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Garmin Oregon 450T/550T vs Delorme PN-60+Spot

#1 User is offline   JIMIP 

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 06:28 PM

I recently lost my Garmin 400T and I am in the market for a new unit. I liked pretty much everything about the 400t except for one thing. I know others out there that have this unit will agree that the main issue it has is the poor reception with even minimal tree cover.

As I said I like the 400 and am inclined to replace it just with an upgrade but I have also been admiring the Delorme. The unit I have been looking at is this one:

http://www.rei.com/product/801769

I have a discount and a dividend to use at REI so it should be reasonable. I like the spot unit with the Delorme and think it is a cool idea to log travel and keep up with friends and family while traveling. What I want to know is is the Delorme any better than the Garmin under trees and what is the operaton as compared to it. I also wonder about the smaller screen size as the Delorme's screen is a bit smaller than the Garmin I really enjoyed the touch screen on the Garmin and I just bought a not cheap memory card for it but I wonder if the other features on the Delorme make it worth changing systems. Lastly I am planning a trip to Europe this summer and would like to use either one over there and wonder if the map packs are cost prohibitive on either one of them.

I probably have more to say but I have already gone on long enough so I will end this here. Any opinions will be greatly appreciated.

#2 User is offline   t4e 

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 06:34 PM

no idea what the Delorme is like but Oregon 450 or 550 are excellent and infinitely improved from the 400, we have one of each 450 and 550 and we have absolutely no problems with reception

#3 User is offline   MtnHermit 

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 07:14 PM

Spot is absolutely unique and Garmin's AT&T solution isn't even close. However, I don't think you'll find any European maps for Delorme, be sure to check.

#4 User is offline   JIMIP 

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 07:18 PM

 MtnHermit, on 20 March 2011 - 07:14 PM, said:

Spot is absolutely unique and Garmin's AT&T solution isn't even close. However, I don't think you'll find any European maps for Delorme, be sure to check.


And this would be a deciding factor for me not matter how intriguing the SPOT feature is.

#5 User is offline   Wampus-N-Pickle 

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 08:02 PM

About 6 months ago my wife put her foot down and said that geocaching with me and my Garmin Oregon 450 is not much fun. I couldn’t argue with her on this one: it really isn’t fun following around someone with a GPS. She said she wanted her own GPS. Being a guy, how could I pass up a chance to spend money on an electronic device – and have the wife’s approval at the same time?

I decided to go with a different brand than Garmin. The consensus here on the forum is that nobody made the perfect GPS. Combine my Garmin with another brand, well, then between the two of us, we might have the near-perfect GPS. After doing some feature searching, I decided to get her the PN-60 (without the SPOT). She liked it because it was bright red.

All of my observations here are based on the PN-60 and its firmware from a few months back. I do not know if the unit’s performance has been improved in future firmware released.

PN-60 advantages Over Garmin:
• Maps! Maps! Maps! The unit comes with a bunch of discs containing maps! How awesome is that? A GPS that comes with maps! Take that, Garmin!
• Unlimited Geocaches. Being a geocacher, this seemed like a big plus. More on that later, though…
• Image download subscriptions: pretty much everything but the kitchen sink – satellite, 24k maps, etc.
• Comes with Topo USA 9.0. I never used it before, but I figured anything was better than Basecamp and/or Map Source. Note that Basecamp has improved quite a bit since then.

So, I went to REI and picked up the PN-60 and brought it home. First thing I noticed was that it didn’t use a mini-USB connector. Well, I figured Delorme would probably argue that their funky port was more waterproof than Garmin’s… not really a big deal – just one more custom USB cable I needed to keep track of…but if I lost it, I’d be hosed.

Reading thru the PN-60 docs, I noticed mentions of a “1,500 geocache limit”. Yes – you can have unlimited geocaches – but you can only have 1,500 geocaches in a single GPX – and only one GPX enabled at one time. I live in Orange County, California. I have 1000s of caches within a 10 mile radius of me. I generate a large GPX (4000 or so caches) using GSAK and send it out to the Garmin.

