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basspond

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If you have a smart phone I'd use that for a while.  If, after some time, you are still enjoying the experience I'd upgrade to a gpsr.   The only unit I've ever owned is a Gramin Oregon 450 and I still use it today.   I paid about $200.00 for it about 4 years ago.   I think you can purchase a Oregon 650 for under $300.00.  I've heard good things about the e-trex but have never used one.

Just make sure it's something you plan on continuing to do before you spend the cash.

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14 hours ago, justintim1999 said:

If you have a smart phone I'd use that for a while.  If, after some time, you are still enjoying the experience I'd upgrade to a gpsr.  

OK - educate me!  Hubby and I started our geocaching adventure in March 2017. (After following our son and now daughter-in-law since 2005 or thereabouts).  We are going to continue, for sure.  This is a tremendous new hobby we can do together in his retirement!  Love it.  But I digress...  We have used just our smartphones and the Official app (with an occasional experiment with other apps) and haven't had any real issues; coords generally seem close enough and the caches we have hidden get no complaints of inaccurate coords.

How is it an upgrade to move to a GPSr device?  What does the GPSr do that we can't do with our phones and the website? Are the PQ's, lists, maps, etc that we have available on the website and phone app available on the GPSr or will we be needing both devices?

I do like the website for logging, creating cache pages, and general browsing of caches and stuff ... the phone app is good for field navigation and logging quick notes and drafts.  We are considering a GPSr, but I'm curious in what aspects will it be an upgrade to what we are doing now?

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I owned various devices and even worked for a local Garmin distributor - tried their handheld GPSrs in field and wrote reviews. Nowadays I doubt these devices can be recommended as upgrade for the vast majority of customers. Accuracy is not an issue anymore. Surely, a portable GPSr a) is rugged, b ) is waterproof and c) can work eternally as long as you replace AA batteries that you filled your backpack with. So, it's an obvious choice for a long hike, three and more nights in field, far from civilization. Sometimes I do this (rarely now) so I keep my old Garmin Venture ready. For all other situations I simply switch GPS in my smartphone on. I also purchased a simple 10000mAh power bank (~ 20 USD) so I can charge my smartphone several times and I consider this solution to be rather effective for city walks and even for short hikes.

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On 1/11/2018 at 8:34 PM, CAVinoGal said:

How is it an upgrade to move to a GPSr device? 

For sure the app is useful, and I use it quite a bit, but the things I like about my handheld GPS over using a phone are primarily battery life and accuracy (when "good enough" just doesn't cut it like in deep canyons or heavy tree cover).

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I bought a GPSr after I started caching on my phone.  I loaded it with caches before a trip to Hawaii thinking it might come in handy.  That was about 6 years ago.  Still have never used it out in the field because my phone always seems to work better.

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On 1/11/2018 at 8:34 PM, CAVinoGal said:

Are the PQ's, lists, maps, etc that we have available on the website and phone app available on the GPSr or will we be needing both devices?

PQ's can be loaded onto a GPSr. Maps can be loaded onto a GPSr, with plenty of free sources for maps. If your phone is serving you well, then switching to a GPSr may not seem like an upgrade for you. A lot of it depends on what type of caching and what areas you generally cache in. It's very much a personal preference.

Personally, I find that navigating with a GPSr works better (gets me to GZ) than using a smartphone. Of course, this is most true when I cache in cloudy weather, under tree cover, and in canyon/ravine/mountainous terrain. I do like having my phone as a backup, so I can read more than 5 prior logs or look at Gallery images on the cache page. Of course, that only helps if I have a cell signal. If I head into an area without a cell signal, then my phone doesn't provide any extra info than I get on my GPSr.

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Some things to consider about using a smartphone vs GPSr:

  • Screen visibility - For some, a GPSr screen is easier to look at than a smartphone. For me, I have to turn up the phone's brightness in order to read what's on the screen. The high brightness uses more battery. I don't see a glare problem with my GPSr's screen.
  • Buttons vs Touchscreen - Touchscreens, on phones or GPSr's, can get 'jumpy' if there are water droplets (rain) on them. That problem doesn't happen with GPSr's that use buttons. This is a big factor for me, as I often cache in the rain.
  • Screen size - Most smartphones have a larger screen than most GPSr's. There are times when I wish my GPSr screen was larger.
  • Durability - Some cachers have rugged smartphones and/or cases, so they don't worry about dropping them or laying them in the dirt or getting them wet. GPSr's are usually more durable 'out of the box' than most smartphones.
  • General fit - Some cachers find smartphones to be too big for one-handed operation. Personally, I find it easier to navigate the GPSr with one hand, whereas I usually need two hands for my phone (one to hold, the other to swipe).
  • Battery life - Some cachers can cache for an entire day with their smartphones and still have plenty of power left, while others have a dead battery before they've finished caching. Most GPSr's will last more than a day on a pair of AA's. There are external battery packs to charge a smartphone on the go, so that is an option. Personally, I find it easier to carry extra rechargeable AA's that I can quickly swap into my GPSr. Carrying a smartphone that's attached to an external charging pack is just cumbersome to me.

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There have been several GPSr vs Smartphone threads debating the benefits, or not, of using one type of device over another:

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10 hours ago, noncentric said:

Some things to consider about using a smartphone vs GPSr:

Thank you for the very helpful list of pros and cons, for you, and WHY.  Very helpful!!

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Hi all,

I'd like to ask some questions down this line if I may?  I'd particularly value Australian perspectives on them.  My wife, stepsons and I started geocaching about 18 months ago and while I wouldn't call us addicts, gee we enjoy it when we do it!  To date, we've used my wife's smart phone - my phone isn't on a data plan, and I sense that my wife's phone's GPS isn't quite what it could be.

So, Australian geocachers, there seems to be a bit of talk here about GPS units.  I've never used one, so I'm very green on that front.  If we decided to buy a GPS unit purely for geocaching purposes, what would be the advantage over a smart phone - simply that it's a smidge more accurate?  

How much does a GPS (not top of the range for our occasional use) cost?  And I would presume that there would be some form of data usage, so what do people find are their ongoing costs?  And where do you buy them?!

They might be basic questions to you, but they're biggies for us!

Thank you to whoever reads this and chooses to respond!

BJ (and Tara)

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14 hours ago, bjtara said:

How much does a GPS (not top of the range for our occasional use) cost?  And I would presume that there would be some form of data usage, so what do people find are their ongoing costs?  And where do you buy them?!

noncentric provided a pretty thorough response about the pros and cons of a GPS other than a comparison of accuracy, but I wanted to comment on this.   Other than replacing batteries there aren't any ongoing costs.  I've owned two handheld GPS devics since I started 10 years ago (the first one was stolen) and haven't spend anything more on them other than batteries.  There isn't a data usage fee.   One *can* pay for additional maps but there are very good free options if you get a Garmin.  The "cost" of geocache data is only dependent upon whether one has a premium membership with geocaching.com.  A GPS doesn't use cellular data nor does it have wifi so there are no fees associated with transferring data to or from the GPS.  That also means that the GPS can't obtain data in real time. 

GPS devices are typically purchased online (e.g. Amazon has a large selection) or from sporting goods stores that cater to outdoor activities.  A good entry level model is the Garmin Extrex 20 which sells for about 200 Austrailian dollars.    

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Well, Im in the UK, not Australia, so I can't perhaps be as specific as you would like , but ...

I absolutely endorse noncentric's post and would echo all the points there, so no need to repeat all of them about the advantages of a GPS over a smartphone !

The most commonly used cheap end GPS devices round here are Garmin Etrex , which are between £80 - £200 UK, use NO data,run on a pair of AA cells and survive all manner of indignities that would kill any but the most rugged smartphone. I initially bought the cheapest model, but after a few years heavy use (the device still works, friends have it) I went for the etrex 20, which has the big advantage of showing maps . The 10 has a built in Garmin map which is effectively useless unless you are unsure what continent you are on ...

