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Author Topic:   Handheld GPS
MikeK posted 03-14-2002 07:38 AM ET (US)   Profile for MikeK   Send Email to MikeK  
I need to buy a handheld portable GPS. Any comments for any model that is reliable, simple to use, priced reasonable??
gvisko posted 03-14-2002 07:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for gvisko  Send Email to gvisko     
i have the garmin 76 it is a wass unit and
real easy to use cost about $ 220.00
get the 12 volt power cord because batterys
dont last very long gvisko
tabasco posted 03-14-2002 07:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for tabasco  Send Email to tabasco     
Whaletosh posted 03-14-2002 08:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whaletosh    
I agree Garmin is the leader of the pack, especially in small hand held units.

If you want a mapping unit there are several etrex legend units with buy it now prices of less than $200. I bought one yesterday for $172 plus $6.50 shipping. This is a new unit, still in the blister pack. the etrx legend is small, has lots of mounting options. It also works with all of Garmins Mapsource CD-ROMS, including the Bluechart. Because of the small screen it won't display some of the information of the Bluechart CD-ROM. It is also WAAS capable. has a bunch of Garmin refurbed StreetPilot ($194), GPS-III ($150), and eMap ($115) units. The Streetpilot is designed for auto use, but is waterproof and will work with most of the Mapsource CDs IF you add a memory card. The GPS-III is waterproof and includes a basemap, but won't accept map data from Mapscource. The eMap isn't waterproof so use on a boat is not advised; but it will work with most of the Mapscource CDs.

P.S. to all. check out the new Garmin Rino GPS units. A GPS unit and a FRS radio in one small package. One even includes a base map and can accept data form Mapscorce CDs. Both can transmit your positoin to another unit. Definately geared towards hikers, campers, hunters, bikers etc., but still neat gadgets.

whalerron posted 03-14-2002 09:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for whalerron  Send Email to whalerron     
Reliable? Easy to use? Reasonably priced?

I would think that any GPS is going to be reliable. I don't feel that brand plays into reliability anymore.

I feel that Garmins are intuitively the easiest to use. This is true for all of their models. Garmin has spent a lot of money on the human-machine interface and it shows. If you read through past posts here, you will see that Garmin stands 100% behind their products.

Personally, I like the Garmin GPS12. It can be had for under $150 and if you don't need mapping, it contains all of the functionality I could imagine using.

The Etrex units are nice too and they can be had for around $100. With these, you get all the basic functionality too.

When looking at the GPS units, you should consider how waterproof they are. My whaler is completely open and for that reason I wanted a GPS that met the "submersible" waterproof standards. The GPS12 meets this criteria.

- ron

triblet posted 03-14-2002 10:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
The eTrex screen is awfully small to read in a
moving boat. I think if I were getting a handheld
for aboat I'd get a Garmin 176. Nice big
screen, supports maps (which make it MUCH
easier to use), but kinda big and clunky for

I have an eTrex Vista that I use for hiking
and to feed my laptop in the car, so I know
about the little screen first hand. The boat
has a 162. And I have the 175 I used to have
on the boat.

I'd sell the 175 (with chart chips for Northern
California and the Delta, console mount,
external antenna) I'd sell for a friendly price.

If you go with a mapping eTrex, the Legend has
8M which is PLENTY. But is an UGLY iMac blue.
You don't need the 24M in the Vista.


Jerry Townsend posted 03-14-2002 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Mike - You have already heard the name Garmin, pretty much the standard of handheld GPS units. I currently use the Garmin 48, a handheld unit designed for marine applications, a removable antenna, a built in map of major cities - and some other stuff that I don't really use - and which sells for around $200 (West Marine). It works fine in the boat or when I am hunting.

Now, having said all of that, I will keep the 48, but I will also buy a larger mapping unit (Garmin 230, 232 or 182) for the boat with the Blue Charts. The mapping capability is nice around the coast or on some big inland water - like lake Pend Orielle (Pond-d-ray) in northern Idaho.

The majority of the handheld handheld units use AAA batteries. A better power source is the NiMH cells - much better (no memory problems and much longer life) than the Nicads. ----- Jerry/Idaho

Chris J posted 03-14-2002 12:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chris J  Send Email to Chris J     
There is another GPS manufacturer, by the way... I have a Magellan 320 and it is OK. Garmin is the undisputed leader in handheld GPS, all right, but the current Magellan units aren't bad and are pretty attractivly priced.

If you plan to use the unit on a boat you should take waterproofing into account, also weight. There are a few GPS units that are waterproof and will float if dropped overboard; I'm fairly sure the Magellan 315 qualifies. (But I've never tried it with my 320.)

Whaletosh posted 03-14-2002 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Whaletosh    
Yep, the screen is small on the Etrex, as most (but not all) hanhelds also have this "drawback". A fixed mount unit has a distinct advantage of not relying internal batteries. LCD panels generally consume more power the bigger they are. At least the screen on the Etrex is fairly high resolution. I debated for several hours before I decided that the screen on the Etrex being almost as large as the screen on a 12Map would be fine for me. Especially since I use it more for heading ans speed info than for cartography.

