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BeavisAndButthead71

Advice on Handheld GPS Units Please

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Hi all,  

 

We are new to Geocaching (1 week today) and are enjoying the fresh air and the challenge of finding the caches that have been hidden by fellow Geocachers.  We live in the UK and are looking at getting a handheld GPS Unit instead of using our mobile phones as we have heard that they are more reliable and the battery life is obviously a lot longer on the handheld units than a mobile phone.

 

Our question is:  Can you recommend a handheld GPS Unit for Geocaching?  The pro's and con's of them etc.

 

Hoping we can get some useful advice.

 

BeavisAndButthead71

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Garmin Oregon series:
Pros: Touch screen interface is most similar to a cell phone. Highest resolution screen of all the GPS units. Customizable button.
Cons: Touch screen is sensitive to water, doesn't always work well with gloves.

Garmin gpsMAP series (64, currently):
Pros: Buttons work in any condition.
Cons: Button interface is slow and cumbersome. screen resolution is low. No customizable button.

Garmin eTrex series:
Pros: least expensive, when others are not on sale.
Cons: They're underpowered toys when the Oregon and gpsMAP series feel like tools. single joystick interface.

Within each series, there's some variation with regard to features. Base models work as a GPS receiver. But additions in the fancier models include a 3-axis electronic compass and barometric altimeter (these are more useful than you think, especially for sport navigation), built in cameras (not that useful, but I'm a photographer and keep a better camera on me anyway), and topo maps (useless, you can get better free topo maps).

Therefore, I would recommend either the Oregon 700 or the gpsMAP 64s, with the eTrex 30 only if you're in a bind. You might continue using your cell phones for now and wait to see if REI has any GPS sales over labor day.   I see that you live in the UK, so the REI sales aren't really advantageous to you.

Edited by Mineral2
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Mineral2 gave very good advice.

I currently use a gpsMAP 62, but I grabbed a 64ST as an upgrade on Amazon Prime Day.  The sale price was too good to pass up, and I've struggled with the limits on waypoints I could load on the 62.  Either the 64 series or the Oregon series are good choices.  Stay away from any other manufacturers, as they've either exited the handheld market or are on the decline.

A question for other owners of a gpsMAP 64ST:  I am looking forward to using the included Topo maps.  But, can I still install OpenStreetMaps for "regular" maps and turn-by-turn directions?

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3 minutes ago, The Leprechauns said:

A question for other owners of a gpsMAP 64ST:  I am looking forward to using the included Topo maps.  But, can I still install OpenStreetMaps for "regular" maps and turn-by-turn directions?

This question is not limited to 64ST users, but all users with a **T model. Yes, you can install other maps with it. The included topo map is installed on the device's onboard memory, and there is still room left over for more maps, but I recommend installing other maps onto a SD card.

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Perfect, thanks!  I have a separate SD card for my 62, so I'm well familiar with the drill.  All I will need to learn how to do is switch from one map to another.

 

Back to helping the OP... you may find the gpsMAP series a better choice if you are a hiker/backpacker.  I like the convenience of attaching the GPS to my shoulder strap with a carabiner.  Overall the unit seems a bit more "rugged" than the Oregon series, which reminds me of a smartphone.

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4 minutes ago, The Leprechauns said:

Perfect, thanks!  I have a separate SD card for my 62, so I'm well familiar with the drill.  All I will need to learn how to do is switch from one map to another.

You do that from the map settings. Go to Setup > Map and I think it's the first option in the list to choose which maps are enabled or disabled. You might also be able to reach this page from the map page. I know you can with the Oregons. 

Because of the number of clicks necessary to get to the map setup and turn maps on and off, I usually keep my map settings unique for each profile so that it's a quicker switch. Driving profiles (I have two) keep a routable map on top. Hiking and geocaching keep a topo trail map on top and the street maps turned off.

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My advice is to try to borrow one or more  dedicated devices from friends or relatives (if possible) and use them for a few caching excursions. That will help you decide what features are "must have". What you may find is that you prefer the smartphone app over the dedicated device. If you scan through the forum posts you will find some similar experiences from other users who switched from smart phone app to dedicated. Some folks think it was a waste of money, others think it was the best decision they ever made. It depends a lot on how and where you cache.

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22 hours ago, The Leprechauns said:

Overall the unit seems a bit more "rugged" than the Oregon series, which reminds me of a smartphone.

I don't think so! The 62 series has the external quad helix antenna sticking out the top, which surely would not fare well if given the abuse the Oregon 6x0/7x0 series is given here (see Hardware > Durability > Torture Test).

Edited by Atlas Cached

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Also, the very poor resolution of the GPSMap series vs. the Oregon 7XX should definitely be seriously taken into account.

