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MarkJsn

!Need help making final GPS unit decision!

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I've read what's out there and looked around and I've narrowed my decision down to buying either a...

 

- Magellan SporTrak

or

- Garmin Geko 201

 

Keeping in mind I'm just starting out with GPS and Geocaching, which of these two units would be better than the other for basic biking/hiking about and trying out some beginners Geocaching?

 

Also, what "must have" accessories would you recommend for the chosen one?

 

And finally, who has the best price currently?

 

Thanks!

 

MarkJsn

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Does the gecko have a computer cable or does it even have the option to buy one? If not and the sport track does. Get the sport track.

 

=====================

Wherever you go there you are.

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quote:
Originally posted by MarkJsn:

I've read what's out there and looked around and I've narrowed my decision down to buying either a...

 

- Magellan SporTrak

or

- Garmin Geko 201

 


 

Dunno.... why are you limiting yourself to those???

 

For what I believe is the best bang for the $$$$$, the Garmin E-Trex Venture is the way to go. It has a much longer battery life than most of the Magellan units. It also allows longer waypoint names and track names, and has a finer display than the sport-track. It weighs less, is smaller in size, and operates easily with one hand. I also think using AA batteries is a big +, since everything else I carry is also AA batteries. It DOES come with a computer cable.

 

Then start with EasyGPS (which is free) for your software, and you are on your way. Upgrade to ExpertGPS when you are ready.

 

This will serve you well for most outdoor activities. You shouldn't even need to upgrade... unless you decide you need mapping on the GPSr.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Mike. Desert_Warrior (aka KD9KC).

El Paso, Texas.

 

Citizens of this land may own guns. Not to threaten their neighbors, but to ensure themselves of liberty and freedom.

 

They are not assault weapons anymore... they are HOMELAND DEFENSE WEAPONS!

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I have to say that I am partial to my eTrex Legend. If you shop around, you can pick them up for around $150 now (after rebate). That's only slightly more than the geko, and it includes basemap detail of the main roads. It has 8 MB of memory available too so that you can add additional mapping (detailed roads, topo, etc. if you want to). The existing base map is useful if you want to use it while driving. It can at least tell you where the next major road is. It comes with the download cable as well.

 

The Geko is small, but other than that, I don't see much advantage to it. To me it looks like a kid's version of a GPS. I have never tried one though, so I can't offer much of an opinion on its functionality.

 

As for the best place to buy, if you are comfortable with buying something on the Web, there are lots of options for where you can get one, and you can search to find the lowest price. I find that the retail stores sell them at a higher price (can be up to $250), but of course you have the unit immediately and don't have to wait for it to arrive in the mail.

 

-Junglehair

 

There are 10 kinds of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

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Hmmmm... Rats!, you all make good points, especially Junglehair. The only reason I didn't jump on the Legend though is money is sooo tight right now.

 

Hmmmm... Back to the drawing board!

 

Thanks everyone!

 

MarkJsn

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Is the $150 (after rebate) something you've actually run across recently, if so, where?

 

TIA!

 

MarkJsn

 

quote:
Originally posted by junglehair:

I have to say that I am partial to my eTrex Legend. If you shop around, you can pick them up for around $150 now (after rebate). That's only slightly more than the geko,


=== snip ===

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Go to Amazon.com and get a Garmin Legend for $139.99 with shipping. Good unit and good price.

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Let me relate my experience from last week end. My wife and I did the "Four Cache Loop" in Texas. This is a 10 mile plus loop. About 1.5 miles into the hunt it started to rain HARD, and lasted until about .25 mile from the end. We have three GPSRs, an ETrex, a Legend and a Magellan 315. The ETrex was almost useless. Most of the time it could not hold the sattilite lock with the tree cover and very heavy clouds over head. The Mag 315 never lost the signal once and the batteries lasted the hole 7.5 hours it took to finish the hunt. I didn't even take the Legend out of my pack. Once we completely lost the trail, without a working GPS we would have been in trouble. We found all four caches and except for the rain , we had a great time. Until that experience, I figured one worked as well as another but not any more. We have 333 finds and 9 hides to our credit.

 

[This message was edited by TerraTrekkers on April 22, 2003 at 09:31 PM.]

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I have a Geko 201. I bought mine for $115 from GPSCity.com. Great service from those folks!

 

It does have a computer interface cable as an accessory. Its sitting next to me! icon_smile.gif

 

Tramping around in the woods here with the 201 has been pretty good. I have not seen it lose satellite lock unless I put it in my pocket under heavy tree cover.

