63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2007
I purchased the 530HCx about two weeks ago to use while deer hunting in East Tennessee. Everyone in our group has GPS and two-way radio to find our way around and communicate when we are in unfamilar territory. I have been searching for a device that will take care of both needs, without having to handle two seperate pieces of equipment, and the 530HCx has worked flawlessly so far.
The satellite positioning seems to be right on and positioning after start-up was quick. I used the unit to mark several deer trails, rub lines, and possible stand placements and I was able to return to those areas very easily. I used the averaging feature to fine tune the locations and was able to get within 5-7 feet of everything I marked.
Everyone in the group said that radio transmission was crystal clear, they could hear my transmissions better than anyone elses. Don't get me wrong the Garmin in definetly a GPS first and radio second but I was very pleased with its two-way capabilities. It performed as well, if not better, than the midlands and motorolas in the group.
I also invested in TOPO US 2008 to install on the unit. I wasn't that impressed with the TOPO map but area detail is alot better than the basemap. We make several trips to Fort Campbell every year and all roads, creeks, and even fire
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2008
Just received this unit -- arrived quickly from Amazon, as usual. Display is bright, controls simple to use, sensitivity of gps receiver is excellent (I can get reception in my basement, although I have lost signal inside my local, small-town, one-room grocery store). I have an older Garmin which is working fine, but I purchased this one for the added benefit of the radio capability, in case of emergency in wilderness while treking with my 9 and 12 year old daughters.
With a fully charged, brand new rechargable battery as supplied with the unit, I got 40 hours of continuous use. I turned off the radio during all but 1 hour of this time but had the WAAS enabled. During this time, I took it with me while I ran errands, took 2 short day hikes, and went to work, but did not carry it on my person around the home. With 4 brand new, high quality brand name AA batteries (using the separately purchased alkaline battery pack), I got 19 hours of continuous use under similar conditions. After reading Hinch's book on GPS use, I did turn off the WAAS after about 8 hours into this trial. I did not have the radio on at all during the alkaline battery trial, although I did "fiddle" with the pages and settings more often than the rechargable trial (was reading the Hinch book simultaneous with the alkaline trial, so I tried a couple of the tasks in the book during this time).
The base map supplied with the unit provides minimal street information and (as with any map from any source) some inaccuracies. Lists our grade school parking lot as "Black Partridge Park" -- which is actually a very large prairie/forest preserve located just outside of our little town.
Be aware: you cannot load any map onto this unit except those specifically provided/sold by Garmin. To my knowledge, this is true for all gps units; the units with mapping features will only accept those from the manufacturer of the receiver. You can, however, download waypoints generated from other mapping software programs.
Have not tested the radio capability in the wild, but I see others have reported 5 mile range under typical wilderness conditions. The discrepancy between this irl range and the 14 miles listed on specs (which is always the maximum obtainable under totally optimal conditions) is entirely par for 2 way radio range estimates. If you plan to use the GMRS radio frequencies, you will need an FCC license. No training or test required; just an $85 fee. Easy to obtain online.
BTW: highly recommend Stephen Hinch book, Outdoor Navigation With GPS. I've been a basic-feature gps user for several years, but wanted a better understanding of the more advanced features and the jargon.
83 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2008
I bought this unit for a Deer hunt in Utah. While there are many things to like about it, my unit had a number of negatives that ended up being a dealbreaker with me. I would also like to preface this review by saying that I have extensive experience with marine GPS units, starting with the first small black and white Garmin unit I purchased 18 years ago to the latest top of the line Garmin 5212 GPS Chartplotter. Because of this, I feel that my hopes were set too high and perhaps I had unrealistic expectations for this unit.
First off, I think the display is too small. I found myself constantly zooming in and out. When you zoom out to a certain point, roads disappear. Funky battery pack design: It's an add-on module affair. It was designed to be changed out for the alkaline battery pack (available as an accessory from Garmin). I realize it was designed to prevent water intrusion , but the battery pack should and could easily be designed so that it is fully internal in the main case of the unit, as it is on nearly all handheld (and now fully submersible) Marine VHF radios. Battery life of the Li ion battery is OK if you are using just the GPS. Use of the radio will rapidly deplete the battery. In just one day of hunting, (4hrs morning, 4hrs evening) the battery was half discharged after very minimal radio use. Better you make sure that you get the (optional at extra cost) car charger. BTW, the charger connects to the unit via a super-funky (and easily lost...) clip-on adapter.
