on 22 July 2010
I have used a GPS system out on the trail for many years, but wanted a unit to use with my own maps, and with a good battery life.
This is a sturdy unit, and the buttons are also large and positive which allows easy use with gloves.
The screen is clear in sunlight and the maps are easy to read. Also waterproof. It connects with USB to a computer, lead included.
The maps supplied are the UK OS full set at 1:50000 The equivalent of the old 1" series and the ideal for national coverage.
The micro SD card that includes them needs to be inserted in the holder underneath the battery. After that they are simply there to be used.
I downloaded the free vector map for Europe and this installed without any problems.
I have used the shareware program mapctomapc to calibrate my own jpeg map images, create a kmz file, and then upload them to this unit without any problem. The same kmz maps display on google earth so are easy to check.
The only negative is the restriction that Garmin places on raster maps. You are limited to 100 map tiles at any one time, and a maximum jpeg image size of 200 Mb. However you can switch maps easily with a portable computer. A map could be 100 tiles along a linear route or the course of a river etc. or several separate groups of tiles. Do go to the garmin website and add a request for this restriction to be removed.
There doesn't seem to be any limit to using your own vector maps, and excellent free ones are available for many countries.
As a functional unit this is possibly the best there is at the moment.
So far I haven't managed to lose the satellite signal in deep forest - unlike my previous unit.
It saves its tracks as GPX format. Display on Google Earth with ease. No other software needed.
You can use UK postcodes to locate a point as well as address, grid coordinates etc.
A well deserved 5 stars.
on 23 September 2010
I don't know a huge amount about GPS systems. I did have an old (early model) Garmin that now seems like it came out of the Ark. It was also useless under trees etc!
My principal reason for buying was the good reviews and the fact that I can have the whole of the UK OS maps with me when I travel. This means that wherever I am, I can try out footpaths as I come across them. The 62S seems well built and rugged and personally I prefer the rubber buttons to operate it than the touchscreen on some other models. On unpacking it the quick start guide isn't the most useful and you need to find the full manual either online on Garmin's website or on the device itself when connected to your computer. Once you've worked out how to put the micro SD card with the OS maps into the back (under the batteries a bit like putting a SIM card in a phone) it is fairly straightforward.
If you then download 'BaseCamp' from Garmin's website you can then access the OS maps on your computer (when the device is connected) and plot routes etc and transfer them to the device. Printing the OS maps from BaseCamp is disabled due to license restrictions which seems a tad pointless as there are dozens of screen capture utilities that let you print what is on your screen. So you can plot your route or download suitable ones from the web and import (I downloaded and imported .gpx files no problem) into BaseCamp, transfer to the device and also print a paper copy (via a screen capture utility) of the OS maps.
It seems to hold the signal very well and seems to do the job well. The screen is bright and clear and battery life seems fine. I use the rechargeable AA batteries that I already had for my camera flash (note that you should change the battery type setting in the menu if you are using rechargeable batteries). So far I'm impressed.
Overall it seems a tad pricey but much of this is down to the cost of the maps - which for me is the main selling point - I can now walk anywhere I want in the UK (on a whim) and have the maps with me. Recommended.
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 by 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!
Since writing this original review, I was asked to try out the Magellan 610 eXplorist (Magellan eXplorist 610 2011 Waterproof Handheld Hiking GPS).
This was a great chance to check out the differences between the rival systems and the their functionality.
I have done a full review of the comparison between the two devices on the Magellan product page (link above). Suffice it to say that I think the Garmin knocks the spots off the Magellan. The review is more detailed and reasoned....
on 29 July 2012
This is the business end of handheld GPS units. If you want a chunky, rugged device that has a big readable screen, is quick to react to commands and maintains solid satellite contact, you won't go wrong with the 62S. Mine came bundled with the Ordnance Survey 1:50K Landranger map of Great Britain which I'd also recommend as an excellent companion for the Garmin unit. 1:50K Landranger maps aren't quite as comprehensive as the 1:25K Explorers but are a step up in detail from the cheaper Topo maps which I'd been using previously with an eTrex 20. The 20 is a great little device but there are limitations. This was evident in speed of reaction when panning across the map using the fiddly and sometimes hit and miss joystick, as was homing in on a given area. Also the eTrex 20 screen is on the small side so you're constantly zooming in to get more detail which with Topo maps isn't always there. Some users say the 62 series eats batteries but be aware that outside in daylight you can have the power-draining backlit facility on the lowest setting. This is because the design of the screen is such that sunlight, rather than reflecting back at you, actually makes the screen easier to read. Just tilt the unit about to get the best screen response. However, for safety and peace of mind, always carry spare batteries. I christened my 62S with an 8-mile hike today and it was a pleasure to use, particularly with the 1:50K OS map of Great Britain installed. Recommended.
