Top positive review
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Great little unit, works for us but understand it’s limitations before buying
on 4 January 2016
Please note when reading this review I am a hobbyist / light user.
As a family we have recently got into Geocaching and have previously been using the app on my smart phone to find and locate them however the GPS receiver on my phone (and many others I believe) is not that strong as you have a lot of gadgetry to pack into a small device so we found that often we would lose satellites and end up trying to find a miniscule Geocache in a 15 metre radius which is quite tricky! We also found that having the phones GPS on all the time while looking at the screen drained the battery quite quickly which is no good on a five hour trek through the moors.
So I was very pleased to get this as a Christmas present and I have been able to test it out on a geocaching field trip with the kids, overall I think it’s an excellent unit and I’ve broken it down into pros and cons below;
- Size: compact little unit which fits snuggly into a pocket
- Robust: Rubberised construction makes it tough and water resistant
- Very accurate: Massive improvement on using a mobile phone, it’s taken us to within a metre of our target geocaches every time
- Not touch screen: I know this might sound like a con but it really isn’t, I don’t need to take my gloves off to use it and the little joystick controller is simple and quick to use, reasonably intuitive (see cons below) and you don’t have to cover the screen when using it.
- Geocache support: Good but not great, you can download the data from the Geocache website (bit clunky, see cons below) as a GPX file and it contains all the data such as descriptions, hint etc… so don’t have to rely on a data connection in the middle of nowhere anymore! Also the Geocache ‘dashboard’ is really good and I tend to just load one up and hand it to one of the kids to follow. Great fun.
- Battery life: I put a set of Duracells in on Christmas day and I’ve probably used it for about 8 hours Geocaching and left it on by accident for at least there days, so far the battery indicator has remained full.
- Chrome OS recognised: Well sort of, I plugged it in to my Chromebook and it picked it up as an external drive easily enough so I was able to copy GPX files only it. There are no fancy software interfaces though.
- Not just for geocaching: We’ve used it when setting off for a walk at a holiday home where we didn’t know the area very well, just set a waypoint and a track going and you can find your way back dead easy if you get a bit lost – that’s the point of these things after all!
- Instructions: You get a quick start guide and nothing more. I was able to get the hang of the basic functions easily enough within about 10 minutes but I have used GPS devices below and I am quite tech savvy. The interface itself is reminiscent of devices before touch screens which I used quite a lot however bear this in mind if you’re used to using Androids or iPhones – it’s not that slick but it is functional. There are also features that I have yet to work out what they do but I’m sure I will get there.
- Maps: You can’t easily download maps to the eTrex10, not a major concern for me but if you really want this feature you need to go for a more advanced model. Technically it's possible but it would be a real faff to do it.
- Garmin software: I downloaded the Garmin software to run on a Windows 10 laptop (previously tried on a Vista 64bit PC – don’t bother if you have this set up) and it looks far more complicated than I need it to be or have time to understand.
- Geocaching website interface: The Geocache website has a handy feature to allow you to send a geocache’s details straight to the GPS device from the webpage itself as long as you have the Garmin software interface installed – I could not get this to work for the eTrex10. It recognised the device but when clicking on the link it just did nothing. From visiting several forums this turned out to be a common fault that seems to have been introduced after an update to the Garmin PC software. I was able to get around this but simply downloading the GPX files instead and copying them into the right folder on the eTrex itself, not quite as simple but ok.
Sounds like a lot of cons, but it isn’t really, I’m just trying to be thorough and bear in mind this is an entry level device that’s possibly showing its age on the interface a little but is accurate and works great for us. I would recommend for people with similar needs top us – might not be the thing for trekking in the Himalayas or navigating the med though. Five stars because it does exactly what we need it to do and it does it very well.