Pros Light, small, well designed, easy to use and read
Cons Mapsource maps far too expensive
Summary This device is inspirational in its design and functionality. This is the third GPS device I have owned in addition to using several I have not owned. It provides rapid and accurate readings around the world (have used it from equator to north of arctic circle and in China, US, and Europe, but not everywhere). It includes a great receiver design, is fairly energy efficient (unlike some of the previous Garmin models). It includes an accurate altimeter (can meausre the height of room within a foot or two), an electronic compass, a functional mapa interface, and normal customizable interfaces for trip statistics. It provides navigation information, including pop-up maps, based on downloadable maps. It provides no voice prompting but does do rerouting and has tonal prompting.
My only substantive complaint is the cost of the maps (topo, street/city, etc.) that can be downloaded. I have noted on the internet claims of much cheaper compatible maps but have no experience using them. I also find the users manual minimally useful, possibly because I am an engineer and want to understand in far more detail than is provided how some of the functions work (how do you calibrate a compass by turning a device twice in a circle, for exmaple).Updated
Some websites imply that the micro SD cards are good up to 256 MB. I have a 1 GB card in my device (obtained from third party) with more than half of Europe loaded on it for directions and have had no problems.
Pros Feature rich, easy to use.
Cons Expensive, weighs more than similar other units.
Summary This is my 3rd GPS unit. The first two were Magellan (the eXplorist 500 and Meridian Gold). I held off buying a Garmin simply because you couldn't upgrade the memory. That has been solved with the "Cx, and CSx" series of Garmins. This unit was easy to use right out of the box. I use it primarily for Geocaching. I've found it to very accurate and it does have a quick satellite lock time. The eXplorist 500 is also real good for Geocaching, but has much smaller display and buttons than I like. While this unit does weigh more than most others like it, I like the feel, weight and balance.
I also like the fact that you can put the unit in a backpack and run an external antenna out and clip it to the backpack.
Connectivity is via hi-speed USB. The Garmin is powered by USB while connected saving your batteries. I can't comment on how long the batteries last because I haven't timed them, but I do know that my rechargeables last a couple of weekends of Geocaching easily.
There are many very good GPS units out there, but this one is top shelf in my books. The single biggest con I would have to say is price. It is easily at the top of the price range.
"NO NMEA over USB !"on by Polarlys
Pros Good reception
Cons No USB NMEA Output - only legacy serial COM
Summary As of this writing (10/10/2007), Garmin tech support informed me that this unit does not support NMEA output over a USB port (only over a legacy serial port using a separate cable that is not supplied with the unit and that requires a legacy serial port on your computer -- most newer machines only have USB and the Garmin unit only comes with USB drivers and a USB cable. It WILL NOT output NMEA data (eg position info for a computer navigation program) over that USB interface. I asked if they planned on issuing a virtual COM port driver for the USB port for their unit and they said "We are looking into but do not offer that at this time."Updated
I originally stated that there is no NMEA over USB. Actually there is -- it requires Garmin's free Spanner software to create a virtual COM port. Garmin phone support was unhelpful (and wrong), telling me you could not do it. About a week later I got an email from their email support guys that told me how to do it and where to download the necessary software. The unit is quite excellent.
Pros Does everything it's supposed to do except follow a route created in MapSource.
Cons Won't follow a route created in MapSource. Garmin instructions lack detail, don't explain what different settings will do.
Summary I bought this unit to use on a motorcycle. The main thing I wanted it to do was follow a route that I created in MapSource. When I bought the unit I didn't know that it won't do this. This unit is primarily designed for hiking trails and is probably great for this. When I use it for trails it does everything I want and more.
When creating a route in MapSource and transferring it to this GPS, only the waypoints or viapoints are transferred. A route is then calculated which may or may not be like the route created in MapSource. In a Garmin GPS designed for vehicles the entire route created in MapSource is transferred not just the waypoints or viapoints so you always get the same route you created. If you're careful in selecting your viapoints then you can often make it follow the route you created but sometimes not. My unit will often ignore viapoints and create a route that goes way out of the way and sometimes sends you down a road to later command you to make a u turn and go back! Thes units will only allow one to use 50 viapoints or waypoints in creating a route. If you're having to use a lot of them to make it do what you want then you sometimes have to split the route into sections. Sometimes you can't make it drive a route you want no matter where you put the viapoints. If I try to make it follow a route I created that travels down the road from my house it won't do it. I can put a waypoint just before a turn and one after the turn only 50 meters or so away and it will create a route that takes me to the first point and then turns me around on a 7 mile detour to the other point that was onloy 50 meters away! I guess I will have to buy one specifically made for a motorcycle to be able to transfer MapSource routes and have it run them as created. You know what they say. If something is made to be multi-purpose then it's probably not going to do any of the functions as good as one specifically designed for that purpose.
Bottom line: The device is advertised to be able to follow routes created in MapSource and it will not do it.
Pros It is a good compass
Cons This came as a gift to guide me through a new location for fishing and boating. For two years I had trouble telling where I was with it. I learned the waterways quickly but unless I was stuck in a fog bank this unit was worthless.
Summary Ended up buying the blue chart maps but they don't show the waterways I frequent even though the package says "Expanded inland river coverage." I live 3 to 4 miles from the Atlantic. $650 for the unit and maps and where I fish is shown on the unit as large blank area the color of dog **** on the screen. Should have bought some new Pings.