44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
I've been using an old Garmin eTrex GPS for years. The Garmin Oregon 600 is a massive step forward from the eTrex. The technological leap is the equivalent of moving straight from a Nokia 5110 mobile phone to an iPhone 5 - the additional functionality, the readability of the screen and the ease of use are initially a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately there's a bit of a learning curve too.
Firstly, it has a touch-screen, and its in colour. Secondly, it connects easily to my PC, using standard (mini) USB connector. Thirdly, you can download maps, and this alone makes a massive difference to the usability. Be aware however that maps cost money - you may like to consider buying the version of this GPS that has Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 maps preinstalled, if it is available. I'll come back to maps in a minute.
For folks that haven't used a GPS before, its important to note that the positioning offered by a device like this is far more accurate than a mobile phone. I'm not sure why this is, but I assume it is tracking more satellites than a mobile phone can manage.
Almost all the functionality comes from little app icons. There are four on the home screen and you can swipe up from the bottom to see more. For Geocachers, you can enter coordinates easily (choose the "Where to" icon, and then "Coordinates", and enter the coordinates in decimal format (hddd mm.mmm) - you can reconfigure the device to use hddd.ddddd or hddd mm ss.s formats if your geocaches use those formats, or you can use the Ordnance Survey National Grid format. There's built-in support for Opencaching geocaches, but there aren't any of those near where I live.
Configuring units doesn't allow for the hybrid that we use in Britain (with miles on roadsigns but all other distances measures in kilometres and metres). For walking, kilometres are probably the best bet.
Physically, the device comes with a detachable carabiner. There is no belt-clip (the thing on the back looks like a belt-clip, but it isn't). You need to remove the carabiner to access the USB port, which is annoying - its far too easy to mislay the dratted thing when you're uploading your tracks to your laptop. It is allegedly water-resistant up to 1 metre, although you do need to dry out the USB connector before you use it it is has become wet. I have not tried this out, and I don't intend to. It takes two AA batteries, which can be lithium rechargeables or can be normal alkaline. I've bought some rechargeables, but the two Duracell Plus alkaline batteries that I initially fitted are still going strong after a couple of weeks of intermittent use. If you connect the GPS to a USB charger, it runs off that instead of the batteries.
Screen brightness is very good, even in bright sunlight. If you press the on-off button briefly, it takes you to a brightness-adjust screen that also shows you the time till sunset, your altitude and how far you have travelled in the current trip. Pressing the second button on the side marks a waypoint (you can name your waypoints easily using the touch-screen). Some Oregon GPSes have a camera; this one doesn't.
Now, back to the maps. If you live in the UK, you will almost certainly want to use Ordnance Survey maps. The basic vector maps you get preinstalled on this version of the Oregon 600 are pretty poor, just showing major roads and placenames. Ordnance Survey offers a free 1:250,000 map of the whole of the UK, and Garmin has helpfully made it available for download - but only to the PC Basecamp software. You can't install it on your GPS device. I can only assume that this is to force you to buy maps from Garmin: I suspect that maps probably make as much for Garmin as the GPS devices themselves.
For maps to install on your device you have two choices. There are "Maps" - which you can either download from Garmin or buy from Amazon (on a micro SD card that fits into your Garmin under the battery). They include the reasonably-priced Garmin City Navigator NT Maps UK/Ireland 2012 SD/microSD card - 010-10691-00, which sounds like it would be fine for vehicle-based use or Garmin GB Discoverer (All of Great Britain,1:50K), which is the equivalent of a complete set of the purple-fronted 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey Landranger maps. Unfortunately, the maps are a few years out-of-date now - presumably an updated version is due soon.
The alternative sort of map, which Garmin calls "BirdsEye", is the one you really want, the Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer series. And here's the catch. You can't just buy the whole of Britain at this level of detail. You need to set up a Garmin account and buy a multiple of 1,500 square kilometres of the map which you can then select in the BaseCamp program and download. You don't have to select one big area: you can make multiple selections, and they don't need to be rectangular (you could presumably buy a narrow strip map all along the Pennine Way, for example - this is where that free 1:250,000 map comes in handy, because it lets you select the area you want to download more precisely). Once downloaded you can send them to your device. Its great having this sort of map on your GPS, but the price is really a bit steep. And its a pain having to buy the maps little by little rather than just buying the whole of Britain in one go.
Whichever maps you choose, they are linked to one GPS device only, which makes them seem even more expensive. As I said earlier, its worth looking at what preloaded maps you can get with this device, although the version with the Ordnance Survey Landranger maps preinstalled seems to have been discontinued.
