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EDIT: Owner review - Garmin E-trex Vista GPS

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  • edwardripleyduggan
    ... Hello Jesse, This is an extremely promising first review, marred (unfortunately) by use of the third person ( you etc.). I have started your edit, but I
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 29, 2005
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      --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "ratintraining"
      <mccu420@c...> wrote:
      > Garmin E-trex Vista GPS Unit

      Hello Jesse,

      This is an extremely promising first review, marred (unfortunately) by
      use of the third person ("you" etc.). I have started your edit, but I
      didn't completely revise, as I found myself unduly bothered by this
      particular problem.

      On BGT, this is termed "projecting" -- basically, telling the reader
      what their experience will be, rather than providing yours. It's
      avoided by (most) reviewers in any field, in fact. Please go through
      and correct it all to first person (I, me, mine), I've provided some
      examples to help you. Alternatively, you may be able to find
      workarounds e.g. "can be accessed" for "you can access."

      I've also made some suggestions regarding operation of the unit. I
      will not insist that you incorporate these (though they should be of
      use to any GPS user) with the important exception of the edit on using
      setup to convert the GPS unit to metric. Even in the US this can be
      handy; some USGS maps (for the Adirondacks, for example) have metric

      Again, a very good review, and one which should progress swiftly once
      we get over this bump.


      BGT OR Editor

      ### EDIT Owner Review Garmin E-trex Vista GPS Unit

      > Personal biographical information
      > o Name: Jesse McCulloch
      > o Age: 23
      > o Gender: Male
      > o Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
      > o Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
      > o Email address: mccu420@c...
      > o City and State: Hillsboro, Oregon
      > o Date: June 29, 2005

      ### EDIT The review date isn't really personal biographical
      information. For the convenience of the reader, I do like to see it in
      proximity to the title above, maybe on a line above the bio in the form

      Review date: June 29, 2005

      > o Backpacking background: I began backpacking as a Boy Scout
      > around the age of 14. Last year, I began training for a group at
      > work called the Reach and Treat (RAT) team. The RAT team is an
      > ambulance crew with specialized rescue skills sent out into the
      > wilderness to treat or stabilize injured persons in the
      > backcountry. While training for a coveted position on the RAT team,
      > I remembered the joy of backpacking, and have since dug out all my
      > equipment, purchased some stuff I felt I needed, and have once again
      > discovered the joys of living off by back in the woods.

      EDIT: Good and short (100 words is preferred), but try to indicate
      your backpacking style--ultralight, light, moderate, kitchen-sink...

      > Product information
      > o Manufacturer: Garmin
      > o Year of manufacture: 2002
      > o Manufacturer web site: http://www.garmin.com/
      > o Listed weight: 5.3 oz
      > o Weight as delivered: Unknown, did not weigh at delivery

      ### EDIT: Since nothing will have changed, call it "Weight as
      received" (as the unit weight will not not changed since receipt) and
      get a nice accurate weight with and without batteries. Try your local
      PO, if they are obliging, or an accurate kitchen or home postal scale.
      Do state whether the quoted weight from Garmin includes or excludes

      > o MSRP: $289.27 USD
      > Field information
      > o Location of testing: NW Oregon and SW Washington
      > o Description of location: Mostly mountainous terrain with
      > some alpine trekking above the tree line, but for the most part it
      > has been used trekking below the tree line in moderate tree cover.
      > It was also used on a trip part way up Mount Hood.

      ### EDIT Please indicate (with conversions) the approximate elevation
      range over which the GPS has been used. Especially in terms of the
      altimeter (which is partly barometric) this is fairly significant
      information in this case.