 

It is quite easy to use even without the computer cable. I have been entering some waypoint data quite easily with just the buttons. However, if I was going to enter a LOT of waypoints, that would get old real fast.

 

I bought the bike mount, computer cable, and 12V power cable. The Geko is the lightest GPS on the market, and it slips easily into a shirt or pants pocket.

 

The user interface is simple, and doesn't require a lot of time to master it. Waypoint names have a limit of six characters. I have found the "bent pointer" feature on the compass really great when I'm driving or biking.

 

Sometimes it gets WAAS lockup quickly, sometimes not. WAAS gets lost in the woods pretty quickly. I have seen the WAAS accuracy to 10ft, but not often. The Garmin manual says that you can get better accuracy from a DGPS receiver connection to the Geko, like a Garmin GBR 21 or 23.

 

I'm satisfied with my Geko, and I can see no reason to buy a GPS with more features. The reception is all that matters to me, as I always use maps and compass. Since the mapping models can't beat USGS maps and the convenience of a pencil, they're no good for me.

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I will admit that the eTrex has some difficulty with the tree cover, but it has gotten me through 97 finds so far. I've heard that some of the more expensive Garmin models perform better with that (Garmin 76, 3+, etc.) Interesting to hear that the Mag 315 works under tree cover as well. Good luck with your decision.

 

-Junglehair

 

There are 10 kinds of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

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I have to agree with TerraTrekkers. The Etrex can be weak under tree cover. I like that the Legend offers mapping capabilities which come very handy when traveling in the car. At $139.99 with rebate, with mapping capabilities and a compact size, I think this deal is hard to beat. imho

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Ditto everything briancm said about the Geko 201. I had never used a GPSr before, found it very easy to use. Rei.com has a nice chart comparing the Geko 201, Magellan SporTrak and many other models - go to rei.com, search on "GPS", select any of the models displayed, then click "Comparison Chart" at the end of the "Product Info". Tvnav.com had the lowest price when I researched - also has a reputation for good service according to the posts on the sci.geo.satellite-nav discussion group.

 

Best Regards,

AC Student

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quote:
The ETrex was almost useless. Most of the time it could not hold the sattilite lock with the tree cover and very heavy clouds over head. The Mag 315 never lost the signal once...

 

I read somewhere (forget where) and I can't vouch for how true it is, but what it said was, the Mag units lose their lock as often as the eTrex. The difference is that when the Mag loses its sat lock, it attempts to calculate where you by projecting from your last known course and speed (in other words it's lying about the fact that it has a sat lock), while the Garmin units basically give up and tell you they can't see the sattelites.

 

Anyway, I have an eTrex Legend and a Vista. They do sometimes lose their lock under a very heavy leaf canopy, but they regain it quickly...usually in a matter of seconds. It's never once prevented me from finding a cache.

 

"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues" -Abraham Lincoln

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Simply this:

 

You are going to want to have mapping features, so why would you buy anything without it. Spend a little more and buy something you'll like.

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Got to plug the E-Trex Rino,for the money and the options that it has I really think it is the best yet,and you have the peer to peer which keeps you in contact with others as well.

 

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS***GEO-TRY-AGAIN*** THE *******RE-DISCOVERY******* http://www.lapurchase.org ***1803--2003*** "LOUSIANA PURCHASE" 200TH ANNIVERSARY AND THE "LEWIS AND CLARK EXPADITION" http://www.msnusers.com/MissouriTrails

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I'm a satisfied owner of an etrex yellow and a Vista. The general argument about different GPSrs' ability to hold lock seems to come down to the type of antenna. The patch antenna in the eTrex is not known for its sensitivity, but it has other advantages, namely light weight and excellent protection from damage. The other common antenna type is the quad helix, which is typically external to the GPS body, sometimes as a positionable stalk. These offer better senstivity, but I would be afraid of snagging the antenna on something in the woods or in my pack - they strike me as somewhat delicate assemblies. As far as losing signal lock, I've seen recievers with both types of antennas lose lock in the right places. If you buy a Maggie figuring you'll never lose lock, you'll be disappointed. EVERY GPS will lose lock at some point.

I think if you read enough of these GPS opinion postings (gawd there are enough of them) you will come to the same conclusion I did - there is pretty much zero difference between a Maggie and a comparably equipped Garmin from a technical standpoint. From a usability standpoint there is a lot of room for argument - I won't go there. So, for what it's worth, after 200+ finds I am still very happy with my Vista, and bought a basic eTrex as a backup. As far as price, www.tvnav.com had the best deal going when I bought mine. I recommend them for their knowledge about the product and their great service.

