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Old 20-02-2005, 08:18   #1
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Hand GPS – Which one ist the right one?

Hi from http://www.maurerclan.ch/

After 25 years of sailing i’m thinking of buying my own hand-gps. But there are so many different types – it’s really confusing to get the right one. So how did you find out which one is the right one?

Tell me your experiences with buying your own hand-gps. Was it a good buy or would you now chose another one?

Skippy
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Old 20-02-2005, 09:04   #2
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GPS

I would start with the basic cheap model as most folks seem to get more than one and more complex later on. The prices seem to be coming down so it is a pain getting an exspensive unit and later being able to get a better one for less money. I inherited a Lowrance that cost my wifes dad over $700-. I also use a Magellan 315 which is a very basic model but the one I like is the Garmin etrex which cost about $179- Canadian. The newer units can pick up more satelites than the older ones so they provide a position sooner. I prefer to use charts and a pencil so I am happy with this.
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Old 20-02-2005, 11:19   #3
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I will second the Garmin. The least complex is sometimes better. But I would only get one with a USB or similar to be able to connect it to a computer with charting system. If you have a computer/chart system (or get one in the future) then the handheld doubles as a back up if your main unit goes down.
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Old 21-02-2005, 15:37   #4
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not just handhelds

We have a garmin 315 as well. Our primary is a Lowrance LMS160. It has GPS, world chart 4X4 screen, dept sounder/sonor/fishfinder, water log all in one unit. It is fixed mounted. We bought it new from westmarine about 2 years ago when t he model was discontinued for the LMS1600.

We paid $150 US. Read and look around good prices on top quality feature loaded machines can be found as long as you don't have to have the latest and greatest.

The Lowrance is configured to interface with my laptop and radar. Since we have a cat it was the least expensive solution to adding an additional depth sounder without drilling a new hole in the hull.

There are always options!
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Old 21-04-2005, 14:37   #5
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We like the garmin etrec (sp). It had all the features we wanted and many more.
The truth is, we plot using old methods, and check our accuracy with the GPS. We do not want to loose our piloting , dead reckoning, and sight taking skills. Besides , it's kind of fun. Now we are hoping to practice and hone skills with a sextant.
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Old 21-04-2005, 22:23   #6
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IMHO if its just a handheld any of the basic Garmins are great.

However if you plan on using it as a back-up to a fixed mount to interface with your laptop/charting software then not all will work. I think the GPS 76 is the first one that will do real time data feed to a PC
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Old 26-04-2005, 20:30   #7
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In the March issue of Practicle boat owner, they tested several models of hand held GPS's with chartplotters.
The conclusion was the Magellan being the best and the Garmin 76c a close second. Although all makes had good points and bad points.
I don't mind writing what each comment was, but I don't want to breach any copywrite.
Gord, would I be doing so and get in trouble if I did???
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Old 27-04-2005, 00:09   #8
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I’m not legally trained [according to Maggie, I’m barely “legally competent” ]. Generally, I believe you can quote short passages for review (especially in non-commercial use, like here). You can paraphrase all you like.
In any case, I doubt you would get into trouble.
Whatever you're comfortable with ...
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Old 27-04-2005, 07:26   #9
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OK,
What was tested and sort of Paraphrased and condensed.
Geonav4C
Biggest unit that would comfortably fit in a hand. (depends on who's hand I guess ) 3.5" high res screen. Navionics XL3 cartography. Display is attractively layed out with a large print bar across the bottom offering essential course, speed and bearing info. X hear cursor makews position fixing straightforward. Scrolls smoothly and easy to place waypoints. The chart is moved around the curser.Lower level menues are rather clunky and less intuitive although easily readable. Some functions were difficult to to find or seemed to be missing. Seems to be power hungry, with a set of 4 AA's giving up in two hours.Changing batteries was involved and infuriatedly awkward. A power cable and mounting bracket are available, but it does not say if that is opptional extra or not. It was judged the best on test.