Update 31st August 2012 - I've used the 62S on a good few walks now - mid Leeds/Harrogate area, Cleveland and North Yorks Moors - with the result that I wouldn't be without it. When used in conjunction with a hard copy map, the confidence it brings is at once invaluable and uplifting. I guess there'll be those who can experience a feeling of uncertainty when attempting an untrodden walk for the first time. Possession of a GPS unit means that multiple path choices, wrong turns and double-backs are quickly dealt with and/or avoided because your direction of travel and position are constantly updated and displayed, either directly on the device's loaded OS map or, if you don't buy the map, with a precise grid reference that will enable you to find your location at any time on a hard copy Ordnance Survey map of your walk. Yes, I can use a compass and read a map with reasonable accuracy but the Garmin 62S makes walking so much more pleasurable and hassle-free that it's become an essential item on my rucksack inventory.
on 17 August 2010
I've been using this unit fairly solidly for quite a while now, so have updated my review accordingly. Overall my view of the device has lowered slightly with regular usage.
This is great general purpose GPS unit that includes a competitively priced full Ordnance Survey GB 1:50,000 mapping bundle making it straightforward to "pick up and go".
It has a many positives but a few annoying niggles.
The positives: It is lightning quick to get a satellite lock and maintains this in almost all conditions. The OS maps display clearly on a screen that performs particularly well in direct sunlight. Functions navigate via rugged rubber buttons on the front of the unit. The whole unit itself is very robust and solidly built. It is powered by two AA batteries which give excellent usage time (particularly with lithium batteries, for which there is a special setting).
The niggles include a rather complex and clunky menu system that is difficult and confusing to navigate. Garmin really need to improve and simplify this.
Another niggle is the needlessly large size of the locator arrow on the map, but this is a more minor point.
The biggest problem I've found is that the unit is too slow to update/redraw maps when panning. I believe this delay is down to the device reading the map data from the SD card, but it can be slow enough to be a major annoyance. The resolution of the screen is not fantastic, especially if you've become used to Apple's retina devices.
Overall this unit is superior quality and is probably still one of the best all round GPS on the market right now. I would not hesitate to recommend it, but the niggles described above mean that it is not always a total pleasure to use.
on 5 February 2012
After using a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx for some years I upgraded to the 62s; primarily to use Ordnance Survey maps as I never felt comfortable with the Topo maps and it was not possible to load Ordnance maps onto the 60CSx. Call me a cynic, but I wonder if Garmin could have modified the software to permit Ordnance maps to be loaded onto the 60CSx!
Nevertheless, the 62s it a very nice piece of kit. It is extremely sensitive and picks up signals in many buildings. My version came with the full 50,000:1 maps of the UK which are useful, but for walking the 25,000:1 maps are much to be preferred. These have to be purchase via the Basecamp software which has to be loaded into your computer from the supplied CD. The maps are quite expensive; area for area you pay about twice the cost of the paper maps! This seems pretty scandalous; one would expect them to be cheaper! Perhaps another example of Garmin screwing a captive market? What is even more annoying is that the maps cannot be printed off! The small screen means it is useful to take a large scale print of the area you are walking in with you (preferably on waterproof paper). Other sources such as Memory Map do allow printing, but unfortunately cannot be uploaded to the Garmin 62s.
The ability to scan paper maps and, after calibrating using Google Earth, upload to the 62s is a very nice feature, particularly for remote parts of the world where digital maps may not be accessible.
Like almost everybody else, I find the large "you are here" icon iritating as it is much too large and obscures detail at route junctions. Surely this can be easily modified by Garmin via a software update?
On starting a new walk, the "reset" function has to be used with care! If you use 'Reset all settings', as well as resetting times and tracks, you delete all waypoints too! This means you lose any Routes you were planning to use! (The 60CSx was the same) This could be quite dangerous if you are navigating in the wilderness and were planning to follow a particular Route. Resetting has to be done in two stages, 'timers' and then 'tracks'.
It seems very petty that at least one bicycle mount is not included; most users will at some time want to use the GPS on a bike. You can buy them, but they are expensive for what they are. You have to be careful too to get the right mount; it is not the one that fitted the 60CSx (why I don't know unless it is another Garmin trick to make more money), but the one that fits the Oregon and suchlike.
The GPS is such a brilliant piece of kit (robust, waterproof, sensitive, good maps, AA battery powered etc) that it is a pity that Garmin sully the experience by pettiness over cost of maps and accessories and printability of maps.
on 11 December 2010
Purchased this during the summer, very happy, especially with the units signal reception when under trees which is just fantastic compared to my old GPS60.
Like: I now have 1:50K map for the whole UK, I have set profiles up for walking, marine, car, just switch between profiles to change settings such as Knots vs Km vs Miles.
