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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NEW: Garmin Montana GPSr + Magellan eXplorists in the UK

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.

Garmin Montana

The Garmin Montana

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).

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GSAK Newbie – Massive Review and Tutorial

So… It’s time to find out what everyone is raving about and give GSAK another go! I perhaps wrongly dismissed it a few weeks ago when it just kept crashing everytime I tried to do something. I think this could have been due to using a slightly older version on Windows 7. I’m now armed with version 7.7.1 on Windows 7 64-bit with on a Dell XPS M1330 laptop with 4GB of RAM…

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Name: I’d Rather Be Caching
Type: Website

Main Features:
I’d rather be caching allows you to view GeoCache information on mobile devices. It’s dependent on you uploading your PQ’s to the site beforehand. This allows you, when you are out caching, to quickly see information on caches in an area. If you have GPS on your mobile device it allows you to view caches near you and use your current location. You can then view cache logs, description, hints, etc. in a really user friendly, simple format which won’t eat loads of bandwidth pulling down logos and images…

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New Features

Well, I was a bit gutted when went down last night as I was busy scouting out caches to camp near, but I particularly like one of the new features now that it’s back. On the far right hand side is a feedback tab that allows you to suggest enhancements to the site and for other users to comment and ‘Like’ your idea. A kind of facebook/twitter thing. A couple of ideas have popped up that I like the sound of: A cache container type for nanos (I do think that knowing the size of the container you are looking for helps you find it. Sometimes you will overlook some spots if you wrongly interpret to be in a different container), Viewing more than 500 caches at a time on the maps – Although I would guess it’d slow the maps down if they did this, Bring back virtual caches. (Although I haven’t done any yet I think they’re a neat idea and plan to do some in the future) and some way of logging FTFs although I think this may be a little more tricky to implement and regulate than it sounds. It would be cool though to get some “credit” for your mad rushes to cache sites at stupid times of the morning just to grab that FTF (I’m guilty as charged!!! ;))

It’s good to see that there are comments from Groundspeak’s guys on some of the suggestions. It shows that they’ve implemented the feature and are actually listening to what people say… at least for now anyways! 😉