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Which Garmin Oregon to Buy?

#1 User is offline   simpsonslv 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 01:11 PM

I am an intermediate Geocacher (out on the weekends with the family) and am looking to buy my first GPS. I have used Garmin and been very happy with them so am focused on their Oregon line.

I have 2 questions:

1. How crucial are Topo maps (ex. 400 vs. 400t or 450 vs. 450t)? I was going to go with a t model, but wondering whether it's more than I need? Particularly with Garmin releasing the satellite imagery download package, do I need the topo?

2. 450 vs. 400? While I had focused on the 450 due to the 3 axis compass, with prices coming down on the 400 I am now thinking about it. Will I be sorry later if I don't go with the 450?

Your thoughts are appreciated as I close in on this decision.

Thanks,

simpsonslv

#2 User is offline   Red90 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 01:17 PM

1) How hilly is it where you live and do you want to know if there is a hill between you and the cache?

2) The 450 does not exist yet, so it is impossible for anyone to provide a knowledgeable comment.

#3 User is offline   fourbeer 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:05 PM

View PostRed90, on Jan 15 2010, 02:17 PM, said:

1) How hilly is it where you live and do you want to know if there is a hill between you and the cache?

2) The 450 does not exist yet, so it is impossible for anyone to provide a knowledgeable comment.


Since the specs have been published by Garmin, you could do it this way.

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/compare.do?cID=...reProduct=63350

#4 User is offline   StarBrand 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:22 PM

I think there enough free maps availble online that Garmin's maps don't interest me anymore. I got the Oregon 200 and added some free maps. Keep in mind however that it does not have the electronic compass or altimeter and no sounds for autorouting.

#5 User is offline   Chrysalides 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:32 PM

My feelings regarding maps are the same as StarBrand's. I own an Oregon 300.

Even if you want Garmin maps, you may want to consider getting the 24k map for your region instead. They seem like a better value to me, unless you intend to travel widely all around the U.S.

If you can, go into a store and try the display of the 550/550t vs. the x00. The 450 is likely to be similar to the 550. Then decide if you can wait till it's released.

#6 User is offline   ecanderson 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:45 PM

View Postsimpsonslv, on Jan 15 2010, 02:11 PM, said:

I have used Garmin and been very happy with them so am focused on their Oregon line.

I have 2 questions:

1. How crucial are Topo maps (ex. 400 vs. 400t or 450 vs. 450t)? I was going to go with a t model, but wondering whether it's more than I need? Particularly with Garmin releasing the satellite imagery download package, do I need the topo?
Only if you want to see the information that the topo provides - but if you do, these are readily available for free at gpsfiledepot.com - no need to add to your cost.

Quote

2. 450 vs. 400? While I had focused on the 450 due to the 3 axis compass, with prices coming down on the 400 I am now thinking about it. Will I be sorry later if I don't go with the 450?
Another alternative (with a screen that's a little easier to read) is the Dakota 20. You get the touch screen and 3-axis compass on this unit, too. I use the heck out of my mag compass when caching, and having recently traded up from my Summit HC to a Dakota 20, can attest to the quality of its operation.

#7 User is offline   Viper715 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 03:06 PM

Not to highjack this thread but do the oregons or dakotas have the ability to render the free maps in 3D and how useful is the 3D anyway?

#8 User is offline   simpsonslv 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 03:17 PM

Thanks everyone for the great advice. I was looking at the Dakota 20 and then they released the 450 which seems to have everything the Dakota does in a larger format and presumably the easier to read screen.

The free maps I was unaware of - thanks for that tip. Seems I can save a bit by skipping the reloaded topo.

#9 User is offline   snowfleurys 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:31 PM

Quote

... Not to highjack this thread but do the oregons or dakotas have the ability to render the free maps in 3D and how useful is the 3D anyway?

No; currently only Garmin knows the format the file with the elevation data needs to be in to create the 3D image. How useful depends on how 'contour line challenged' the user is and how detailed the elevation grid used to create the 3D image is. Contour lines have much more detail about the landforms and surface, whereas 3D images convey a pictorial of what the suroundings look like or would look like if you were at that location. Depends on your needs and abilities, the detail of the data, and how much the GPSr allows the view to be changed.

#10 User is offline   snowfleurys 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:01 PM

Quote

1. How crucial are Topo maps (ex. 400 vs. 400t or 450 vs. 450t)? I was going to go with a t model, but wondering whether it's more than I need? Particularly with Garmin releasing the satellite imagery download package, do I need the topo?


Since you stated you have already geocached without a GPSr unit; did you use a printed topo map to help you? A topo map will seldom help you locate a cache; but it can be a great help in planning your route to a cache; as in starting were a more level route to a cache is available, or not approaching from the top of a cliff.
Satellite imagery does not convey much information about elevations or local relief, however it may help you avoid vegetation which would be difficult to go through. Garmin gave little useful info about the imagery; however, detailed imagery takes a lot a space for a not very large area. You could be spending a lot of time downloading the files and uploading to the GPSr. At the current limit of 10,000 by 10,000 pixels, using a resolution of 1 meter would only cover an area of 10 by 10 km or 6 by 6 miles; at 1 foot resolution it would be less than 2 by 2 miles.

Users of DeLorme units have had nearly 3 years to see how and in what manner imagery is useful for geocaching. Best they say from their first hand experiences.

#11 User is offline   eaparks 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 06:57 PM

View PostViper715, on Jan 15 2010, 06:06 PM, said:

Not to highjack this thread but do the oregons or dakotas have the ability to render the free maps in 3D and how useful is the 3D anyway?
Personally I've never found a vary practical use for the 3D imagery, topo much better for my uses. The 3D is sort of fun to look at, at first, but now that I've had my Oregon for almost a year I haven't looked at the 3D in at least 7 months.

This post has been edited by eaparks: 15 January 2010 - 06:57 PM


#12 User is offline   sduck 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:21 PM

The 3 axis compass is great - I have the 550t and it's a vast improvement over the old compasses.

The topo maps that come with the t models is nice eye candy, but I could do without easily enough - I ended up with the t model instead of the 550 just cause I got lucky in an ebay auction. Having real topo maps instead of the shaded relief things would be an improvement.

#13 User is offline   vds 

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 09:32 PM

View PostStarBrand, on Jan 15 2010, 02:22 PM, said:

I think there enough free maps availble online that Garmin's maps don't interest me anymore. I got the Oregon 200 and added some free maps. Keep in mind however that it does not have the electronic compass or altimeter and no sounds for autorouting.


I just received my Oregon 200 the other day and my initial impression is that it's "basically" similar to my old eTrex Legend blue with the addition of touch screen eye candy, profiles, field notes, paperless caching, field notes, color display, micro SD expandability, and ability to add maps and satellite imagery :-)

Seriously, the display 'is' a bit hard to read with the backlight off in even overcast light. I'm a little worried about how it will look in bright sunlight if Seattle ever sees the sun again. Otherwise I like it a lot. The paperless caching and field notes upload features are fabulous.

The lack of base maps is a big omission although I did add the Ibaycus USA full set of maps the other night which look pretty nice, although I was surprised to see some holes in the map coverage very near Philadelphia although the Seattle area looks well covered. Still thinking of picking up the commercial maps eventually if I can get a deal.

#14 User is offline   Redwoods Mtn Biker 

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 04:28 AM

View Postsimpsonslv, on Jan 15 2010, 03:17 PM, said:

Thanks everyone for the great advice. I was looking at the Dakota 20 and then they released the 450 which seems to have everything the Dakota does in a larger format and presumably the easier to read screen.

The free maps I was unaware of - thanks for that tip. Seems I can save a bit by skipping the reloaded topo.


We don't really know yet whether the Oregon 450 screens will be as good as the Dakotas or not. If its the same "improved" screen being used on the Oregon 550's, that is inferior to the Dakota in terms of daylight viewing.

#15 User is offline   smstext 

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 07:55 AM

as much as i like my oregon 300, the gps signal is rubbish compared to my etrex, i would look at a series 60csx as from what i hear they have a better gps reception and are much better esp under tree cover. however if the gps issue was sorted out i wouldnt have any negative points against it.

#16 User is offline   Red90 

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 08:02 AM

On the 3D question, the answer is maybe... If you have a Garmin Topo map on the unit AND the free maps, the 3D will work with the free maps. It is quite useful around here where the free maps are sometimes better than the Garmin Topo maps.

#17 User is offline   rdb3141 

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 08:45 AM

For the life of me I can't see why anyone would not buy the base unit and then buy Topo 2008, so you can use those maps in MapSource (or on another GPSr). I bought the Oregon with the coastal marine maps for $299 at West Marine - I had the Topo maps already.

#18 User is offline   jinj 

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 10:29 AM

I find the 2D compass in the 400t Oregon to be terrible, is the 3D version that much better?

Is the 3D version very usable?

#19 User is offline   ecanderson 

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 08:55 AM

View Postjinj, on Jan 16 2010, 11:29 AM, said:

I find the 2D compass in the 400t Oregon to be terrible, is the 3D version that much better?

Is the 3D version very usable?
I have a new Dakota 20, and compared to my old eTrex with "2D", the difference is like night and day. While I could use the old compass, it did require a bit of care to keep the unit level. The new one seems not to care much what I do with it. The motion is also slightly damped, and the arrow doesn't wander as much (assuming your EPE is any good). Still requires calibration when the batteries start to drop a bit, though - same PITA as all Garmin mag compass units. I just toss in a fresh set of NiMH when the first bar drops and avoid the recal.

It's worth giving one a try to see what you think. In fact, you might look at the Dakota 20 as a possible vs. the Oregon depending upon what other features you need. I found the Dakota screen a bit easier to read, although still not as easy as my old eTrex Summit HC and my friend's 60Csx.

This post has been edited by ecanderson: 17 January 2010 - 08:55 AM


#20 User is offline   Chrysalides 

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 10:19 AM

When comparing the screen of the Dakota with an Oregon, remember that the Oregon's screen has more than twice the number of pixels of the Dakota, and that they are squeezed tighter together. Take a look at detail heavy pages (map, geocache details) to see if that is important to you. If not, then get the Dakota.

#21 User is offline   simpsonslv 

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  Posted 25 January 2010 - 09:13 AM

Thanks everyone for your thoughts... Still waiting on more info on the 450, but now see Amazon has the 550 at $429 (http://www.amazon.co...64438010&sr=8-4) and seriously thinking about it.

Has anyone yet seen the 450? Is it worth waiting?

Thanks!

#22 User is offline   sapboiler 

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 03:45 PM

bought a 450t at ems yesterday used it paperless is awesome

#23 User is offline   briansnat 

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 03:37 AM

View Postsnowfleurys, on Jan 15 2010, 08:01 PM, said:

Quote

1. How crucial are Topo maps (ex. 400 vs. 400t or 450 vs. 450t)? I was going to go with a t model, but wondering whether it's more than I need? Particularly with Garmin releasing the satellite imagery download package, do I need the topo?




...Users of DeLorme units have had nearly 3 years to see how and in what manner imagery is useful for geocaching. Best they say from their first hand experiences.


I've found the satellite imagery to be of little use beyond "wow, cool". It was one of the chief reasons I went with the PN40 but I find that I rarely use it. If I look at the screen I see trees. Zoom in and I see blurry trees. Big whoop. It is probably more useful when geocaching in cities or treeless regions than in the woods.

And it is not a replacement for topo. Topo is far, far more useful than the sat imagery. With the sat imagery you can sort of tell that there is a hill there but you have no idea how steep it is. You don't see smaller streams, or most woods roads because they are obscured by trees (in areas where there are trees).

#24 User is offline   ecanderson 

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 09:49 AM

View Postbriansnat, on Jan 26 2010, 04:37 AM, said:

I've found the satellite imagery to be of little use beyond "wow, cool".
Will have to agree strongly with you on that. I use the heck out of satellite images, but only before heading out to a cache, and then on a big monitor. It's hard enough to make out the location of ditches and trails on a decent PC monitor sometimes -- I can't imagine trying to do it on a handheld Garmin screen. Heck, the big screen version is often useless when there's enough heavy tree cover to obscure everything underneath!

As briansnat says - stick with the topo data. There's a lot of free 7.5' topo detail out there waiting to be snagged.

#25 User is offline   jessjoe04 

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 10:55 AM

I don't want to steal the thread, but i have some questions as well. I am an avid hunter/ hiker/ geocacher (outdoors man in general). I have it down to Oregon 450 and Colorado 300. I want the topo and the street maps, but from what i am gathering sounds like i can get them free if i look around for them. I currenly own an Lowrance Ifinder Expedition C. I do use the topo a lot to determine best path to travel and i use the street map to navigate side streets to find my way to caches and so on.

1) what is your guys opinion of which one you think would best suite my applications?

2) Is the external antenna extra help in the case of heavy cover of deep valleys? (I live in Indiana we tend to have some dense forest at times)

3) Is the paperless caching software the same on both?

if i think of anything else i will post it
Thanks

#26 User is offline   simpsonslv 

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 06:49 PM

Got my 550 yesterday ($429 and 1 day with Amazon Prime - amazing!). Haven't been out with it yet - will cache this weekend to try it out and will report.

JessJoe, I had a Colorado 400t and returned it for the Oregon. Personally, I didn't like the rocker wheel and for the money I was spending felt that I ought to have the touchscreen. From what I have read, the accuracy on the Oregon is a bit better than the Colorado, but I have no definite proof. It did lead me to within 10 ft. of the caches I was looking for, though neither were under heavy tree cover.

#27 User is offline   Jeep4two 

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 07:34 PM

View Postsimpsonslv, on Jan 15 2010, 01:11 PM, said:

I am an intermediate Geocacher (out on the weekends with the family) and am looking to buy my first GPS. I have used Garmin and been very happy with them so am focused on their Oregon line.

I have 2 questions:

1. How crucial are Topo maps (ex. 400 vs. 400t or 450 vs. 450t)? I was going to go with a t model, but wondering whether it's more than I need? Particularly with Garmin releasing the satellite imagery download package, do I need the topo?

2. 450 vs. 400? While I had focused on the 450 due to the 3 axis compass, with prices coming down on the 400 I am now thinking about it. Will I be sorry later if I don't go with the 450?

Your thoughts are appreciated as I close in on this decision.

Thanks,

simpsonslv


At the time I bought I weighed more heavily toward the 300 due to price. However I came across a price on a 400t that made it nearly the same cost as the 400t.

That said - I've been happy with the unit in all aspects. Garmin has been proactive with trying to resolve problems and has relased new software/firmware frequently and added features over the course of those updates.

The 400t and 300 are very similar outside of the basemap - as you know the 400t includes the Topos.

Of course there are plenty of 24K topos available for free out there (gpsfiledepot) so if you can grab a 300 for less than a 400t then it seems to be a no brainer.

The 3 axis compass would be an improvement on the 400t's 2 axis, but I suspect the 450 when it is released will remain on the upper end of the price spectrum possibly making it an illogical choice.

I'd save the money and go for the 400t or even a 300 if you can save some money. In the end you are probably going to want some routable maps for your handheld to assist in getting from location to location so save your money for a nice big microSD card and some routable street maps.

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