Dislike: Not found it so easy as the old GPS60 to set waypoints on the move, I'm probably missing something. Maps are a tad expensive. Location arrow should be a bit smaller
If this could give spoken directions for auto profile it would be a truely awesome alrounder
I expect to buy marine charts in 2011 and maybe I'll try one of the 1:25K maps although can't really justify the expense when the 1:50K works so well
I have now owned this fantastic device for a few months and have walked hundreds of miles with it.
Before buying, all of the technical stuff within the reviews concerned me a little (and the odd review stating it being difficult to navigate its many functions)... All I can say to that, is please don't worry. I'm no technology genius, and it can be used by anyone to navigate straight out of the box...
Yes, there is a LOT more it can do if you want it to, and all of that does come intuitively the more you use it. I personally think that it is a mistake to buy this and try to comprehensively understand how to use it to its full from day one.
Because of this, I'm just going to discuss the essentials here & a bit about "Basecamp", the free Garmin companion software with which you can plot routes and download them to the device.
You'll have all the time in the world to learn how to use its finer functions...
It seems there are two schools of thought about GPS for outdoor pursuits... The first school states that it is almost a crime to use one either on its own or without the backup of a good map and compass... My school of thought (the second) states that although I can use a map & compass, my time off work is so sporadic that I often have to cram my walking/hiking into half or one day bat best. Navigating with maps does take more time, often necessitates pauses and is very fiddly (consulting a folded paper map in the pouring rain whilst pleasurable to many is not for everyone).
With this device I can plan & download a trip of an evening, then simply follow it on the device without missing a step or missing out on the scenery.
I do always carry a map & compass if walking in an area in which an outright device failure would put me in any danger of getting lost, but these stay firmly in my bag...
In short, if you have a busy life & walk/hike outdoors for the exercise & beauty of your surroundings, then this device will suit you more than most.
Back to the device:
DO NOT BUY THE DEVICE WITH THE PRE LOADED ORDNANCE SURVEY LANDRANGER MAPPING! Why? Because it can be legitimately purchased for as little as £22 elsewhere (you have to Google quite a lot, but it CAN be done). All you do is slide the Micro SD card into the SIM like compartment underneath the batteries. Changing to other SD maps is simply a case of changing the card. Overseas maps can also be purchased for a similar figure. I purchased he Garmin TOPO France card (entire country of quality 1:25 IGN mapping) for just £22 (Garmin direct price £279)!!! All mapping loaded into the device is visible for preparing trips on Basecamp when your device is plugged into the computer via USB. You really need no more. Please note that some SD card mapping takes up to an hour to load onto Basecamp when using it for the first time.
As a matter of interest, some reviewer worked out that to buy all of the download OS maps that you get in the Landranger mapping it would cost an equivalent of over £1000!!!
Yes, SD card mapping is certainly the way to go...
The best batteries to get IMHO are the Energiser Recharge ACCU NIMH 2300 mah. I purchased four with a fab one hour charger for £15. Without the charger they are just £5 for 4. Purported battery life is up to 20 hours, which might just be possible with these energiser cells if backlight was turned down to minimum.
The truth is that you don't really need the backlight anyway, but I haven't even bothered turning mine down, as I still honestly get over 15 hours of use with the Energiser cells as is.
The battery warning guage is a bit of a joke, though, as it shows the full full 4 bars right up to the end. Once it drops to 3 bars, then your batteries are about to go kaput. All you do is take a spare fully charged set & changing them does not even require the current track to be reset. Just pop them in & continue for another 15 hours.
Finally, what's the GPS62s like?
1) It's tough & waterproof (although it won't float).
I use a carabiner clip and para-cord to attach it to a loop on my rucksack. That way I wont lose it & it wont sink to the bottom of a deep a water feature.
2) As stated above, it's battery life isn't beatable by anything else for comparable money. This is a big plus.
3) It will always find adequate satellite reception... It even works in some buildings... Deep forest will not phase it.
4) The device itself is extremely accurate. The Landranger OS 1:50 mapping does occasionally show a slight deviance from the taken path (but not more than, say 10 metres, so it isn't confusing at all).
I am certain that this is generally the fault of the OS mapping (and not the device), as utilising the same satellites the actual path might show slightly to your left only to correct and then drift to your right as you proceed.
Most of the time, it is totally bang-on, and to expect the OS map to be consistently bang on to the nearest foot might be expecting just a little too much.
I have no doubt that the GPS is also not always on the button too, but am convinced most of the anomalies are down to the mapping.
This is just an observation, as the OS UK mapping is just incredible in its detail & really does accurately show just about EVERY right of way you could wish to take. Despite not always being pinpoint accurate, I have never had a moment to pause or doubt where I am supposed to go.
Comparable to the TOPO France mapping (which does not show absolutely all walking paths but is adequate), the OS UK mapping is unbeatable.
