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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars21
3.9 out of 5 stars
Price:£199.00+ Free shipping
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on 6 May 2010
I don't often review stuff I buy...

But in this particular case, I felt so strongly about this product that I felt I had to say something.
I wanted to wait until I had actually used it in the great outdoors before writing this review so I felt I would be able to give a valid critique.

My reasons for buying this top-of-the-Garmin-range Oregon was mainly because of the included European topo maps and the intergrated camera which is useful for geotagging photos which can be uploaded to Picasa. Also for paperless geocaching.

The product arrived on time and I removed the rugged, sturdy unit from the box. It felt good in my hands and once I had inserted the batteries, reassuringly weighty. I switched the unit on and cycled through the lovely, colourful screens. The sreens are fairly intuitive, but I suppose it helps that I have two other Garmin products: The incredible Garmin 60csx and a Vista etrex Cx.

The problems began when I thought I'd go out into the back garden and mark my position as a waypoint and to generally see how the unit looks and operates outside, where it's supposed to be used, right...? Wrong! It was a sunny day and I found the unit virtually impossible to read without tilting the unit this-way-and-that to try to read the screen.

Okay, I have used this device on some walks in Snowdonia and other parts of Wales. I have just got back from a walking holiday in Majorca where we walked in the mountains every day for a week. I loaded the Oregon with several tracks (from the Walk! range of books) before leaving the UK and we used the GPS to guide our way, which it was very good at...if you tilted the unit so you could see the screen.

I cannot tell you just how incredibly bad this display is. It ruins what is potentially a superb device.

I know some might say "It's difficult to read any LCD screen in bright daylight" Wrong! I took along my trusty Garmin 60csx and I could read this screen as clear as it could possibly be, absoultely crystal clear no matter what the light levels were. I found I was using the 60csx (I had loaded duplicate tracks, waypoints and geocaches to this device too) instead of the Oregon because I could see it more clearly by merely glancing at it and not trying get the best position for viewing.

The 60csx has a crystal, scratch resistant glass screen, the Oregon seems to have a soft plasticky easiy scratched screen. The screen resolution is horrendous compared to the 60csx. I also purchased Garmin's GB Discoverer 1:50K Maps - Northern England & Midlands for £105 and this is dipayed very poorly too. I can't say if it's the Oregon or the software or a combination of the two. Basically, it's only useful at a zoom level of between 200 and 500 feet. Any closer and you get jagged edges on the map detail.

Another thing is the extremely poor battery life. If you want to take this unit on a two or three day hike, you are going have to carry your own body weight in spare batteries. If you want to use all the features of the unit i.e. compass, camera etc you will be lucky to get between six and eight hours use. On my 60csx I get 16 to 18 hours using duracells (although I know this has no camera).

This unit does not like Alkaline batteries and recommends the NiMH rechargeables included with the product. If you use Alkalines like I do, the camera and tones shutdown (when it gets to two bars in the power meter) to conserve power and a nag screen tells you to use NiMH batteries.
The product only includes two reachargeables so you WILL have to buy more. And although it comes with two batteries and a charger, this will only take two batteries which I suppose is fine if you are only going out for a couple of hours. You will need to buy a charger and at least four batteries if you are going out for any length of time.

The 3.2 megapixel camera is adequate for the job. If you look at the picture you have just taken on the unit, the picture looks awful because of the poor screen quality. Once you transfer it to the PC it looks much better.

In a nutshell...would I buy this product knowing what I know now? No, mainly because of the screen quality. I could live with the poor battery life if the screen was better.
Although it doesn't have the same availability of mapping that the Oregon has, I would go for the 60csx which is absolutely amazing.
I think I may be selling this Oregon sometime soon. I will get a geotagging camera instead and stick with my trusty 60csx.

I notice the other reviewers have not mentioned the poor screen quality. Maybe I have a faulty unit?? It looks lovely indoors the dark..

If I could operate it from my couch, in the dark, I would give it five stars.
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on 11 May 2010
I bought one of these to replace an older Garmin model.
The colour screen and OS mapping features were the attraction. However, OS mapping is an afterthought added extra with Garmin. They are bought as an extra, and the whole device is based around traditional GPS systems.
Consequently, the user interface is clonky, slow and not at all user friendly or intuitive.
I never used it as it just didn't work as I wanted, so I bought the Satmap system instead, which certainly for UK users who are used to the OS maps, is superb.
The Satmap System was designed from the outset for OS maps, bigger screen, longer battery life, miles easier to use. OK it hasn't got the camera of the Garmin, but that is simply not a reason to buy a GPS system anyway.
Sorry Garmin, there are better systems elsewhere.
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on 20 January 2010
I've had this GPS for a month now, and I'm still struggling to get it to do what I want. For what its worth, I do understand GPS - and have sets in car and boat - but I still can't get my head round the features on this. The whole system seems counter- intuitive, and the instruction manuals are (and this is being generous) worse than useless - the on line guide is appalling. It has lots of unusual features, which presumably work well, but they seem to have forgotten the basic functions - and I don't really care about hunting and fishing information!

