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on 9 February 2011
I bought This unit to replace my Colrado 300, mainly for 3 Axis compass which I found a real pain not having on the Colorado.

Operation is nice and easy once you get used to it. Camera works well and the geotagging of photos is really neat.

Lots of free, yes free, detailed mapping around if you search it out.

Birdseye and custom maps also very useful.

owned for around a year now and would not hesitate to recomend
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on 18 December 2015
Excellent GPS
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on 26 October 2009
First things first, this GPS receiver is really targetted at the outdoor enthusiast and is not really intended for in car use. If you are looking for an in car navigation device, then I suggest you look elsewhere. If you are a Garmin fan, the NUVI series are pretty good. These in car devices are both cheaper and more appropriate than this device. If you are looking for a device for walking, geocaching, cycling etc, then read on.

I have the 550 model - the one without the maps. I find the software based maps of limited use (prefering to use the real paper based ones in the mountains) and find the free maps from the OpenStreetMap initiative more than adequate for my needs. They have contours and paths as well as routable roads and Points of Interest (POIs). The whole of the UK comes in at around 250MB, so it will easily fit on the SD card in the device. A quick internet search will take you to the appropriate download page.

The device boots up quickly and seems pretty accurate. I bought this device specifically for geocaching (more on this later) and currently use a GPSMAP60csx. The Oregon seems as accurate as the 60csx and works well under tree cover. The device is easy to set up and configure - everyone seems to set theirs up in a slightly different way.

For geocaching, it is a really great device. You can run a pocket query on geocaching.com (you need to be a premium member to do this) and can then load the subsequent GPX file onto the device (this involves copying it into a directory on the device). The GPX file contains all the information you need for each cache - description, location, previous logs and even the hint. Using this approach, I have loaded up all of the caches within a 20 mile radius of home. It means no more printed out pages and enbles me to look for caches on an adhoc basis. It is even possible to log your attempts on the device and then upload the file to geocaching.com. These attempts can even contain field notes. This comes into it's own when you are logging a number of caches per day or logging caches over a number of days before you can log them on the internet.

So, now the not so good features. More niggles than anything, but here there are! The user interface is a bit cumbersome. The use of a touchscreen has led to a very convulted UI. For example, when geocaching I often flip between the map page, the compass page and the cache description page. Each time you move between pages, you need to go back upto the main menu. On the 60csx, you can just flip between the screens. Another thing to bear in mind for geocachers is that if you put the answers to clues into your field notes on the device, these cannot be read on the device. You have to load them up to the internet to be able to access them. So if you are looking for a bonus cache and want to do the calculation in the field, then take a paper and pen with you.

Battery life on AA alkalines is pretty poor, but much more respectable on the rechargable NiMHs supplied with the unit. You can use battery saving mode to extend the life of the batteries, but this just turns the screen off after every few seconds and gets annoying. I can spare alkaline AAs as backups for the rechargables.

The unit will run off power supplied to it via the mini USB cable, but it will not charge the batteries via this cable. Shame.

The touchscreen can be difficult to see in bright sunlight and can be scratched. I already have a scratch on my unit, but then I tend to leave it loose in a rucsac pocket.

The 550 does have a 3.2MB pixel camera, but it is pretty limited in terms of camera controls. My advice is don't leave your camera at home. However, if you do, you could use the 550 at a push. The good news is that it does store location data with each of the picture that you take. Thus, when you browse through the images in the album, you can navigate back to that location. I haven't had any reason to use this feature, but I can imagine that there are other users out there who might have a need for this.

All in all a great device. I am hoping that Garmin will improve the UI and this will be available through software updates.
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on 14 February 2013
I use GPX devices for OSM mapping and the idea of having a competent GPS device with a camera appealed to me. However, I was sadly disappointed by the Oregon 550. Firstly, the screen is awful! I assume that the developers tested it in bright sunshine because on a dull winter's day in the UK the screen is very dull and difficult to read most of the time. This also applies when using the camera. It's hard to even see what you are photographing, let alone the result of taking the shot. I understand that there are camera controls on screen, but I've only ever glimpsed them briefly so they are useless. The battery doesn't hold out for more than a few hours surveying so it's not much good relying on it as a GPS device either. The menus are not intuitive or as configurable as other Garmin devices, so all in all I could not recommend the 550 to anyone wishing to do serious work with it. The concept is good but in practice it just isn't up to the job as either a GPS device or a camera. One day they will refine this into a really good tool, but they are nowhere near that yet. In the meantime I'll fall back on my Garmin Etrex HCx - now there's a good tool, and you can always carry a camera as well.Garmin Oregon 550 GPS System
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on 4 February 2018
limitations not good in sun light and not good to use
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on 2 September 2010
I have owned this GPS for just over a month now. I use it while out walking and for Geocaching.

