how the phone (app) works, and start anew with a dedicated unit. Easier said than done (usually).



Decide what features you want (or need) in a hand-held unit--


Maps? Some (one, anyway) come with excellent maps. Most don't -- for those that do not, you can purchase maps or acquire (free or paid) downloadable maps. If you purchase a "T" model Garmin, you have good maps, but you are paying for them anyway, otherwise you need to get maps to load onto the unit. Both Garmin and Magellan have maps available for their units. Not all map choices will be "routable", as in driving directions, so pay attention if you want driving directions.

Delorme comes with excellent maps, and they are "routable".


Buttons vs. touch-screen vs. joy-stick operation: A choice that you and only you alone can make. Everybody has their own opinion on these features.


Compass feature: All dedicated units have an electronic compass. But, more higher-end units use a magnetic sensing compass (often referred to as a 3-axis compass) while "lesser" units use an inertia-type compass... that is you need to be moving in order for it to function properly. If you stop or dramatically slow down, it ceases to deliver true and proper directional readings. It reads direction by the satellite signals as you are moving. Stop or go really slow, and it doesn't know what way to point.

Both work just fine, but you need to understand the difference, hence what to expect from it. The 3-axis needs to be re-calibrated occasionally, the inertia type never.

Note: Should you be in a position to not receive enough satellite signal, the inertia-type compass fails to function properly.


Memory: You will probably want a unit with expandable memory, an SD or micro-SD card slot (makes for holding better maps as well as geocaching data). The manufacturer specs sheet will state whether or not it does accept/use removable cards. If it does not say it does, you can assume that it does not! They all will function on internal memory alone.


I'm going to guess that you realize you would need to load the geocaching data to the dedicated unit via computer hook-up, and log your finds, etc. through a terminal. It will not load up geocaching data as does a phone app, nor send logs. I guess the Garmin Monterra will, but that one is a long ways from being anywhere near cheap.


Lower-end choices: Garmin -- eTrex 20 or 30 (stay away from the 10 -- it does work but it has "0" frills), the GPSMAP 64 series and some recently discontinued models (Oregon 450 and/or Dakota series?). The 600 line is new and not what I would call cheap.

Magellan -- Pay attention to which units accept SD cards, I believe models 510, 610 and 710 only. Do not get a camo one if your primary intent is geocaching... they are not geared towards geocaching use.

Delorme PN Series -- I am prejudiced. I use one as does all of our extended family geocaching members. That does not make them better than the others, though.


Start by looking at what is available (keeping your wants/needs in mind):

Garmin hand-helds

Magellan eXplorist Series

Delorme PN-60 -- unfortunately in backorder status. New PN-40's can yet be found.



You have a daunting task. Enjoy! B)

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The Monterra will load up "on the fly", but you'll need wi-fi access in order to do so as well as an app that will allow you to do so (official or otherwise). It's NOT cheap, as GG has already mentioned. GG has pretty much provided you with all you need to discover what type of unit you should be focusing on. If there are any other questions, hopefully you'll come back here to get some answers.

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Often it's a form of expectation and perception. Try to rent a gps to know for sure.


Is your phone always off? Or just now and then, if so this can happen with a Gps also.

The Gps calculates the location with the available data it got, if the weather is bad, a magnetic storm or for example (urban) canyons,

it gets some data, but all 'wrong' then it will send you to the wrong direction.

Often your app has a fiefd EPE, where an indication is given from the ESTIMATED position error.


Bottom line, you NEVER will be send to the exact cache spot because you have an error radius, as well as the cache owner.

Edited by splashy
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I have never used a smart phone for geocaching, don't even have one. My suggestion for a GPS is to shell out the bucks and get a good one. When you project the cost over the life of the unit the price becomes a minor factor. I have used a Magellan Explorist 610 for four or five years and I am completely satisfied with it.


As far as smart phone geocaching. I attended an event a while back where one of the reviewers gave a talk. He said if you want to search with a smart phone, that's OK. But he was very adamant that you do not use a smart phone for placing geocaches. They are just too inaccurate.


An analogy: Don't try to haul two tons of fertilizer in a one ton truck.

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