Well, it looks like there are some exciting times ahead for us UK gadget-loving Geocachers. Today Garmin announced the new Montana unit and last week Magellan announced that they would return to the UK and launch four GPS handhelds.
The Garmin Montana looks very exciting indeed. We have the usual features that the Oregon is packed with (Wireless, microSD card, waterproof, durable, paperless caching, etc.) but we also have a 4″ sunlight-readable touchscreen (Hooray!!!) with improvements on the display and the ability to view maps in landscape mode. It’s also packed with a 5-megapixel digital camera which allows Geotagging (Add the coordinates that a photo was taken to the photo attributes) and allows the ability to navigate to a geotagged photo. We have a massive 3.5GB of built-in storage too (Well, you need somewhere to store those 5MP photos!). It comes with a rechargable Lithium Ion battery, but also gives the option of using 3 AA batteries, for those emergencies when you frantically dash of for an FTF and the battery dies, of course! It also looks like if you buy the City Navigator maps for it, plus a mount then it will transform into an in-car sat nav. There will be three models: the 600, 650 (+ camera) and 650t (+camera, +maps).
It also looks pretty darn sexy (You can tell you are a Geek when you start describing gadgets as “sexy”). There’s only one thing I don’t like and to be honest I did expect this as the GPSMAP 62 series don’t feature it either… The answer to “Outdoor GPS Games” on the specs is “No”. This translates to “This device doesn’t support Wherigo’s” I love Wherigo’s. and although I can play them on my iPhone it’s just not the same. It looks like wherigo’s will soon be very dead with future Garmin products not supporting them.
The manual isn’t online yet, however the short video on the Garmin site and the features listing gives a good idea of what we can expect. Oh, there’s also the £600 price tag that is mentioned. However, if you look at Garmin’s Oregon pricing you can probably shave off about £150 from their prices, so hopefully online stores will have some better deals at some point. I’ll admit that I am seriously tempted. I’ve been wanting to upgrade from our Dakota 10 for about 6 months, but hadn’t gone for an Oregon because I thought I’d wait and see what Garmin’s next offering was like. This is the next offering… and I like!!!
Magellan eXplorist Range
Magellan haven’t seemed to be very big in the UK GPS world, it seemed to be mostly dominated by Garmin. I know when we first looked at getting a GPSr we were really drawn to Magellan products and found one we absolutely loved the look of… BUT it was really only available from the US and the few UK sites that stocked them were really pricey. The devices that look to be available over here are the Magellan eXplorist GC, Magellan eXplorist 501, Magellan eXplorist 610, Magellan eXplorist 710 (I’ve listed them in price order). I think I recall hearing that Magellan units/customer suppoert had a bit of a reputation for being a bit… well… crap, but they made a come back with some decent offerings.
The eXplorist GC is around the £150 mark. It allows paperless caching, has a 2.2″ screen, stores 10,000 caches, is rugged and waterproof, has 2GB internal memory, has a picture viewer, and boasts 18 hours of battery life from 2AA batteries. It’s not touchscreen, however but has 5 buttons on the front instead. As for mapping, the site says “Referencing a complete road network in North America and Western Europe and major roads throughout the rest of the populated world to help in orientation. “
The 510 is around the £350 mark. It has a 3″ touchscreen, 2GB internal memory, 3.2MP camera with autofocus and supports microSD cards. With the extra features the battery life is down to 15 hours from 2AA’s. It’s also preloaded with maps for United States, Canada, Western Europe, and Australia. So slightly more maps than the eXplorist GC.
The 610 is the same as the 510, and around the same price (maybe a few quid more) but features 4GB internal memory, a 3-axis Electronic Compass and has “Summit Series Europe” maps on, which are more detailed topographic maps.
Finally the 710 jumps in price to around the £600 mark. Here we get everything the 610 had, plus “City Series Europe” maps meaning it will also act as an in-car sat nav giving “turn-by-turn directions on your way to escaping to your favorite open spaces. Enter a variety of destinations, including address book entries, waypoints, geocaches, or previous destinations.”
Of all the products I’d say I’m most tempted by the new Garmin Montana. I definitely prefer the way it looks over the Magellans and its features make it seem quite appealing. The Magellan eXplorist GC however sounds like fantastic value for money and is around the same price as I paid for our Garmin Dakota 10, however it looks like the Magellans could have better map support for the money you pay. I’m yet to play with one, however Aussie cacher Darren Osbourne has a more in-depth review on his blog.
Anyone else seriously tempted by the Montana?