Top positive review
232 people found this helpful
Big improvement over the Triton series, very nice GPS for geocaching
on April 20, 2011
I bought the Magellan Explorist 310 almost exclusively for geocaching.
For the past two years, I've been using the Magellan Triton 400 for the same purpose. That GPS unit was good in its day, but I wanted something more responsive with more features. After playing around with my new Explorist 310, I'd like to share my initial feelings, as well as some helpful hints for getting the most out of the GPS with the least amount of headaches.
As far as the quality of the GPS, I'd rate it as excellent. When I put in a couple of Rayovac alkaline batteries (the unit ships with two Energizer lithiums and a coupon for $2 off your next purchase of these batteries, I'll save those for another day) and pressed the power button for a couple seconds, the GPS powered right up, almost no wait time. It fits in the hand almost perfectly, and the buttons are easy to press. I initially had a bit of trouble with the toggle button, but figured out that if I wanted to spell out anything I needed to hold the unit in both hands, problem solved.
The battery compartment gave me a bit of trouble at first. It is a big improvement over the Triton series, it takes only a half turn to unlock the back of the GPS to replace the batteries. I struggled getting the battery cover back on again. Eventually I figured that out. Make sure that you connect the cover from the bottom first with a slight upward motion, then lower the top half of the cover and turn the screw the half turn needed to seal the battery compartment back up. Once you do it a few times there's nothing to it.
Next step for me was to load some geocaches onto the GPS. I went for it and created three 1000 cache pocket queries on Geocaching.com. After they were created, I saved them onto my computer. Then I connected the Explorist 310 to my computer using the included cable, and copied the files from my computer onto the GPS. When I looked for them, they didn't show up. I realized my mistake almost immediately - the files were still in a .ZIP format. I expanded them, then copied the .GPX files into the "Geocaches" folder on the Explorist, and the .WPTS.GPX files into the "Waypoints" folder. After that, everything showed up where I expected it to. Even with 3000 geocaches and the related waypoints, the unit booted up in no time!
Now I want to share the hints that should help you get the most out of this GPS (for geocaching anyway) right out of the box:
1. Go to Tools | Settings | Power, and set your battery type. Honestly don't know what this does, but I've had my GPS on for 5 hours tonight and almost no reduction in battery power. It must do something! Battery life is so much better than my Triton, for this reason alone I'm glad I bought the GPS.
2. Go to Tools | Settings | Brightness & Volume, and set up these settings to your preferences. I set the Backlight Timer to 5 minutes (and you can keep it on longer), keeps me from pushing buttons just so I can see the screen after a few minutes
3. Go to Tools | Settings | Night Mode, and change the setting to "Off". The factory setting will change the screen to night mode as soon as the sun sets, it's really annoying. Maybe it's preferable for some people, but definitely not for me.
The next two are the most important for geocachers, without changing these settings you will hate this GPS:
4. Go to Map, select it, then hit the Menu button. Scroll down and select "Map Options". Find the "Auto Zoom" option, and turn it OFF! If you don't, the screen will always zoom out to the point between your location and your destination, very annoying and makes it almost impossible to actually get to a cache.
5. Go to Map, select it, then hit the Menu button. Scroll down to "Geocaches" and change the setting to "Not Found & Not Attempted". I initially changed this to "Not Found", thinking this would show me the caches I didn't find yet. I found out the hard way that that setting will only show caches that you looked for but couldn't find.
That's all I have for now. Like I said, so far I really like the unit. My only comparison is the Triton 400, but there are some HUGE improvements over that unit. Deleting the existing set of geocaches is almost instant, vs. 3+ minutes on the Triton. I can actually save my finds on the unit, on the Triton there was no option for this. I can see the last 5 comments from Geocaching.com, so I don't waste my time looking for muggled caches. I will post an update if I find any more significant pros/cons to this unit, or any more helpful hints.