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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS
I purchased the Garmin eTrex (my first GPS unit) to take on holiday with me to Tiree in order to geotag my photos taken with my brand new Sony a350L DSLR (a brilliant camera!). It was bought it on the strength of the Garmin name and other reviews here on Amazon UK.

Battery and Micro SD Card installation was easy as it gets, but the landyard was a different...
Published on 15 Aug. 2009 by Mr. B. Hayes

versus
115 of 120 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A major disappointment after the original Vista
I got my original Garmin eTrex Vista in 1999 complete with UK Metropolitan map. It served me well, it functioned flawlessly from the day I got it to the day I replaced it. There were however good reasons for replacing it in late 2007:
1 - Geocaching had been invented! The new Garmin GPS receivers all support geocaching game functions.
2 - Cold Start time. When...
Published on 3 May 2009 by Nikita Parks


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS, 15 Aug. 2009
By 
Mr. B. Hayes "Bransky" (Dundee, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
I purchased the Garmin eTrex (my first GPS unit) to take on holiday with me to Tiree in order to geotag my photos taken with my brand new Sony a350L DSLR (a brilliant camera!). It was bought it on the strength of the Garmin name and other reviews here on Amazon UK.

Battery and Micro SD Card installation was easy as it gets, but the landyard was a different story. It was very fiddly to install for someone with fingers my size. I had to use a piece of wire to thread it through the very narrow loop. However, once it was in place it gave a sense of security around my neck. Please don't be put off by this...

On switching on for the first time. it only took a few minutes to acquire enough satellites to fix my position (our back garden in Dundee). This is important if you are a photographer and are moving around quickly. Learning all the buttons was very quick and I was storing waypoints in minutes! I also found out fairly quickly how to work with waypoints and tracklogs -- my main reason for purchase. The altimeter and compass were also very easy to use.

The unit has a host of features which will be useful to seasoned walkers etc, but I haven't explored all of these these yet. The supplied MapSource software was excellent, but I would advise any would be purchasers to download the latest version. The program makes this easy to do.

The software installation also includes the necessary GPS unit and USB cable "drivers" so I was able to download and display my first track (from Dundee to Oban) within one minute of first connecting the unit. Excellent!!

As its a Garmin, it will also work with a lot of commercial, shareware and freeware programs such as RoboGeo and Microsoft Pro Photo Tools. An added bonus is that Google Earth talks directly to it and will display your tracks and waypoints on a very detailed map. Neat!

Build quality is excellent and there are cases available for protection. The quality of the inbuilt maps is not great, but more than adequate for geotagging. Fortunately detailed maps are available on Micro SD Cards for serious GPSers. As mentioned elsewhere the unit eats batteries, but this is a small price to pay for the convenience.

All in all, a brilliant bit of kit. Highly recommended.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garmin eTrex Vista HCx, 1 Nov. 2009
By 
P. J. Tizzard (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
Having had an eTrex Summit for some time I decided it was time to upgrade. I was attracted by the claimed greater sensitivity of the HCx and having used it on a daily basis in Brazil for the last three weeks I have been extremely impressed. Once locked on to satellites, (which it does very quickly), it tracks perfectly in dense forest, or inside a vehicle, or even inside a vehicle in a forest!
I have not specifically checked the claimed battery life, but with fresh batteries I could leave it on all day-say 12 to 15 hours-and still have plenty of life left the following day.
On the negative side I felt the instructions could have been more detailed and had I not been familiar with the basic concept of operation from the previous model I might have struggled a bit. However when one does get to grips with it, the range of data available is extensive and the HCx offers a great deal of flexibility to tailor the information presented to meet ones own requirements. I found the mini-joystick control very easy and convenient to use and the colour display is bright and clear. Overall a pleasure to own and use.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vista HCx and Maps, 9 Mar. 2009
By 
Roger D. Gill "Roger" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
Excellent GPS with greatly improved sensitivity in sheltered e.g.woodland, areas.

The included map is really only major highways and of very little use for walkers.

Walking routes can be prepared on a computer, based on what ever map is available, but if the map is not a Garmin product only the route, and not the map details, can be transferred to the the GPS.

The facility to add maps is welcome but I find the Garmin policy of producing a GPS that only works with Garmin products (as expensive as the others)to be restrictive.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of kit, 15 Sept. 2009
By 
Goose (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
I won't repeat what others have said but do want to say that these units are not all bad. I have owned one of these for over a year and although at first mine would freeze I changed maps and all has been perfect since.

In fact I used it for navigation for hiking in different countries around the world, and most recently while cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End - days of rain, many torrential, a few drops on roads and almost constant use - not a single problem. No problems getting a signal - ever. I ended up depending on it for my road trip, no regrets (but always take paper maps and compass if going off road!!). I also ended up using it for my bike info - mph, av mph, odometer etc. etc. after my Polar CS600 ran out of battery. I was impressed by the accuracy.

