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Hello, And Question About Gpsr Feature


ubievol
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my wife and i are interested in geocaching and, like others, are trying to make a choice of GPSr. from what i can tell the feature sets vary quite a bit and the trick seems to be deciding which model might work best for a particular application.

 

one thing that caught my attention in a review of the Sportrak color was a comment about it being able to maintain reception under heavy tree cover while other units could not. since most of my use will be in the heavily wooded mountains of NC this seems like it might be important. so, i'm here to ask, is this important in actual application, or is it not a big deal?

 

another important thing to us is easy user interface but that is the topic for another thread!

 

thanks very much for any input!

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Antenna:

The quad-helix antenna will hold a signal beneath forest canopy better than a patch antenna. In the open, both perform the same. Working in dense forest, steep canyons and valleys, or other areas with limited view of the sky an external antenna will consistantly perform better.

 

As far as user interface, all are rather easy if you spend a few minutes reading the instructions while playing with the unit. Most units are designed for average-type folks and aren't difficult. Personally, I prefer the picture-driven menus on the Garmin eTrex line. However, it wasn't enough of a reason to buy an eTrex.

 

Happy shopping,

Bob

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I have a basic Magellan Meridian Green <<see avatar - and have been happy with it. I have not used a Sportrac - but I think the menus etc are probably similar. As Bob said - I think the ease of use is similar between brands once you have a basic understanding. I do seem to be able to find caches under tree cover - I assume my quad-helix antenna helps.

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I have a Meridian Gold and I absolutely ****LOVE**** it. The nice UPS man brought me my vehicle mount for it today so Im really tweaked.

 

You should give the Meridian Gold a look. You can get them at the Wal Mart for about $170 give or take. Lots of nice features and the helix antenna you mentioned.

 

I used it the other day under very heavy tree cover and as long as you were holding it straight up, it got a very strong sat signal.

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I have a SporTrak Pro and it's rare that I lose signal. I have more trouble in cities with tall buildings than in the woods. Pittsburgh gives me fits, while the deep woods is less trouble. I have lost signal for short periods in the woods, but it usually comes back after moving a little.

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thanks very much for the replies.

 

i found a several months old thread that addressed this question (missed in my first search attempt) and the conclusion was that while there can be some difference in antenna performance most would not base the GPSr choice solely on the type of antenna.

 

i'm seeing a lot of posts that consider the meridian gold the best bang for the buck for geocaching. i'll definitely give it a close look, but will consider a few others such as the garmins.

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I use my Garmin Vista under heavy tree cover all the time without a problem. I also just purchased a 60CS with a quad helix antenna and it works great under heavy tree cover. My wife uses a Gecko with patch antenna. On two recent occasions her Gecko outperformed my 60CS. One was in ravine where I could only get 2 sats and her Gecko had a solid lock on 4 sats. Another was next to a steep hillside where my 60CS sent me 60 feet in the wrong direction, while my wife's Gecko took her directly to the cache.

 

My experience is that the quad helix antennas perform slightly better under most conditions, but the patch seems to perform better in some situations. Both work just fine under heavy tree cover.

 

As far as bang for the buck, the eTrex Legend is a very good value these days. I've seen it for $150 and have heard of people getting it for even less that that. That's pretty darn good for a mapping GPS. I've also seen the Vista for $219 which is also a good price as I paid $350 for mine.

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Any of them will get you to the cache, and more features are nice, but not necessary. Once you narrow your choices down to 2-3, the best thing to do then is to go somewhere that actually carries the units and hold them in your hand. See how they feel to you. See how they look to you. That is what finally tipped the scales for me when I was looking for a new unit.

 

When it comes to user interface, Magellan owners will swear that Garmin menus are illogical. Garmins owners will swear that Magellan menus are cumbersome. It boils down to what you begin with. Since a new GPS owner will be at the very beginning of a steep learning curve, the unit they learn on will be the basis for future comparisons. Learn on a Garmin, you will be used to Garmin's "way" of doing things. Learn on a Magellan, and you'll be used to Magellan's.

 

Quad Helix antennas seem to have a slight edge in tree cover, Patch antennas seem to have a slight edge in canyons (both rural and urban). Neither has so big of an edge to make it a deal-breaker or make the other obsolete (what about a canyon with tree cover? :o )

 

Welcome to the addiction!

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I have both a Megallen SporTrak Pro and a Garmin 60Cs so I think I can speak fairly impartially. I love my Garmin 60CS, but when it comes to caching in heavy tree cover I would take my Magellan any time. I lose signal a lot in heavy tree cover with the Garmin. When I use the Magellan in the same tree cover I almost never lose the signal. Even when I do the Magellan seems to be able to estimate by my route and pace and keep me on track until it finds a signal again. Most of the time when I do lose my signal with the Magellan i don't even realize it because it continues on so seamlesly.

 

:o

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Any of them will get you to the cache, and more features are nice, but not necessary.  Once you narrow your choices down to 2-3, the best thing to do then is to go somewhere that actually carries the units and hold them in your hand.  See how they feel to you.  See how they look to you.  That is what finally tipped the scales for me when I was looking for a new unit.

 

When it comes to user interface, Magellan owners will swear that Garmin menus are illogical.  Garmins owners will swear that Magellan menus are cumbersome.  It boils down to what you begin with.  Since a new GPS owner will be at the very beginning of a steep learning curve, the unit they learn on will be the basis for future comparisons.  Learn on a Garmin, you will be used to Garmin's "way" of doing things.  Learn on a Magellan, and you'll be used to Magellan's.

 

Quad Helix antennas seem to have a slight edge in tree cover, Patch antennas seem to have a slight edge in canyons (both rural and urban).  Neither has so big of an edge to make it a deal-breaker or make the other obsolete (what about a canyon with tree cover? :o )

 

Welcome to the addiction!

 

This is so true and great advise, IMHNO.

 

I narrowed my choices to 3.

I did not like the feel of or menu setup on Garmin's.

 

I thought the feel of and menu setup on Magellan's

was just the way it should be.

 

So far, I couldn't be more please w/MGold I purchased.

 

I feel like I have a good start up that steep learning curve....

and found a new escape from daily stresses.

 

Addiction??? What addiction......this is therapy.

pepperblues

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excellent point about evaluating the feel and look.

 

this is similar to what i imagine shopping for a camera would be like, if one had never used a camera. it would be hard to know what was important and what was less important, but after using a camera for a while it would be clear.

 

i'm the kind who tries to figure out what is likely to be the most fun and most useful first time out, rather than going the upgrade path. sure worked with my canon G3 digicam (although i knew a little about cameras going into that purchase ;-) ).

 

hopefully i can find an Mgold, Legend, and 60 to put side by side and evaluate as those seem to be representative choices.

 

thanks again for the input!

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