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What's the best GPS for a new user?
 
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Guest
Link to this postPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 10:45 am    Post subject: Question What's the best GPS for a new user?

It is a bewildering list of choices out there. What is a good GPS for cruising to "grow" with? I need advice, what features to focus on? What is a good source for purchasing?
Thanks, Tyler
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walker
Link to this postPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 11:39 am    

To select the GPS that is right for you, you need to determine what your requirements and limitations are, the requirements being what all features you think you need, and the limitations essentially being how much you are willing to spend. In the end, it becomes a tradeoff of between you thinking that you have what you want and $$$.

Gobbledygook.

Things to consider...
Do you need a moving map?
If yes, do you need more than a "basemap" (Can it download or use data cartridges)
What size display do you need?
Does the display need to be color?
If you going to use it in your car, does it need to be able to do autorouting, where it tells you directions to get to an address?
Does it need to be able to find street addresses?

Personally, I think the minimum requirements for anything useful are simply a downloadable moving map. Color is nice, but shortens battery life.

That puts you in the Garmin eTrex Vista or GPS 76 class as the minimum useful GPS. Anything after that is gravy.

Historically, as GPS units have evolved, the minimum useful GPS has always been around $200-$300.

As for sources, search the web. I have bought from Amazon and others.
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Guest
Link to this postPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 3:58 pm    Post subject:  Thanks

Thanks Walker,
I'll have to "digest" the possibilities, appreciate the response.
Tyler
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walker
Link to this postPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 5:11 pm    

Tyler:

I think it would be very helpful to others if you posted along the way as you choose a GPS.

Also, if (when) you have specific questions, post them also. I (and others) will be happy to try to make sure that you get what you really want.

There are lots of choices out there, and newer units seem to come out monthly, which only makes it harder to decide where to jump in and what to jump on.
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Herve
Link to this postPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 9:17 am    

my 2.5c....

The simplest , cheapest GPS is really all that is needed. all features other than a good fix are toys and can sometimes be dangerous.

quick rationale:

Electronic mapping has grown by leaps and bounds but the underlying data, in most cases, is old..sometimes VERY old and should not be relied upon for micro navigation.
Electronic mapping as a sole source of info for navigation is also not advisable in case of equipment failure...so one still needs good old paper maps and guides.

Personal experience:

We own the latest Raymarine c80 ($5,000 with all options), a garmin map handheld 176, garmin e-trex.

Cruising in the BVIs, Grenadines, Bahamas we almost never turn on any of the units once we are familiar with the area.....it is all line of sight navigation....
When it is not line of sight, or we are new to the area we input waypoint data from the charts and/or the crusing guides into the units and never rely on the electronic map to navigate as we have found the geo referencing to be way off in some areas.

Bottom line...it is cute to see your little boat moving on the map..but basically useless...
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Guest
Link to this postPosted: Sat May 28, 2005 12:24 pm    Post subject: Question Re: What's the best GPS for a new user?

TylerH wrote:
What is a good GPS for cruising to "grow" with?


Tyler - I'm not sure it's practical to get a GPS that you'll "grow" with. Electronics change pretty quickly, but even the basic units now are very sophisticated in their displays, and in their nav-computing functions.

We bought a new boat last summer - a Catalina 36, and we keep it on an large reservoir in north Texas, Lake Texoma. We really don't need GPS for where we sail, but I thought it might be nice to have one for picking my way around the sand bars when the lake is low, and/or for when I need to return to the marina after dark.

If we keep this boat for cruising, I'll upgrade to some fancier electronics, but what I've done for the moment is to buy a Garmin GPS76. It's very basic; the only fanciness to it is WAAS, and a track plotter (but no map). I've added a power/interface cable so I can connect the unit to our Raymarine ST60 wind/depth instruments via its NMEA 0183 interface. I also bought the Garmin software that allows me to set up waypoints on our computer, and transfer them to the GPS. To me it was important to have a unit that could output a standard NMEA data stream. That provides a lot of connection versatility. Of course, your other electronics have to be able to "read" a NMEA data stream, too.

It appears the industry is going to an upgraded standard, NMEA 2000. However, I expect newer electronics will be capable of reading the older NMEA 0183 data stream for quite some time. If we add to our electronics, I'll probably install an integrated GPS receiver, but I'll have the GPS76 as a backup. In the meantime, I can take the GPS76 with me whenever we go someplace else, as we did when we recently chartered out of Road Town. It was nice to have waypoints for the area already loaded into the GPS, and a GPS that I was already familiar with.

Hope that helps,
Jerry
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Guest
Link to this postPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 11:53 am    Post subject:  Thanks

Thanks Jerry, and Herve,
I am either going to just rely on charts and the Charter-supplied GPS, or purchase a basic model just prior to leaving. I think I find the various family model lines among Garmin a bit confusing. Comparing the "GPSMAP 76" family, to the "GPSMAP 60" family, to the eTrex line. I think I if I purchase I may just go with the basic eTrex or maybe eTrex Legend (since it supposedly adds WAAS and Blue Chart compatibility). I don't really see myself buying the CD ROM though, so maybe just eTrex. I'd rather look at a map, and just get the GPS "fix" to mark on it. Guess that makes eTrex the best choice. I noted the Geko is in the same price range, but it looks a little toy-like. I find I never look at the GPS when I am sailing in familiar waters of the SF Bay area. Maybe if I find I really like the one on the charter, then I will want one. Guess ~$100 for the basic model is not a lot to ask for something I will be familar with in advance, and will know is in working condition. I can remember doing a lot of bearing fixes to find our location on ships in the Navy, and doing quite well, but what if I can't figure out what "points" of land I am looking at?
Regards, Tyler
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Guest
Link to this postPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 11:55 am    Post subject: Question One other question/comment!

One last question: If I decide to go "cadillac" now or later, what is the difference between GPSMAP 60CS and GPSMAP 76CS for a marine user? They seem to list the same sets of features, but somehow the 76 is considered more marine-oriented? Is there really a loss of battery life with the color option? The specs don't indicate that.
Thanks. TylerH
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Guest
Link to this postPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 2:18 pm    Post subject:  Re: Thanks

TylerH wrote:
Guess ~$100 for the basic model is not a lot to ask for something I will be familar with in advance, and will know is in working condition.

There is a lot to be said for having a GPS of your own before you go. I bring my totally obsolete GPS with me. Before I go, I program a few waypoints in it. There is NO mapping whatsoever.

I found it much easier to use my old obsolete GPS (that I know completely how to use) than the newer one that came on the boat, but had no instruction book.
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walker
Link to this postPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 4:05 pm    

Tyler:

The eTrex was targeted toward outdoors activities -- hiking, etc. The eTrex Legend is a very good GPS.

The 76 is the older line, being replaced now by the 60 line. Either is good -- the 60 is better, gets way more battery life than the 76. And I believe that the 60 line is probably more waterproof.

And, regardless of what they say in advertising, color drains batteries faster -- usually get 65% to 75% as much time from a color unit as the same unit with monochrome.

Still, color is very nice -- and the new line (the 60C or 60CS) get a long time on a set of AA's.

Bottom line, though, is any of these will do what you want and will give you a reliable position.
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