It isn't quick to pick up the satellites, and seems to need a significant constellation before functioning - it doesn't, for example, work where the one in my car does.

If you're going to use a GPS for anything more serious than a gentle wander, then don't forget you'll be into at least another £100 to buy the relevant mapping chips.

All in all, I'm not sure its worth the money.
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on 9 November 2009
This is a top-end piece of hand-held GPS equipment. I've found that it takes a bit of learning, but that it is effective. This model comes with a preloaded map. I have downloaded an OS 1" inch map of Southern England, at extra expense.

Pluses so far are accurate and fast acquiring GPS position; ability to see one's position and route overlaid on a map; a surprisingly effective camera; nice to handle and use; reassuringly rugged and able to take out in wet weather; interfaces to a PC with Memory-Map or similar software for downloading of waypoints and routes.

My only niggle so far is that the compass appears indecisive when not moving. It may be that I've not got the hang of it.

I would recommend this to anyone after a powerful GPS hand-held. It is reassuring to have it to hand when tackling new walks.
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on 7 November 2011
I use my GPS for only 2 activities; Walking and Cycling. With the Custom map option I can download my own mapping to the unit. For this very reason (and its 16+ hour battery life on a set of fresh batteries) I like this device. However, I've heard constant complaints from users who use it for other activities/and or use more of its other functions. Though I only use the map screen and the trip computer screens (which don't cause me any issues), the software upgrades often are buggy causing the other users problems. Picking up the EGNOS satellites is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, but I'm not sure if that's a geographical problem or the fact that Garmin chose not to use the well-liked and reliable SiRF GPS chip? Having said that, I did notice my old 60CSx (uses SiRF) held a better differential GPS signal than the Oregon. Either way, I often get 3 - 5 meter accuracy out on the country, which is easily good enough for my activities. Construction is excellent and its IPX7 waterproofed. Its a good unit, but do look around.
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on 11 March 2011
Got the Garmin a few months now , the only anoying thing we have found is the great dificulty in deleting things from the 550t without haveing to go on the laptop first , come on garmin put a delete function on the hand held.
That said this is a good bit of kit , the maping that comes with it is basic , very basic , and for the price it should come with the mapping of your choice, that said the after market maps are superb.
Your Garmin 550t is up and running , and is easy to set up , as a geologist/suveyor i use plenty of gps stuff , but my team and me were blown away by how acurate it can be , we have bean to 8 locations now in the UK and nothern europe , and the garmin is in the glove box all the time.
Compared to our work kit it's a none starter , but we did find with the garmin we were getting constant hits taking us to 10-12 feet of our true location ,and on one occasion it was 4 feet off , how cool is that ,comfortable in the hand , a little heavy to hang off or have in a shirt pocket, robust ( I know I droped it 10 feet from a Pylon ), certainly shower/rain proof , battery life better than most , visability of the screen in bright conditions excelent.
If you have the money go fo it , you will not go far wrong.
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on 21 April 2010
It is the most fun I have had with any electronic piece of equipment. Takes a little effort to understand fully but then it is such fun to use when out walking.Unless you want the low grade camera do not buy the 550 there is no point. The loaded maps are good although I put the full GB OS maps at a very expensive £199 on it,they are excellent to use.
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on 5 May 2012
I've used an Oregon (300) before so a lot of the facilities were familiar to me. The only up front advantages the 550t offered was in-built European maps and a low resolution camera. The photos are geo-tagged and the position of the GPS is up to date, unlike my Lumix camera which takes a much better picture but is very slow to find or update it's location.
The screen on the 550t is clearer than the 300 and appears to be more touch responsive. My main problem with the GPS unit rests firmly with Garmin. I'm having a great deal of trouble getting maps previously associated with my old (broken) Oregon 300 unlocked to use on the 550t. This is a continuing story.
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on 24 September 2010
To get the best out of the 550T you need to purchase Ordance Survey mapping. The screen is easily seen in any weather, although it will of course be slightly duller on those rare blue sky days, but it is still perfectly readable. The GPS accuracy is excellent and after the initial set-up locks on to satellites very quickly. You can download geocache details from the internet which, with mapping downloaded, provides a paperless geocaching experience. Battery life is advertised as 16 hours, but this really depends on the condition and quality of the battery used, and what 550T options are used. I always carry four spare, which is more than sufficient for a long day out. This is a first class, rugged piece of equipment, but the price tag will makes it a considered buy.
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on 6 July 2012
I really enjoyed my new Oregon 550t having been a Garmin fan for 16 years. Intuitive, clear screen and very easy to use on the go. Battery life was as advertised (12 hours plus) in battery saver mode. One small iritation was the fickle GPS to PC interface that sometimes transferred files and sometimes did not. By far the biggest drawback, and the reason that I won't award five stars, is that the touch screen is fragile as I have found out. I put the GPS in a fanny bag with a small camera whilst walking and after 20 minutes discovered that the screen was smashed. It turns on OK but without the touch-screen it is £300's worth of junk!
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