Customer Reviews: Garmin GPS 12 100014600 2.6-Inch Portable GPS Navigator
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on November 3, 2000
I own both the Garmin GPS12 and the Garmin etrex. Why? Because I couldn't make up my mind. So I bought them both. After playing with both units I've decided to keep the GPS12 and sell the etrex for the following reasons. #1 The GPS12 has a stronger internal antenna that locks onto satellites much faster then the etrex and does not lose signal even under a heavy canopy of trees. #2 The buttons on the face of the GPS12 are larger and much easier to manipulate with one hand than the etrex. The etrex is designed to be used in your left hand and the buttons are vary small. The GPS12 can easily be used in either hand even with gloves on. #3 The map and compass pages provide more information without the need to constantly press buttons and switch pages. #4 The GPS12 map page lets you zoom in and out and scroll up and down, left and right. With the etrex you can only zoom out and lose detail to view a larger section of your trail. Yes the small size of the etrex is an advantage to backpackers such as myself, were every effort is made to minimize bulk and weight The GPS12 is about the size and weight of a typical cell phone. When I head into the forest to get away from it all. I rarely stay on crowded trails with all the other people getting away from it all. I take a topo a compass and now a GPS12 as a safety net because it will work even in the middle of a heavily wooded national forest.
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on March 25, 2001
I recently decided to purchase a GPS for our family camper. I purchased and returned 2 GPS units, the Rand Mcnally Palm V GPS and the Laptop GPS. The Palm V gps worked functionally, but would not turn off. It also was very sensitive to tree cover and positioning in the car. At times I could not get a fix. It would not work at all in the camper. Then I bought Laptop gps with the Streetfinder software. The positon and heading would drift all over the place, and the signal strength indicators would drift up and down no matter where the gps was placed. I have to say that the Street finder display was great on the laptop. My bet is that they do not have a good Quality assurance program due to the low pricing.
You are probably thinking -- What does this have to do with the Garmin GPS12? I did a lot of research, and came up with the GPS12 as the perfect solution. It powers up, and locks right on the satellites once it's set up in less than 45 seconds! It works anywhere in the car - on the dash , on the seat, on the center console,and in the back seat. It works anywhere in our camper. It will connect with a laptop for a great heads up display on the camper dash! The laptop provides better mapping capabilties than the more expensive GPS's due to the larger display. I have also connected it to my Palm V in both cases with Streetfinder software. Why connect to the palm? because it has plenty of memory for map storage, larger display then most GPS units, and you can mount the palm right on your dash for a good decent sized backlighted display. Marcosoft has a great palm navigation software package.
Best of all, I can take it all by it self fishing, biking or hiking. The Garmin GPS12 works great,and has a good solid feel. The case is quality made, with a nice quality keypad.
I marked it at less than a perfect 5 because I think they should include the data cable or at least the cigarette lighter adapter.
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on May 14, 2001
I just bought the Garmin GPS 12 after doing loads of research, including reading the reviews posted here, and as I first time buyer I was uncertain, but I'm a believer now! I wondered what motivated people to sit down and write these seemed sort of suspicious to me.
I fully understand now, and I hope to contribute as a way of saying thanks to the other reviewers.
This unit is outstanding, as the other reviews state, and I found it particularly wonderful when combined with some free software called GPSU or GPS utility. You can find it on the net (they are out of England). You can download/upload waypoints and make a map. Combination of these two are a must for the beginner to intermediate GPS user who camps, fishes, bikes, or visits places that they know they'll forget how to return to. Just click "GOTO" and then highlight your waypoint and you can leave your brain at home. I've also found that using 4 energizer "AA" batteries gives MUCH more than 24 hours of use; more like 32 hours. Very, very impressed with this device.
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on November 21, 2000
The unit has excellent satellite reception and even acquires satellites inside some buildings. Battery life is supposed to be 24 hours, but I've had them go much down quicker. Bring along spares. The GPS12 is very accurate and easy to understand. I use mine with the data cable (an extra that should be included) and my laptop for color, moving maps. Incredible. I wish Garmin would include the cigarette lighter adapter too as these are sometimes hard to find. it's a great value too if you don't need built in maps!
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At first glance this device is very deceptive. No fancy color display; just a few little buttons. A closer look still deceives: No map capabilities, no external antenna hook-up; and without the batteries inside, it's almost as light as a feather.
But this unit is no lightweight when it comes to navigational support. I have kept this device in my vehicle for the past three years and have lost count of the times it has kept me from getting turned around. I can count the number of times it has kept me on the trail and back to home without a false move. I keep a detailed journal of such trips on my web site.
Even after all this time, it's still very satisfying to know that I can load in some map coordinates, and just set out to my destination, without worrying about getting there. My greatest trek to date is a 1500-mile journey to the wilderness of Maine, where we consistently hit all our marks without a hiccup. One of those days would have been impossible or ended tragically without the GPS.
Recently I decided to purchase a new GPS and considered selling the GPS 12. But after a few days with the new unit, I decided the GPS 12 still had plenty to offer me for my type of use (Off-road driving). I think it will be with me for many years to come!
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on January 28, 2002
I have been using GPS since they first came out... and this offers what a GPS should with little or no frills at a very reasonable cost. No map, few routs (forget them anyway... I don't think anyone uses them) in an easy to use, menu driven package. If you want to reliably return to fishing or camping spots, mark, save and return to locations then this unit will suffice. For the small boat operator I guaranty it will pay for itself in gas in 100 miles of navigation.
It has three navigation options: Plotting, which I use to search, CDI (course direction indication) which is useful in long straight line trips and a compass. All are accessed through a single button (page) as is the easy to understand menu with waypoint management.
Available accessories include a deck mount and power cord ( a bit pricey since it steps down 12volts to 8)both of these are must haves for marine use.
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on September 3, 2001
This is my first GPS receiver. I had intended to buy the etrex, but this was on sale at a local marine supply for [...]. considering that it has 19 savable routes (plus the active route to make 20) and 500 waypoints and each route can have 30 waypoints, and many other features that I don't see on the etrex, I decided to spend the extra [...]. I'm glad I did. this is an excelent starter receiver if you can spend the extra [...]. it doesn't do maps, but I buy USGS maps for hiking anyway and I don't need this for city travel.
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on January 21, 2005
I have used this unit for VFR navigation in my aircraft for the last 8 years. Prior to this unit, I had a Lowrance. This unit is much better than the Lowarance.

