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niksagkram

Was GPSr purchase worth it??

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Hi. The wife and I have been Geocaching for about 1½ years, and have over 500 finds using the iPhone app, and we loved it's ease of use. Recently, we have considered doing our first hide(s) and felt a GPSr would be necessary to achieve this accurately, so, after a little research,  we purchased a Garmin etrex touch 25. We updated the unit, and uploaded a couple of pocket queries. Fine so far. Went on a road trip with the new GPSr, but ended up using the iPhone for most of the trip. The Garmin just felt like a "step back". It just felt awkward to navigate to a cache, and logging the cache was a chore. Maybe we are just not familiar enough with GPSr, and should give it a fair shot (especially since we can't return it now). Maybe it will shine more when we head to the mountains on the spring,  but am still really wondering if buying it was worth it.  

 

What are other Geocachers thoughts?

 

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Hi.

 

It's a controversial subject.  Some people are devoted to their GPS units, others to their phones + app.

 

I'm in the latter camp.  I've parked my Garmin units permanently, and am caching very happily with an Android phone and a very capable map/caching app from a 3rd-party vendor.  No regrets.

 

But since you've made the purchase, give it an honest try before ebaying it.  :)

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A GPS will feel like a step back in technology for the very reason that, unlike many other tech devices, they are tools designed with a specific purpose, and that limitation keeps them fairly reliable and bombproof. I've been using a GPS from the beginning, and to me, navigating to a cache with my smartphone feels awkward. Loading a few PQs is a breeze, and uploading drafts/field notes and logging my finds on the computer is such a smoother process than trying to type out a log on my phone while I'm at the cache.

I also use my GPS for hiking and orienteering, and again, there will be a camp who uses phone apps for this purpose. But the GPS has its conveniences, namely being simply a GPS without any other features to drain the battery or keep me distracted.

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For what you are doing, it is probably not worth it.  If you are doing hiking or backpacking, the iPhone is a pain due to the battery life and fragile nature. They are also not as accurate, but for most people it does not matter much.  Now, if you are comparing to a ruggedized, long battery life phone, it is a different comparison.

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We see this a lot with new folks who started with phones.  Just what you're used to.   :)

Years ago, we had blue legends that'd fade out just by leaves in trees, and we printed cache pages for info.

The other 2/3rds cached with a blackberry and the trimble app in '05, and didn't fare any better...

 - Just look at earlier threads to see how many phones were flat-out carp back then. 

Things change...

 

But I feel my latest GPSr purchase was worth it.  We bought two 60csx in '05, and they're still working fine.

 - Let me know how your phone holds up after you've used it for over twelve years.     ;)

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the replies, guys. Pretty much what I expected. :)

I really do like the idea of the GPSr, for all the noted reasons, but I feel my learning curve is a little high, old dog new tricks kind of thing.  :o

I'm not going to give up on it though. I will do a little research, and maybe get a little more involved with the local Geocaching Community. I'm sure some of them can give me some pointers.

Once again, thanks for all the input.

 

Happy Hunting. :antenna:

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On 12/26/2018 at 9:28 PM, niksagkram said:

Maybe it will shine more when we head to the mountains on the spring,  but am still really wondering if buying it was worth it.  

 

Hi!

 

I'm new to geocaching, but not to GPS.  I just received my new eTrex 30x today!  After working with it for awhile, I was ready to throw it against a wall.  Seeing what satellites were "in view" told me to just chill.

 

If you're driving on the streets and are in the range of cell towers and wifi sites, an iPhone or an Android will be hard to beat in comparison to a GPSr.  Garmin et al really ought to pay attention.  Moreso, Apple and Google (the architects of the Android OS) should pay even more attention.  With a bit of added technology, they could send Garmin and brethren to a special Chapter 7 [Bankruptcy] Geocache.

 

Nevertheless, a GPSr will work in the mountains where you're headed, even if there is no cell or wifi connectivity around.  The satellites transmit their information (location and time) and your GPS triangulates your position accurately based on that information, assuming you've got 4+ satellites in view.  The base map with the 30x is useless, so I'm currently in the process of upgrading.  I'll assume that in the Touch 25 is equally as useless.  Upgrade your maps, whether from open source maps or through a Garmin purchase.

 

When you're really in the middle of nowhere with no apparent connection to the outside world, your GPS device might suddenly look quite appealing.