I'll take iMac blue over Windows beige anyday :)

where2 posted 03-14-2002 12:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2

GPSMAP76 with NiMH batteries and Marine Mount for $350. WAAS, BlueChart/Mapsource compatible, waterproof. Has 8Mb for map storage. Want More Storage? GPSMAP76S 24Mb storage, bigger price tag.

When's the last time you wished you'd bought less storage space on your hard drive, or less Ram for your computer? Get the largest capacity memory you can budget!

triblet posted 03-14-2002 02:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
LCDs consume almost no power. It's the
processor that consumes the power. Now there's
more processing required the more pixels the
LCD has, but it's the LCD's physical size that
counts (at least as long as you don't turn on
the backlight).

But batteries are generally a non-issue because
you want run it off the boat's 12V anyway.


kingfish posted 03-14-2002 02:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Just picked up a new Garmin GPSMap 76 for $295.00 on Ebay (I've seen them advertised for $308.00), as a back up to my Garmin 235 Chartplotter/Sounder. My first hand-held - this one is waterproof *and* it floats, besides the technical goodies. I'll keep y'all posted once I get it and figure out how to turn it on.


sklein posted 03-15-2002 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for sklein  Send Email to sklein     
I agree with the previous comments about the Garmin 48. I've had one for about 3 years now. It's based on the 12, but is geared for the marine market. Includes city data, and nautical markers (lighthouses, channel buoys, etc.) The folding antenna has outperformed other units I've compared to. The antenna is also removable and an external antenna can be used. This really improves reception if you need it. Even though it's been around a while now, I highly recommend it. Or, possibly there is an even newer unit based on the 48?


triblet posted 03-15-2002 11:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
On the 48, you don't need an external antenna,
just a piece of the right coax (dunno which)
with the right connectors (BNC IIRC)
to relocate the removeable antenna.


sklein posted 03-15-2002 05:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for sklein  Send Email to sklein     
Relocating the same antenna only improves performance if the handheld is not out in the open. The optional external antennas that Garmin has available, however, will improve the reception.
Barry posted 03-15-2002 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barry  Send Email to Barry     
I purchased a Garmin GPSMap 76 off of eBay for $290 about 2 months ago. It came with a data cable so I immediately downloaded the latest OS to my PC and then uploaded that to the GPS. Very easy.

So far the unit has worked very well in the car and on foot (the boat is still in storage). The included base map with major US roads has proved very useful when driving around.

Since I was going through the AA's, I purchased a "Digital Camera Power Pack" from Radio Shack for $23 that included a compact 13-hour Ni-Cd/Ni-MH charger and 4 AA Ni-MH batteries. Later when I realized that while running in battery saver mode that WAAS was disabled, I purchased a Garmin Cigarette Lighter Adapter off of eBay for about $12. Now I just need to add a socket to the Montauk.

The unit seems very durable. It has survived being dropped down a flight of stairs. I was surprised that I dropped it because the unit has a rubber coating and a very "sticky" feel. In fact once I set it on top of the minivan, forgot I put it there, and then drove to a nearby park to go hiking. It was still right where I left it when I got there.

I did look at the Magellen Meridan units before I purchased. They had several advantages including more memory, slightly larger screen, and lower cost. The Garmin has better screen resolution (180x240) compared to the Magellan (120x160), appeared to support more mapping software (I couldn't find any marine maps for the Magellan), and supports an external antenna.

For review of these models and others check out this site .

Good luck,

Pat Smith posted 03-15-2002 07:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Pat Smith  Send Email to Pat Smith     
take a look at have good links to compare units.-Pat
triblet posted 03-15-2002 11:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Radio Shack chargers vary from decent to
abysmal depending on who they are buying from
this week. A number of their "smart" chargers
have been "dumbkopfs". They charge at a high
rate for a fixed amount of time. This will
cook a battery that's not pretty well
discharged, and undercharge one that a higher
rating than the charger was designed for.
Radio Shack chargers vary from decent to
abysmal depending on who they are buying from
this week. A number of their "smart"
chargers have been "dumbkopfs". They charge
at a high rate for a fixed amount of time.
This will cook a battery that's not pretty
well discharged, and undercharge one that has
higher rating than the charger was designed

There are two trick four AA chargers. The
Maha C204F ("the mother of all chargers")
(about $23 if you shop around). It will run
on 110V or 12V, and charges batteries in
The other is the Ansmann Powerline 4
Traveler. It runs on most any AC (but not
DC) and charges individual cells. It's a
good deal more expensive ($70).

I have two Maha C204Fs, and (in the mail)
an Ansmann Powerline 4.


fly by night posted 03-16-2002 12:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for fly by night  Send Email to fly by night     
I have a Garmin GPS12 and bracket along with rechargeble Rayovac NiMH batteries and charger I bought at K-Mart. I also use the rechargable batteries in my digital camera to take pictures of the fish I don't catch. I use The Garmin Mapsource software to download GPS track info to my PC after a day of fishing or boating.
MikeK posted 03-17-2002 07:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for MikeK  Send Email to MikeK     
Well, I ordered a Garmin 76 last night from Cabella's. I'm getting a vehicle mount, 12 volt power cord, case and the unit (without mapping) for $264.00. I don't think I would use the mapping, maybe I'm wrong. Thanks for all the great comments and tips, figuring this thing out should keep me pacified till the North Pole melts....

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