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That resolution disparity has a significant effect on screen clarity. But it's also been one of the factors in the discrepancy of battery life between the two series. Though I think the 64 series now touts the same 16 hours that the Oregons have had. Honestly, I prefer the Oregon over the gpsMAP, but I understand that $400 can be a hard pill to swallow for a GPS. On occasion, they come up on sale for almost half of their MSRP, and that's the time to pull the trigger. Until then, continue caching with your cell phones. All of the apps offer offline capability and some with offline mapping in case that was one of your concerns for getting a GPS.

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I had the same choice a little while ago and I did that same as you, I came to this forum to ask. The same people who are helping you now are the same that helped me!  I got the 64st and love it.  I was debating on the Oregon one, but...  the reason I went for the 64st was mainly the price point.  I am not someone who will do any form of crazy climbing or hiking or way out there adventures outside of Geocaching.  I got a GPS mainly for Geocaching, light hiking, biking, and driving in the mountains (the screen is too small when driving, but there is large texts that show that is easy to read) where connectivity isn't as reliable.  If I knew I was going to use a GPS for serious outside activity, I probably would have gone for the Oregon.  If you have the cash, get the Oregon!  But, for me, money was an issue and I got the 64st and DO NOT regret it in any way!

The only thing issue that I have are the rechargeable batteries that is recommended.  Of all the reviews that I read, they weren't favorable.  So, I've gotten the alkaline or lithium ones. It's a minor continual cost and the battery life on Alkaline is about 12+ hours and the lithium is more than double. It depends on how you use it.  If you are doing a FULL day of caching or biking and you keep your GPS on, it does wear down the battery a bit faster....  

I had a 60csx before and already was familiar with the menu and functions.  I remember when I first got it, there was a bit of learning curve of uploading caches and everything else.  But, from my understanding, if you get the Oregon, I don't think that would be any issue.

IMHO, It all depends on how you are using it?! At any rate, if money isn't too much of an issue, get the Oregon!  If money is a concern....  I love my 64st and I'm not disappointed in any way!  

The reason why I got a GPS and not just used my phone, I wanted the accuracy, connectivity, and better battery life that I know my iPhone 7 wouldn't give me. Yes, you can just get a portable battery or just charge it in your car, if it has the ports to do so.  But, I didn't want to up my data usage on my iPhone and the refresh rate isn't always that great on the maps. Another reason why I got a GPS is that I cache with kids and they can use my phone, while I have the GPS.  

Anyways, I ramble.  My advice, If you have the cash, get the Oregon! But, if money is a factor, get the 64st! 

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1 hour ago, sleepysnails said:

I had the same choice a little while ago and I did that same as you, I came to this forum to ask. The same people who are helping you now are the same that helped me!  I got the 64st and love it.  I was debating on the Oregon one, but...  the reason I went for the 64st was mainly the price point.  I am not someone who will do any form of crazy climbing or hiking or way out there adventures outside of Geocaching.  I got a GPS mainly for Geocaching, light hiking, biking, and driving in the mountains (the screen is too small when driving, but there is large texts that show that is easy to read) where connectivity isn't as reliable.  If I knew I was going to use a GPS for serious outside activity, I probably would have gone for the Oregon.  If you have the cash, get the Oregon!  But, for me, money was an issue and I got the 64st and DO NOT regret it in any way!

I'll argue that the gpsMAP6x series are every bit for serious outside activity as the Oregon series. At one point, they were similarly priced ($400 for the Oregon 450 and the 62s back in the day) for what was practically identical specs aside from buttons vs. touch screen. The differences today are simply due to the staggered update schedule. I wouldn't be surprised if Garmin releases a 66 series in January that includes the same WiFi and direct geocaching.com connectivity that the Oregon 700 series has.

Anyway, my point is, don't undersell your 64st. It's of the same generation as the Oregon 600(t) and has all of the same features, with exception to the customizable shortcut button. That's the only truly unique feature of that line.

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18 hours ago, Mineral2 said:

I'll argue that the gpsMAP6x series are every bit for serious outside activity as the Oregon series. At one point, they were similarly priced ($400 for the Oregon 450 and the 62s back in the day) for what was practically identical specs aside from buttons vs. touch screen. The differences today are simply due to the staggered update schedule. I wouldn't be surprised if Garmin releases a 66 series in January that includes the same WiFi and direct geocaching.com connectivity that the Oregon 700 series has.

Anyway, my point is, don't undersell your 64st. It's of the same generation as the Oregon 600(t) and has all of the same features, with exception to the customizable shortcut button. That's the only truly unique feature of that line.

This is SO TRUE Mineral2! I didn't mean to undersell the Garmin! I really like my 64st!  And, it is a serious outside GPS! I did not properly expressed my thoughts!  Thank you for the clarification on my reply! Maybe my thoughts were that the Orgeon looks more like an iPhone and more Star Trek-like and the 64st doesn't....?  I don't know, but, yeah, the 64st is a strong solid device and I am very glad to have it! 

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There are issues with Geocaching Live on the Oregon 7** series. I acquired the device a few weeks ago and have not yet got it to work with my phone. Garmin and geocaching.com are currently looking into the problem (see thread Geocaching Live broken on my Oregon 750t)

Edited by AlexUK51

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I too am new to geocaching and finding these forums most helpful.


