“ Garmin eTrex Vista - GPS receiver - hiking „
I got this unit cheaply second hand to replace my ageing original eTrex.
It does everything the eTrex did but adds a barometric altimeter, magnetic compass, built in maps and the joystick button on the front which makes the whole interface a lot simpler.
The 12 channel receiver works ok in good conditions but sometimes struggles when held in your hand (especially if its close to your body), in thick woods, around tall buildings, in cars etc. This is quite a shock if you are used to more modern units which use the superior Sirf3 chipset (e.g. the eTrex H). I found if you are patient and give it time it will normally get a fix though and moving just a few metres to ensure better sky view can really help.
The magnetic compass and barometric altimeter are quite good and a big improvement on the original eTrex which relied soley on GPS to generate heading and altitude information. What's really nice is both of these functions work without needing a GPS fix.
There is only 24mb of memory to hold maps and the included base map only seems to have major towns, main roads and a coastal outline so its only good for very general navigation. However, I was able to download (with a bit of effort) openstreetmap maps of my local area and that showed me roads, foodpaths, rivers and even small villages. I only downloaded one tile (about 10km x 5km) and am not sure how many I could fit in the memory. The map can't do turn by turn routing so its not really suitable for driving but is fine for hiking.
Battery life isn't amazing but its not terrible either. On a pair of 2500mAh AA batteries I get between 9 and 12 hours use. Of course taking AA batteries (unlike many newer units) you can change the batteries when they go flat.
A couple of times the unit seems to have randomly turned itself off without the battery being flat, I think this may be a fault in my (rather old) unit. I also had trouble when I took it on a long cycle ride and the sun was very bright. The unit was in the top of my rucksack and got quite hot, when I took it out too see how far i'd cycled (after about 3 hours) the screen was faint and there was a vertical line of blinking pixels. I turned it off for the rest of the day and it worked fine the next day and has done since.
The eTrex Vista combines a base map of North and South America, with a barometric altimeter and electronic compass. The compass provides bearing information while you're standing still and the altimeter determines your precise altitude. The Vista is also designed to provide precise GPS positioning using correction data obtained from the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). This product will provide position accuracy to less than three meters when receiving WAAS corrections.
The eTrex Vista also boasts an internal memory capacity of 24 megabytes, which allows it to accept downloaded mapping data from Garmin's MapSource CD-ROMs, including Fishing Hot Spots. A silver case gives this unit a high-tech look. New to the product design, Garmin will include marine aids to navigation in addition to the base map. These navigational aids can be pre-loaded into each unit from the factory.
This kit includes the international basemap.