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Old November 9th, 2008, 09:08 AM   #1
phittie1100
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Default Garmin E-Trex Vista Hcx - opinions?

My "waterproof" Magellan Sportrak turned out to be not so waterproof, shopping for a replacement. I have a street mapper already, shopping for a handheld for Jeep/hunting/fishing. It has a Micro-SD slot, ability to lay down multiple tracks, price is right....anybody got one? Color is a cool improvement over my old Magellan, but the screen seems tiny. I also looked at the Magellan Triton 400/500 series because I am a cheap bastard and some of my old Magellan accessories will work with it, but the map support and SD product support seems a little thin compared to the Garmin.
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Old November 10th, 2008, 11:38 PM   #2
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I have one. I has been submerged completely 3 times now and still works perfect so it is waterproof. All of the functions are very easy to control and the color screen makes things simple to read. Be prepared to either spend big bucks on map sets to go with it or have your sources lined up if you want to save a few. My only complaint with it is the turn by turn directions, but it is my only GPS and that is not really it's intended purpose. It tries though.
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Old November 11th, 2008, 09:12 PM   #3
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I have Garmin eTrex Venture HC and it works great for it's intended purpose. Base maps are very sparse, but that hasn't been a problem yet - I've always tracked my way off the major highways that it does register, so I never have problems. I'm a light-duty user, so take this review FWIW. I went with one of these units because battery life is vastly superior to the large-screen units. I had mine on a 5 hour canoe trip and the half-use batteries lasted the entire trip, plus some.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 12:52 AM   #4
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Well I have been researching these for some time now.

The Venture HC is a nice base unit. The local guy @ Dunham's has one on his BMW Dakar Bike that he does enduros and such on, and it has held up well.

I liked the Vista HCx thanks to the expandability and Digital Compass (compass makes it worth it alone!). Everyone from the guys at Jay's and Cabelas said the HCx is the way to go for what I was doing (geocaching, mounting in the Jeep, Quad, etc.).

Only nice thing about the Magellan units is that you can overlay the Topo and Street maps for ease of use. Their customer service and everything else is supposedly terrible. I also have heard that the Tritons do not hold a signal as well as the eTrex.

FWIW, you really can't go wrong with any of the Etrex models. Just make sure to get one of the ones with "H" in the model designation. This is the high-sensitivity antenna, and works a lot better than older models.

I'm not sure what Jay's has, but Cabela's had the Vista HCx in a bundle with neoprene holster and the Mapsource US topo map with (I think) 512mb Micro SD card. You may be able to get a cracked copy of the maps on line, which would make the extra $100ish for the combo not worth it.
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Old November 13th, 2008, 11:19 AM   #5
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Is the digital compass (and barometric altimeter?) worth $50? I did some more poking around and found the Garmin e-Trex Legend Hcx for about $50 less, all other features are identical to the Vista. My old Magellan didn't have this feature (or if it did I never used it), so I am not sure I would notice the difference. Plus, I still don't trust all the gee-whiz gadgets yet, I still carry an old-fashioned magnetic compass in my pack, along with paper maps as backup.
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Old November 14th, 2008, 12:35 PM   #6
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Honestly, I second the opinion on the compass. Especially out in the woods.

I do not have a compass in the Jeep as dash space on the XJ is kind of at a premium. The CB is mounted to the headliner, and I have a Sirius Starmate 4 on a mount at the center of the dash, so where I would put a compass is kind of a mystery to me. You can get solid mounts for the Etrex and such to bolt behind the radio (metal plate, essentially).

The digital compass would be nice for sort of a quick reference. I am looking at either picking up a new Quad or Bike in the spring to do some Enduros with, so.

What I understood is that the digital compass was nice to have when the built-in compass wasn't working well. Essentially, for the built-in to work, the GPS has to be completely level, and you have to be going LESS than 5mph. So it is essentially only good for walking, and as we already established, we both trust a magnetic compass in situations such as those anyway.

I'm heading back to Cabela's this weekend, so I'll poke my nose around a bit more and see if there is actually someone there who has used both to compare.
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