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What Is The Best Gpsr For A Starter??


The Tapps
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The best starter GPS is the one you will end up with in the long run. The hard part is to figure out what all you will use your GPS for.

 

When I was in your shoes I had no clue about anything and decided that I could live withot a compass and altimeter but Routing was pretty cool and I got a GPS V.

 

No regrets.

 

So, Basice GPS. Etrex Yellow or Venture if the price is close to the Yellow with a cable.

If you want mapping, Etrex Vista, GPS V.

If you have to have Color Legenc C, Vista C.

 

If you want Routing and don't care about color.

GPS V.

If you want Routing, Color and the "no looking back I can afford to not have to have regrets GPS" The Garmin 60CS or the GPSMAP 76CS

 

If you have no clue about any of this and wont' be sure of any of it until you use a GPS then an eTrex Legend.

 

Avoid any GPS that you can't hook to the computer via a cable. An Garmins have an easier interface than Magellans. I've seen both and you can do everything with both but I do think the Garmin is easier to figure out intuitivly.

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The eTrex Legend is a very good choice for a starter unit. It's a full featured mapping GPS and it's a bargain these days. I've heard of it sold for as little as $139, but it's usually closer to $169-$199.

 

The Legend is compact, durable and very easy to learn.

 

As far as PC compatibility, most units have the capability to hook up to a PC. Only the units at the lower end of the price spectrum don't. The Garmin Gecko 101 and entire Magellan eXplorist line come to mind as units that don't have a data port. I would stay away from those because of that.

Edited by briansnat
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I have a etrex legend and love it.

I have used the pc interface a lot.

but I have not hidden any caches with it yet.

but I am pretty sure it will do just fine.

it does not lose signal very easily unless you keep it vertical like just having it hanging on the lanyard but when I out geocaching I keep it in hand anyway so I can monitor the distance.

I would not trade it for any thing. ;)

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His question concerns a good starter unit. A beginner needs something cheap and simple, that way he's not out a lot of effort and $$$ if he doesn't like the sport. After he (or she) gets the hang of things then an upgrade could be in order.

 

Shoot, you can buy the things at Target.

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I've used a friend's eTrex Vista, and like it for the outdoors (he uses it for horseback riding, camping, and I think flying too(?!))

 

I think the Vista or Legend would be excellent for beginners.

 

I'm a geocaching beginner, but being ex-infantry, knew what I needed, and wanted something for longer trips too, so I bought the Meridian Gold. It's SD card expandable, very good under the canopy, the basemaps are great, it's light, and it floats, but at $220, maybe not ideal for the beginner.

 

jus' mi $0.02 ;)

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It's NOT a toss up between the two!Magellan meridians have expandable memory and better reception,especially under a tree canopy than any of the Garmins!

Expandable memory is a "nice to have", but I've yet to outgrow the memory in my Vista. I did with my Legend, but only when I travelled well outside my home area. Even then it was only a matter of taking 5 minutes to upload new maps.

 

I often hear Magellan owners talk of eTrex's poor reception under trees, but I use my eTrex under heavy tree cover all the time without a problem.

 

One big advantage the Legend and Vista have over the Magellans is the ability to store 1,000 waypoints vs. 500 for the Magellans. If you you start using pocket queries, you can gobble up 500 waypoints in 1 download, so having 1,000 available becomes more than a convenience.

 

A beginner needs something cheap and simple, that way he's not out a lot of effort and $$$ if he doesn't like the sport. After he (or she) gets the hang of things then an upgrade could be in order.

I disagree with this. For much of my life I did this, bought the cheapest, then upgraded later. Whether it was skis, fishing gear, camping equipment, what have you. In the end it wound up costing me a lot more than if I had bought the better model in the beginning. I now always buy the best I can afford and it saves me money in the end.

Edited by briansnat
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OK Tapps.. here's the deal. From reading all the replies so far, it seems that Garmin is the overwhelming fav. I tend to disagree. I have a Meridian Gold I purchased for $199. It's a great GPSr that does really well recieving in cover such as trees and bush. No need to hold it a certian way, and I've only lost signal with it once. In VERY deep cover, as in under rocks. It has expandable memory with an SD card. Up to 512 MB. Using MapSend, that's almost all of the US in detailed, backroad maps. I'm talking even the farm roads are on it. I love the Meridian and wouldn't buy anything else. I would however recommend going with the Platinum if you can afford it, as the electronic compass and barometeric altimeter are nice. Just my opinion.

