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Garmin eTrex Legend HCx Personal Navigator
Product Packaging: Standard PackagingChange
Price:$399.99

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136 of 137 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2009
I've been using the HCx Legend for about a month now and I've been very, very pleased with it. I use this unit mainly for hiking and backpacking; anywhere from well established trails in state parks to the deep back-country of southern California. This is not a unit I would suggest for use while driving. Maybe in the hands of your navigator, sitting shotgun, but this not a drivers GPS unit in my opinion. For hiking, and some casual Geocaching, it's been an excellent companion and tool.

Some of the things I really like about it are, for one, that the buttons are located on the side of the unit near the top. This becomes particularly relevant when the unit is actually in use IN your hand. Your fingers are at the top, the display is at the bottom and you can manipulate the buttons without your hand blocking the display. This may sound like a minor thing, but it's not.

Another thing I've come to appreciate is it's relatively small size and... well... "roundedness". The Legend doesn't have one of those protruding antennas which, for some reason, always seems to be a problem for me somehow; always poking something or taking up space. The Legend is small, round and "pockets" easily (yes, I'm using a noun in the verb tense, deal with it; you know what I mean).

Let's see... What else to say about this unit. Well it's got WAAS. Believe me, you want that in a GPS unit. It acquires satellites quickly and I've never been at a loss for a good, solid signal (very confidence inspiring when you're deep in the back country). The color display is nice, details are easy to read and work with. The little thing that looks like a button on the top left of the units display is actually a tiny joystick, or mouse, that you use to move the pointer on the display and/or make menu choices by pressing down (much like a mouse-click). I find this a niftier solution than using buttons or a scroll-wheel sort of thing. Battery life seems pretty good to me using either alkaline or NiMH (I prefer to use the latter) and there's a setup option where you can choose which type of battery you're using in the device since the two types of batteries have different discharge profiles. Sweet that it also accepts SD cards for additional map storage.

Regarding the use of 4GB memory cards: Previously my review stated that this unit worked with 4GB memory cards. Well, now it appears that while the unit will in fact ACCEPT a 4GB card, it will only RECOGNIZE 2GB. That's still a ton of maps but a little disappointing nonetheless. However, just to give you an idea of how many maps that is: I have 24K TOPO maps for ALL of CA, NV, UT and AZ, as well as street level maps for just over half the United States (west to east from California to around Kansas and border-to-border north to south), all loaded on a single 2GB card with around 300MB of memory remaining on the card. This is using Garmin TOPO maps and free street-level maps from gpsfiledepot dot com (an awesome source for free maps for your Garmin GPS by the way).

If you like to go geocaching this unit should get your consideration. Lots of options specifically for geocaching in particular. I can easily upload cache locations right off geocaching dot com, modify the entry if I need to, add a quick note and be off 'caching in no time.

The Legend also has a lot of cool features that are just plain sweet to have even if you don't use them every day. The only thing missing on the Legend that I can think of that some of the pricier units have is the Altimeter. The Legend has the Compass, the Tracking/Backtracking options ("bread crumbs"), the Odometer, a Proximity Alert... All the cool "bells-and-whistles" type stuff.

Map facts you should be aware of: 1) The unit ships with a VERY basic install of maps. By this I mean interstates and major through-streets and that's about it. If you want TOPO maps and/or city navigation (residential & side streets, points of interest, stuff like that) you'll have to buy, and install, Garmin map products. 2) Garmin map products are NOT cheap. You might want to research how much they get for their TOPO maps and/or City Navigator software packages if you're new to the whole GPS thing. With a little research you can also find places that offer Garmin-compatible maps that are (legally) free to download and install. The proprietary nature of GPS units and the maps they work with is not unique to Garmin either. If you go with, say, Magellan, you'll need Magellan map products; you can't "mix and match" as far as I know.

All in all I love this unit. It does it all and does it with a nice, compact form-factor. I really can't see spending more on a GPS unit. This one does so much for the price it really feels like I hit the sweet spot between price and performance.

Pro-Tip: Get a screen protector, one of those tough plastic sheets that people put on their iPods and such. The ones designed for the Microsoft Zune work well, even if a bit too small to cover the entire display, they do protect the essential part you really need protected. A set of protectors will set you back about $8 or so. That's pretty cheap insurance.

Regarding the use of 4GB memory cards. It appears that while the unit will ACCEPT a 4GB card, it will onlyr recognize 2GB. That's still a ton of maps but still a little disappointing I guess. Still, to give you an idea of how many maps that is: I have 24K TOPO maps for ALL of CA, NV, UT and AZ as well as street level maps for just over half the United States (west to east from California to around Kansas and border-to-border north to south) loaded on a 2GB card) with around 300MB left over.
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158 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2007
Excellent and versatile GPS that I use for geocaching, driving, mountain biking, and hiking. I previously owned the Venture Cx and the display cracked due to my carelessness in the airline luggage. I upgraded to the new Legend HCx with the high sensitivity receiver and this unit significantly outperforms the older units. The new receiver fixes your location much faster and provides much better signal coverage. I noticed this as soon as I turned the Legend HCx on, as I was able to get a fix inside my house.

The expandable memory option (Cx) of the etrex series allows you to store a tremendous amount of map info. I installed the TOPO and City Navigator Mapsets for the entire state of CA and I am able to switch between mapsets. When I am on the trail, I "hide" the other mapsets and "show"/use the TOPO mapset. When driving on the road, I switch to City Navigator to get turn by turn navigation to my destination.

The only cons about the etrex series is that they have a small screen to view while driving and the menus/control button configuration are complex. I had to install my unit right on the steering column for driving. It took me awhile to learn and use all the features of the City Navigator and to switch between mapsets. But, for a pocket size all around GPS with excellent battery life, these are acceptable compromises.
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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2007
This is the second mapping GPS I have owned, and it is nearly perfect for my needs. I can't believe how much better this eTrex Legend is than my old eMap unit. First, the bright color display is clear and readable in direct sunlight. My laptop wouldn't even be visible in those conditions. Battery life - there is no comparison! I haven't yet changed the alkaline batteries in 4 weeks of use (modestly heavy as it is a new toy). Finally, it is so sensitive that it has never failed to get a satellite position while indoors. Again, the HCx is a major improvement over the previous model where I could lose reception inside my car with glass all around and in open countryside.

Pros: Light weight, small size, fits great in one hand.
Can be operated completely with one hand.
Display is amongst the sharpest and brightest I have ever seen.
Very intuitive and simple to use for anyone except possibly a newbie to GPS navigation.
Battery life seems endless.
Ability to map a route to a destination address entered at the unit with the City Navigator software installed - the entire U.S. and Canada detailed road maps and POI fit on a single 1 GB micro-SD flash card.
Useful in your car or outdoors for hiking, boating, fishing, snowmobiling, motorcycling, etc.
A true all-in-one GPS solution for a low price.

Cons: Small display compared to Nuvi series and other non-outdoor GPS units.
No voice directions - it has two types of tones to alert you to pending and imminent turns.
You need to add $120 worth of City Navigator mapping software to enable the auto-routing by address or point of interest functions.
The click-stick 5-way joystick navigation device is not the easiest thing to use to move around the maps and menus.

Overall I am very happy with my purchase and I expect to get at least 5 or 6 years of good use from this before I will be looking at replacements. Garmin quality and service has been excellent in my opinion; my eMap still works, though it will likely be relegated to a desk drawer.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2008
I bought this unit to replace an older eTrex Legend model that I mount on my bicycle handle bar. As noted by other reviewers the HCx unit has enhanced sensitivity and very long battery life. My rechargeable AA's last at least 5 times longer than in the old unit. Also it never loses track when outside, and it will find lock in the house, something the old unit never did.

As also noted by others, the built in base map does not provide much data. It's the same map that was in the old unit. I purchased separately the pre-programed street maps on micro SD card which provides full street and point-of-interest data for the entire country. (Google search "010-10679-50" for the best deal on this essential accessory.) I didn't by Garmin software maps because I use a Macintosh and Garmin has never supported the Mac. (They now have something they call "Bobcat" which is supposedly a Mac program to allow map manipulation and transfer. I haven't tried it.)

Anyway I use National Geographic TOPO! maps on my Mac and can download (eTrex to Mac) track data and plot maps of my outings and obtain elevation profiles and ride distances. It's also possible to transfer waypoints and routes both ways with TOPO!.

Another note regarding cycling; in the old unit I had to purchase a special back plate to allow it to clip to the handlebar mount. The new HCx comes with a clip that attaches to the back and allows it to slide into my old mount. (If you don't already have a bike mount kit, you'll need that accessory as well.)

Another problem with the old model that's fixed in this new unit is that the batteries are securely clipped in with damping material attached to the clips. My old unit would shut down when I hit even mild bumps until I damped the battery clips with small bits of handlebar tape.

Bottom line is that I'm very pleased with this device, but note that it is not complete without detailed maps. The street maps work for me; you may want other maps for other types of use.
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95 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2007
This is my 5th GPS unit, and my 4th Garmin, including etrex Legend, eMap, Legend C, and now the Legend HCx.

The Legend HCx is an ok GPS, but not currently good for hiking/backpacking. It has a bug in it that makes it inaccurate at sensing your speed when you walk less than about 2mph. While usually easy to walk faster than 2mph, when you're backpacking in the woods, it's often tough to average faster than that. The result is you can walk indefinitely at <2mph and this GPS will record that you've been standing still the whole time. It's odometer, moving time, and stationary time records are all incorrect when you've been traveling under 2mph.

Mainly just a pain. It does consistently give your position accurately though, so it's primary purpose is fulfilled quite well.

I've spoken with Garmin and they say they're working on a firmware update to fix this, although no commitment date was given.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2010
I bought one of these expecting it to be useable out of the box. After all, the various much less expensive, Nuvi models all come with excellent street maps of high detail. Well, dream on, buddy boy. This thing comes with only the most rudimentary map of very gross detail (i.e., none). So, other than being able to plot for you your track on a pretty blank display, it is useless until you buy some maps. Fortunately, you can get the 100k Garmin Topo! US map DVD or SD card for not too much money. I bought the DVD for sixty dollars delivered and it covers the entire US. There are 24k (slightly, ~16x, higher resolution maps), but they cost over seventy five dollars each and each only covers a few states. Simply not worth the added cost. Garmin really got greedy with the 24k maps...and that is saying something!

Bottom line, when you are shopping for these, just add at least sixty dollars to any price you see if you want something useful.

It is supposed to be possable to get free maps for these Garmin gps's using, USPS maps, and some conversion gymnastics. However, after a few eveneings of looking into that, I found no easy way to do it. If you want a new hobby of converting free maps into Garmin format maps, go for it. me, I just want to use the thing.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2008
Let me start off by thanking Garmin for making such wonderful products and Amazon for guiding me too them. Now, on with the review. Ok after looking at various reviews for many a different kinds of gps i had narrowed it down to 2, this of the Vista HCx. Now folks lets me lay it out for you. Unless you really need the altimeter, there isn't any point of getting the Vista for the $50+ that it is. Or unless you really like unity in your products, ex. all-in-1 design. The Vista comes with a electronic compass too but lets be realistic here folks who goes out and about without a REAL metal compass. what happens if the GPS dies on you? (although that be hard with 25+ hours of battery life, hehe) anyways unless you are committed to the all in oneness or have to have the other features then this is one awesome gps, it has everything you could ever need. You will need to buy maps separate but you can find them on amazon for cheap so its all good. Either way buy this gps, don't settle for less.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2008
I use my Garmin eTrex Legend HCx almost on a daily basis. It's true what people say about the base maps; they're not really good for getting around. With that said, this thing comes alive when you install the City Navigator Maps. Turn by Turn directions (not spoken), Points of Interest Locator, find and route to an address, locate a restaurant and more.

Great example of use: I was not in my town and needed to find a Bank of America ATM so I wouldn't have to pay ATM fees at both banks. I whipped out my eTrex, clicked Find then ATM and it showed me all banks with the closest first. Scrolled down to the first BOA and clicked Navigate and the Turn by Turn directions popped up. Awesome.

I also began Geocaching with my kids. We love it. Nothing better to a kid then finding hidden treasure.

I am an avid mountain and dirt bike rider so I also own the handlebar mount on both bikes. Flying down hill and blasting across rocks, mud, and water this thing stays with me. I take the recorded Track and upload it to my favorite trail riding websites using the GPX format.

There is plenty of onboard memory to save your "Tracks" and I never filled it with any ride I did. But I bought a 2G micro SD just in case. (I believe you'll need the SD card if you install any maps.)

I am knocking off 1 star because my eTrex shuts down while dirt bike riding (not mountain biking). I am pretty extreme and do intense climbs over rocks which are jarring. Jumping down cliffs with harsh landings must be shaking the batteries loose and causing the unit to shut down. I've googled this problem and other people have experienced this too. There are workarounds with which people have had success. Like I said, on the mountain bike, it works great.

Overall though, if you're in the woods a lot but still want to get somewhere using your car, the eTrex Legend HCx is a great unit. I am very happy with my purchase.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2008
This is my second Garmin and I like the unit in general. The built-in maps though are beyond useless. I was on the Colorado River with this unit, and it showed me as being 400 feet off of the river. That is a pretty major error. My friend's GPS showed the exact same coords but his map actually showed us as being on the River. Yes, I know I am free to spend a ton of money on add-in map data, but really the base maps should be able to recognize the CO River.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2008
This was my first time buying a GPS and I bought the eTrex Legend HCx after trying out two other models and returning them. The Magellen Xplorist 210 and the eTrex Legend (non HCx).

At first I found the Garmin models to be a bit awkward in that the buttons and joystick are located above the display. However after some use they ended up getting more comfortable. One handed operation is a bit awkward. This was the only reason for a 4 star rating.

It was definitely worth it to upgrade to the high sensitivity model and colour display. The maps are much easier to read and reception is greatly improved when inside a vehicle. The magellen model could not get a position fix while inside my truck while the Legend HCx can get a fix while inside my apartment!

The autorouting feature is very useful and accurate, although it does not always take you along the quickest path.

All in all I am very happy with this unit. Spending a little extra on the HCx model was definitely worth it. This unit is very versatile and functions great both on the road and on the trail.
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