Another thing I really must add is the fact that it has physical buttons and not a touch screen. I cant think of a day out walking this Winter without wearing my gloves, and having scrabbled them off just to use my touch screen mobile phone really does outline the advantage of this. Just like anything else, initial navigation of the buttons take some care so as not to hit the wrong button (ive got fat fingers), although total ease of use soon becomes second nature. Having an official tight fitting Garmin cover on mine, the plastic screen window does make the keys a little harder to feel and physically activate.
I know I have said loads, but I have tried to keep it simple so that first time buyers of this type of technology can have the confidence that they can at least easily get started with this great little device. I have deliberately left all of the other technical abilities out (compass, elevation plotting, distance stat monitoring, barometer, teasmaid... only joking with that one...). as those things are easily learned after buying it if needed.
Finally, a word about basecamp:
The first time using Basecamp to plot your itineraries, you (like me) might find it a little (un) user friendly. All I can suggest is that you stick with it... There are tutorials available online from Garmin, although they are not always that helpful.
Can I suggest that you forget plotting a walk or hike with "route" (create a new route), as "route" is misleading, as it will only follow ROAD contours on mapping & not paths or trails....
To be precise, it will plot the route wherever you place it, but the minute you press "create route", your hard work goes to pot as the software modifies your plotted track to follow all of the surrounding road routes.,...
Always instead use create a new TRACK, and your route will be stored and transferred to your device exactly as you plot it...
I pulled a few follicles out sussing that one out (and in association with the other odd Basecamp foible), I now however completely love the Basecamp software, which DOES become easier to use with time...
It is actually great fun plotting your itineraries (either from walk books or by constructing a totally individual route from the hundreds of available rights of way) & downloading them ready for use to your device (which will hold loads & loads...).
Talking personally, I love walking & this device has honestly improved my walking experience far, far beyond it's actual cost...
I hope that that lot is some help to someone...
PS: It REALLY is extremely tough. Left on car roof (in Garmin cover) and drove off. Watched it bounce down the road in the rear view mirror, thinking "thats the end of that"...
Picked it up & no damage whatsoever excepting a scuff to the metal carabiner clip that the unit comes with...
I doubt many have tested it in this fashion.
on 20 June 2013
Bought this expensive piece of kit as I enjoy hillwalking. I thought this would stop the need for paper maps as they can be a pain in the wind and rain.
It probably will when I get use to it but I have to say that its not easy or intuitive to use, certainly not if you haven't used anything like this before, as in my case.
I got the maps with the device and thought that when I told it where I wanted to go there would be an easy path/route shown up my selected mountain. That's not the case although it did give a reasonable OS map display. Its probably more to do with how you set it up.
With time I'm sure I'll get more use to how it all works but the menus are a little difficult.
Would I buy it again? probably not, I think a cheaper GPS with a bigger screen and a paper map would be better although I do like to go on the hop so to speak as the weather allows. I do think that as I get more experience using it then it will become much more useful. Battery life seemed ok to me.
on 13 April 2011
I've only had it a couple of days. I've started to read the instruction manual (pdf stored on device's memory) to properly understand it all more thoroughly - but I've found it very easy/intuitive to use. Only minor misunderstandings - e.g. deleting a waypoint. Following the instructions it seemed to take me to delete-all rather that just delete, but after checking out the support forum it was clarified that an extra button-press was required for "delete" in the singular context to become available for the selected waypoint.
I can read it in daylight just fine. Batteries seem to last forever. I could pick-up and lock on to 6-satellites while inside (a single story office building surrounded by computers etc.). Checking out a route (made from a track) recorded while cycling to work and back - following it in basecamp software (I purchased the birds eye overhead imagery subscription) - and Google Earth, revealed just how accurate the device was, seeming to follow my 5-mile route in urban Stockport/Manchester perfectly, showing where I filtered and turned even within a lane.
I have yet to fully test some things - like route calculation (roads) using the Navteq software that is included in Discoverer 1:50k OS mapping (not full postcode but seems ok with preliminary testing). I'm waiting for a bicycle mount to see how effectively I can use that for navigation while cycling.
The mapping software came in micro-SD format (pre-placed in an SD adaptor suitable for Colorado and Oregon devices - easy to remove from adaptor to put in the 62S).
I'm a newbie when it comes to these sorts of devices, having used a PDA + bluetooth sirf III GPS set-up before - with Tom Tom software and Memory-Map software (a version I bought years and years ago) that I found complicated (Memory-Map as it was in that form at the time), or not always suitable (Tom Tom for pedestrian use etc.), and not particularly reliable (batteries not lasting long-enough and once the PDA internal battery died, subject to crashing from physical shock on the bike, and without an Otterbox for weatherproofing then not waterproof etc. although the Otterbox made the otherwise acceptable daylight-readable PDA display murkier). Anyway ... this Garmin devices is just ... fabulous! I'd certainly recommend it based on my experience to date. It's fun!