This really is a brilliant little GPS. It's superbly accurate, and the screen really is visible in bright sunlight. I do wish the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps were a bit easier and cheaper to install, but that's really my only complaint.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
I'm a map and compass kind of guy who learnt the basics in the army, but with the advent of technology it is impossible not to get drawn in. If truth be known I love gadgets.
I have been using this little device for a number of weeks now, trying to eke out its good points and find the shortcomings. Now that the weather has turned for the better I have been dragging out the children for a bit of intensive Geocaching and playing catch up.
I have been running it in comparison with a iPhone 5S and a Garmin eTrex 30.
Ok, the iPhone has an acceptable function as a GPS but it just does not warrant being spoken of in the same breath or being compared in accuracy so that's the last time I will mention it.
The eTrex is all buttons whereas the Oregon 600 is a touch screen. While I know my way around the eTrex the usability of the the touch screen is so much better, so much more functional and is easier to use. This is probably down to the fact that my last 6 or 7 mobile phones have been touch screens. It is what i have become used to.
The Oregon is also quite a bit bigger in the hand and feels bulkier but not too big that it becomes a burden. The menu system is generally Ok when flicking between screen or setting the device up but Garmin needs to refine this a little more and make the breakdown of the menus more intuitive.
Sometimes what you expect should be there is hidden in another sub-menu. They could learn a little from Apple or Samsung.
I have now been able to use the device in bright sunlight! The screen handles it fairly well but don't expect Retina or Super Amoled screen clarity, it is more `second generation' colour screen technology. While the screen is bright, really bright sunlight washes it out, so a bit of shade helps. If you are used to handbag sized phones this screen will feel a little small and cramped.
Much of the screen size is down to battery drain, a bigger brighter screen and you would need to carry a rucksack full of batteries with you.
It does boot up quickly and finds where it is within a reasonably quick time. The map can get blurry and grainy when you zoom in as it is like an overlaid photocopy of a paper version.
However, notwithstanding that fact, the quality of a GPS is in how accurate it is, and this is accurate, I would like to think to within maybe two meters. I have compared it to the GPS that I use when I fly and accuracy is good. It helps that it can lock on to the American GPS and Russian GLONASS.
Extras include an alarm clock and and calculator thought these have limited value to me but might just appeal to someone else. There is even an installed program for a way to walk round an area and then calculate the size of the area. Man overboard? I have sailed in my time but would it be necessary or should you be looking at a maritime dedicated device. I reserve judgement on the photo viewer.
Preloading the device with Geocache stashes is straight forward and easy when you know how either wirelessly or by cable, though for speed I tend to stick with the cable.
It is a shame that the device does not come preinstalled with a proper UK map data base, though if you have looked to purchase a full set of 1:500,000 for the UK you will know that it comes in at around £200 or more. Luckily there is an open source alternative, it has a little less polish than the OS maps but does the job and costs nothing. It might be worth looking at those that offer a discounted deal for the maps at the time of purchase.
Installation of maps can be a little confusing to the uninitiated but there are many websites that offer a guide to installation.
In conclusion, it is accurate and portable though maybe a little heavy to hang around your neck. Garmin could improve the device, a little more thought to the menu system and to make it more intuitive. A slightly larger screen but not to the detriment of battery life might be found in future generations of the device. All in all it is a very good. Accurate and with an easy learning curve. It is a huge improvement over the eTrex in usability.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I have to say I'm not a heavy user as per many of the people here who are probably walkers, orienteers e.t.c. and are probably far more conversant with maps and pushing this GPS to its limits than myself ...... a bit of a newbie to this.
This is only my second GPS and my other I have only had 3 months before getting this - I use a Dakota 10 which I go geocaching with and also use it on my mountain bike. This is a huge step up from the Dakota 10 though, and is a really nice bit of kit.
First off the Oregon 600 is larger than the D10 and therefore the screen is too it really feels like a quality unit and has great styling. The screen itself is set flush on the unit so no finger bump, for example the D10 has a lip at the edge of the screen so when using the touch functions especially when resizing or moving a map your finger keeps banging it and so it kind of limits what you are trying to do at times - but then again the lip can offer a little screen protection if you inadvertently lie it down on a rough surface. The Oregon 600 screen itself is supremely responsive when moving and when using touch and the menus are so much better laid out than on the Dakota. It's a whole lot easier to read in the sunlight than my D10 too. Also the screen will adjust accordingly to how you are holding the unit i.e. hold it sideways and the display will change to landscape.