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My first GPSr was a Meridian SporTrak Map. I liked it. However I wasn't into geocaching at the time (pity!) and I returned it back to the store after a week or so, because I decided that I didn't need it. I hardly do long-distance road trips to unfamiliar places, or camping, hiking, or boating... so other than being a fun toy to play with, it had no practical purpose in my life. Back it went.

 

I liked it well enough; however, one thing I was disappointed with was the quality (accuracy) of the built-in basemap. So when I finally did discover geocaching, and bought another GPSr, I went with the Garmin eTrex Legend.

 

Unfortunately the maps are no better on this unit, I don't think, but I've come to accept their limitations (not yet sprung for the map CD). I like the interface (click stick) on the Legend, though I miss the nicer antenna and some of the data screens on the SporTrak.

 

I've never had real issues with reception on my Legend. In fact, I've done more than a few caches where other people's logs said "I kept losing lock on my unit" -- but my Legend was just fine.

 

In the end, my Legend does everything the SporTrak did, and it's a bunch cheaper. I'm looking at a Legend C or a 60c for my next unit.

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One big advantage the Legend and Vista have over the Magellans is the ability to store 1,000 waypoints vs. 500 for the Magellans. If you you start using pocket queries, you can gobble up 500 waypoints in 1 download, so having 1,000 available becomes more than a convenience.

 

No,you can load 1000's of waypoints on any of the Magellan meridians!Only 500 active,the rest on the SD card!Example load 500 out of Montpelier,name the file and save,then load 500 out of Portland and save to file then load 500 out of Albany them save to file!!I just did New England like this!

Edited by graldrich
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I liked it well enough; however, one thing I was disappointed with was the quality (accuracy) of the built-in basemap. So when I finally did discover geocaching, and bought another GPSr, I went with the Garmin eTrex Legend.

 

Unfortunately the maps are no better on this unit, I don't think, but I've come to accept their limitations (not yet sprung for the map CD).

 

The base maps are pretty useless. Getting the mapping software opens a whole, new world and makes your GPS 10X more useful.

Edited by briansnat
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One big advantage the Legend and Vista have over the Magellans is the ability to store 1,000 waypoints vs. 500 for the Magellans. If you you start using pocket queries, you can gobble up 500 waypoints in 1 download, so having 1,000 available becomes more than a convenience.

No,with any Magellan Meridian series gps you can load 1000's of waypoints!You really are only limited by the size of the SD card in the unit!

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Magellan/Garmin.. it's the Ford/Chevy thing all over again. I started with a Legend and recently graduated to a 76CS... NOTHING wrong with the Legend at all. The antenna debate is something for another forum. Find a store that will let you try the different units and see which one seems more comfortable and intuative... figure out how much $$ you wanna spend and then go for it!

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Thank You for all the info,

I already have the Magellan Explorist 200. It has worked great so far. I do want to upgrade in the near future. What I think would work out the best is make sure it has a hook up for downloads off the computer. Have the SD card for extra memory. Still a rookie and have learned alot in a month. I'm hooked on Geocacheing and try to get all the information I can get. Once again , Thanks for the information. The last post said it all!! It's like Ford against Chevy!! At this point in time I don't mind putting in the waypoints in by hand. I do check and re-check before useing the waypoint. Learned alot in alittle time.

Thank You,

The Tapps

B):rolleyes:

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Thank You for all the info,

I already have the Magellan Explorist 200. It has worked great so far. I do want to upgrade in the near future. What I think would work out the best is make sure it has a hook up for downloads off the computer. Have the SD card for extra memory. Still a rookie and have learned alot in a month. I'm hooked on Geocacheing and try to get all the information I can get. Once again , Thanks for the information. The last post said it all!! It's like Ford against Chevy!! At this point in time I don't mind putting in the waypoints in by hand. I do check and re-check before useing the waypoint. Learned alot in alittle time.

Thank You,

The Tapps

B):rolleyes:

Dangit. You should of said that to start.

