Garmin Etrex Vista HCx

A joy to use. PC connectivity is simple and it will readily share data with Memory-Map with no need to use any other software for file conversions. Menus are intuitive and can be easily customised, while swapping between main functions is amazingly easy. The single button press for “Find” and “Mark”, means little time need be wasted on the hill. The new, highly sensitive antenna is lightning-fast to pick up a fix and holds on to it well in cover. Light, compact and comfy, yet rugged, in the hand. An SD card slot makes it easy to run Garmin Topo maps, although at £70 each (with three covering the whole country) this isn’t a cheap option. The “Highway” page – a 3D representation of the route – makes complex navigation simple, while the direction arrow on the compass page works brilliantly for easier route-finding.

VITAL STATS
Size: 10.7 x 5.6 x 3cm
Weight: 156g (including batteries)
Screen: 256 level colour TFT, 176 x 220 pixels
Battery life: 25 hours on two AAs
Routes/waypoints: 50 routes/1,000 waypoints
Works with: Most mapping software; WAAS/EGNOS-enabled
Contact: 02380 524000, www.garmin.co.uk
Verdict: Lacking some of the super hi-tech features of newer top-end units but, at this price, we can’t fault it.

Magellan Triton 300 2008

Links to a PC via Magellan’s free download VantagePoint software but you need to import your route from Memory-Map into VantagePoint before downloading it. Tracklogs are uploaded in the same way. Navigating around the menus is easy enough with positive clicks as you scroll through the options, but the main control is fiddly to use with gloves on. Easy to read, thanks to a brightly backlit colour screen. To follow a route, a “heading marker” (direction arrow) needs to be lined up with a small icon depicting the next waypoint. This works well. There’s no slot for a memory card, but it does have 64mb of storage – enough for some topographical map coverage. Very quick to get a fix.

VITAL STATS
Size: 11.8 x 5.5 x 3.1cm
Weight: 212g (including batteries)
Screen: 5.6cm colour, 320 x 240 pixels
Battery life: 10 hours on two AAs
Routes/waypoints: 20 routes/500 waypoints
Works with: All mapping software that’s compatible with Magellan’s VantagePoint content manager, including Memory-Map; WAAS/EGNOS-enabled
Contact: 00800 62435526, www.magellangps.com
Verdict: A lovely budget-end GPS unit that does an excellent job.

Garmin GPS 60

This GPS from Garmin is very easy to use from the box, with a large clear screen and really simple functions, such as “Mark and Find”. A great selection of pages and it’s easy to switch between them, or even change the order, if necessary. Inputting routes or waypoints by hand is a slow process, but can be done quickly and easily via a PC. Slow to get a satellite position and faster than most to lose its reception under tree cover, or in narrow gorges. It is also quite a size to carry, and heavy, too. In its favour, its “Highway” page is really easy to follow and the large screen makes navigation or following a bearing an absolute doddle.

Verdict: An easy-to-use, functional unit with very good PC compatibility at a nice price. However, it doesn’t hold its signal as well as some and is also quite heavy.

Size: 15.5x6.1x3.3cm

Weight: 215g

Screen: 3.8x5.6cm FSTN, 160x240 pixels

Battery life: 28 hours on two AAs

Works with: Most software. WAAS/EGNOS-enabled

Routes/waypoints: 50 routes/500 waypoints

Contact: 0870 850 1242; www.garmin.co.uk


Magellan eXplorist 210

This neat little GPS unit from Magellan has a decent-sized black and white screen and a brightness switch. The buttons are very small and data transfer can be fiddly, but actual navigation through the pages is easy and the menus are reasonably intuitive. It will connect to a PC, via a USB cable, but not as easily as some. The easy “Mark and Find” functions are good, and inputting routes manually is fairly simple. The folder system makes finding stored info easy, and the compass page is easy to follow when hunting for waypoints. It is quick to give a co-ordinate and just as accurate as more expensive units.

Verdict: A light, well-featured option that, despite the fiddly data transfer, performs well.

Size: 11.9x5.3x3.3cm

Weight: 175g

Screen: 4.6x3.6cm greyscale

Battery life: 18 hours on two AAs

Works with: Memory-Map and Anquet. WAAS/EGNOS-enabled

Routes/waypoints: 50 routes/250 waypoints per route

Contact: 01539 733842; www.magellangps.com


Garmin Etrex Summit

This GPS unit from Garmin is very simple to understand, with a logical sequence of pages, each doing a very specific and obvious job. It’s also extremely easy to link to the PC, although it’s not quite as effortless as the USB connection of the Vista CX in the higher price band. Note that the data cable isn’t supplied, so budget for this separately. The lack of a joystick means it’s not quite as good as some for inputting waypoints and routes by hand. It’s aimed very squarely at walkers and it does an excellent job, with all the features you’d expect, plus the addition of an electronic compass and barometric altimeter. The main navigation page is easy to follow, with a clear black and white screen. The simple trip page is also good, and the elevation data and graph information are interesting and very useful. It’s small and light, too, so no problem to carry.

Verdict: A big step down from the dearer Vista CX, but still a fantastic budget GPS, beating the Etrex as it has the electronic compass and barometric altimeter, features definitely worth paying an extra £50 for.

Size: 11.2x5.1x3cm

Weight: 150g

Screen: 2.8x5.4cm grey LCD, 64x128 pixels

Battery life: 22 hours (GPS only) or 13 hours (GPS and compass) on two AAs

Works with: Most software, including Memory-Map and Anquet. WAAS/EGNOS enabled

Routes/waypoints: 20 reversible routes/500 waypoints

Contact: 0808 238 0000; www.garmin.co.uk

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