Raymarine RC400.
This seems to use identical hardware underneath to the Geonav. Slightly different more curvaciuose style. Same infuriating battery pack design and have the power consumption. Also XL3 cartography on a compact flash card located under the batteries. Software is different, sporting a modified version of the interface used in their bigger plotters. Has an intuitive menu and has much of what is found on the larger plotters. Fast redraw times. The cursor is moved around the chart. A little cumbersome to enter a route. Screen largely unclutterd and a narrow info bar is at the top, displaying range, bearing to the cursor and it's long and lat. But the text size is small and difficult to view from a distance.

Magellan Meridian color.
This was PBO's best budget buy.
It was first released in 2003. It has a lower resolution screen. It is housed in a rubber case. It uses the Navionics data in Magellans Mapsend BlueNav chart system. It has a 2 3/4" display. the defualt contrast setting is impossible to see in daylight and requires the display to be adjusted to 75%. Anymore causes a flicker that becomes obtrusive. Scrolling is smooth. Easy and the most intuitive to use and entering waypoints is also simple. a bar at the bottom of the display shows COG and SOG and can be changed to show range and bearing. Battery life is 6hrs with backlight running. It has external power, but will not recharge batteries.

Garmin 76C.
Garmins approachn is different, using a pictorial interface, rather than lengthy text menu's. Once again a 2 /34" screen and Garmins blue chart cartography seems to view very well on this smaller size, with an uncluttered chart, but you have to zoom out often to view any possible hazards. Buoyage and nav info is superb and an arrow points north to maintain sense of direction in head up mode.
It is non-intuitive and difficult to master and requires a lot of research to locate waypointing and routing. Waypointing was also tediouse. However, it has a powerful bunch oof functions that cover just about everything you could need. A bit sluggish in the redraw and scrolling as it loads a larger area of the chart into fast access memory, allowing smooth panning. It's small physical size makes it easy to hold and slip into a pocket. The power drain is better and the batteries reached half charge in 2hrs. A power cord and bracket are also supplied.

Lowrence iFinder H2O.
This is a budget monochrome and ruffly half price of the other clor units. Poor sunlight viewability, but it has a high resolution screen and the backlight enables good viewing in most light bar bright sunlight. Getting started is tricky. There is no automatic chart selection function. So as you reach the edge of the chart, you have to maually load up the next one, even if it is stored on the same MMC card. Once going, it is easy to use. A clear crosshair cursor makes waypointing straightforward and menues are easy to navigate. Scrolling is hampered by a slow proccessor and takes 3 seconds to update. Power consumption is excellent. But the body seems light and cheap and the battery cover flimsy. Rubber edging around it helps with knocks around the cockpit.

Hope that helps.
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Old 27-04-2005, 15:23   #10
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Last week I put a couple of marker buoys in the lake using known Lat and Long. I had with me a Magellan and a Garmin. We just needed to find the spot. The Garmin was easier to use. On Sunday I needed to calculate the distance to one of these marks from existing marks, the Magellan was easier to use. The Magellan is easier to use if you do not have the instructions or if you are a real man and do not read instructions. That is because the buttons are named and readable. You guess at which button to press with the Garmin for most functions, but it is a better unit for most things. My opinion only.
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Old 28-04-2005, 00:09   #11
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I have a Magellan Meridian Marine (monochrome) as my handheld unit. I used it coming down the ICW last year and it worked great. It had a good built in map with navaids and built in roads. The roads made it easy to set a waypoint for the next bridge location when trying to time the openings to my arrival.

The bouys are pretty accurate, although the maps are subject to errors as with most GPS units. I have found the user interface inutuitive. I can't comment on the Garmin handhelds, although I now have a panel mounted 2006 on my boat and I like it as well. I was disappointed that the Garmin base map was not nearly as good (detailed) as the map in the Magellan.

The Magellan did have a display problem when it was about three years old. For a $60 fee they replaced the display, the front cover and updated the firmware and based map. They even threw in a $35 DC power and NMEA cable when they sent it back! Now it's better than when it was new.

YMMV Woody
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