Top positive review
133 people found this helpful
on 7 October 2011
First a confession: I am a Garmin fan. I previously had a eTrex Legend and when I had problems, Garmin customer support was excellent. I did say in previous reviews that when I came to replace the eTex, I would probably buy another Garmin and, yes, I did.
Now a bit about this device.
From the top:
Startup is slower than my previous model (I guess it is all to do with loading up maps), but once started it seems to lock on immediately.
Maps, being raster rather than vector, can also be a bit slow to load, but once loaded, they are fine. You do get to see the real OS map on the screen (the screen shots with this device don't show this - maybe a copyright issue???), so it is very easy to pick out new routes "on the hoof" depending on your mood as you walk along.
It must also be said that this Garmin is for walking / cycling. You can use it in the car, but the route guidance is not that great and you would do better to buy a device meant for the car rather than this model (and for much less than this model).
Battery life is excellent.
Plotting a track is good, however I must say that I prefer the old "Track and Waypoint Manager" rather than the newer "Basecamp". Maybe that is because I am using the tracklogs OS mapping software which allows me to print off OS maps on A4, so I don;t need to see the OS maps via Basecamp.
I have loaded up KMZ files scanned from paper maps (for Greenland where is no Topo map available - just bought the paper maps and scanned in the areas I needed). These seem to be good, but I will know in a few weeks time when I try using them in Greenland (where the magnetic variation is over 30 degrees) - will be interesting to see how the electronic compass copes with this. I'll report back soon...
Niggles: Only one. When you're out walking, the track that you leave behind you on the screen is very, very hard to see if you've already put in a track to follow. The range of colours don't really let you choose one that stands out nor is there the option to make the track line thicker.
However, with this as the only niggle, I would consider it unfair to award anything other than the full five stars.
UPDATED AS PROMISED
In my original review, I said that I would report back after having loaded my own maps (from scanned JPEGs) onto the device.
I am very please to say that that it all worked very well. I was able to verify how accurately the machine / my alignment of the maps was when I came to the crossroads of two farms tracks. The position shown on the screen was no more than 10 meters out from reality. This gave me significant confidence, particularly when I was on top of a very bleak mountain in a howling gale; I was pretty certain that both my Garmin and my map reading were good and I really did know where I was.
I have also thought, in the original review that I just assumed that people would know how to produce an appropriate KMZ file to load up. If you don't, then here are some basic steps:
- first buy your paper map of the area you wish to scan
- now scan at a resolution of no more than 300 dpi sections or not much more than half a sheet of A4. If you scan much more or in higher resolution, the Garmin won't be able to use the resultant KMZ file
- now open up Google Earth (if you need to load it, just Google its download page and install; it's a pretty neat program)
- view the area of your trip on the screen at a reasonable resolution
- now add in an "overlay" - this is your JPEG. When it is on the screen, it won't be quite right, but fixing that is the next step
- make it semi-transparent by moving the slider control so that you can see both the scanned map and the Google landscape
- drag the JPEG so that the centre crosshairs are accurately aligned with the same feature on the Google image (you might need to chose something close, a crossroads is ideal, but a clear edge of a a lake, or a meandering river can all work nicely as well)
- now drag the corners of your image to stretch / compress the image until it exactly matches the ground, you might need to use the rotate control to get things perfectly aligned. It is worth taking your time over this. If you spend much less than 15 minute on this step, either you have been very lucky/skilled, or you haven't got it exactly right.
- now exit from the overlay mode and you will see the image listed in the top left listing of Google maps it will be highlighted (if not just click on it to highlight)
- save / export the resultant image; this is your kmz file
- finally, when the Garmin is connected, copy this into the custom maps folder.
- When you restart your Garmin, the map should be there in the correct position in the world!!!
If the map doesn't read in, then check that the map is enabled (through the setup menu on the Garmin). If it is, and you got an error when the Garmin started up, my best guess is that you've created a file that is too big. Either reduce the resolution or reduce the area of the scanned image.
Finally, I more than endorse my original view that this is worthy of the full five stars.
Very highly recommended!
I'll put money where my mouth is...
I managed to lose the GPS in the Lake District (my own stupid fault - I drove off leaving it behind and it wasn't there when I returned) and guess what I replaced it with? Yes, exactly the same again. It is certainly the best option for me.
Finally, you may have considered a touchscreen rather than this one. I did. However, with my first one of these, I took a fall in Iceland and put a big scratch in the screen. Had it been a touchscreen, it would have been ruined. However, some serious work with some car chrome cleaner removed the scratch and it was as good as new again. I couldn't have done that to a a touchscreen.
Still highly recommended and, if I could, I would give it Six Stars!