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which gps dilemma


BowerBunch
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I have a gps purchasing dilemma (don't we all?).

 

When introduced to geocaching last weekend, the two people both had Magellan SporTrak Pro's. I liked the features and the size.

 

Ok, so now I'm hooked and want to get a GPS.

 

In searching the area (local area) for GPS units to see what I can get, I find very few stores carry Magellan's. ALL seem to carry Garmin. I still like the Magellan's but it bothers me a little (I'm not good a decisions) that no one is selling Magellan's.

 

Now I can take this several ways:

 

1) Garmin does a MUCH better job of marketing their devices therefore more people ask for them therefore more stores carry them. This has NO bearing on quality, just on good marketing.

 

2) Magellan's are not that good.

 

3) Magellan's are more for the elite therefore not aske for much so stores don't carry them.

 

So I'll ask this wonderful group (flattery certainly can't hurt, right ). I'm looking in the $250-300 range and all makers make them in that range.

 

ALL!! comments welcome.

 

Thank you very much in advance.

 

BowerBunch

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Go to the Magellan web site and it will tell you what retailers near you are Magellan dealers...

 

http://www.magellangps.com/en/howToBuy/dealerlocator/

 

Or Online...

 

http://www.gpsdiscount.com/home.html

http://www.gpscity.com/index.html

 

I got my Meridian GPS at Wal-Mart for $219

 

Dale

 

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I'm Diagonally Parked, In A Parallel Universe.

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I suggest a fourth option: until a couple years ago Garmin had the clearly superior products and this allowed them to increase their market share. They still have a more complete product line and that also led to more dealers carrying them. Recently Magellan has probably caught up in terms of the hardware, but Garmin still has a greater selection of map software for their units.

Both make high quality units and I expect you'll be happy with whatever you choose, but there are significant feature differences. Garmin makes the physically smallest units and has very high resolution screens. They also have the only handheld that will calculate road routes automatically - and the maps that are detailed enough to support that capability. Magellan has more flexible memory storage - you can choose more precisely what map areas to download and you can update the basemap. I'd also give the edge in waterproofing to Magellan's new units (but not the 315/330).

Some contributors here are very outspoken about the supposed advantages of quadfilar helix antennas used in Magellans vs. the patch antennas used in many Garmins. My experience hasn't supported that: I have two GPS units with helix antennas and two with patch - the one with the best sensitivity under tree or other cover has a patch, the one with the worst has a helix; the final two units are about equal. I suspect, based on experience with other people's units, that the Garmin eTrex line has had quite a bit of sample to sample variation and this has led some to conclude that all patch antennas are bad.

 

Bottom line at the moment is that if map quality, auto-routing, or small physical size are most important to you then Garmins would be my recommendation. If those features are less important then you'll probably get a better value with Magellan.

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All of my personal units are Garmins (that's what I have maps for so it's not worthwhile to switch).

The eMap (patch antenna) is consistently a little bit better in reception under cover than either the III+ (helix) or 12 (patch). The 4th unit with a helix antenna is an older one that's obviously hampered by not having 12 parallel channels. I have tried putting its antenna on the III+ though and that led to worse performance than before - so it has both a worse antenna and worse receiver electronics than current models.

 

I've also done a short comparison between the eMap and Meridian Gold and Plat. units in an area with poor reception. They all seemed about the same when optimally oriented - drifting back and forth between 2D and 3D lock. Of course the Meridians lost lock when placed horizontally as did the eMap when vertical.

 

So my small sample of results hasn't shown there to be any substantial difference based on antenna type when each receiver is placed so as to optimize its performance.

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My experience is limited, but I think the real patch antenna issue most people percieve is really due to the small size of the eTrex patch antenna. While I haven't seen or used an eMap, I suspect that the antenna is larger.

 

Also, to be honest, most people don't realize you need to hold them correctly. A helix antenna should be vertical, and a patch antenna horizontal. That means holding a SporTrak or 315 vertical with the antenna pointed up, and an eTrex almost flat, with the flat surface above the display horizontal. Most people I see go wandering around with their units at a 45 degree angle, which is not optimum for either type.

 

Also it depends on the tree cover or other obstructions.

 

A helix is also more sensitive to being near large metal objects, or to your body, when a patch is less affected by that sort of interference.

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I thought we ham radio operators were the only ones getting into it about antennas but guess not. icon_biggrin.gif Any way, Garmin is big. My first introduction to GPS was in aircraft navigation and Garmin was the name. I have two Garmin units but have many friends with Magellans and one just bought a Lowrance and they all do the job. Personally I think the most bang for the dollar is the Garmin Emap, though with maps and memory, the price can build up to what I paid for my Garmin V Deluxe. If you think you will desire automatic routing, the Garmin V is probably the ultimate combination on road and off road GPSR. It is really neat to put in a cache waypoint and have the unit route you through the best roads to get there and then refigure your route if you miss a turn. Once there, switch to off road mode and walk up to the cache. No matter what you buy, you will end up finding the cache as well as with most any other model or brand. Skill in interpreting your readings and how caches are hidden is the huge portion. Until recently, one of the top cachers in my area used an old Magellan that didn't have the third decimal point in it. Thats adding +- 60 feet to the error! Just do it!

 

Steve Bukosky N9BGH

Waukesha Wisconsin

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I thought we ham radio operators were the only ones getting into it about antennas but guess not. icon_biggrin.gif Any way, Garmin is big. My first introduction to GPS was in aircraft navigation and Garmin was the name. I have two Garmin units but have many friends with Magellans and one just bought a Lowrance and they all do the job. Personally I think the most bang for the dollar is the Garmin Emap, though with maps and memory, the price can build up to what I paid for my Garmin V Deluxe. If you think you will desire automatic routing, the Garmin V is probably the ultimate combination on road and off road GPSR. It is really neat to put in a cache waypoint and have the unit route you through the best roads to get there and then refigure your route if you miss a turn. Once there, switch to off road mode and walk up to the cache. No matter what you buy, you will end up finding the cache as well as with most any other model or brand. Skill in interpreting your readings and how caches are hidden is the huge portion. Until recently, one of the top cachers in my area used an old Magellan that didn't have the third decimal point in it. Thats adding +- 60 feet to the error! Just do it!

 

Steve Bukosky N9BGH

Waukesha Wisconsin

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