 

Now I've got to revise my list.

 

1) gps 60c/s and 76CS

 

or

 

2) Wait for Magellan to match the Garmin high end modesl, they will given time, and since you have an explorist, you do have time to wait.

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What ever you purchase start your savings account for the one you will really want. What is that you ask, well it probably hasn't been made yet. As time goes on you will figure out more features that you want and start drooling over the new GPS's out there. Then one day you won't be able to resist any longer and poof. There goes that savings account. For me I started with a Magellan SporTrak Pro. This is a very nice accurate unit. I now own A Garmin GPS 60CS. At this point it is the do everything GPS, and it does it very well, but I am sure there will be a better one come along any day. Renegade Knight is waiting for the GPS VI. He figures it will be color and have at least twice the memory of the 60. Maybe, maybe not. :mad:

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Magellan/Garmin.. it's the Ford/Chevy thing all over again. I started with a Legend and recently graduated to a 76CS... NOTHING wrong with the Legend at all. The antenna debate is something for another forum. Find a store that will let you try the different units and see which one seems more comfortable and intuative... figure out how much $$ you wanna spend and then go for it!

I can certainly agree... things are pretty standard these days, just a matter of which country of import you choose... China or Taiwan... ehh, wait, both ARE China. ;-)

 

Nah, just kidding.

Really, though, after you determine your specific needs, whatever brand fits in your hand better (physically or mentally).... well, that's probably the best one to have.

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the Garmin Legand or the Magellan Sport track map would both be a good choice. I have used both, I like some features the Magellan offers with Map Send topo software, Garime has a sharper screen, but screen sharness has never been and issue for me. 90% of the time I am using the compass "Style" screen, in which case reselution is not a factor, Check both the Garmin and Magellan web sites for any rebate information, I have been to dealers that did not about rebates.

the best deal I have seen was the magellan Sport track map with topo software and costco for $199.99 before the rebate. You might even try a search on price grabber.com for the best deal.

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Try this: get something old, used, borrowed...whatever. Watch the garage sale thread, watch the Internet. Recently, some people got $300 Vistas for about $170 on an Internet only offer - someone made a mistake. See if you can find a way to try caching with the electronic compass. Consider maps and driving. Only you can choose.

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Just about anything will work. I'd just make sure the unit has a PC data cable, a map screen that shows your track(as opposed to mapping which is different), and some sort of backtrack feature. WAAS is a questionable feature for folks up North with spotty coverage. (I live in the South and get very good coverage and love it.)

 

You buy the cheapest unit you can at first, then as you get experience you learn what is important to you and up grade. Keep your first unit as backup. With Lithuim AAs and thrown in the bottom of your pack it will be there months or years down the road, just in case.

 

My preference is the SporTrak Map or Pro, I have both. But Garmin's autorouting units are the cat's meow. I'm looking to get a iQue which is Palm-based unit to get me to the parking spot and carry extra data. Then I jump out with the ST units because they are more rugged on the trail. The iQue, IMHO, is too fragile to carry openly on the trail.

 

Hope this helps.

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I bought the Garmin geko 101, not computer linkable but I love the little thing. I would go for the 301 if I could. I love the size, smaller than my cell phone. I'd rather be in th woods typing in coordinates than sitting in front of a computer. I do the computer thing enough at work already. I would recommend for a starter unit the base model Etrex or one step up. Unless you are going to be doing a ton of hiking, biking, or flying, the Vista is not needed. the only advantage of the vista is the electronic compass, barometer, and altimeter. I doubt you will be forecasting weather while geocaching and most geocaching that I have seen yet involves hiking tremendous mountains. Stick with a base model that is computer compatible. Have fun. Garmin All The Way!

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If you know you enjoy the sport, Dick's sporting goods had a Magellen Meridian Color, factory refurbished, for $249! This is a $500 unit brand new. If you have not yet decided, Magellan now makes the Explorist series, and the lowest price model is about $100. But my suggestion to you is to contact a caching group in your area and attend a get-together. You can get opinions on Garmin and Magellen models and try both for yourself. You'll also meet some nice folks.