Now, about mapping and other bells and whistles - if you generally latch onto a hobby for a long time and wind up buying bigger and better gear as you learn more about it, then I would suggest getting the Legend so you have mapping. You will want the mapping eventually if you stick with geocaching long enough because you will quickly run out of local caches, the ones where you know how to get from A to B. Once you venture farther afield into unfamiliar territory, you'll come to appreciate the mapping capabilities and the route planning that you can do ahead of time. On the other hand, if you can avoid the obsession (good luck icon_wink.gif) then a simple unit like the Geko or etrex will do just fine.

 

There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary numbers, and those who don't.

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quote:
I like that the Legend offers mapping capabilities which come very handy when traveling in the car. At $139.99 with rebate, with mapping capabilities and a compact size, I think this deal is hard to beat. imho

 

I, too, am looking at the Legend.

But what is mapping capability?

What are Basemaps?

Thank you!

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The basemaps are the maps that come with the GPS. The basemap is just that, base. It includes only major roads, and major waterways.

 

You will want to purchase the additional mapping software (for Garmin = MapSource, for Magellan = MapSend). These are additional charges. The mapping capability also relies on how much memory your GPS has. For the Legend, you may only be able to store maps for 1 state. Whereas the Vista, with 24mb, you can contain a larger area.

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OK, after reading all the great recommendations I'm leaning towards a Garmin eTrex Legend. Now I just have to scrape together enough coins to get it before the July rebate deadline.

 

Thanks all for the information!!

 

MarkJsn

 

Non Impediti Ratione Cogitonis

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You'll be happy with it, trust me. You can always buy them both at Future Shop/Best Buy, and test them out for yourself.

 

Both stores have a 30 day money back guarantee. This is what I did.

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When I bought my Legend I looked into buying the additional Mapsource software. For me I thought it was way to much money and not really needed. I've heard that they are way out of date anyway. The eTrex screen is too small for safe auto routing anyway. The basemaps have been very useful for me when finding my way around unfamiliar areas. Once your in the vicinity, I use the navigation screen to point the way.

 

In the past 4 months I have driven to areas where I would have been lost without a GPSr. I will never get lost now that I have this cool gizmo.

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I agree with just about everything said here so far. Ultimately, what these threads boil down to is which peanut gallery can whoop the loudest about which is better...Magellan or Garmin.

 

Personaly, I prefer the eTrex (namely the Vista) because of its size. It's Magellan counterpart to me is just plain, fugly. The greatest factor against Magellan for me is the size. Originally, I started out with a Magellan Pioneer given to me by my dad when he upgraded to a GPS III. Granted, back then (a whole 19 months or so ago), I knew little about GPSr's. In that time, my dad decided he never used his III so he gave it to me to use. That lasted about a year until I decided the lack of map downloads into the III required something 'better'. Enter the Vista. I sold off both previous GPSr's to finance it, and it was the best decision I could have made. The small size prevents it from having that bulky feeling while attached to a backpack, or a strap on my Camelbak. With that, I can always maintain sat lock, at least in most environments. There was no such case that I was aware of for the GPS III.

 

Of course, there is that little argument about battery life being reduced in the eTrex line vs. other models. To refute that, I offer this simple argument. The GPS III/V require 4 batteries while the vista requires 2. Ok, so the longevity overall in terms of battery life still doesn't match up evenly, but it helps to understand that difference in total number of batteries required to juice the GPSr.

 

Brian

Team A.I.

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If you get a GPS with mapping capability I recommend eventually getting the map software. I know the Mapsource maps are a bit out of date, but the base maps are so basic that they are nearly useless. They only have major roads and geographic points. I find the Mapsource Topo to be most useful. If you are using it for mostly hiking, geocaching, hunting, etc..., get the Topo. If you are using it for travel, get the Roads and Rec.

 

"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues" -Abraham Lincoln

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I think that the most important thing to do is see if you can get the manual to the models you are considering. Both Garmin and Magellan have a lot of info online.

 

Basically, if you can't stand the unit's user interface, you'll want something else. Go to your local stores, poke at them and play around with them.

 

Geocaching: the perfect sport for introverts!

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Anything GARMIN. The entire product line is easy to learn how to use and very user freindly. I have a Garmin GPS II Plus. I have not lost signal yet. SV

 

[This message was edited by AEOLUSZEPHYRUS on April 24, 2003 at 10:57 PM.]

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quote:
If you get a GPS with mapping capability I recommend eventually getting the map software.

 

So, A gps usit with mapping capabilities will enable me to create maps?

 

What if I do not purchase the software?

 

I don't really see the connection between mapping software and mappining capability.

 

I'm looking at the Legened, if that helps.

 

We are not Alone....

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