While the focus of GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver development in recent years has been on developing touch-screen devices that display full-colour Ordnance Survey mapping, there remains a need for brands to provide a low-cost alternative. The Magellan Explorist 110 is the latest entry-level product that has been designed to get walkers to the top of the hill and back again without the need for a bank loan.
At £140 the Explorist 110 is a bargain when you consider that many GPS receivers featuring colour mapping, such as Magellan’s Explorist 610, retail at around £400 (and you’ll still need to pay extra for the Ordnance Survey mapping). The Explorist 110 also boasts a colour screen, a feature not provided by the £110 Garmin eTrex 10, for example. So on price alone the Magellan is a winner.
The Explorist 110 is well-specified for a weekend of walking in the rain, as it has a waterproof housing and is powered by two AA batteries that provide 18 hours of continuous use. The size and weight of the unit are great for slipping in a jacket pocket or clipping to a rucksack harness if you attach a cord lanyard to the housing.
Unlike many of the latest GPS receivers the Explorist 110 does not have a touch-screen and instead is operated by four buttons and a joystick. I think this is good for hillwalkers, although I’d ideally like the buttons to be bigger as cold, wet hands and a sprinkling of snow or rain do not make operation any easier – and even in good weather I found the joystick in particular a little tricky to use. Equally the screen is pretty small too, making it difficult to read in anything but good weather.
The operating system of the Magellan Explorist 110 is reasonably easy to navigate, though, with a clear compass and route information to hand to help you navigate. There is reasonable storage capability too, so in addition to being able to save 25 routes and 500 waypoints you can store up to 500 geocaches and view up to 20 characteristics of each cache, such as name, location, description, size, hider, difficulty, hints and more.
The unit comes preloaded with a World Edition map that displays the road network and includes street names. But crucially you cannot add Ordnance Survey mapping, so once you leave the road and head up a hill the device displays your position in a sea of green.
Use the Magellan Explorist 110 for geocaching and it will be fun; use it for finding the summit of the hill occasionally, and it will get you to the top and down again. But the size of the unit and the lack of OS mapping means that a map and compass will be needed to immediate hand if you’re looking for a fully-rounded navigational tool with map functionality.
Screen 3.4x4.5cm colour
Battery life 18 hours
Route storage 25
Waypoint storage 500
Magellan’s Explorist 110 is easy to stash in a pocket, a great price for what you get, and ideal for geocaching and basic navigation and backup; but you need to decide if its lean functionality meets your needs.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2013