With the PN-60, I needed to come up with a way to sub-divide Orange County into caching regions (i.e., north, south, east, west) to keep the PN-60 happy…luckily GSAK had a macro for that. Once the aches were on the unit, I noticed that instead of parsing the HTML tags, it simply displayed them in the cache description (i.e., ‘<bold>’, etc). That made it really hard to read cache descriptions. I’m not sure if that’s Delorme’s problem or GSAKs… but luckily, GSAK had a macro that removed HTML from the cache descriptions. So, finally, I got GSAK to send 4000 or so caches placed into multiple GPXes to the PN-60, but it takes multiple steps/macros to make it happen.

I figured that once we got the caches onto the PN-60, we could go out and have some fun and find caches. Using the Oregon, I hit the “Geocache” button and instantly, a list of nearby caches comes up. With the PN-60, EVERY TIME I requested a list of caches, the unit comes up with a “sorting…” message. 20 to 30 seconds later, the cache list appears. I think the sort time on the PN-60 might give a bubble sort on an Apple IIe a run for its money. This is the 21st century - sorting 1,500 items should be INSTANT. Seesh – I’d have argued that point 15 years ago. The unit is pretty much a doorstop during the sorting process. It isn’t even like you could use the SPOT to send a message to your friend caching with his Droid who’s already run off ahead of you and say, “Wait for me! My GPS is busy doing something annoying!” Having the unit crash a few times (don't press buttons too fast!) was icing on the cake. I brought it back to REI.

#6 User is offline   JIMIP 

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 08:19 PM

 Wampus-N-Pickle, on 20 March 2011 - 08:02 PM, said:

About 6 months ago my wife put her foot down and said that geocaching with me and my Garmin Oregon 450 is not much fun. I couldn’t argue with her on this one: it really isn’t fun following around someone with a GPS. She said she wanted her own GPS. Being a guy, how could I pass up a chance to spend money on an electronic device – and have the wife’s approval at the same time?

I decided to go with a different brand than Garmin. The consensus here on the forum is that nobody made the perfect GPS. Combine my Garmin with another brand, well, then between the two of us, we might have the near-perfect GPS. After doing some feature searching, I decided to get her the PN-60 (without the SPOT). She liked it because it was bright red.

All of my observations here are based on the PN-60 and its firmware from a few months back. I do not know if the unit’s performance has been improved in future firmware released.

PN-60 advantages Over Garmin:
• Maps! Maps! Maps! The unit comes with a bunch of discs containing maps! How awesome is that? A GPS that comes with maps! Take that, Garmin!
• Unlimited Geocaches. Being a geocacher, this seemed like a big plus. More on that later, though…
• Image download subscriptions: pretty much everything but the kitchen sink – satellite, 24k maps, etc.
• Comes with Topo USA 9.0. I never used it before, but I figured anything was better than Basecamp and/or Map Source. Note that Basecamp has improved quite a bit since then.

So, I went to REI and picked up the PN-60 and brought it home. First thing I noticed was that it didn’t use a mini-USB connector. Well, I figured Delorme would probably argue that their funky port was more waterproof than Garmin’s… not really a big deal – just one more custom USB cable I needed to keep track of…but if I lost it, I’d be hosed.

Reading thru the PN-60 docs, I noticed mentions of a “1,500 geocache limit”. Yes – you can have unlimited geocaches – but you can only have 1,500 geocaches in a single GPX – and only one GPX enabled at one time. I live in Orange County, California. I have 1000s of caches within a 10 mile radius of me. I generate a large GPX (4000 or so caches) using GSAK and send it out to the Garmin.

With the PN-60, I needed to come up with a way to sub-divide Orange County into caching regions (i.e., north, south, east, west) to keep the PN-60 happy…luckily GSAK had a macro for that. Once the aches were on the unit, I noticed that instead of parsing the HTML tags, it simply displayed them in the cache description (i.e., ‘<bold>’, etc). That made it really hard to read cache descriptions. I’m not sure if that’s Delorme’s problem or GSAKs… but luckily, GSAK had a macro that removed HTML from the cache descriptions. So, finally, I got GSAK to send 4000 or so caches placed into multiple GPXes to the PN-60, but it takes multiple steps/macros to make it happen.

