Small, sturdy, color screen, adequate memory for most applications
Basemap is basically worthless; no memory expansion
Bought this in a bundle (with MapSource Topo 2008) which is almost mandatory due to the anemic basemap. Topo 2008, while far from perfect, will give you plenty of map details good for most outdoor uses (Garmin CityNavigator would be a better choice if you're using this for driving--which ... Read full review
Bought this in a bundle (with MapSource Topo 2008) which is almost mandatory due to the anemic basemap. Topo 2008, while far from perfect, will give you plenty of map details good for most outdoor uses (Garmin CityNavigator would be a better choice if you're using this for driving--which I'm not). The software installs quickly, and with a quick view of the tutorial it's simple to get your map selections onto the Venture HC. I uploaded as many maps as I thought I'd ever need and only used about 15 meg of the available 24 mb.
Using the device is pretty straight forward, and most people can probably be out the door and have the thing functioning with just a glance at the quick start guide. I'd guess most PDA's are harder to learn than the Venture HC. The controls are well placed for one-hand operation, and relatively intuitive. You can navigate just fine with the default settings, but it was a lot of fun customizing the display and getting the data fields to show the information that was most useful for me.
In use, the Venture HC is just a hoot. Satellite acquisition has always been relatively fast (< 1 min) and it hasn't lost a lock yet in the area where I live (suburban Chicago). Took the Venture HC to CO for it's first backcountry excursion earlier this year, and it performed flawlessly on a snowshoe/X-country ski adventure. Got the device pretty wet--soaked, actually--in a heavy late-season snowfall, but it never skipped a beat. Because the stated battery time is 14 hrs and we were in the backcountry for 4 days, I took plenty of spare AA's. I found the 14 hour estimate to be low...I'm getting closer to 20 hours on a single set of batteries (I use alkaline; NiMH and/or lithium may differ).
Bottom line, the Venture HC is a great tool for entry-level GPS-ers and outdoor adventurers who've traditionally relied on maps. While I'd love the ability to add some memory via a SM card, I chose the Venture HC over other eTrex models because those with SM card expandability all have the barometric altimeter and electronic compass feature. My deep--and I mean darkest-depths-of-the-ocean deep--research indicated both those features were basically unreliable and added a lot of $$$ to the price.