It's packed full of features, half of which I have yet to use/master.

The plus points...

This unit is superb while out walking! The ability to accurately track where I have been is extremely useful, I can just set off into the hills without having to worry about finding my way back to the car. The camera is also useful in this way, the 550 automatically logs the co-ords of every photograph taken. So, take a pic of where you parked the car, head off exploring while mindful that the 550 will get you back.

The GPS receiver seems very sensitive and remains relatively accurate, even under tree cover. (when compared to my old TomTom)

The screen is as bright as a button and visible in all conditions. Much better than expected having read previous reviews.

The case and battery hatch are both well engineered.

The electronic compass is very accurate, having tested it against my standard 'Silva' compass.

The camera is ok... but not a replacement for a stand alone digital camera.

The altimeter works really well but have yet to find a use for it!?

I have found the battery life to be far better than expected, especially having read a few bad reports previous to purchase. I think it essential to use Ni-Mh rechargeable as these last much longer than standard alkaline batteries.

The 550 has made geocaching much easier... First of all the accuracy of the unit usually gets me within a few feet of the destination (If not right on it). And it's 'Paperless Geocaching' ability is going to be fun to explore... Can't wait to get rid of the crib sheets. The electronic compass and heading line are really good for geocaching.

Great web support and software updates!

The negative points...

The main moan must be about the manual, of which is only supplied in disc format (With paper quick start manual). It doesn't go into enough detail about some (if not most) of the functions, and is also quite cumbersome if I need to look for a specific topic. Hope Garmin tend to this issue in future!

Disappointed there's no charging jack (like on a mobile phone)... This could have easily been placed under the rubber bung along side the USB port. Once depleted, the batteries have to be physically removed from the unit and placed into a separate charger.

Would have been nice to have had a micro-sd card included in the package.

Occasionally the software will freeze, but re-boot soon sorts that!


I purchased this item mainly to use while geocaching, as I was having limited success with a tomtom go700. For geocaching and walking it's an excellent upgrade. However, if you can live without the built in camera there is the Oregon 400 which is cheaper and has most of the same features.

I have given a 5 star rating purely due to it's features and accuracy... These by far outweigh any of the negatives listed above.
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on 9 June 2011
Bought as a present; recipient says its a brilliant bit of kit which she uses regularly in her job as an environment consultant.
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on 16 August 2010
I was bought (at my request) this Gps as a birthday present in July from Amazon to take with me whilst walking with the Ramblers. I have a Garmin forerunner 301 which has worked very satisfactorily for many years, a Garmin Nuvi for the car and my partner has 3 Garmin Gps's for the small plane he flies so I thought I would be very safe with this purchase.

However straight away I realised I had been bought the version without the map and this was an additional £199 for the Uk basemap. Ridiculous! It is really very limited without it - a black line on a blank page. I had been carrying my 301 to get the mileage we had walked and wanted to have this measure it instead. Another mistake. Immediately I was getting readings much less - by 10% at least - than my 301 and indeed other walkers with Gps's. So I phoned Garmin as I could not work it out and they admit they have a problem with this model as it is not sensitive enough when you are walking very slowly (such as going over stiles etc. I guess) and it doesn't record that distance. They hope to have a software upgrade at some time but couldn't tell me when. I then couldn't work out how to use the map on my pc to work out routes and after writing to them to find out how, apparently you can't do that either. And to top it all, I walked for 2 days last week with an overnight stop and the batteries ran out of power halfway through the second day. So I now have to carry spare sets of very expensive rechargeable batteries or the very bulky recharger in my rucksack.

If I had not been bought this as a present and then bought the map I would return it as it as not fit for purpose and totally overpriced for what it can do. Be warned.Garmin Oregon 550 GPS System
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on 15 July 2010
Great product. Display is sensitive to bright sun due to touchscreen.
User manual is rather poor and introduction by internet community is absolutely essential.
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on 24 May 2012
It's rugged, and simple. Well that's good, but is it really worth an extra £200 over a regular satnav or budget handheld GPS?

Well no. Garmin will rip your face off for map upgrades, and the functionality is very limited on this device.

It should be half the size, half the price and give much better interaction with a PC.
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