If you are experiencing problems with it hanging etc. try changing your map to a smaller file size one. I know people will say you shouldn't have to but it is worth a try - it fixed my issues. (I now use the Europe City Navigator). The topo map of the UK caused me problems.

Happy adventuring!
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115 of 120 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A major disappointment after the original Vista, 3 May 2009
This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
I got my original Garmin eTrex Vista in 1999 complete with UK Metropolitan map. It served me well, it functioned flawlessly from the day I got it to the day I replaced it. There were however good reasons for replacing it in late 2007:
1 - Geocaching had been invented! The new Garmin GPS receivers all support geocaching game functions.
2 - Cold Start time. When out with geocaching friends, their newer units would have acquired the satellites, given directions to the cache and they would often have found it before my unit had even got a fix!
3 - Battery life. The old Vista devoured batteries - a new set of alkaline batteries would last about 4 hours.

I got the eTrex Vista HCx as my replacement. I overlooked the
Garmin GPSMap 60CSx which is hugely popular with geocachers and has very similar functionality. So, why was I so eager to get the upgraded Vista and why have I been sorely disappointed?

The positive points:
+ The hot start time of ~3 seconds is brilliant
+ The much improved cold start time of ~30 to 90 seconds is much better than the old one
+ The battery life on a single set of NiMH 2500 mAH rechargeable batteries is about 20 hours, compared to about 2 hours for NiCD batteries in the old one
+ The colour screen is much nicer to use than the old monochrome one
+ The geocaching and other new features do exactly what's required of them
+ The accuracy of the unit is much greater than the old one
+ It works reasonably well under trees, the old one was hopeless in woods.

The negative points:
- The unit freezes time and time again. When it's in a 'bad mood' it can ruin your day, if caching.
- The rubber gasket that fits around the side of the unit slides around as the glue that holds it is inadequate. The gasket on the old Vista is fine after 10 years. Everyone I know who has the newer eTrex units has the same problem.
- The old Metro maps load, but the new turn-by-turn navigation does not work with them. Time to fork out extra £££ for maps you already have.
- The limit of 1000 waypoints remains, even if you have a huge capacity memory card installed.
- Waypoint names are restricted to 16 characters and comments to 32 characters. This is inadequate for recording observations.
- The maps sometimes "disappear" during use, or are not there from start-up. Restarting the unit sometimes cures it. Other times it is necessary to restart the unit without the memory card, then restart it again with the memory card.

So my verdict: don't buy the Vista HCx, spend the extra on the GPSMap 60CSx instead and you won't suffer from the worst of these deficiencies, but get all of the same advantages. The menus and functions of the Vista HCx are quite different from the old Vista, so there's a familiarisation process anyway. The greater number of buttons on the 60CSx make many frequently used functions more accessible.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, 10 Mar. 2010
By 
Trap (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
I have had this for about a month now and as a result of good weather not had to use it in anger. From boot it seems to pick up a good range of satelites even when the view of the sky is partialy obscured and locked onto position well. When used to navigate in conjunction with a 1:25000 map it got the reading correct and so long as the altimeter was calibrated also recorded the altitude well. I am very suspect with the digital compass as it doesn't seem to give very good reading compared with my Silva compass. The base map is very poor as expected. It only shows main roads and some rivers and even then not very accurately. Should be better with upgraded maps but even then you won't get OS style detailed maps which is a disappointment.

Build wise it feels tough with good waterproof seals round the battery compartment. Buttons are clunky but positive to use. Its a good size, just bigger than my mobile making it easy to carry around. Screen size is a bit small as a result but is clear enough. Battery life seems good so far. It didn't like my rechargeable batteries though.

The software which came with it does the job but is a bit clunky. My only real issue with this is not being able to run OS maps. Overall very pleased with it so far other than the map issue.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value GPS, 26 Jan. 2012
By 
C. D. Daniel (UK) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
Bought this for road cycling as I got fed up of stopping to read the ordnance survey map in my rucksack. What I needed was a way of creating a route on my PC then uploading it on to the Garmin GPS. Then I can follow the map with track on the Garmin whilst cycling. Have only used it a couple of times but it works a treat plus with the trip facility it gives you all the other additional functions including height, distance, average speed etc etc. You can set the Garmin to log your track onto the data card that you can buy cheaply for this unit, I bought a 2MB sandisk and this is plenty. I have found the display is adequate for my purposes and is readable even without the backlight when out on a ride thus saving battery power. The backlight is very good and you can set the time it is on for, adjust brightness and it will easily switch on with a quick press of the power button. As I wanted to keep costs down I did not bother buying the Ordnance survey maps and used the constantly updated talkytoaster website to download a version of the OpenStreetMap covering the whole of the British Isles and Ireland which is free. I uploaded the OS look and feel map provided onto the Garmin. For route creation I use the bikehike website you just move your mouse from waypoint to waypoint and you can quickly create a route that you can then download onto the Garmin as a gpx file, you may need to reduce the overall number of points that make up the route this is a feature built into the bikehike site. You then select this and show it on the map on the garmin as a coloured or grey track that you can follow. I have read that with trackback that you can get guided turn by turn instructions but have not tried this yet. My garmin is mounted onto the handlebars using the garmin mount that you can purchase from Amazon. I found the fit a bit loose so you do need some tape on the slide fitting of the mount to reduce the clearance and give you a tight fit. So far all works well and am very please with the performance and cost compared to spending several hundreds on a garmin edge 800.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Hardware, poor software, 26 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
I already have a Vista HCx and recently recommended and purchased another one for a friend. I wouldn't buy any other GPS as I really love this one and I think it is very good value for the money. It fires up very fast and stays locked onto the satellites in the most difficult terrain such as in towns or forests. The colour display is very clear and bright and easy to read and the battery life is very good. The whole thing is quite rugged and waterproof, although on mine the rubber surround has disappointingly come loose in the heat due to, I imagine, poor glue (don't know whether they have fixed this in the latest models - mine is about 18 months old). You work your way around the system using just a half a dozen rubber buttons, but I found I soon got used to what they did.

