Garmin GPS 60
Functional but expensive
- MapSource software, external antenna port, USB connection
- City-point mapping is no substitute for graphical base map, slow signal acquisition, cluttered with irrelevant software
Although the GPS 60 looks like it means business, it doesn’t live up to expectations. A USB connection and Garmin’s MapSource software are small consolation for the lack of mapping and slow signal acquisition. There are better — and cheaper — handheld GPS options.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
Garmin’s GPS 60 offers stripped-down handheld GPS navigation. In some areas the device improves on the disappointing eTrex H, but many of the same functionality gaps are still present, making this unit inferior to some units offered by competitors. The GPS 60 has most of the characteristics common to handheld GPS devices, including an IPX-7 standard rubber and plastic case, AA battery power and soft-touch buttons. Garmin has also added an external antenna, an auxiliary antenna port and a belt connector. The unit will connect to a PC using serial port or USB.
Ditching the eTrex H’s five-button method of GPS control, the GPS 60 instead uses a four-way navigational pad and nine separate context-sensitive buttons. Control is still fairly simple — the device’s various functions are still accessed through the 'page' button — but the addition of quick access buttons makes it slightly faster to use the device. The GPS 60 has dedicated zoom buttons for map navigation, as well as a quick-access 'mark' button, which is useful for marking out waypoints along a route at short notice.
The GPS 60’s Helix external antenna is allegedly designed to provide faster signal acquisition. However, while the unit itself starts up in under 3sec, it took nearly three minutes to acquire a signal from a cold start-up — excruciatingly slow even compared to Garmin’s low-end eTrex models.
One of our biggest disappointments with the eTrex H was the lack of even a base map for navigational purposes, and the GPS 60 doesn’t do too much to remedy this. Rather than a graphical map the GPS 60 is loaded with a worldwide city point database, which essentially places city names in their general geographic location. This is a slightly better reference point than simply 'north'. However the location is assigned to a general area rather than the pinpoint centre of each city. During testing in our offices at St Leonards, the name 'Sydney' seemed to follow us around on the map rather than remaining static in the city’s CBD.
The device’s menu seems somewhat cluttered, thanks to the addition of largely useless non-GPS functions like a calendar, calculator, stopwatch, alarm clock and games. Those functions that are relevant to the device’s central navigational function include sunrise/sunset times, optimal hunting and fishing periods, automatic track log and a routes list.
One interesting feature is the Highway mode, which provides a 3-D view of the user’s current location, in a similar fashion to an automotive GPS device. The lack of even a base map — let alone a more detailed and image-based map — and the monochrome screen make the feature next to useless; it seems more like a placeholder for more expensive models.
Using the GPS 60’s USB connection, users can graphically predetermine routes and waypoints in Garmin’s MapSource software, essentially Garmin’s version of Magellan’s VantagePoint. MapSource doesn’t provide the same number of options as we found in VantagePoint, but the ability to place waypoints and routes on a graphical map makes Garmin’s software slightly better than Magellan’s. However, as the map isn’t particularly detailed, waypoints can be hard to pinpoint accurately. Points won’t appear graphically on the device itself, but MapSource does make routes much easier to plan without the hassle of knowing specific geolocational data.
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