Garmin states that the radio has a 14 mile range set at 5W. I found that, in the mountainous area we were hunting in, that 2-3 miles is about the best you could hope for. Radio transmissions were crispy and clear though. I don't know what other radios this can communicate with, so if others in your party are not similarly equipped, you may be just as well off with the radioless 520 model. It's funny, the use of these UHF frequencies require the user to obtain and FCC LICENSE...there was never any mention of this in anything I have read re this unit, nor in the owners manual. Speaking of which, the owners manual is (typical for this type of equipment...) not well written and missing critical details. Too bad, because this unit is not what I would describe as intuitive, and can be downright confusing to operate without several days for intensive familiarization.
The most glaring issue I had with this unit is that it switched itself off for no apparent reason 6-7 times in the course of only 2 days use. I called Garmin on this issue and they postulated that it was "probably some kind of software glitch". They further stated that I "sounded unhappy" and actually encouraged me to return the unit. I felt this was an odd response for such a large company. From the number of "refurb" units I see for sale, this strikes me a probably not an isolated instance.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2009
To make a long story short:
I took my kids on what was supposed to be a short quad ride in the mountains and left my wife at the truck.
About 2 miles into this trail in an area I've never been, one quad runs out of Oil, and the big quad almost out of Gas. Sun goingd down quick, no idea where we were, and no way to communicate back to base.
We decided after this event was over, look for decent communication gear for these types of situations.
I created a simple checklist:
1. Longer range comm. (Keep this in perspective, I'm happy with a couple miles)
3. Ability to send position.
4. Ability to Poll position. What if I fell and broke my neck? Better yet, what if I lost it :)
So, I researched and found these bad boys! I bought 2.
Though they are somewhat expensive, safety is well worth it.
Out of the box, they feel rugged enough, but not so rugged I can throw them off the roof. They come with the strap, belt clip, charger, and USB cable(I'll get to this).
Supposedly they carry a charge long enough for 14 hours of use. I've used them for over 4 and had well over half left.
Range: So far I've got around 2 miles in town(housing) using GMRS. The keying isn't instant, you have to hold the transmit for just under a second then talk.
Screen: Not the greatest in the world, nowhere close to what you'd get off of a dedicated car GPS, but definitely usable. There are settings to turn off clutter which helps since the screen is smaller..
Buttons: The only thing I wonder about is the navigation stick. Time will tell how well this holds up, but so far so good.
Back to the USB cable:
You can connect this device to a computer for updates and map loads. So far I've tested the Topo maps, and Road maps. Nice added functionality, but more cost. You need a microSD card for this.
As with most newer GPS', this unit does auto-routing, lookups, etc. No voice command as far as I can tell.
It has a built in compass, could be helpful. Barometer, altimeter...
SO, it accomplishes what I needed and more. When you transmit to talk, the unit transmits its location at the end updating the other units. You can poll the position of another unit in your contacts list if you haven't heard from them. You can even send little text messages if you don't want to talk; this could be handy if the others can't understand what you are saying. It does do GeoCaching if that's your thing. So there's more functionality than I discuss.
I'm extremely satisfied with these.
NOTE: One of the units I first received had an issue where it wouldn't transmit more than about 15 feet. Since I ordered from Amazon, I created the RMA, and had a new one in 2 days. No hassle at all.
You MAY find a cheaper price, but dealing with Amazon is super easy. Don't be cheap and order from Joe Schmoes online who nobody ever heard of to save $20.
I hope this helps.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2007
While I must agree the documentation which comes with the unit is lacking, the unit itself has operated flawlessly. I can "lock-up" 9 sats from my lower level family room and never loose lock in deep canyons. Otherwise very quick acquisition. I think 14 miles is "stretching it" for any low-powered handheld, but it is much better than the FRS unit I had been using. The electronic compass and altimeter work very well and reception on the NOAA freqs is good!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2008
This thing is too cool. My wife purchased the Rino530 for Christmas and it wouldn't do what I needed. Amazon was great about the return. They said it may take a couple of weeks but I had return credit in four days.
I got the Rino530HCX so that I could load topo and street maps on it. I had a little trouble to begin with loading the map but Garmin's support was great. They haven't outsourced it to India and there wasn't any problem understanding them. The problem that I had was because I had an unlock code for the 530 that I traded in. The Garmin rep had to get permission from a supervisor and called me back instead of putting me on hold. She was right on the money and I have no trouble with the new unlock code.
The only map that I have had a chance to use is the City Navigator. I work for the Dallas Fire Department and the GPS on our equipment is all but useless. The Rino is great. It's easy to use and so far accurate. I was driving down a street that I've known as a kid. The Rino called it's name as Bryan but I just knew I was on Beltline. I mean I've been driving this street since the 60's. I looked over at a street sign and sure enough I was on Bryan. It warns you by beeping when you get close to a turn and it double beeps when you are there. The screen is easy to read both day and night and it has an automatic zoom feature that enlarges the map when you need it.
I have been very impressed with this unit and can't wait to get it on the trail. I'm sure it will take a long time to learn everything it can do but it is a huge help already.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2008
The Garmin Rino 530HCX is waterproof GPS with a 2 way radio & 22 channel radio (& NOAA weather, barometric pressure, altimeter, electronic compass (with true North & magnetic North. It's great for the out doors man that likes to go far beyond the normal traveled trails. If you have more than one Rino series you can ping your location and others Rino location and their tracks. By keeping track of your group's base camp you will never get lost. Keep in mind that the base map is basically useless and that you will need to buy the mapping software that you want. The TOPO 2008 is great for outdoors and off-road. The Map Source City Navigator is great for in the city or road trips with all of its point of interest and detailed city information. You will also want to buy at least 2 2 GB microSD chips, one for each type of software. You can still save your way points and routes across both. In my opinion this GPS has it all and is very accurate.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2008
Two friends and I discussed purchasing the Rino 530Hcx, friends that spend time hunting, fishing, 4 wheeling and snowmobiling together. The feature of being able to pin down one another's location in relation to our own was the primary reason this unit intrigued us. We commonly lose each other while snowmobiling and the ability to radio each other, locate each other on our respective GPS's seemed to really meet our needs. So Amazon handled the transaction of 4 units(one wife included)and on the first trip out, the Rino worked just as expected, it proved to make a difference. I was concerned about battery life because we are in Alaska and the cold is hard on batteries, but pleasantly surprised at how well the battery held up. Having an older Etrex Vista I was also pleased with how intutive the Rino 530Hcx to operate as well as quick to locate satellites. Already owning a GPS, I was a little hesitant to do the upgrade but the Rino is definitely a vast improvement, so well worth it.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2007
Garmin has delivered a well rendered product that simplifies communication, GPS and coordination of movement with the 530 HCx. I was looking for a combo unit for sometime for Hunting, kayaking and hiking that would enable me to stay in contact with other memebrs of my party, exploit GPS land nav and keep tabs on my travelling companion's position. Boy did this field test well. Easy to use and intuitive, out of the box I field tested it Kayaking and hiking; worked fine though would have liked more battery life, the radio reception was excellent but found range approx 2 miles max on line-of-sight but otherwise held up well. GPS was outstanding - had no problems with uploading topos, using the various mapping features and found the compass and altimeter were very precise. An excellent and handy product -wish I had this 20+ years ago in the USMC.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2008
I upgraded to the 530HCx from the Garmin Etrek Legend for Christmas. I recently started geocaching and wanted the built-in geocaching features of the 530HCx. I have been caching and hiking with it and have found it to meet my needs. We used the radio while hiking to stay in touch with the rest of the group and to listen to the NOAA weather forcast. We were rained on and the water resistant case did it's job. I really like the USB connector versus the old Garmin interface for downloading maps and waypoints from my computer. The menu stick is easy to use for both left and right handed people. Overall I am very pleased I purchased the 530HCx.