      > o Weather conditions: The unit has been used on hot, humid
      > days, dark rainy days, and everything in between. It has been used
      > while mountaineering, but has never seen a snowy day. It has been
      > subjected to freezing temperatures, but not while it has been
      > snowing.
      > General information
      > The Garmin E-trex Vista GPS (hereafter known as Vista) is a compact
      > unit designed to give you

      ### EDIT. Please cut "you" The sentence works without it, and all BGT
      reviews are written first-person (I, me, my). This avoids projecting
      your experience as a reviewer on the user's probable experience. See
      my note at top.

      a moderately accurate idea of where on
      > earth you are. The Vista does this by first receiving signals from
      > U.S. Government Satellites

      ### EDIT satellites [lower case]

      in geo-synchronous orbit. Second, it
      > takes the signals received and uses them to triangulate its
      > position. Third, it outputs this information to the screen in the
      > format that you choose.
      > Garmin's website lists the Vista's accuracy as being less than 15
      > meters. This means that the position it gives you will be within 15
      > meters of where you are standing. The Vista also has Wide Area
      > Augmentation System (WAAS) capability. WAAS is a series of ground
      > stations that send out corrective signals to the Vista that correct
      > for atmospheric disturbance, and greatly increase the accuracy of
      > the Vista. With WAAS activated, the accuracy of the Vista is less
      > than 3 meters. The downside to using the WAAS is battery life
      > significantly decreases.

      ### EDIT: suggestion and note, really. You may want to note that the
      WAAS satellites are equatorial, and because of the resulting low angle
      at higher latitudes, achieving a lock is frequently impossible,
      rendering the WAAS feature problematic. Just FYI, WAAS satellites are
      those numbered 33 or greater; 33, 37, 39 & 44 are the four that may be
      accessed from N. America, although which you can theoretically lock
      depends on where you are. I personally leave WAAS off, except when sea
      kayaking, where it works well.

      > Description of unit
      > I found the Vista very user friendly. Upon startup, the unit shows
      > owner information with name and address in case you

      EDIT: "I lose it" ot "it gets lost"

      lose it and a
      > very honest person finds it. It then goes to a title screen that
      > shows the E-trex logo and a small animation. Then it automatically
      > takes you to the satellite main page. There are six main pages,
      > including satellite, map, compass, altimeter, trip computer, and
      > main menu. By pressing the top button on the right side, you can
      > scroll through the different main pages.
      > Main page descriptions
      > The satellite main page shows a small circle, a larger circle around
      > it marked with N, S, E, and W, and a bunch of really small circles
      > that are numbered. While this sounds complicated already, it is
      > really just a graphic representation of where the satellites are in
      > regards to the unit. The outer circle represents the horizon, and
      > the inner circle represents 45 degrees above the horizon. The very
      > middle of the inner circle represents directly overhead. The
      > smaller numbered circles represent different satellites, and their
      > position is shown on the circles, or in between them. At the bottom
      > of the screen there is also a bar graph with the numbers of all the
      > satellites above running along the bottom. This shows you the
      > signal strength for each satellite.

      ### EDIT You may want to mention that the orientation of the device
      in regard to the satellites is important, and that you can (for
      example) find that you are blocking a swath of usable satellites with
      your body, or that rotating the unit so the aerial is aligned witha
      cluster will accelerate satellite acquisition.

      > In my experience it take an average of 5

      ### EDIT five {numbers less than ten in text are written out}

      minutes for the Vista to
      > acquire the satellites and be ready to navigate. Under heavy cover,
      > it can take longer, while on a clear day above the tree line it took
      > less than 2

      ### EDIT two

      minutes. Once the unit has acquired enough signals, it
      > displays "Ready to navigate" and tells you how accurate its readings
      > are.
      > Pressing the top button on the right side once will switch you to
      > the map page. On this page you will see a triangle surrounded by a
      > circle in the center of the display.

      ### EDIT Again, just a note/suggestion. Location is the center of the

      This is where you are,

      ### This is my location, and the point of the triangle represents the
      direction I'm facing" A suggested wording.

      and the
      > point of the triangle is the direction you are facing. The circle
      > represents the current accuracy of the Vista. The Vista comes
      > preloaded with a base map for the area in which you purchased it.
      > Mine came with a North America base map. This map includes major
      > roadways and points of interest. You can also upload maps to the
      > Vista using Garmin's MapSource Software. One of the things I was
      > disappointed by is that no other brand software maps can be uploaded
      > to the Vista.

