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4.5 Stars for a Great GPS Unit (Former eTrex Legend Owner)
on April 25, 2006
I've had the eXplorist 300 for a while now. I had a Garmin eTrex Legend for over a year until it fell down a cliff while I was hiking. I'll get into that later. Naturally, this review will include some comparison of the two units. They are in the same class and price range, and both units and companies are great.
First off, if you want a PC interface, the eXplorist 300 doesn't have one (but the eXplorist 210, 400, 500, etc. do). If you want detailed street-level maps (eXplorist 300 has only major roads and highways), this unit doesn't have that either. My main use of the unit is for hiking, so those points are not an issue for me.
When it comes to the strengths of the Garmin eTrex Legend in comparison to the Magellan eXplorist 300, I can think of two. One is that the eTrex does have a PC interface. If this is a necessity, I would suggest the eXplorist 210, eXplorist 400, or the Garmin eTrex series itself. The other strength of the eTrex Legend is minor in that the eTrex showed me Average Speed (in addition to Current Speed) and Stopped Time. Those are two neat measurements that the eXplorist 300 doesn't have.
The eXplorist 300 is much more user-friendly than the eTrex Legend. The beautiful simplicity of the eXplorist comes in the form of several great buttons that are right on the front on the unit. Whatever can't be accessed directly with a button on the unit CAN be accessed in a menu through a button that IS on the unit--the Menu button. Because of this, you are almost always 1-2 button pushes and joystick clicks away from what you want to do.
When it comes to reception, the eXplorist 300 is exceptional and surpasses the abilities of the eTrex Legend. My eTrex Legend would lose reception easily, even out in the open sometimes. Any heavy clouds or tree canopy above me would make the reception of my eTrex intermittent. The eXplorist is much more resilient to losing reception and much better at getting it.
We're finally at the part where my old eTrex falls down a cliff. In another comparison review between the eTrex series and eXplorist series, a reviewer said that one of the advantages of the Garmin eTrex over the Magellan eXplorist was that it took only half a turn to unscrew the bolt on the eTrex battery cover versus about 10 turns for the eXplorist series. That person may think that is an advantage, but I do not. I had my eTrex on a caribiner attached to my backpack, and all it took was that half turn of the bolt to leave the battery cover attached to my backpack while the rest of the unit fell down a several hundred foot cliff in Glacier National Park. I will gladly spend the extra seconds to open the battery cover of the eXplorist versus having a unit that might unscrew itself from its backing.
Unique features of the eXplorist 300 include an electronic 2-axis compass (so you don't have to be in motion to get a reading), a weather thermometer, barometer, and a barometric pressure altimeter. The eTrex Legend has none of those features. The build quality and styling of the eXplorist series are top notch as well.
I think it's obvious by now that I do indeed recommend getting a Magellan eXplorist 300. Most importantly, have a great time no matter what GPS unit you end up with!