which handheld GPS should I get?

For all high tech electronic equipment including GPS, PLB, chargers, phones, computers, software. Discussion of simple electrical devices such as torches, belongs in the main 'Equipment' forum.

which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby Garg » Sun 03 Feb, 2019 9:02 am

I need a very easy to use handheld gps. I think the Garmin Etrex20x will probably meet my needs. Any thoughts?
Will mainly use it on Central Plateau Tasmania. Do I need to buy the extra maps?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Gary
Garg
Nothofagus cunninghamii
Nothofagus cunninghamii
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu 09 Mar, 2017 5:36 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 03 Feb, 2019 9:12 am

Personally I would use my phone.

The navigation apps are very advanced these days and have many more features than a standalone GPS including the ability to read detailed topo maps on a relatively large screen.

In flight mode and limiting the gps mode means most phones will last for several days without needing a top up from a powerbank (which you should carry)
User avatar
wildwanderer
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 950
Joined: Tue 02 May, 2017 8:42 am
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby Garg » Sun 03 Feb, 2019 9:22 am

Thx I'll check them out.
Garg
Nothofagus cunninghamii
Nothofagus cunninghamii
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu 09 Mar, 2017 5:36 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby bernieq » Sun 03 Feb, 2019 9:55 pm

What's your intended use, garg? Record and save tracks? Record waypoints so you can return? Record a path so you can backtrack? Use for in-field navigation? Use as a compass for following a bearing? Draw tracks in a mapping program and download to gps for navigation? Geocaching?
Other things? All of the above, maybe? Depends on your response, but I'd probably advise an Etrex 30x because of 3-axis compass and barometer (not in the 20x).

Going off track or planning multi-day trips? Buy a PLB first. Then consider the GPS.

Whilst a smartphone is capable of these things, imo, using a phone for multiple purposes sets up a single point of failure - how waterproof is your phone? The GPS is IPx7 - can be used in rain with confidence.

We are responsible for the health of the planet - not it for ours
User avatar
bernieq
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 522
Joined: Tue 17 Jan, 2012 3:43 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby ribuck » Mon 04 Feb, 2019 12:03 am

I would choose a waterproof phone. Compared to a dedicated GPS the screen is easier to read, the interface is better, a wider range of maps is available, and you can choose an app that matches your style of navigation.

A phone isn't as rugged, but a case can solve that.
User avatar
ribuck
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1193
Joined: Wed 15 May, 2013 3:47 am
Region: Other Country
Gender: Male

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby ChrisJHC » Mon 04 Feb, 2019 10:42 am

The current iPhone is IP68 rated. This basically means you can leave it in 2m deep water for up to 30 mins and water won’t get in.

It’s also my camera, email, notebook, music, emergency contact info, etc.
I also find it extremely easy to import GPX files into an appropriate navigation app.

The one downside is that the battery life isn’t as long as a handheld GPS, but there are multiple ways to overcome that.

I converted to using my phone as a GPS some time ago and doubt that I’ll go back.
ChrisJHC
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 420
Joined: Sat 25 Feb, 2017 8:22 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 04 Feb, 2019 1:54 pm

ChrisJHC wrote:The current iPhone is IP68 rated. This basically means you can leave it in 2m deep water for up to 30 mins and water won’t get in.

In the IP rating system, the ‘8’ in the second digit actually denotes continuous immersion. As such, Apple has actually under specified XS models’ actually performance to 30mins. So yes, it’s very much suited to the outdoors apart from potential screen damage and power capacity limitations.

I concur that for most new entrants in 2019, smartphone should be the first consideration for many reasons. Of course, lower priced models may not offer the same or similar performance as for the top end models. Otherwise, my Garmin these days is primarily a track recorder and a backup reference. Pulling an iPhone out of the pocket (with a good case) is so easy.
Just move it!
User avatar
GPSGuided
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 6814
Joined: Mon 13 May, 2013 2:37 pm
Location: Sydney
Region: New South Wales

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby wildwanderer » Mon 04 Feb, 2019 3:57 pm

A lot of the durability concerns of mobile phones can be mitigated with a phone case and a protective pouch.

I use a zipped padded pouch attached to my pack shoulder strap. Its easy to unzip the pouch and take out the phone even while walking along.

Having the water/dust resistant rating is essential IMO. Even with the pouch my phone gets wet after prolonged rain as the water seeps in through the zip.

Used the pouch with phone inside bashing through all sorts of scrubby places without damage. Also phones are fairly reliable these days, Ive havent had one die on me randomly in years.

Having said that.. if Im solo and in a unfamilar area I'l take a backup method of navigation.
User avatar
wildwanderer
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 950
Joined: Tue 02 May, 2017 8:42 am
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby keithy » Mon 04 Feb, 2019 6:35 pm

I have posted a few times about deciding on a handheld GPS.

If you check out the posts made viewtopic.php?f=21&t=23646#p305162 in 2016. - it gives you pretty much a good idea on my thoughts if you are looking at a dedicated handheld GPS.