Although I am too new to look at buying a GPS unit at the moment I have been looking at the ones available for ideas on a future purchase. Are there currently any GPS units which are able to access the internet directly or possibly via an Android device? I notice some have Wi-Fi/Bluetooth but they appear to me to be for connecting to iPhones, although I may be wrong here. I'm not after an internet connection while out and about but rather when at home to log finds, download maps etc as needed. I do not have a computer and I'm hoping I won't need one.

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5 hours ago, Marwood75 said:

Are there currently any GPS units which are able to access the internet directly or possibly via an Android device? 

The Monterra is a Garmin gps using the Android platform that connects through wifi.  The Oregon 700 has limited access - others can better describe how it works - but that involves loading caches rather than maps.  I make no recommendation about either since I use other devices.

There is no need to use a computer to transfer maps or caching files to a modern GPS.  I cannot remember the last time I used a computer for either task with my Oregon 600.   Although I generally do it with my iPhone or iPad (using Kingston mobilelite to connect), most Androids could connect with an OTG cable.  From there it is just a matter of transferring the appropriate files. 

As you do more caching you will probably have a better idea about what you want, or if you need a dedicated GPSr.   If you go to an event, you can ask what others use and you may be able to get a feel for various models.   I rarely use the Oregon these days- preferring certain apps on my iphone or a rugged waterproof Android.

Edited by geodarts
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Thank you Geodarts for your informative response. I appreciate it and have found it most helpful.

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On 7/22/2017 at 0:23 PM, Mineral2 said:

Garmin Oregon series:
Pros: Touch screen interface is most similar to a cell phone. Highest resolution screen of all the GPS units. Customizable button.
Cons: Touch screen is sensitive to water, doesn't always work well with gloves.

Garmin gpsMAP series (64, currently):
Pros: Buttons work in any condition.
Cons: Button interface is slow and cumbersome. screen resolution is low. No customizable button.

Garmin eTrex series:
Pros: least expensive, when others are not on sale.
Cons: They're underpowered toys when the Oregon and gpsMAP series feel like tools. single joystick interface.

Within each series, there's some variation with regard to features. Base models work as a GPS receiver. But additions in the fancier models include a 3-axis electronic compass and barometric altimeter (these are more useful than you think, especially for sport navigation), built in cameras (not that useful, but I'm a photographer and keep a better camera on me anyway), and topo maps (useless, you can get better free topo maps).

Therefore, I would recommend either the Oregon 700 or the gpsMAP 64s, with the eTrex 30 only if you're in a bind. You might continue using your cell phones for now and wait to see if REI has any GPS sales over labor day.   I see that you live in the UK, so the REI sales aren't really advantageous to you.

I also recommend the 64S......great unit as are the 62S.

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On 7/22/2017 at 1:23 PM, Mineral2 said:

Garmin gpsMAP series (64, currently):
Pros: Buttons work in any condition.
Cons: Button interface is slow and cumbersome. screen resolution is low. No customizable button.

I'm not sure exactly what that is, but the 64 does allow for some customization--mostly moving menu items around (from what I can tell so far).  Sorry if that's a standard feature on all units.

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The Oregons have two buttons - a power button, and a second user button just under it. The user button can be assigned 3 functions by the user- one for a single press, one for a double press, and one for a long press. The power button can also be assigned customized functions on single press and double press (long press is reserved for power down).

As far as I'm aware, none of the buttons on the 64(s) can be custom assigned a function by the user.

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On 07/22/2017 at 10:23 AM, Mineral2 said:

Garmin Oregon series:
Pros: Touch screen interface is most similar to a cell phone. Highest resolution screen of all the GPS units. Customizable button.
Cons: Touch screen is sensitive to water, doesn't always work well with gloves.

Garmin gpsMAP series (64, currently):
Pros: Buttons work in any condition.
Cons: Button interface is slow and cumbersome. screen resolution is low. No customizable button.

Garmin eTrex series:
Pros: least expensive, when others are not on sale.
Cons: They're underpowered toys when the Oregon and gpsMAP series feel like tools. single joystick interface.

Within each series, there's some variation with regard to features. Base models work as a GPS receiver. But additions in the fancier models include a 3-axis electronic compass and barometric altimeter (these are more useful than you think, especially for sport navigation), built in cameras (not that useful, but I'm a photographer and keep a better camera on me anyway), and topo maps (useless, you can get better free topo maps).

Therefore, I would recommend either the Oregon 700 or the gpsMAP 64s, with the eTrex 30 only if you're in a bind. You might continue using your cell phones for now and wait to see if REI has any GPS sales over labor day.   I see that you live in the UK, so the REI sales aren't really advantageous to you.

Just to add, the eTrex series does have touchscreen models. It's not just a joystick interface.

Even the non-touchscreen eTrex's have buttons, plus the joystick.

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