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I find the GPS miles above a phone, which I find clunky. Plus, there are MANY places without phone connection. For some road trips that's many more kms without. I have driven over a 1000kms without phone connection for my Android phone. The GPS has no problems in those areas. Even if I were to use a phone (it's a backup for my GPS, for times say when I don't have a particular cache loaded; if there's phone connection that is), I would rarely log the find on the phone. I like to write more than 'Found', 'TFTC' , 'Easy' (when it wasn't; the newbies were just lucky and their inexperience is showing they don't know the difference), etc. Plus I like the trackables I am carrying to visit all caches, not 'magically' disappear until months later they only reappear (being positive here) as they are left in a cache. Where were they in between? I also often include photographs of my trackables' travels, after I have edited the photograph in PhotoShop. All this is tricky to do on a phone.

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You don't. Need. A. Cell. Connection to cache with a phone. Tell everyone.

 

With the right app, a phone is a lean, mean, offline caching machine.

 

WiFi?!? Only needed for setup.  Never useful in the field.

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5 hours ago, Goldenwattle said:

I also often include photographs of my trackables' travels, after I have edited the photograph in PhotoShop. All this is tricky to do on a phone.

 

I fear that even it is tricky to to edit photographs with a phone, it is almost impossible to complete with a GPS receiver.

 

Practically, when you put your mobile phone to the airplane mode, it works just like a dedicated GPS receiver. It may be still less accurate.

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58 minutes ago, arisoft said:

 

I fear that even it is tricky to to edit photographs with a phone, it is almost impossible to complete with a GPS receiver.

 

Practically, when you put your mobile phone to the airplane mode, it works just like a dedicated GPS receiver. It may be still less accurate.

 

Editing photos is not a GPSr function.

 

And your dumbphone, in airplane mode, or any other mode, can not match the utility or versatility of a dedicated GPSr.

 

This is a long running and silly conversation. For anyone who plans on leaving the city sidewalk, a dedicated GPSr is the better solution. 

 

A Ford Pinto and a Ferrari F40 can both get you from point A to point B, but they hardly do it the same way.

 

Most dumbphones require backlight brightness set to 100% to barely be able to read the screen in direct sunlight, where a dedicated GPSr requires zero backlight to be viewed with crystal clear clarity in direct sunlight.

 

Most GPSr track more satellites than the average phone.

 

Very few phones are as durable and robust as the average GPSr. Sure, you can otterbox your phone, but now it becomes quite cumbersome to hold and manipulate compared to a dedicated GPSr.

 

And when a dedicates GPSr runs low on power (for those longer treks off the city sidewalk), a fresh pair of AA batteries can keep it going for another day or more (a week with some models). Yes, you can carry additional external battery packs for your dumbphone, but they also are quite cumbersome and nowhere near as easy or convenient to use as a pair of AA batteries, not to mention they also have to be recharged themselves.

 

I do carry both, as my GPSr can use my dumbphone when desired for additional, but not required, functionality.

To answer the original question, Yes! the dedicated GPSr purchase was well worth every penny!

 

 

Edited by Atlas Cached
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4 minutes ago, Atlas Cached said:

To answer the original question, Yes! the dedicated GPSr purchase was well worth evrey penny!

+1

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20 minutes ago, Atlas Cached said:

Editing photos is not a GPSr function.

 

@Goldenwattle just told that it is easier to edit photos with Photoshop if they are taken with a GPSr than a mobile phone. Can you explain why this is an advance?

 

23 minutes ago, Atlas Cached said:

And your dumbphone, in airplane mode, or any other mode, can not match the utility or versatility of a dedicated GPSr.

 

Actually a smartphone without cell coverage do not make it "dump" as you believed. It is sill "smart" but not a phone. You should call it a SmartGPSr because the GPS still works without cell coverage. All smart things are available like editing photos. Because I have never used a dedicated GPSr when geocaching, I feel it more difficult and limiting to use than a SmartGPSr. Most players have caught up with what they have first introduced.

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29 minutes ago, arisoft said:

Because I have never used a dedicated GPSr when geocaching, I feel it more difficult and limiting to use than a SmartGPSr. Most players have caught up with what they have first introduced.

 

Because I have used both smartphones and dedicated GPSr for geocaching, I have the prerequisite experience necessary to be able to form an opinion about which may be better than the other based on that experience.