It uses two AA batteries and when I've been using it (usually for around 2 hours without powering off) I've never had to use my backups, I tend to use re-chargeable batteries and usually recharge them after each trip so I can't say how long the unit runs until they die, I guess that would depend on the amount of time you used the backlight though. You can buy an optional battery pack but it seems a bit pricey considering you could probably get four AA batteries and a recharger for less.
As with the Dakota the map supplied is pretty basic and I agree with people who think at these prices a decent map should be included.
I've been on 3 geocaching trips with it over the last week or so and had no issues with the software (using 3.80) and it has been a dream to use. When I first powered it on I think it took a little longer to acquire the satellites than the Dakota did when I first got it but since that initial set up it takes just seconds, in fact it'll pick up the satellites when I'm indoors whereas the D10 doesn't. I'll be using this as my main geocaching unit now and my trusty D10 can stay on the bike.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is my first GPS so have no comparable models, what you have is a first time user review.
First impression are a bit of a wow, it looks quality and feels very well made.
I wanted one for two mains reasons, I have a friend who runs around the Snowdonia mountains, competes in the 7 peaks race, and is often running where there are no road signs. I’ve started to join him in some of the less challenging runs and thought the Garmin GPS would add some fun and allow a bit more exploring.
The other reason I wanted one is Geocaching, I live in the Conwy valleys and it is a fairly big thing around here. I have friends who rave about it, tell me how much fun it is and I thought I’m missing out on something. I’m sure you all know what Geocaching is but just in case here is a brief insight.
Geocaching is an outdoor adventure which is aimed at the whole family.
It’s a treasure hunt for the digital generation, where you can enjoy the freedom of being outside and discovering new places. All you need is a handheld GPS and a sense of fun.
A geocache or ‘cache’ is a small waterproof treasure box hidden outdoors. Geocachers seek out these hidden goodies guided by a GPS enabled device which uses coordinates, or ‘waypoints’. Lots of websites have info about it.
It has taken me some time to understand the GPS, I’m unfamiliar with lots of the terms but have enjoyed the learning experience, once I had got going for me its brilliant. I have taken it with me on the runs which lets me know what to expect, Its not helped my running but does give me something else to do when I need an excuse to rest.
Where I have found it really works well is the Geocaching, I’ve now used it on three occasions and the last time I found the treasure half way up a mountain that would of stayed there for a very long time If it hadn't been for the Garmin.
The mapping is clear, easy to follow and a real joy to use, I was the envy of a group of Geocachers that I bumped in to, they thought it was outstanding in build and design.
You also have the options of sharing your travels via social media, I enjoyed showing off my achievements.
This really is special, I love using it, it’s amazing how quick it locates your position, If I ever found my self in trouble on a mountain and need to know my position this would allow pin point accuracy. Love it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A couple of years ago, I bought a Garmin Oregon 450. After many years using Garmin's traditional handhelds, they were starting to feel a bit old-fashioned next to their range of touchscreen nuvi car satnavs, and the 450 was one of their first forays into the touchscreen market for hiking satnavs.
The 450 was ... ok. It worked acceptably, but I think it is quite significant that I didn't feel able to sell my old GPSMap 60CSx. The 450 had the feel of a first generation product - a bit slow and clunky. The worst features were the touchscreen and the display - the display was basically unreadable in bright sunlight, and the resistive touchscreen felt primitive and unresponsive for anyone used to using a modern smartphone.
But now Garmin have launched the 600 series, and I am very pleased to find that they have got it right this time. First off, the touchscreen is capacitive and hugely responsive - taps, swipes and pinches all work the way they should, and the difference in usability over the 450 is huge. They have also used a transflective screen, which works best in bright sunlight - in dim light, you will need the backlight, but outdoors it is clear and legible.
These two changes alone are enough to justify the upgrade, but there's more. The receiver can now also pick up signals from the Russian GLONASS satellites, making it more accurate and better at holding a signal lock. The user interface is beautifully customisable - you can set it up just how you like it. Even the calculator has got its scientific mode back, which occasionally came in useful for geocaching. The device also feels usefully a bit less chunky and Fisher-Price-like, while still feeling very solid and robust, and the bezel around the screen is a lot thinner, which makes it easier to use.