I figured that once we got the caches onto the PN-60, we could go out and have some fun and find caches. Using the Oregon, I hit the “Geocache” button and instantly, a list of nearby caches comes up. With the PN-60, EVERY TIME I requested a list of caches, the unit comes up with a “sorting…” message. 20 to 30 seconds later, the cache list appears. I think the sort time on the PN-60 might give a bubble sort on an Apple IIe a run for its money. This is the 21st century - sorting 1,500 items should be INSTANT. Seesh – I’d have argued that point 15 years ago. The unit is pretty much a doorstop during the sorting process. It isn’t even like you could use the SPOT to send a message to your friend caching with his Droid who’s already run off ahead of you and say, “Wait for me! My GPS is busy doing something annoying!” Having the unit crash a few times (don't press buttons too fast!) was icing on the cake. I brought it back to REI.



Well I appreciate that post, as far as the SPOT thing goes I was more looking to use it as something to post travel progress to friends and family. I also thought it would be kind of a cool thing to remember progress to myself as well. The primary function to me would be geocaching and your post was quite helpful in that.

I wonder if anyone can tell me the real difference between the 550T and the 450T.

#7 User is offline   OldA'sFan 

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 08:53 PM

I have an Oregon 450 and love it. I get good reception in all types of terrain. The basic differance between the 450t and 550t is the 550 has a camera. I suggest that you consider getting the 450 rather than the 450t. You can then download free maps that are as good, if not better than Garmim maps. This will save you some dollars plus the free maps are outstanding. I had an Oregon 300 prior to getting the 450. I think you will see a noticable improvement in the screen and in the compass.

#8 User is offline   dakboy 

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 04:53 AM

 JIMIP, on 20 March 2011 - 07:18 PM, said:

 MtnHermit, on 20 March 2011 - 07:14 PM, said:

Spot is absolutely unique and Garmin's AT&T solution isn't even close. However, I don't think you'll find any European maps for Delorme, be sure to check.


And this would be a deciding factor for me not matter how intriguing the SPOT feature is.

Then you aren't the target audience for the PN-60+SPOT. If you have no plans to go to Europe but frequently go into the backcountry of the western US alone, the PN-60+SPOT may be exactly what you need.

#9 User is offline   JIMIP 

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 12:06 PM

 dakboy, on 21 March 2011 - 04:53 AM, said:

 JIMIP, on 20 March 2011 - 07:18 PM, said:

 MtnHermit, on 20 March 2011 - 07:14 PM, said:

Spot is absolutely unique and Garmin's AT&T solution isn't even close. However, I don't think you'll find any European maps for Delorme, be sure to check.


And this would be a deciding factor for me not matter how intriguing the SPOT feature is.

Then you aren't the target audience for the PN-60+SPOT. If you have no plans to go to Europe but frequently go into the backcountry of the western US alone, the PN-60+SPOT may be exactly what you need.


For the SPOT or is there something inherent in the quality of the PN-60 itself. For me the SPOT would not be about emergency SOS feature. I have a 5 year old daughter I will not be going far enough into the back country to need rescued in quite some time. As I have said I like the tracking/check-in feature for a toy more than any thing else. I think it is a cool way to keep track of yourself even and a way to rememeber where you were at certain points in a given trip you are on but I am not sure if the additional cost of the unit plus the subscription fee is worth it for that.

#10 User is offline   dakboy 

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 12:35 PM

 JIMIP, on 21 March 2011 - 12:06 PM, said:

 dakboy, on 21 March 2011 - 04:53 AM, said:

 JIMIP, on 20 March 2011 - 07:18 PM, said:

 MtnHermit, on 20 March 2011 - 07:14 PM, said:

Spot is absolutely unique and Garmin's AT&T solution isn't even close. However, I don't think you'll find any European maps for Delorme, be sure to check.


And this would be a deciding factor for me not matter how intriguing the SPOT feature is.

Then you aren't the target audience for the PN-60+SPOT. If you have no plans to go to Europe but frequently go into the backcountry of the western US alone, the PN-60+SPOT may be exactly what you need.


