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This is one of the older versions of the Oregon now and there is a lot better models for sale now of which have been developed and basically carry the improvements users have identified in this model and the 300 model.
Saying this though Garmin, I feel are still one of the leaders in the out door GPS units and this is still a good unit. I suppose it does depend on your budget as these, although discontinued by Garmin now, can be picked up on sites like eBay and Amazon quite cheaply.
I saw quite cheaply but for the advances the newer models have it is probably better value to pay an extra £100 to get the brand new ones.
These can be picked up from between £150-£200 generally. Bear in mind that although the top of the range model, the 550, retails at about £489 it can be picked up at Amazon for about £300. I would spend the extra £100 for this.
It does show that they hold their value and so resale of them is not much of a problem.
So how does this unit perform? Its a Garmin so brilliantly! Display size of the Oregon is 2.3" x 4.5" x 1.4" (5.8 x 11.4 x 3.5 cm) which is more or less constant over the range of models. There are no buttons for navigation around the unit, similar to the iPhone it is touch screen which does prove a problem when you have gloves on as there is not the skin contact. I have read in Country walking magazin though that you can get gloves which combat this so that will be my next purchase for the winter months!
The screen resolution is 240 x 400 pixels. I have included the figures for this as some of you out there may understand what that means. I dont really! Basically all I can say is that the screen is very easy to read and the detail is good. I use OS mapping from Memory maps and Anquet maps and they are very clear and easy to read on the screen. Anquet is a bit slower to navigate around the maps than Memory maps but this is just the systems rather than the Garmin. Memory maps is a better system then Anquet but Anquet is cheaper. Money being no object I would go with Memory maps but unfortnately that is not the case!
How long does this unit last for out in the field. The manufactures state 16 hours battery life. To be honest, they are not that far wrong. I have owner many a pocket PDA/GPS for Hiking and this definitely lasts the longest. I have a Road Angel and this lasted a mere 5 hours in the field, not good as we tend to be out walking 15 miles. Garmin does have a nice long battery life and it will do a nice 10 hours of hiking with us. Obviously as the unit gets older the battery life gets less as with any electronic unit. From trying a lot of units this is one of the best for battery life. A way to preserve the battery life is to use it only when needed. I generally know where I am going before I set out, this is a must for safety in the great outdoors so that if you dont return home at the end of the day at least the search teams can be sent in the correct general direction. (that is providing someone has been told where you are going).
I generally use these units for confirmation of where I am reather than relying on it for a turn by turn navigation. It is essential that a Map and compass is also take in case the battery wipe, thick cloud cover or the unit just stops working.
How do these units stand up to the eliments. I get a bit nervy about testing these products in the eliments to the extreme. They claim to be completely waterproof, similar tot he Road angel. However I am a wimp, after paying out lots of my hard earned cash for these items I do not want to place them in a bucket of water to test this! However I have used them in the pooring rain and they have withstanded the eliments. I would say that it does become difficult to read the sceen when it is covered in rain drops but at least you know it is not going to be damaged. The manuacturers state that you can place these in a glass of water and they will still work fine. I have seen a Youtube video of someone placing one of the new models in a glass of water and taking a photo as well as navigation the menus. I'm not that brave!
For your normal rainy days this works fine! And I am confident that if I drop it in a puddle that it is going to work again after it. This feature really does sell it for me to be honest. I love walking in the rain an so found that iPhone and pocket PCs and PND have fallen far behind at this hurdle. There are cases you can put the iPhone in to keep in water proof which are very good but this is more cost and fiddly. Also the touch screen is difficult to use whenm behind the silicon cover. Dont get me wrong, these cases are very good and particularly for the iPhone they have got some very good cases out there, try aquabox, but for PDA such as the Mio digi walker there ar no such good cases and use have to resort to things like the watertight bags which are a bit cumbersome and dont look very good. They are also hard to place in a pocket as they take up more room.
Basically garmin solve this by making a water proof case, brilliant. This is not unique to Garmin as most proper outdoor GPS units have this too like the Road angel and the Sat map.
One thing I would say though is that they do not float, once again I have not tested this but have read the instructions manual and heeded the warning of the non float! You can buy a floatation lanyard from Aquabox if you are using this on a boat. This may be a good idea but I'd rather stay to dry land! Whilst crossing rivers or by any expanse of water where sinkage would be likely the Garmin goes into my pcoket and gets zipped up!
There is USB connection for connecting to the computer and place for a micro SD card, the units internal memory is not that great so a card is needed if you are importing maps. I don't tend to use the tracking and waypoints system on these units so cannot really comment on this. I tend to use the motionX on the iPhone for tracks and speeds etc. To conserve battery I do purely use these units for identifing my location and checking the map further ahead or for finding escape routes if needed.
All in all these nits are great and I would not be without one. However I am upgrading to a 450 model. Reasons for this are mainly useability. The 450 has a better screen which can be seen in bright sunlight better and battery life is better. There is also more capability to add waypoint etc but as I dont use this it does not make much difference.
The main thing is reading th screen in bright sunlight. This is a pain when out on a nice sunny day or even in moderate sunshine. Apparently Garmin have fixed this in the 450 and 550 model.
GPS fixing is great for Garmin, that is a given really!
Garmin's units have always been good and seem to be a leader in this area. However there are others out there like Road Angel and SatMat and it does depend on prefernce, budget and size. Garmin are smallest so fit in pockets and hands nicely, but Raod angel and Sat map have larger screens. Road Angel will work with Memory map but not Anquet. Sat Map has its own maps which are bought separateley and more expensive. My decision came from which mapping system I had. I had already paid out for GB1:50k and GB1:25k on Memory map and Anquet so was looking for a unit which worked with both these. Sat Map was out the window as it is not compatable. Garmin seemed to be one of few which worked with both units and I am not dissapointed by my decison at all.
I think with these units and the price you pay for them it really is down to personal preference so it really is a must to get out and trial these units. Cotswold outdoors will let you get hands on on these and see which one you get on with.