In short, this is what the 450 should have been. If you have a 450, stick it on eBay and find the money for one of these - it's so much better. If you are looking for a touchscreen hiking GPS, this one comes strongly recommended.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2013
I can't get the device started. You need to install a plugin and it won't install properly. I have googled it and lots of people have problems installing it on Chrome or IE. Looked at Garmin website but I just get an error message. Rang their support line but just get a recorded message. This has gone on for hours. Emailed them. Surprise surprise, the email wouldn't send. I wish I had not bought this thing. A lot of money for zero tech support. I have no confidence in Garmin now.
Getting batteries in and out is difficult because the little D ring is tiny so hard to get hold of, and when you squeeze it to turn,it is quite painful on the fingers.
The little rubbery flap you open and shut to connect the USB cable is in my opinion too flimsy for an item of this price. I am sure it won't be long before the flap falls off completely. I'd have expected better even though this is a fairly minor detail.
...Right. I have now plotted a track. By accident. They tell you in the manual what it will do but not how to get it to do it. They tell you what to press on screen but not how to find it in order to press it.
The device comes on its own. You must pay extra for a battery, a carry case and a cable to recharge the battery! To access 1:25000 maps you have to pay to download a programme then pay on top for the maps. I mean, come on!
I'd give the gadget itself a 5 but because aftercare is non-existent, manuals are rubbish and there are so many hidden extras to pay for, I can't give it more than a 3.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2013
The first Touchscreen Garmin where you can actually see the screen!
This could just be the very best Garmin has made for outdoor enthousiast thus far. Screen is just fine, battery life is OK, touch actually works... The only drawback is that there are a LOT of software glitches still to be fixed. Manupilating settings, trips and menus frequently results in freezes, crashes - or worse. Updates are being rolled out frequently, though they do not seem to focus on fixing the bugs yet.
Sat reception does seem less sensitive than the High-sensitivity Etrex series though...
Recreational map for Europe (600t) is actually quite good, though not routable. Using OSM maps works just fine.
All in all, very happy with the purchase!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2014
I have waited 10 weeks to write a review so that it is meaningful. As an active geocacher the handset gets a lot of use, so what is it like? I am comparing it with my old Garmin 450
First impressions are good, the display is excellent, easily read in ALL conditions. Some very positive features and different ways of displaying info. It make the 450 seem really clunky. Just as accurate as the 450. Battery life slightly better, if anything.
The downside - it is buggy. I have already sent one back to Garmin for a replacement as it was REALLY bad. You would change from one screen to another and the handset froze. Pressing the screen or side buttons did nothing, including pressing and holding the OFF switch. You had to remove the back and take out the batteries to restart it. Then removing the batteries didn't do the trick, it would only start after being plugged into my PC. Garmin advised a master reset, but the same thing happened again and they called it in. Handset 2 is much better, but I have had to take the batteries out a couple of times.
Niggles: you can't put the USB cable in without removing the carbineer. The is no raised lip round the screen so if you put it face down on a rock it comes in direct contact. There should be a way of doing a field restart without taking the back off.
If it worked seamlessly I would give it 5 stars (6 if they sorted the niggles!).
Knowing what I know now would I have replaced the 450? Probably.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2014
I'll not reiterate what others have said but I will comment on the TOPO Light map that comes with this particular model. They are very good. Based on Open Street Maps they will route you through paths in the countryside or wherever paths are to be found. We did a long walk at Rowlands Castle across country before we got this device. When we got it I entered a few points on Garmin Basecamp and had it set to Walking. The route it selected was identical to the one we had walked previously.
To be able to auto-route using footpaths, bridleways etc., is brilliant. You can just put a waypoint in on the the map and as soon as you hit GO it will find a route to that waypoint. Brilliant. The more I study this device the more amazed I am at its abilities.
I'm very pleased with it. The battery life is very good. The only dubious thing is the compass. I always carry a 1:25,000 map and a sighting compass (just in case). The last time I calibrated the Oregon compass it didn't agree with my Suunto compass. About 10 degrees out. Put that aside as it really is a minor issue against all the other great things about the Oregon. Just carry a proper compass with you.
As has been said, the menu system is not really that intuitive (I've found that with every Garmin I've had) but there are tons of tutorials on the web to see and follow. It's then that you realise the power of the device. I love it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2014
Compared to the etrex20 it is easier to use so far. although i am not doubting the etrex20, we still own it so the daughter can use it now so she too can learn maps, compass usage etc. It isnt all about geocaching.
I was going to pick the 450 then the 500 then the 550, then i read the reviews on the 600, fab, decision made, cash saved. quick delivery and fab packaging from amazon.
my tip, always always order where amazon is the prime provider, if its a private seller using amazon to ship and it says via amazon then it can be trusting too.