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I've got the Magellan eXplorist 100 and it's been really awesome. Highly accurate, holds the signal lock very well. Also priced <$100 if you look around. This unit is not suitable for people who prefer to download waypoints off a computer, as it has no computer interface. However, for folks like me who don't care about that (I usually only enter a few waypoints at a time by hand) this is a nice little starter unit. It doesn't have fancy mapping capabilities either, but not everyone needs/wants that anyway.

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after caching for a year-and-a-half, i don't mind not having computer hook-up and have been happy w/geko 101

Its one of those things that you don't realized you missed, until you have it. Then you can't live without it. My Legend came with the cable and I had never used it. I'd key in all the waypoints by hand...sometimes making mistakes.

 

Then after about a year I tried using the cable along with EasyGPS to download waypoints and I realized what I had been missing. Now I get the nearest 500 caches to my home sent every week via PQ and send them right to the GPS.

 

If I go on vacation, or visit another area I can dowload the nearest 10, 20, or 30 cache waypoints with a few mouse clicks. EXTREMELY convenient. And no more DNF's because I "fat fingered" a number.

 

I can also keep track of caches I found by uploading my found caches from my Vista to my PC, then deleting them from my GPS. I have a file of all found caches that I could pull down and send to my GPS, or plot on a map if I ever have a need to.

 

Finally I can keep my unit up to date with the latest software without sending it back to the manufacturer. When a software upgrade for my Vista doubled the number of waypoints it holds, I just downloaded the new software and there it was.

Edited by briansnat
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Ok, I'm new, too. Only caching about a month. I researched the threads on this website, then went onto the web to check out prices, etc.

 

I decided on the SporTrak Color, which I bought online for $165.00 at The GPS Store.com in N.C. It has 23 extra megs of memory, barometer, WAAS and built-in compass. What really sold me was the 3-axis compass. I've been using the compass screen to locate my caches, which has an icon indicating the cache location. My last 2 caches were under very deep cover of trees, & the SporTrak worked great!

 

The SporTrak included a computer cable. This, too, has worked very good. I figured that once I'd discovered a cache, I would be deleting the waypoints. For this reason, I rationalized not getting a GPS with an SD card.

 

My suggestion: decide what features are of most important to you, such as additional memory, compass features, etc...then go from there. Definitely purchase online. The prices are MUCH better than anything you will find at a local store.

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Ok, here's my two cents:

 

For a starter GPS, Garmin tends to be cheaper and easier than Magellans. The yellow eTrex is a decent starter GPS for $100 or less. If you can afford a bit more than that, I'd go with the Legend. That was my starter GPS and I still love it.

 

I also have the Vista now, but I tend to still use the Legend. The electronic compass seems to bounce around a lot more (even after I calibrate it) and I'm never quite sure where it's pointing me to. Could just be a matter of getting used to it though.

 

I recently picked up a Magellian Meridian Platinum (and getting a lot of flack for that from both my Garmin and Magellan friends). It definitely has some nice features, but at a much higher price. I use it most often for auto-routing - it's a very handy way to figure out how to get from one cache to the next.

Pros: you can store unlimited numbers of waypoints on the SD cards.

Cons: You can only scroll through the loaded waypoints by nearest or by alphabet - you can't search by name like you can on the Garmins. Probably the reaason they limit the number of waypoints to 500. I also prefer the compass screen on the eTrex line.

 

To summarize:

For an inexpensive and easy to use GPS, buy the Garmin eTrex Legend

 

If you're sure you are going to love geocaching and stick with it a long time, and you consider yourself a techno-geek who wants to have all the toys and can figure out how to use them, then look at the Magellan Meridian series with the SD cards. (or the Garmin 60cs which is also a very nice unit)

Edited by junglehair
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... I figured that once I'd discovered a cache, I would be deleting the waypoints. For this reason, I rationalized not getting a GPS with an SD card.

 

... Definitely purchase online. The prices are MUCH better than anything you will find at a local store.

The ability to save waypoints to an SD card really only comes into play if you plan to do a lot of travelling and caching. Being able to load 500 or 1000 waypoints at a time is more than sufficient if you just plan to go caching around your home area. However, if you want to plan a cross-country trip, you will not be able to load very many areas into your GPS.

 

I definitely agree with your last point - buy online! Prices are much cheaper, especially as you move up into the more advanced units.

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