Garmin Oregon 600 Review

Garmin have recently released their Oregon 6xx series of GPS. In the range are the 600, 600t, 650, and 650t. The ‘t’ models include “Full European Recreational mapping 1:100K”. The 650 units include a rechargeable NiMH battery pack (this can be purchased separately for the 600 for under £20), an 8MP geotagging camera, a torch, and a larger storage capacity. The devices are currently retailing at between £370 and £500, depending on the model and whether you add 50k OS maps to your purchase. I took a look at an Oregon 600 with 50k OS maps to see if it was a worthwhile upgrade…

First impressions

The Garmin Oregon 600t

The Garmin Oregon 600t

My first impression of the device was that the screen seemed smaller than the Oregon 450 that I’ve used. In fact the screen size is the same (3″ / 240 x 400 pixels). Whereas previous Oregons have the protective raised plastic around the edge of the screen the new version is completely flat with the glass of the screen extending to the edges. This does make the device appear to look more modern and phone-like, however means that the screen isn’t as protected around the edges and gives the illusion that the screen is smaller than it is. It also seems a bit of a waste as it’d be more desirable if the screen filled this vacant space. The glass used on the screen is however “chemically enhanced” meaning that it should be more scratch resistant and durable and therefore doesn’t need that added ridge. Check out this YouTube video where they throw it on concrete and hit it with a hammer and it still doesn’t break!!!

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REVIEW: Garmin Montana

The wait is over

Since I first blogged about the Montana in May I had been itching to get my hands on one, patiently waiting for a UK online store to get some in stock. I didn’t really want to pay the price that Garmin were stating as the RRP. £600-£650 is a lot of money for a GPSr. I was therefore pleased when I saw them sold by Marine Electronic Services Ltd. I pre-ordered my Montana 650 and patiently waited for 2 weeks until finally the day came when my Montana was delivered. Sod’s law meant it came on the very day that I was travelling to Wales for the MEGA so I had to again patiently wait until I got back to play with it. For anyone thinking of purchasing a Montana, I will say that I’m definitely pleased with Mes Ltd. I emailed them a few times to check on my order (I lied when I said I was patient!) and always got a reply back within an hour or two. They also provided a tracking number for me to watch the status of my order. At the time of writing they are also the cheapest price I can find for all of the Montana models, although I notice the 650 has gone up by £20 since I purchased it. I think their site currently does still have the best price.

The review

I’m going to look at the Montana as “A Geocacher” and review the features that I think a Geocacher is most likely to use, so this isn’t going to go into depth with the Marine, Hunt and Fish features, etc. The model I am reviewing is the “Garmin Montana 650” although there’s not a massive difference between this and the other models. The 600 is the base model. The 650 is the base model + a 5 megapixel camera, and the 650t is the base model, camera, and maps.

The size

The first thing you will probably notice about the Montana is that it’s big! It has a 5.06 x 8.93 cm (4″ diagonal) screen. I think this is the thing that will put most people off of purchasing it (Other than the price, of course!). It’s also quite chunky, but you do need that to ensure that it’s not easily damaged. To be honest, the size doesn’t bother me too much. If we were going caching in a really urban location (e.g. a day trip to London) I would be tempted to leave it at home and take our Garmin Dakota simply because you wouldn’t be as easily noticed. The size gives a huge advantage and the massive screen is just brilliant to work with. It’s so easy to scroll around the map and see caches, particulary if you are in an area and are not sure where to go next.

A Dakota 10, Samsung Galaxy S, and the Montana

Caches on the map zoomed out

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NEWS: The Garmin Chirp (Wireless beacon for Geocaching)

A few days ago Garmin released a new little Geocaching product called the “Chirp”. This is a little wireless beacon that runs on their ANT wireless protocol, meaning it can communicate with any other Garmin ANT-enabled devices.

The Chirp

The basic idea of this is that you place this little device in your cache. When a GeoCacher with an ANT-enabled Garmin device comes within 10m they can then pick up the signal it is transmitting. This signal can push additional hints, or coordinates and can confirm that the cache is nearby.

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The future of GPSr’s?

Wowza! I think I caught a glimpse of the future of GPSr’s today when I saw the Delorme PN-60w on the Internet. It’s released in the US at the end of the month and I can’t find any UK sites yet that are promising it (There aren’t that many Delormes around in the UK anyway).

The reason I think this sounds so amazing is it promises something that I don’t think any GPSr device features at the moment… The ability to upload your logs, connect to Facebook, twitter, send text messages, etc. When I heard about this initially I thought it was a bit too good to be true, and it kind of is…

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