45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
My best Garmin yet: Maps and Usability.,
This review is from: Garmin Oregon 450T GPS Unit - Topographical Maps of Europe (Electronics)I had seen my geocaching friends experiment with various GPS receivers in the quest for decent mapping. The Oregon became the clear favourite and has left the rest far behind. It therefore became the obvious choice for me.
I selected the 450T rather than the 550T because I have no interest in the micro-camera the 550T contains, but the most important features: maps and usability are identical on both. I opted for the 450T rather than 450 simply because I used my original GPS receiver without maps in some areas and it is a little harder to use without visual cues. I know the Topographical map is basic, but it is better than nothing for the rest of Europe and is inexpensive.
The rugged feel of the Oregon and its shape are a great fit in the hand and I have no problem operating it single handed, controlling the touch screen with my thumb. This was a slight concern for me prior to purchase - I did not want to progress to a two-handed device. My previous GPS receivers were the original eTrex Vista (purchased 1999) and eTrex Vista HCx (purchased 2007), both of which could be operated easily in my right hand. The Oregon being completely symmetrical with touch screen should perform equally well for left and right handed users.
I have added 1:50K Ordnance Survey maps on a microSD card. This addition is what makes this GPS receiver utterly compelling. You'll still take your paper map with you into unfamiliar places, but its relegated to backup - no need to wrestle with a map in the wind and rain using two hands when you now have it in the palm of one hand, able to pan and zoom and your position and track are clearly marked on it. It is so much more user-friendly than a paper map. The 1:50K is fine for most uses, though loses clarity when zoomed in too far. However the 1:25K OS maps of national parks and long distance footpaths target the areas where extra detail is appreciated.
The only niggle I have with the maps is the initial render time when selecting a new waypoint, panning or zooming out. None the less, it is much better than my 1999 Vista! However, I've just bought a class 4 microSDHC card to replace the one I happened to have spare and expect the better performance of the card to reduce the render time.
The other valuable feature to me is the capability for paperless geocaching. The Oregon can store up to 5000 geocache listings in GPX format (both one per file and many per file formats can be mixed and matched), albeit geared towards the sub-format of the dominant geocaching listing site. Fortunately, the Geocaching Swiss Army Knife (GSAK) program works flawlessly with the Oregon and allows listings from all sites to be combined in a single export.
A very slight niggle with the way GPX files are handled is that the Oregon mounts as two disk drives under Windows - one for the built-in strage, one for the microSD card - whereas my earlier eTrexes just appeared as devices. This means it's necessary to use the Windows "Safe Removal" feature to ensure there is no corruption of data copied to the device. On my very first trip out with the Oregon, I learned this the hard way and had to revert to my eTrex.
Another significant plus point of the Oregon over my previous receivers is the quality of the built-in compass. It is almost as positive and assured as an actual hand-held compass, however, it does need to be recalibrated after every battery change, as all batteries seem to produce some magnetic field. The Oregon also has the fastest start-up time of any hand-held GPS receiver I have seen, which means it does not necessarily need to be left on all the time, thereby extending the useful battery life greatly. I have found high capacity rechargeable NiMH batteries to be excellent in the Oregon and not need changing all day.
Perhaps the only feature where the Vista HCx has not yet been surpassed is in its position accuracy, which seems to be very slightly better. Overall, however, the Oregon is a quantum leap ahead of it in its capabilities and is well worth the extra cost.
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Initial post: 26 Mar 2011 20:06:52 GMT
Guernsey Girl says:
Really helpful, thank you. I'm researching GPS units for paperless geo-caching, so was very pleased to come across such a thorough review. Thanks again!
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