 

You state you have never used a dedicated GPSr for geocaching, so how could you even begin to form an opinion?

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48 minutes ago, arisoft said:

@Goldenwattle just told that it is easier to edit photos with Photoshop if they are taken with a GPSr than a mobile phone. Can you explain why this is an advance?

No, I didn't. I said, " I also often include photographs of my trackables' travels, after I have edited the photograph in PhotoShop. All this is tricky to do on a phone." A bit of sarcasm when referring to the phone, as I don't know that any phone can use PhotoShop.

Camera, you know old fashioned camera.

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1 hour ago, Atlas Cached said:

You state you have never used a dedicated GPSr for geocaching, so how could you even begin to form an opinion?

 

I have tried to avoid giving any opinion. I just tried to question some of the testimonials and express my feelings about this matter.

 

There is no need to mock the alternative solution by giving degrading nicknames like dumbphone even we are living post-factual times.

 

1 hour ago, Goldenwattle said:

No, I didn't. I said, " I also often include photographs of my trackables' travels, after I have edited the photograph in PhotoShop. All this is tricky to do on a phone." A bit of sarcasm when referring to the phone, as I don't know that any phone can use PhotoShop.

 

Sarcasm or lapsus, but I still can't understand how you use Photoshop in your dedicated GPSr. :blink:

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1 minute ago, arisoft said:

 

I have tried to avoid giving any opinion. I just tried to question some of the testimonials and express my feelings about this matter.

 

There is no need to mock the alternative solution by giving degrading nicknames like dumbphone even we are living post-factual times.

 

 

Sarcasm or lapsus, but I still can't understand how you use Photoshop in your dedicated GPSr. :blink:

I don't. I use a camera.

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1 minute ago, Goldenwattle said:

I don't. I use a camera.

 

The GPSr users I know are using GPSr to take pictures. So does your device also lack this feature?

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2 minutes ago, arisoft said:

 

The GPSr users I know are using GPSr to take pictures. So does your device also lack this feature?

No camera in the GPS. I don't use the phone camera either; only a camera. Much more control and far superior.

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2 minutes ago, Goldenwattle said:

No camera in the GPS. I don't use the phone camera either; only a camera. Much more control.

 

I see. I know a player who has dedicated GPSr, Smartphone and MILC when geocaching. You need also a laptop for the Photoshop. Some enthusiasts really have a laptop always with them when geocaching.

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2 minutes ago, arisoft said:

 

I see. I know a player who has dedicated GPSr, Smartphone and MILC when geocaching. You need also a laptop for the Photoshop. Some enthusiasts really have a laptop always with them when geocaching. 

I prefer to use my computer when I get home, as it's difficult to see a screen outdoors and get the contrast, etc right on the photographs. Besides, that would reduce caching time if I were fiddling with photographs. I log my cache finds when I get home. I have a full sized computer at home with a good screen. I do have a laptop for travelling, but its screen is not as good as the home one.

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I use dedicated stuff too. Caching: Oregon600, I don't have a phone but have a tablet in my backpack with GDAK (caching app) that I use to have an overview of the area. I also use it to take photographs now as my dedicated caching camera is EOL and I don't want to carry my DSLR with me during trips.

Logging is on the PC after getting home (with GSAK).

 

Wouldn't have it any other way.

 

 

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I started in 2003 with a Garmin GPS V. There was no smartphone at the time though I might have gotten a blackberry around that time. I currently own an Oregon 700.  I might even even tried a bluetooth GPS with a PocketPC at one point. 

I don't get the GPSr vs smartphone debate at all - makes no sense to me. It's kind of like arguing Ford vs Chevy (maybe just a US centric analogy) and there's no right or wrong answer. Since I have both and used both often on the same geocaching outing , and they both have their purposes and pros/cons, I'm pretty sure there's no one size fits all, nor does their need to be.

 

I use my phone more just because of convenience - a result of always having the phone on me and almost always having cell service. I typically use the GPSr as the primary device when I have a planned and extended outing where I'll be doing more hiking between caches. Though my phone sends alerts to my Oregon and smart watch even if I'm not looking at it.  I've never had a cracked screen starting with SkyTel pagers before Blackberry, before Android/iOS, so the ruggedness part seems to be more carelessness. I've fallen more times than I'd ever wish to count while hiking/geocaching and it's never been a problem.

 

My own opinion, if I hadn't started with a GPSr back in 2003, I don't know if there would be a reason to go out and get one vs just use my phone.  For me, in how I Geocache, I probably couldn't justify the purchase of a GPSr over my phone. But that's me and everyone has their own needs/wants. I just don't get the argument side of it. 

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Since the OP's primary interest in making the change was for PLACING (not finding) caches, I would take this from a little different angle.

Most (but certainly not all) phones can be used successfully to place caches with good accuracy.  But often, it isn't the phone that's the focus of placement accuracy issues, it's the app.

 

To the OP: 

When placing a cache, it is a known 'best practice' to perform what we call "waypoint averaging" a few times to achieve the most accurate result possible.  You will find that there are a number of phone apps out there (including one that would probably shock you) that do not support this feature.  I would recommend against any app that does not support that feature.  Waypoint averaging is a standard function on most purpose built handheld GPS units.  You enable that function while at GZ and sit and let it cook for a while.  A special algorithm that continually reads the current position reported by the device, and massages that data to produce a kind of average in an attempt to smooth out coordinate drift that occurs for a variety of reasons .  I'm sure you have noted that when standing in one place, the GPS coordinates aren't standing still.  My taking your location measurements that way, and doing it a few times on different days and averaging the results, you will have the best set of coordinates possible to supply to finders.

 

So if you go the phone route, please don't use an app that doesn't support that feature.  And now that you have a purpose built GPS, please use that feature on that device when placing caches.

 

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8 hours ago, Team DEMP said:

there's no one size fits all, nor does their need to be.

^This

 

Much of the decision between using a GPSr vs Smartphone app is based on personal preference and monetary cost.  In regards to personal preferences, some things to consider are:

  • 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.  I prefer to use my smartphone when reading the cache description of Earthcaches, as they tend to be quite long and have diagrams that are required for collecting the necessary info at GZ. When I'm just navigating, then the GPSr screen size if just fine for me.
  • 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' tha 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/press).
  • 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.
  • Cache logging - Some cachers want to submit their logs right away, so a smartphone would better fulfill that desire. Personally, I use Draft logs and so either type of device is fine for me.  Saving verbose Drafts can be easier with smartphones that have bigger keyboards than a GPSr, or that have voice-typing. I will sometimes save Drafts on my smartphone if I want to write a lot, or if I want to immediately submit an FTF log, or if I want to submit an NM/NA log right away.
  • Monetary cost - Many cachers already have a smartphone, so the only incremental cost for them is data/wifi connectivity and any app costs, depending on which app they use. And yes, a premium membership could be considered an "app cost" because of the comparable functionality it provides.
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19 hours ago, Goldenwattle said:

Even if I were to use a phone (it's a backup for my GPS, for times say when I don't have a particular cache loaded; if there's phone connection that is), I would rarely log the find on the phone.

12 hours ago, arisoft said:

@Goldenwattle just told that it is easier to edit photos with Photoshop if they are taken with a GPSr than a mobile phone. Can you explain why this is an advance?

 

I read Goldenwattle's post to mean that since they use Photoshop to edit their photos, then using a smartphone does not provide any advantage over using a GPSr for their process.  Using either device, smartphone or GPSr, they are still going to need to use their computer to edit their photos.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, noncentric said:

Much of the decision between using a GPSr vs Smartphone app is based on personal preference and monetary cost.  In regards to personal preferences, some things to consider are

 

+1

 

I have always used a phone as a phone.  Garmin GPS for caching.  Partly because I can't abide having everything in one device (like if I relied only on a phone and it broke), and for years, it was just flip phone.  But lately, now with a connected smart phone, I use that in concert with a rugged hiking GPS.  The phone for street navigation, backup database, some online logs, and as a camera.  But for the duration of any hike, the phone is safely stowed and the handheld GPS is front and center.

 

The main thing I love about a Garmin Oregon (others are similar), is I can move the menu items so the most-used ones are in view, exactly where I like, and have "dashboards" showing what I want depending on my Profile and current screen.  The Apps make me dig through a maze of obscure menus, or have too minimal an interface.  Customization is where it's at. :D

 

Edited by kunarion
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I started caching in 2004 so phones were not really capable of doing such things. My first GPSr was a Magellan Meridian Color (still, in my opinion, the best device ever created).

Depending on the situation, I use either, or both. I don't find the phone that accurate and as others have stated, the limited battery life absolutely sux.

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