82 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Garmin Oregon is to GPS as Apple iPhone is to cellular.,
This review is from: Garmin Oregon 550 Waterproof Hiking GPS (Sports)I recently just bought 2 new Garmin GPS units to upgrade my aging Garmin Legend (Original Model). I was hesitant to purchase the Oregon due to the mediocre reviews on Amazon, but ultimately I decided to take a chance.
First I bought the Garmin Dakota 20, and I really liked it. Small, Battery Efficient, Easy to Use, and Paperless Geocaching using the touchscreen. Good stuff. I called my friend who likes to have the latest and greatest, and he told me he had purchased the Oregon 400t when it first came out last year. I took a drive to his house to compare it to my new Dakota 20... Very similar in capabilities, only smaller and less resolution on the screen. After seeing his unit, and how well it ran I found myself craving the higher resolution screen, and 3D Terrain features, so I went up and bought another one, this one, the Garmin Oregon 550. I decided against buying the Oregon 550t because the 550 had a little deeper discount than the "t" version. Ultimately I chose to purchase the 550 since it was around $60 off retail, VS. only $1 less than retail on the 550t. I figured I could add the TOPO maps later. Plus I had also just purchased the Dakota 20, and the $160 difference in cost was sounding pretty good. I have completely busted my mad money for now.
Ultimately I find this unit to be right in line with all of the other Oregon models software wise... it works exactly the same way. So go and read some reviews on the other Oregon models sine this unit doesn't have many reviews yet. It is VERY similar in capabilities, but this one has a few added goodies.. 3 Axis Compass + 3.2MP GEOTagging Camera (Good stuff)...
Another observation between the new 550 and 550t models... Garmin's specs say the these models have equivalent storage, but in fact this is not the case, the 850MB seen in the specs relates to the free space after taking into account the included maps. In reality it is more like 550 = 1GB, 550t=4GB internal memory. Mostly a non-issue since both have a Micro-SD slot behind the battery, which happily accepted an inexpensive 4GB SDHC card, and since SDHC was supported I would expect you could add an even larger one.
Like the other reviewer stated I noticed that the roads on Garmin's 2008 TOPO maps are slightly off.. this is easily recognizable if you load a driving map, calculate a route, and then disable the driving map, you will see the driving route is not exactly on the road. To me this is all the more reason to just get the 550 model (at this point) without the TOPO maps. You can add them later once the road data is fixed. On second thought, the TOPO features themselves on the 2008 map seem fine, only the road data is a little off, so if you are using the maps as they are intended this is probably a non-issue. At the time I just felt like the 550 was a better bargain, only $90 more than the Dakota 20 I had just purchased, which also was still at the full $350 retail price since it is still a brand new model.
The only other glitch was with the Compass calibration, which went haywire for a moment, but resolved itself after a reset, and hasn't happened since. We'll see if it becomes an issue.. but I doubt it. The reset was very fast as this unit boots up very quickly.
I decided to make these purchases since my girlfriend has expressed an interest in "Re-Taking Up Geocaching", we really haven't done it in a while (Since '02), and its such a great outdoor activity. The original point in making these purchases was the ease at which you can add Geocaches into the unit directly from the website with a single mouse click. She was having trouble getting used to adding the co-ordinates into the old Garmin Legend with that tiny joystick, it was VERY TEDIOUS.
So now she has the Dakota 20, and I have the Oregon 550, and we can easily transfer geocaches back and forth wirelessly, and it is easy as pie to download them from [...].
To me, these new Garmins are a huge upgrade from my old "Legend", and they are waterproof and rugged as ever.
I would have given this product 5 stars had it not been for the couple of small glitches, which I expect will be fixed in the future via a firmware update / map update from Garmin.
Truely.. the new touchscreen Garmin units are to GPS's, as the iPhone is to mobile phones. In a class by itself.
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Initial post: Aug 25, 2009 4:43:46 PM PDT
R. Wenner says:
Has your compass calibration went "haywire" again yet? I stumbled across your review in googling for information on compass calibration problems with the dakota 20 I just bought. in the three days I've owned it, about once a day the magnetic compass will 'go haywire' and point in random directions even when the gps inst moving. I try calibrating the compass, and when i hit the 'start' button on that procedure, it shows the animation of how to rotate the gps for like 1/10th of a second then jumps to "Calibration failed". no matter how many times i try, it won't calibrate until I 'reboot' the gps by powering down. Is that similar to the problem you had? I'm probably going to exchange it for a new one since this has repeated itself and updating the firmware and swapping batteries doesn't seem to affect it. Just thought you might like to know so you can watch for yours to die the same way mine is.
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