Since around 2015 or so, I started using both an Android smartphone as well as one of my Garmin Handhelds for bushwalking in earnest. For a few trips I bought a cheap 5" touchscreen phone to use pretty much as a dedicated hiking GPS and a spare phone for overseas travel, until I killed it with water viewtopic.php?f=21&t=25128

Initially I was using one of the Garmin GPS units first, then backed up with my Android smartphone, and then paper maps. Of late, I am using the Android phone first, the Garmin GPS second and the paper maps haven't come out of my pack - I usually have the exact digital version of the paper maps on my smartphone (either digital vector maps or scanned).

I was pretty much a horses for courses guy on handheld GPS for a few years, stating that there was still a place for dedicated GPS units. But the relatively small market for handheld GPS units has not seen much improvement/innovation for the expenditure outlay when compared with mobile phones.

For example:

Pricing
Current Garmin touchscreen Handheld approx costs:
  • Garmin Montana 680t with topo maps about $890
  • Garmin Montana 610 without maps about $680
  • Garmin oregon 750t with topo maps currently about $675
  • Garmin Oregon 700 without maps is about $600.
  • etrex 25 $250 without maps
  • etrex 35 $450 without maps
Garmin Topo maps cost around $100 if you don't get the ones with preloaded topo maps, but you can use free OSM maps.

In comparison there are some "tough" phones on the market I have been following with some interest. Eg:

There are other Chinese brand tough smartphones as well, but these ones I have been following the prices on.

If you consider the pricing on some of these units, compared to the top of the line Garmin touchscreen models, you will note that they can be similarly priced or cheaper. The touchscreen experience of a newer smartphone device is superior than on the Garmin handheld, the smartphone processor is quicker, the GPS chipset and the antenna can be as good as the Garmin handheld or superior (with newer phones also receiving other global navigation satellite system GNSS, not just GPS and GLONASS that the Garmin chipsets currently use).

The other upsides is that with these newer smartphones, you get a whole suite of useful sensors that might only be on the top of line Garmin Handhelds like tilt compensated electronic compasses, and barometric sensors, etc, and then some other sensors that you don't see in the handhelds. Coupled with appropriate software, these additional sensors can be quite useful bushwalking. And, of course, you can use them for calls, texts, internet access, and wifi/bluetooth applications.

Even if you paid for the Android software and topo maps (noting that there are free versions you could use out there, like Oruxmaps free and OSM maps) - you could be spending a similar amount, or less than a current generation Garmin GPS touchscreen handheld device.

Downsides
Easily replaceable power is one of the advantages of the handheld GPS units, you still can get AA/AAA batteries almost everywhere you might find yourself in the world, even when you don't have solar power or your lithium powerbank has depleted. Of course, with powerbanks, solar options and rechargeable batteries, this issue of power can be mitigated with smartphones.

There are some unknowns on the longevity of these newer smartphones as GPS, though. Smartphones have increasingly short product lifespans. I'm not sure if a new smartphone these days will last 20 years (either software or hardware). Built-in, non-user replaceable batteries are pretty much standard for newer smartphones these days, but with some, for those with expertise can crack the cases open and replace the batteries after a few years of use. For those without the expertise, you can pay for the battery to be replaced. However, with some phone models after a few years and the model has been well superceeded, the battery replacement option may be worth more than the phone itself.

To contrast, for example, Garmin Foretrex 101 from 1999 just needs new AAA batteries and it can still function today. One thing about older Garmin GPS devices, is that the internal battery might be also be dead after 20 years. This tiny battery is soldered to the board and is not meant to be user replaceable - it stores time clock memory when the GPS is off. When this battery is depleted, the usual result is that the GPS will not remember where it was when you last turned it off and replaced the AAA/AA batteries. It then takes a while longer to find and download GPS information and goes into Auto Locate mode. The internal battery can be replaced, but it does need someone with experience in disassembly, cleaning the contacts and soldering. Garmin used to have a service where they would replace this internal battery but i recall the cost was quite high. I don't know if they still do it for older models.

So the uptick of all this is that I reckon it is more than doable to use a newer smartphone as a GPS. I reckon when my Garmin 600 finally kicks the bucket, I might look at one of these tough android smartphones to replace it.

Of course, you could still use the same phone you would use everyday and a tough case for it that would solve the durability and waterproof issues, and then all you need to decide on is the software/maps.
User avatar
keithy
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 668
Joined: Tue 28 Oct, 2014 5:31 pm
Region: Other Country
Gender: Male

Re: which handheld GPS should I get?

Postby Neo » Tue 05 Feb, 2019 8:43 pm

I chose the eTrex20.

Figured out using some/most of it. Had the Aus map card too.

Kinda glad I lost it around Scabby Range. Backtracked but wasn't too sad about losing it.
Will get to plotting 'the treasure' on a paper map arrgh!

Would now use a spare/bushwalk smart phone with Avenza app and free (nsw) topo from six maps!

Or F it and just use a map..
Neo
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1251
Joined: Wed 31 Aug, 2016 4:53 pm
Location: Port Macquarie NSW
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male


Return to Techno-Babble

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests