Garmin GPSMAP 76

Relatively cheap but somewhat flawed.

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Garmin GPSMAP 76
  • Garmin GPSMAP 76
  • Garmin GPSMAP 76
  • Garmin GPSMAP 76
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5

Pros

  • Inexpensive, external antenna connection

Cons

  • Limited memory, slow performance, no direct USB connectivity, no electronic compass

Bottom Line

Though a relatively cheap price point is sure to entice, several gaps in functionality make the GPSMAP 76 somewhat undesirable. It is functional if PC connectivity isn’t paramount, but for the most part it's worth paying more for the extra features.

Would you buy this?

Garmin’s GPSMAP 76 is a basic, relatively cheap and functional handheld GPS unit, although it has some drawbacks. Nevertheless, if you’re an intrepid traveller in need of basic direction for your latest outdoor adventure, the GPSMAP 76 may suit you.

The most striking thing about this unit is its design. Departing from Garmin’s signature looks, the GPSMAP 76 is a rather bulky device that is roughly double the size of the 2.8in display. The device’s buttons are positioned above the screen rather than below, giving it a seemingly awkward look. Because of this, the device requires a slight adjustment in the way you use it — you’ll have to use the buttons from the side rather than the bottom.

Apart from these design changes, the GPSMAP 76 retains the basic button layout of Garmin’s other buttoned handheld GPS units: a seven-button layout with a four-way navigational pad. As some of the buttons are context-sensitive, the control scheme may take some getting used to for newcomers, but regular users of Garmin units will be right at home.

Like Garmin’s GPSmap 60, the GPSMAP 76 is fairly light on specifications. The device lacks an electronic compass, has no expansion options and includes just 8MB of integrated memory. The unit’s integrated base map provides basic information for most Pacific countries, displaying capital cities, major roads and railways, rivers, and nautical topography.

For those in need of more detail, the memory should suffice — to an extent. However, with Garmin’s BlueChart Pacific nautical map, which has a retail price of $249, being the only official option, potential users may have to do some searching to find detailed third-party maps to suit their needs.

Unfortunately, there are several other drawbacks to this unit. Most obvious is the lack of a colour screen, which restricts users to a 4-level greyscale display. Adding colour attracts a $200 premium, detracting from the unit’s value. For most people, however, colour may well be a luxury; although colour can make it easier to differentiate between map features, black-and-white should be adequate for most users.

Nevertheless, connectivity is a harder drawback to overlook. Given the ubiquity of USB connections, finding a serial connection as standard on the GPSMAP 76 is somewhat strange, and it prevented us from being able to test the device’s connectivity features. A USB adapter is available from Garmin for $79, but we’re disappointed that it isn't included as a standard feature.

Speed is also clearly sacrificed to save costs. The map redraw rate is particularly slow; each time you zoom in on a map, it will take three to four seconds for the map to be fully viewable. Thankfully, the unit will wait until a user’s preferred view has been fully selected rather than attempting to redraw at each step, but it still remains an annoyance.

Although there aren’t any major problems with the GPSMAP 76, several gaps in functionality and slow performance in some areas make this unit less appealing despite its cheap price point.

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