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Customer Review

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review After Six Months Usage, 4 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Garmin eTrex 30 Outdoor Handheld GPS Unit (Wireless Phone Accessory)
I have used this for navigation on the trail and to record walks rather than use it to navigate using a downloaded route. I installed a 1:50K OS map; as others have noted the included maps are useless and without the additional purchase of OS mapping, there is not much point in paying more than for the eTrex 10. It is ideal for a quick fix; you can see precisely on the map where you are and get a map reference immediately. My older Garmin GPS gave just the reference, then you had to find it on the map; not an insurmountable issue, but much easier and quicker from a map display. The screen size is a little small, but the GPS would have to be bigger to accommodate a larger one. The iPhone screen for instance is bigger but using the iPhone in wet weather isn't recommended. The Satmap screen is bigger too, but then so is the GPS and there appear to be issues with the time taken to get a satellite fix with this. The Garmin eTrex 30 (and presumably the 10 and 20 too) get a fix very quickly and this is a big plus point. The battery life is good too. If you're using this on a long distance path you should be able to get three or four days use from a set of two AA batteries with the GPS recording your track for the whole of the day. You can set the battery type (ie lithium / alkali etc) within the GPS.

A slight problem is with the toggle which does protrude quite a lot. I have found that I have inadvertently nudged this, probably taking it out or putting it back in its case (a silva compass case) and suddenly found a straight line has appeared on the map display as well as the line of your trail. I am navigating to a point I have passed somewhere during the day and obviously is something I don't want. You go to "Where to?" on the menu and you press "Stop Navigating". This gets rid of the line.

A bigger issue is the micro-SD card which is positioned beneath the batteries. This has come adrift when I have changed the batteries and if it's lost there is no provision for a replacement from Garmin, other than to buy another card. So be careful!!

When I connect the GPS to my Apple iMac PC, a disc image appears on the desktop which contains the GPX files (among other things) these can be dragged and dropped on to the desktop or into a folder without activating any computer mapping software. I use Routebuddy on the iMac now and if I double click on the downloaded GPX file it loads straight in so there's no need for a dedicated Garmin/computer connection.

When you switch the GPS on at the beginning of your walk, there will be a straight line from the last place it was connected, the trip computer will show the distance travelled from there. You need a routine to switch on, wait for a signal, delete your current track and reset your trip computer before you set off. On your return you must save your current track. If you just switch off, you'll get another straight line from the end of your walk to wherever you are when you next switch on.

I haven't used the compass or the barometric altimeter and if I was buying again, I would probably go for the eTrex 20. I can get all the ascent/descent information once the tracklog is downloaded into the computer. I would think that if you want to use this as your sole navigation tool instead of a map (a practice which isn't usually recommended) then you would want a bigger screen. But for those who rely on a map and compass and use a GPS to assist this, and to record your tracks, it can be recommended.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Oct 2013 07:55:43 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Oct 2013 08:00:45 BDT
Jonesy says:
Mr Booth,

The Track log on Etrex units is designed to provide a continuous log of time-stamped lateral and vertical movement. If you turn the unit off and on, the log will resume where it left off as you have noticed. In Setup/Tracks, you may set Auto Archive to 'Daily' which archives the old log with a date stamp and starts a new one at 00:00+ 1 sec for each day of usage. A new Log starts when the unit is turned on. Logs may be edited in Basecamp or other software.

The barometric altimeter in the Etrex 30 also records barometric changes in air pressure, even when the unit is turned off (Selectable). It's used by pilots, sailors and some walkers to forecast weather trends and can simultaneously display both ambient and barometric pressure. The latter is corrected to altitude when setting up the barometer.

The Etrex units also take the OpenStreetMap free 1:50 contour maps of the world, (and the UK) which are available free from many sites and are used by Mountain Rescue teams both in the UK and in Austria. They have some advantages over the Ordnance Survey maps in that they are a) free, and b) many paths and bridleways are routable, and OSM maps are usually up to date to the current month. Also, unlike OS maps, they are not subject to a distorted local grid north, which is important for some applications and should you venture to Le Continent, OSM maps have local searchable street mapping.

The SD card hasn't come adrift on either of the ETrex20/30 units here, but a small piece of tape over it prevents this, especially if changing batteries in the cold with gloves on.
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