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Author Topic:   Latest in GPS Recomendations??
Chesapeake posted 02-07-2002 11:51 AM ET (US)   Profile for Chesapeake   Send Email to Chesapeake  
Last fall there were some long threads on what people were doing as far as GPS choices went, but not much since.

I am in the market to buy a GPS that I can use both on my whaler (Nauset), but also, it would be good to be able to use it hunting out west as well. I would really appreciate your suggestions and experience in this regard.

What brand, model, maps and accesories should I be looking for in this first GPS purchase? I would probably want to mount it in a holder on the console top, but be able to pop it out during the fall.



Arch Autenreith posted 02-07-2002 12:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
I just bought the Garmin Vista @ EMS for $299 at Christmas. It originally retails for $350-400 and had been waiting for a discount I got.

It truly is a remarkable unit. With my older eyes I wish it had a bigger screen when mapping but then it wouldn’t be so portable. I guess the screen isn’t any bigger or smaller than other portables though. I use it in the car, walking and boating.

Check it out if you need that kind of portability.

A little irritated to pay $40 for the cigarette lighter/download adaptor and $40 for the removeable mount. Oh well.

dgp posted 02-07-2002 12:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for dgp  Send Email to dgp     
I got tired of waiting for the Lowrance IFinder and bought the Thales/Magellan Meridian Marine GPS unit. It has mapping and a marine nav aid database. The blue and white color is a little weird but the display is very good, it's submersible and the unit floats. It also got excellent professional reviews at
flwhaler posted 02-07-2002 01:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for flwhaler  Send Email to flwhaler     
Northstar..little over kill but its a bad machine!
Peter posted 02-07-2002 01:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
For handhelds, I recommend Garmin. The ergonomics on Garmins are by far the best. They come in many different flavors to suit needs and budgets so I recommend doing a little research on the Garmin site.

I've had two Garmin handhelds (a GPS 45XL and a GPS 175 (cartographic)) and an early fixed mount (can't remember model). All have worked flawlessly.

As an aside, I saw the new Garmin 2010c and 2006c units at the boat show. For dedicated marine GPS chartplotters, they are real nice.

gf posted 02-07-2002 03:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for gf  Send Email to gf     

I bought the new Magellan Meridian Marine as a Christmas present to myself. (Hey, I knew my wife wouldn't get it for me!)

Haven't fully mastered it yet, but I think it is the smallest WAAS model out there.

$280 at

triblet posted 02-07-2002 04:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Garmin eTrex: 4.4"H x 2.0"W x 1.2"D
Magellin Meridian: 6.5"H x 2.9"W x 1.3"D

ETrex is smaller, does WAAS.

That said, smaller isn't necessarily better on
a boat. A small handheld will be hard to read.
But will probably still get you home.


Chesapeake posted 02-07-2002 06:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chesapeake  Send Email to Chesapeake     
Thanks folks.

Based on your input, here is what I am reading. The Vista is really easy to learn to use, is small and has 50 trackpoints per route, but it only has 8 mb memory. I couldn't tell if you could use Fishing Hotspots maps on this though. If so, that would be a big advantage for a Midwestern lake fisherman :) who likes their printed maps.

The Magellan Meridian is bigger, floats, has more memory, but fewer trackpoints per route.

Nothing I have read talks much about the marine navigation features and detail, so that would be interesting to hear from you. If Fishing Hotspots worked on the Vista, that might be enough to win me over. If not, it seems like the Meridian might be a great choice. Thoughts on this summary???

Thanks again for your insights.


Arch Autenreith posted 02-07-2002 07:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
Vista has 500 waypoints, WAAS, 24 mb memory. (Other ETrex models have less I think).
triblet posted 02-07-2002 07:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Arch is correct, eTrex Vista has 24M map
memory. It's the Legend that 8M. 24M is
a HUGE amount. I can get everything I need
in the 2.5M on my 162. I also have a Vista
that I use for other purposes (stealing
dive sites when I'm on other people's boats,
car navigation, bird house location (I run
a trail of about 50 bluebird houses).


Jerry Townsend posted 02-07-2002 08:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Bob - I use a Garmin 48 for both boating and hunting. It is not a mapping unit, however there is a built in map of all major cities in the U.S. Works well in both applications and with the adjustable antenna which facilitates mounting in a holder on your boat. Fishing in B.C. and other big water (lake Pend Oreille in Idaho)the Garmin 48 does the job - but I will order at least a Garmin 230 (with a 7 1/4 inch display) and the appropriate maps for the big water excursions. I think the small mapping units are not sufficient for those applciations. ----- Jerry/Idaho
triblet posted 02-07-2002 09:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Chessie, routes have waypoints, tracks have

50 is very large number of waypoints on a
route. My longest is about 12.

One of these days, the GPS makers are going
to go to dynamic memory allocation. There
will be one pool from which everything will
be allocated. Then you can have one route
with a zillion waypoints (at the expense of
how many trackpoints you can store).


triblet posted 02-07-2002 09:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
On the original subject: not much has changed
since last fall. About now is when a lot of
new models get introduced, but not much has
happened yet this year. It may be a bit of
a slow year for new models. Garmin had a
lot of new models last year (at least one of
which they apparently still aren't shipping)
so this might be a bit of a lite year for


SuburbanBoy posted 02-08-2002 01:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Hey Chuck, don't forget that some of the Garmin products will now display the BlueChart data. The only hand held that will accept the BlueChart (and Fishing Hotspots as well) is the GPSMAP 76. I believe that Garmin intends to combine the GPSMAP 76 with the Vista (compass, altimeter etc.)


triblet posted 02-08-2002 09:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
BlueCharts will run on eTrex Legend at firmware
2.24 and above and on eTrex Vista at firmware
2.22 and above. From the description of Vista
firmware 2.22:

"Add support for blue chart data"

Garmin has not been real good about updating
their website as to which models are supported.
Their website doesn't say it's supported on
the 162, but it is, and works fine, though the
screen updates are a bit glacial.


Ventura16 posted 02-08-2002 10:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for Ventura16  Send Email to Ventura16     
The new Boat U.S. catalog that I just received shows the GPS MAP76S...a new 24 MB version of the MAP76 with compass, altimeter, etc. It says it will be available in April.

I would seriously consider the GPS MAP176. It has a much larger screen, accepts BlueChart chips, comes with a fixed mount, can still run on AA batteries, and is still quite compact.

The MAP176 and above use the BlueChart chips...the eTrex and the MAP76 download data from the CD's. I've heard that the BlueChart chips contain more detail than the BlueChart CD's do. Anyone know whether this is true?


SuburbanBoy posted 02-08-2002 10:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Garmin has so many handhelds it is tough to keep them straight. I find I use my Delorme Street Atlas USA 9.0 very frequently these days. I have never used it in my Striper, but will try it some day. I have yet to try my 168 in my car. I left it on while towing once, but we won't discuss that.

If I were to purchase today, I would consider the following:
Fish Finder Y/N?
Depth Sounder Y/N?
BlueChart (or similar) Y/N?
Automobile use (in addition to Marine) Y/N?
Color Y/N?
Hand held Y/N?
Cost <$250 $250-$450 >$450 ?

Chesapeake, hope this helps. Let us know what you end up with. I believe if I did not need the Depth Sounder/Fish Finder I would have purchased the Garmin 76Map, the boat bracket (and wire it to the Whaler electrical), various maps (Metro, BlueChart, and others), two sets of NiMh batteries, rapid charger, and a cigarette lighter adapter for my car. I might even get an external antenna for my car, if they make one.

If I needed the sounder/fish finder I believe I would still get the 168. There is a newer model, but it is about +$100.

I am only too happy to "spend" your money! Let us know how it works out.


triblet posted 02-08-2002 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I think that with the 176/176C, the antenna is
on a BNC connection. You can remove it, and
put a piece of the right coax in between, and
voila, remote antenna.

BTW, with the eTrex in the car, I just tuck it
on top of the sunshield in the sun roof, or toss
it on the dashboard. It's just serving as a
a source of position data for my laptop.

I bought DeLorme Street Atlas, and found four
map errors between my house and work. Stuff
like showing a cloverleaf ramp between two
roads as being two-way, and missing a road
that was built 15 years ago. All of the maps
have errors, but this was pretty gross.


triblet posted 02-08-2002 12:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Arch, I paid $290 for my Vista back in March.
It was from the very first batch into the US.
I got it from

I found I don't need the 12V power to it.
Tis better to spend the money on a couple sets
of 1600 mAH NiMHs and a good charger.


SuburbanBoy posted 02-08-2002 12:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
I have used the following vendor for most of my smaller, rechargeable battery needs (I have no association):

Chuck, what version of Delorme Street Atlas? Mine has been fairly accurate.


Arch Autenreith posted 02-08-2002 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     

Great minds thing alike. I did check out just before buying but w/shipping it came out the same. Actually I think w/tax I paid a little more overall but couldn't resist when I had it in my hands at the store.

And I also bought NiMHs last year. Lotsa. Can't live without them. I think that has a lot to do with my irritation for buying the adaptor. I rarely use it.

