Customer Review

96 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the new eTrex Vista HCx, October 22, 2011
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This review is from: Garmin eTrex 30 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator (Electronics)
I have just received my eTrex 30 unit, and so far it is perfect and a great improvement over the still amazing eTrex Vista HCx.

The eTrex 30 is for all purposes, the new Vista HCx, both have barometric altimeters and both have compasses, however, the 30 has a tri-axis compass that allow to look at the unit perpendicularly to the ground and it will still mark to the north.

Among the improvements are of course the new hi-color screen (Allows BirdsEye maps, like having a Google Earth in your pocket on the trail!). Wireless transmission of data via ANT+ that also works with heart rate and cadence monitors. And the most important geek factor, the reception of GLONASS signals!

One of the new things that I like a lot is that everything now is a file, on the Vista HCx to download the files it was necessary to use the Garmin serial protocol, now with the 30, only with connecting the unit to a USB port in the computer it is possible to get all the captured data in standard-compliant GPX files. This also means that there is a 2GB (1.7GB usable) flash storage device in the unit.

Placing GPX files in the correct folders in the unit also displays the information within those in the unit, like waypoints or tracks. It is much easier now. In Linux I use gpsbabel to convert back and forth from many formats, in particular I enjoy exploring my trips again with Google Earth and it requires KML files, gpsbabel helps to do that precisely.

Also, there is an Alarm Clock on the unit, I just tested it a 4:30am and it woke me at about 2 meters from my bed. This is something I really wanted to have in my Vista HCx, as my traveling wristwatch isn't that loud, and I had to use a Casio traveling clock just for that. One less device to carry!

Loading maps is now way more faster than with the Vista HCx, having both one for Europe and another locally, takes a few seconds, while before it took minutes

As always, a GPS unit like this, now with a GLONASS receiver, will beat any smartphone on trails and while traveling abroad. Here in the tropics close to the Equator I got a fix pretty quick, but not with as many GLONASS satellites as I wished, that is because that GNSS constellation is best used way up in the north hemisphere.

The User Interface looks better, with antialiased fonts and pretty icons, it is now more like a Windows XP UI, while in the Vista HCx with its limited color palette, was like a Windows 3.1 UI. The on-screen keyboard seems to be easier to use, and looks like a miniature version of those included in smartphones.

Physically, the unit is lighter, more compact (A few millimeters more bulky in depth), easier to handle in your hand, the rocker is in the right side now, good for right handed, but my muscular memory keeps moving my thumb to the previous rocker position in the Vista HCx. The infamous rubber band used in the Vista HCx that unglued so easily with time seems to be substituted with a more solid rubber sides, now attached with screws. The micro SD card is placed like a SIM card in a phone, under the batteries.

Now, this is something I have always wanted that was NOT added... An option to LOCK THE BUTTONS! Neither unit has the option to avoid the buttons to be pressed while having the unit on a backpack or in a holster. I would really like an option like in the mobile phones to do that ("Press such and such buttons to unlock"). Many times I have put my units in a bag to later retrieve them in a weird configuration screen and with a track erased or so.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 19, 2013 3:35:08 PM PDT
DJC says:
Why is this showing with the eTrex 20

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 19, 2013 4:34:18 PM PDT
Rodolfo Q. Z says:
Well, it is not because I wanted, but Amazon groups reviews by category if you can select many editions of the same family of items. In this case, you can add to the cart either the eTrex 10, 20 or 30 from the same page, so all the reviews are mixed.

I'm sorry my review confused or bothered you. It was not my intention.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2013 4:36:26 AM PDT
DJC says:
Sorry, didn't mean to sound snobby. Must be a difference in how we arrive at the product. My page only allows for the 20....not the 10 or 30.
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