So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Garmin GPSmap 60
- International base map, long battery life, USB connection
- Expensive, black-and-white display, slow signal acquisition
Although the GPSmap 60 is functional on at least a basic level, it has a black-and-white display and a relatively high price point. With no expandable memory, slow acquisition times and a confusing control scheme, there’s no reason not to spend a little more and buy the Colorado 300.
Price$ 539.00 (AUD)
The GPSmap 60 is essentially a GPS 60 with a bump in memory and an international base map. Although this certainly makes the device much more useable, it is only slightly cheaper than the much more functional Colorado 300, which has a colour screen (the GPSmap 60 only has a black and white screen).
Ditching the stark yellow casing of the GPS 60, the GPSmap 60 opts instead for khaki green, providing a look suited to the serious business of hiking and outdoor recreation. If that doesn’t impress your friends, then the bevy of confusing buttons, the external antenna, and the rubber-protected USB, serial and antenna connections are sure to. Built with rugged IPX-7 casing, the device will withstand the rigours of the outdoor world with ease.
An omnidirectional navigation pad and a page button control most of the device’s functions, allowing the user to skim through the device’s menu, map, compass and GPS acquisition screens. The device’s other buttons are largely contextual, changing roles depending on the screen currently in use, though this isn’t too difficult to adjust to after some use.
The GPSmap 60’s external Helix antenna certainly looks the part, but it didn’t provide speedy GPS signal acquisition. Cold starts averaged over three and a half minutes under a clear sky, although warm acquisition times occurred in a more bearable 30 seconds. Although it’s understandable that handheld GPS devices don’t acquire signals with the same speed as their automotive counterparts, these times can be excruciatingly slow for the earnest hiker.
Working off two AA batteries the GPSmap 60 can run for a total of 28 hours, making it suitable for long trips.
Garmin doesn’t specify the GPSmap 60’s GPS receiver, though it is WAAS-enabled so it will provide an accurate GPS signal to within five metres. Map navigation is also simple thanks to the navigation pad; although the mouse pointer doesn’t exactly look appealing it is fairly quick.
An internal base map provides at least some graphical representation of the user’s current position and surroundings. Detail remains fairly sparse and essentially limited to city locations and the major arterial roads for each main city, but this should be enough for finding basic bearings. The device has the same Highway mode found on the GPS 60, but if you’re not near a major highway you are going to be looking at nothing but a blank screen.
The GPSmap 60 connects to a PC through either a USB or serial connection, and utilises Garmin’s own MapSource software for syncing the device’s tracks and waypoints as well as pre-planning routes. Without expandable memory, the GPSmap 60 is limited to its 24MB of internal memory for map and waypoint storage, but this is enough to replace the integrated base map with a specific topographical or city street map.
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