Most helpful critical review
221 of 230 people found the following review helpful
Good unit, poor basemap - requires additional purchase to be usable
on June 1, 2009
I have owned previous similar Garmin hand held GPS units. Very good units, pretty durable, reasonably priced and I've been very happy with them. Precision and usability has been amazing...
After multiple years of car trips, backpacking, camping and other uses of my previous Garmin handheld, it finally needed major service -- so I decided to upgrade.
This unit is good in most areas and features, but with one major problem. Sensitivity is great, turn on and signal acquisition time is much improved! Color screen is bright and colorful, with excellent readability -- except you need to turn on the backlight to read the screen, even in daytime. Links well with my existing National Geographic TOPO! software. In general a good, solid unit. Precision of the unit, based upon it recording routes and tracks is excellent -- you can even see what side of the road you're on! The USB interface works very well -- amazingly faster than the previous serial cable.
However, the base map sucks. I'm sorry, but compared to the base map in my previous unit the coverage is horrid. My previous unit included coverage in the base map down to major secondary roads. I could use it with confidence if I needed to grab it out of the glove compartment or backpack, and navigate. This base map is missing *everything* except major interstates, and major state highways. As an example, State Highway 2 (the Angeles Crest Highway) north of Los Angeles is totally missing -- let alone any of the connector roads to this state highway. Cities are listed as floating dots with no linkage to any of the road networks. In the LA basin, it's missing any indication of major inter-urban roads which are 4-6 lanes wide! Makes you wonder how the new "navigate" function works from where you are to a listed location, doesn't it?
I suspect that you need to spend the additional $100-200 to get the Garmin Mapsource additional map data, in order to download more detailed maps. I've already ordered a copy of this, to see if it helps. Figure this additional purchase into your price if you are going to use this other than on a major interstate. However, the HC unit only has about 24 MB of memory, so you can't download significant amounts of map data to the unit.
Overall, I'd not recommend this unit at all. If they had put in the previous map base, I'd be writing a 5 star recommendation. But without the previous map base, you need to spend at least $100 ain additional to make this as usuable as the previous model -- and the unit has little ability in 24 MB to add additional map data. I'd recommend at a minimum going for the HCx model which allows you to add a micro SD card for up to at least 4GB of additional map memory.
Now, why did they downgrade the quality of the base map? My suspicion is they want to sell the map software as well. In which case, they should offer a bundle of the two items, which I've not seen offered anywhere.
I'm going to be using this extensively in the next few months for backpacking and road tripping (including beyond major highways), so I'll give it a fair test. From my initial usage, most likely I'll be junking this and going for a HCx in a few months...