For the SPOT or is there something inherent in the quality of the PN-60 itself. For me the SPOT would not be about emergency SOS feature. I have a 5 year old daughter I will not be going far enough into the back country to need rescued in quite some time. As I have said I like the tracking/check-in feature for a toy more than any thing else. I think it is a cool way to keep track of yourself even and a way to rememeber where you were at certain points in a given trip you are on but I am not sure if the additional cost of the unit plus the subscription fee is worth it for that.

I understood your post to mean that the PN-60+SPOT wouldn't work for you because the PN-60 doesn't have European maps. The GPS itself is a great unit, and people have been happy with the SPOT AFAIK, but if you're primarily in Europe, that setup is probably not for you simply on the basis of the devices being North America-centric.

#11 User is offline   JIMIP 

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 01:05 PM

 dakboy, on 21 March 2011 - 12:35 PM, said:

 JIMIP, on 21 March 2011 - 12:06 PM, said:

 dakboy, on 21 March 2011 - 04:53 AM, said:

 JIMIP, on 20 March 2011 - 07:18 PM, said:

 MtnHermit, on 20 March 2011 - 07:14 PM, said:

Spot is absolutely unique and Garmin's AT&T solution isn't even close. However, I don't think you'll find any European maps for Delorme, be sure to check.


And this would be a deciding factor for me not matter how intriguing the SPOT feature is.

Then you aren't the target audience for the PN-60+SPOT. If you have no plans to go to Europe but frequently go into the backcountry of the western US alone, the PN-60+SPOT may be exactly what you need.


For the SPOT or is there something inherent in the quality of the PN-60 itself. For me the SPOT would not be about emergency SOS feature. I have a 5 year old daughter I will not be going far enough into the back country to need rescued in quite some time. As I have said I like the tracking/check-in feature for a toy more than any thing else. I think it is a cool way to keep track of yourself even and a way to rememeber where you were at certain points in a given trip you are on but I am not sure if the additional cost of the unit plus the subscription fee is worth it for that.

I understood your post to mean that the PN-60+SPOT wouldn't work for you because the PN-60 doesn't have European maps. The GPS itself is a great unit, and people have been happy with the SPOT AFAIK, but if you're primarily in Europe, that setup is probably not for you simply on the basis of the devices being North America-centric.


No the Europe thing would probably be a one time deal really the units would mainly be used for geocaching around home. I really would like to know how the units them selves hold up side by side taking the SPOT out of the equation.

#12 User is offline   dakboy 

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 04:13 PM

 JIMIP, on 21 March 2011 - 01:05 PM, said:

No the Europe thing would probably be a one time deal really the units would mainly be used for geocaching around home. I really would like to know how the units them selves hold up side by side taking the SPOT out of the equation.

The DeLorme PN-series units are very, very sturdy.

IIRC, they use the same GPS chipset as the Oregons, so as far as accuracy they're pretty much identical.

It really comes down to personal preference for the majority of people. Get both in your hands at a store & see which one agrees with you.

I fried my PN-40 Friday night (power issue which has since been fixed by a design change) and nearly cried.

#13 User is offline   embra 

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 04:31 PM

There are international maps now available for the PN series. (Read about it here) The cost is a penny per 100 sq km, with a $10 minimum. They are topo maps that include main highways but *not* detailed streets, and I don't think they are routable streets. So it depends on what you require as to whether they would meet your needs.

A comment on the long sorting times noted above: I am under an impression that it tends to bog down as described with larger files, but I just tried a 500-cache PQ. It took 30 seconds to load it into active memory from the SD card, but once there it sorts in 3 seconds.

If you can get into REI to look at the screen, that might be the best thing to do. I'm happy enough with it, but coming of the Oregon it might seem pretty small. It is a very readable screen, which helps make up for the smaller size.

#14 User is offline   ao318 

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 08:49 PM

The sorting thing is only an issue when you try to access it via the menu settings vs the find button. If you try to view your caches via the menu button and then choose caches, it rebuilds and takes a little while to do. If you just hit the find button, the caches refresh very quickly.

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