BTW consumer reports said Radio Shack's NiMHs were rated best. $18 for 4 AA I think.

triblet posted 02-08-2002 04:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
All you ever wanted to know about NiMHs:


Arch Autenreith posted 02-09-2002 04:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
Yep, Chuck.
The date on the Consumer Report was July 2000. Thanks for the update.
Time always marches forward.
A Li Volsi posted 02-10-2002 07:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for A Li Volsi  Send Email to A Li Volsi     
Just picked up a Magellan Map 330. Price was right-$249.00 with a factory $50.00 rebate. It came with the computer and cigarrette lighter cables, case and CD Rom. Have not had it out on the water as of yet-but have traveled with it in the truck-very easy to use-reminds me of my Mac, "user friendly"! Screen is easy to read and zooming and out is a great feature.The only down side is that with the back lighted screen on it use batteries like crazy.
triblet posted 02-10-2002 10:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I'll second the recommendation of Thomas
Distributing. They are the same outfit
as /

It was Street Atlas 8.0. I've found a
couple of minor errors in MS Streets and

- A freeway where they show a lesser road as
having an underpass when it's really an
over pass (yawn).

- A slightly mispelled name.

And one fair to middling: A county where the
map is mislocated by about 100 yards. Any
time I'm in that county, the GPS shows 100
yards south of the road on the map.

That's in probabably 3000 miles of navigating
with it.

The four DeLorme errors were in the first
20 mile routing problem I gave it (home to
work). That soured me real quick.

Also, MS S&T has a buttom to report map
problems. I couldn't find anything for
De Lorme.


blackdog posted 02-11-2002 08:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
Thanks for the Battery site chuck. Good info
Chesapeake posted 02-15-2002 06:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chesapeake  Send Email to Chesapeake     
Thanks for all of your responses and sorry for not doing so sooner -- was out of the country.

Looks like great choices. Chuck, the 24mb memory on Vista now has me highly intrigued. How would I go about figuring if it allowed for Fishing Hot Spots? Thought I read that it did not support the software, but then again I also thought I read 8 mb of memory -- hopefully both mistakes were regarding the Legend.

If so, I am leaning to the Vista, with NiMh batteries.

Sub: I have an X-85 on the boat, new last year, so I do not need the fishfinder. You mentioned Garmin combining the 76MAP and the Vista. Can you please explain? If you had to choose between the two, which would it be?

Chuck: What does Bluechart software actually do? Based on your map experience, sounds like you would buy Street Atlas 8.0, is that correct? Lastly, would you mind taking a second to explain the difference between tracks and routes? At the end of the day, if I walk three miles in the Rockies and get myself lost, I'd like to be able to get myself back to basecamp!! Am I backtracking a route or a track??

Sorry for all of the freshman questions.


triblet posted 02-15-2002 07:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
According to Garmin's firmware updates page,
Vista firmware 2.13 added support for
FHS, 2.16 improved it. I suspect the
Legend also supports FHS as there's little
difference besides the amount of memory,
and the altimeter/compass in the Vista, and
the UGLY case on the Venture. The case color
was what shoved me into getting the Vista.

There are two pieces to BlueChart: the
BlueChart maps and the MapSource program.
MapSource allows you to upload maps, download
a list of maps, and up/download waypoints,
tracks, and routes. The BlueChart maps
will make a Garmin mapping GPS display what
looks like a NOAA nautical chart on the

I would emphatically NOT buy Street Atlas
again. For car nav I use Microsoft Streets
and Trips. I had the 2001 version and just
bought the 2002 version. Note that you need
a laptop to use these in your car.

Tracks are a trail of breadcrumbs that show
where you have been and are automatically
generated by the GPS. Routes are an ordered
list of waypoints that you want to go to.
You generate the route. To get back to camp,
you follow your track back. Some GPSs have
a SW feature called "track-back" that helps
you do this.


Chesapeake posted 02-16-2002 10:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chesapeake  Send Email to Chesapeake     
Chuck: Great feedback. Thanks very much. The streetmaps requirement for a laptop to run the software surprised me. Is it due to the memory requirement to hold all of the data?

Have a great weekend. A couple more furniture building projects and I will be able to drag the whaler back in the garage and resume working whaler weekends.

Best regards,


triblet posted 02-16-2002 10:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
MS Street & Trips is an MS product. Where
else would it run but a PC (it will run
on a desktop, but why bother)? PCs are MS's
market, not GPSs. If you want that sort of
function, you need to get it from the GPS
manufacturer. Garmin has a couple for some
of their more recent GPSs (the Vista won't
do routing, but will display the maps).


Pat Smith posted 02-19-2002 01:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Pat Smith  Send Email to Pat Smith way to compare the units-Pat

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