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Customer Review

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in theory, annoying limitations in practice, 5 July 2012
This review is from: Garmin eTrex 20 Outdoor Handheld GPS Unit (Electronics)
This is my first GPS, that I bought seven months ago. I use the eTrex 20 for cycling, geocoding photos and geocaching. I used an iPhone for these things before. I generally like the GPS - it has a good screen, that is often usable without the backlight, and the geocaching functionality is ok. Unfortunately, there are some problems that make daily use annoying:

* The GPS is slow to render maps. This is especially obvious during panning and zooming, which I ended up doing a lot in practice (since zooming out gives little detail, zooming in requires a lot of panning). Sometimes I have to wait seconds to view the full map.

* It does not have a USB 2.0 interface, which makes transferring maps to the GPS slow. New maps are often one or two gigabytes, transferring an updated map image often literally takes hours. Updating maps is something you have to schedule. Garmin's maps are not updated that often, but if you want to upgrade OSM maps monthly, beware!

* The joystick is nice for controlling the GPS. But when you put the device in your pocket, it's often pressured too much, resulting in random actions.

* The base map is crude and limited. It only serves as a demonstration and a global overview. Other than that it's unusable for any hiking or cycling. Garmin's maps usually come at 100 or 200 Euro a pop per country. If you live in Euro, one can easily spend hundreds of Euros to get the topo maps for hiking. Luckily, there is Openstreetmap, which can be downloaded freely. But coverage and detail differs per country and region.

* The user interface is confusing. It's better than most other brands of GPSes that I tried. But it's still not as good as it could be.

All in all, I have learnt to live with the warts, and the price of the eTrex 20 is acceptable. If I had to make the decision again, I'd probably have bought a GPSMAP 62s, which does not have some of these problems. But compared to the technology packed in modern smartphones, the 62s is expensive.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Feb 2013 10:44:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Feb 2013 10:46:05 GMT
Jonesy says:
* The Basemap is only installed as a global underlay to user's own maps. It's not there for navigation. How can Garmin know that you live in, say the Nederlands, and want a topological map of your local area, rather than a street map of say, Edinburgh or Las Vegas, or an aviation chart for Nevada?

* Garmin City Navigator maps on SD card for the whole of Western Europe start at about 35 Euros, not 100 Euros per country.

* OpenStreetMaps (OSM) for the whole of Western Europe will fit on an SD card in the unit. They're free and their accuracy improves daily due to user additions. Installing maps to the SD card from the PC takes only a couple of minutes with a cheap SD card reader.

* Maps are rarely 'gigabytes' - all of the UK street mapping is only 125 MB. Map tiles per country are only a few megabytes and download quickly.

* Although you complain about the interface and say you'd probably have bought the GPS 62, it has the same user interface, and software, but with a faster processor, slightly larger display and an 'external' antenna. It is no more accurate, or easier to use. It's also larger and heavier which make it slightly less pleasant to use or fit to a boat or a bike.

* The Etrex user interface can be customised to show only the pages needed, which makes it very easy to use.

* The Etrex is 'waterproof'. A Smartphone isn't. The Etrex doesn't make calls though.

* Smartphones tend not to take being clipped to bicycles or open boats very well, as water, damp, dirt and vibration can kill them off.

* The Etrex battery will last 20+ hours. Smartphone batteries tend to have shorter lives when the GPS is active, and can limit their use to day trips or in-vehicle use where there is a charger available. For two or three-day trips, the Etrex batteries will hold out well for position fixes, and the unit takes AA batteries available almost anywhere.

* A standalone GPS is about a third of the price of a smartphone. It's more durable, and less expensive if it falls over a cliff.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2013 22:11:58 GMT
W. Drzazga says:
Still painfully slow. Feels like mobiles from nineties. I sold mine and don't regret.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Feb 2014 01:07:50 GMT
* Maps are rarely 'gigabytes' - all of the UK street mapping is only 125 MB. Map tiles per country are only a few megabytes and download quickly.

Wrong - GB Explorer 1:50 UK OS is 1.5gb. as is North England and Midlands!
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