Do a google search for etrex20 and I'm sure some outdoor shops will pop up where you could have a look at one , altho it will probably be cheapest on amazon. Beware of paying extra for the GPS with pre loaded maps , it's not difficult to get open street maps loaded on which are totally free - check and see if OSM is good in your area, as it is updated by volunteers coverage varies around the world. The only extra you will need is a micro SD card for the maps, and maybe an overlay for the screen. which is plastic and can be scratched.

There are newer, more expensive touchscreen garmins, but I'd not consider one myself as I doubt touchscreen input would be a good match for my habit of sticking the device in a trouser pocket while walking / cache opening & signing etc.

Ah, the curse of the slow typist ! NYPaddlecacher has ably made several of my points already - oh well, may as well press submit, I've typed it now !

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17 hours ago, bjtara said:

  ... And I would presume that there would be some form of data usage, so what do people find are their ongoing costs? 

When we went from a garmin blue legend to a 60cxs in '05, our only additional cost for it was a screen protector to protect from scratches, and a topo map a year later.  There are no data costs for a handheld GPSr.  You're accessing satellites for free.

The only ongoing cost since '05 is batteries.  :)

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The argument that a GPS unit doesn't (cannot) use data is a red herring.

You can use a phone without any data too.  If you buy an el cheapo rugged phone like I did (C$175) but never put a SIM card in it, guess what?  You've got a high-functioning PDA, a GPS substitute.  Put your choice of GPS/caching app into it, then compare features against a Garmin.  Unless you chose a dud app, there's a clear winner.

Edited by Viajero Perdido

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I would also add that the very popular statement "a GPSr is more accurate than a smartphone" should not be accepted "as is". Both types of devices have different chipsets and support for different satellite systems. (Yes, not only GPS). They also have different screens, sizes, weight, price, etc. So, it probably makes sense to compare specific characteristics of specific devices, not doing this "in general". 

The world of geocaching respects the good old tradition of using GPSr devices for this game. This comes from the past when there was no adequate support of satellite navigation in phones and buying a handheld device was an obvious choice for a newbie geocacher. This approach can be still seen at the website (https://www.geocaching.com/about/buying.aspx) - you can run into phrases like "consider models built after 1997" and "newer GPS units often support USB".

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On 1/20/2018 at 9:04 AM, Viajero Perdido said:

The argument that a GPS unit doesn't (cannot) use data is a red herring.

The lack of data usage for GPSr's was not an "argument" to promote the choice of a GPSr over a smartphone. It was mentioned as a response to btjara's question specifically asking about data usage if they chose a GPS (see bolded below).

On 1/19/2018 at 3:11 PM, bjtara said:

How much does a GPS (not top of the range for our occasional use) cost?  And I would presume that there would be some form of data usage, so what do people find are their ongoing costs?  And where do you buy them?!

 

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On 1/20/2018 at 5:32 AM, NYPaddleCacher said:

A GPS doesn't use cellular data nor does it have wifi so there are no fees associated with transferring data to or from the GPS.  That also means that the GPS can't obtain data in real time.

In the past couple(?) years, there have been some GPSr models that do have wifi and even can load data directly from geocaching.com "live". I'm not familiar with the specific models, but maybe the Garmin 700 series.

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On 1/20/2018 at 8:50 AM, hal-an-tow said:

Beware of paying extra for the GPS with pre loaded maps , it's not difficult to get open street maps loaded on which are totally free - check and see if OSM is good in your area, as it is updated by volunteers coverage varies around the world.

I've used the OSM maps in a lot of places, some of them pretty remote, and they've always been more than sufficient for geocaching.  That includes China, Malaysia, and several African countries.  When I downloaded the maps for Costa Rica several years ago I found them to be better than Google maps.  There was a fairly major road that  was shown on the OSM maps that was not on Google maps.  If I had relied on Google maps it would have added an hour or two to a 8 hour long drive.  

One the nicest features of the OSM maps (other than that they are free) is one can create a mapset which includes non-contiguous map tiles.  For example, if you're flying to Paris and staying a couple of days in Iceland on the way to and/or from Paris, you can create a mapset which has the maps for area around Paris and all of Iceland but don't have to have a continuous map (which is mostly water) between.   

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