I use my Garmin all over the world and wouldn't be without it. There are free maps you can get from the Internet for just about every country, so as you can see I am a real fan.

Having said that, however, there are a few issues that Garmin really should sort out because although the GPS is great, their software, in my opinion, is poor.

Firstly you can have as many maps loaded onto the micro SD card (you need to purchase one as an extra) as it will hold, but stupidly you cannot switch from one map to another without connecting the GPS to a computer. Yes that's right - the Garmin will not let you switch maps. You have to connect to a computer and re-name the map file to - wait for it - gmapsupp.img as that's the only file name the Garmin will recognise as a map file. Now I don't find this much of a problem, but I would if I was going to several countries and needed to switch maps for each one, and it's just something that a sane programmer would not do.

Also every day you switch the GPS on it will store a small GPX file logging your route (I think) - one for each and every day it is switched on. However these GPX files are hidden away in the memory so you come across them (or not) almost by accident, and, yes, get this, the Garmin cannot itself use the files. Again you need to connect to a computer to gain access to them, or delete them, which is what I do. They seem to serve very little purpose, or should I say, I don't find them useful.

There are a few other small niggles, such as when scrolling through the pages, you cannot scroll backwards only forwards. In the notes section for way-points you are limited to around 30 characters so putting in , say, hints for Geocaching can sometimes be limited.

One more thing to watch out for. The GPS comes pre-loaded with a base map. There are several to choose from such as North America, The World or Europe. Once purchased you cannot change the base map. Now this in itself doesn't seem a big deal as the base maps are pretty useless and you will always want to use one you load yourself. However what I recently discovered is that searching for cities will only search the base map's database, no matter what other map you have loaded. So my friend who lives in Spain cannot search for Barcelona (a pretty big city that most people would have heard about) even though he has Garmin's Topo map of Spain loaded, because his base map is America. Again no real big deal, but surprisingly inept.

However the above are really just niggles in what, for me, is a superb piece of kit and if Garmin sorted their software out I would give the Vista HCx 5 stars rather than 4.

All in all I'd buy the same again if I needed another GPS.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but with Limits., 30 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
My Wife brought this for me for Christmas. She also brought me the Mapsource micro SD Southern, to go with it.

The base map preloaded on the GPS is awful and not worth been sold on the gps.
The topo map is much better, it shows roads and lakes and topo lines but thats all, if you want OS maps you need the SatMap at £300 plus maps.
Works well with the USB cable downloading waypoints and routes from Memory Map very quickly.
Used for Geocaching and it is easy to use with a geocache function that keeps them seperate from other waypoints and when you have found them it will log your visit date and time on the built in calendar.
Signal is great and holds well.
Overall very good when used with TOPO but maps are limited, a great step up from the basic Etrex H.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could do better!!, 5 Mar. 2010
By 
Nick (Staffs, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Handheld GPS (Sports)
I was most excited when I received my new toy & headed straight out walking to calibrate. Initially i was very pleased, everything worked fine when I did my test walk over Cannock Chase (been walking it for years so no chance of getting lost).
My next trip was to the Peak District & again all worked well until near the end of the walk when the Vista died on me, at first I thought batteries but upon returning I found they were fine, it was when trying to operate the backlight the thing just kept cutting out (you have to do this everytime you switch on). This continued so I returned the Vista to Amazon & they sent me a replacement straight away & I have just found out the new one has exactly the same fault, to say I'm not happy is an understatement, hence the fact I'm writing the first review of my life & if the next replacement is no good i'll be leaving another!

On a positive note, its very easy to use & the lack of mapping does not really bother me as its used with a paper map too. I basically use it to say 'this way fool'.

Watch this space.
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