You can get the location for all of the nav-aids and the airports on line, and enter them yourself. It is easy.

After using VOR's, and then a King Loran for years, this unit is all you need. Though not suggested, I believe you could shoot a instrument approach (GPS or NDB). Really good CDI screen. I actually have two, and use one as a cheap DME in ORD airspace!
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on December 9, 2005
The Garmin GPS12 is a very reliable, durable unit, perfect for the person who doesn't need mapping capability, a color screen, or downloading capabilities. Its functions are easy to understand and use. And, after 5 years of use primarily in a boat, I can say first-hand that its very well contructed and durable.

Although this unit was once the class of handhelds, its now old technology and has some downside compared to newer models. Its battery use is plain awful--it burns through batteries very quickly with conntinual use. Its also relatively slow to get a lock on satellites, if you've moved 50 or more miles since its been turned on last. You also need to be stopped (or close to it) for it to lock on to satellites. Its also slow to update your position compared to newer units--not ideal for navigation at speed.

So the GPS12 is no longer a 5 start pick, but if you're just looking to mark a few points and don't want to pay high-dollars for features you'll likely never use, this is a very well made, reasonably priced unit.
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on May 15, 2001
An excellent and rugged machine, I've used it in teaching for two years. The only drawback is the relatively poor resolution LCD. However, with free software, such as WayPoint, you can easily convert to high resolution graphics.
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