      ### EDIT/COMMENT Although waypoints can be uploaded from/downloaded to
      other software that supports this.

      The top two buttons on the right side allow you to
      > zoom in and out on the map, allowing greater or less detail to be
      > shown.
      First, you can adjust
      > the elevation scale shown on the screen. These increments, in feet,
      > are 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 2500, and 5000.

      ### EDIT Please provide metric equivalents. I believe (well, I'm
      certain) you can set this page to metric entirely (through Units in
      Setup). This is an important point for folks in, for example, Canada,
      which is far more heavily metricized than here. If correct, rather
      than convert directly, perhaps you could give the metric zoom
      equivalents rather than merely converting the foot measure to meters.

      This means, if you
      > have it set at 200 feet, the bottom to the top of the screen
      > represents 200 feet. If you have it set at 5000 feet, the bottom to
      > the top of the screen represents 5000 feet. Second, you can adjust
      > the time scale shown on the screen. These increments are 2 minutes,
      > 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 2 hours.

      ### EDIT In this case, as it is a sequence of times, leave as 2, 5
      etc., or change all times to word form. I'd probably do the latter for
      consistency, and in the para below.

      > This means, if you have it set for 5 minutes, the space from the
      > left of the screen to the right of the screen represents the last 5
      > minutes. If you have it set for 2 hours, the space from the left of
      > the screen to the right of the screen represents the last 2 hours.
      > The next main page you get by pressing the top button on the right
      > side of the Vista is the trip computer. This screen is a completely
      > customizable information center. It has four large information
      > fields, and four small information fields. In alphabetical order,
      > the following list is what information you can ask to be shown in
      > any of these fields. Bearing, course, current destination, current
      > distance, current estimated time of arrival, elevation, final
      > destination, final distance, final estimated time of arrival, GPS
      > accuracy, glide ratio, glide ratio to destination, heading, location
      > in latitude/longitude, location in user specified format, maximum
      > speed, moving average speed, odometer, distance off course, overall
      > average speed, pointer, speed, sunrise, sunset, time of day, trip
      > odometer, trip time moving, trip time stopped, trio

      ### EDIT trip

      time total, and
      > vertical speed. By customizing this screen, you can adapt the Vista
      > for whatever you might be using it for.

      ### EDIT Last "for" not needed.

      > The final page you can access by pressing the top button on the
      > right side of the Vista is the main menu. The main menu has 6 icons
      > that take you into secondary menu pages. These icons are labeled
      > Mark, Find, Routes, Tracks, Setup, and Accessories. The Mark icon
      > allows you to set waypoints, label them, and save them. The Find
      > icon allows you to search through your saved waypoints. The Routes
      > icon allows you to link multiple waypoints into a path for you trip,
      > and then save this information. The tracks icon allows you to see
      > the exact route you have taken while the unit has been turned on,
      > and backtrack this exact route if you need to. The Setup icon
      > allows you to adjust the settings, such as location format
      > (latitude/longitude, UTM, custom format), time, date, and other
      > information. The Accessories icon contains a calendar, calculator,
      > area calculator, sun and moon chart, and a hunting and fishing tool
      > that tells you the best times that day to hunt and fish in the
      > particular area you are in.
      > Conclusions
      > I believe that the Garmin E-trex Vista is a very functional tool to
      > be added to anybody's list of equipment. It can be customized to
      > different tasks depending on your needs, and is easily switched when
      > needed for a different task. I would like to caution anybody
      > considering buying any GPS, remember, a

      ### EDIT to remember that a

      GPS is an electronic tool
      > that should be used in conjunction with a good map and compass. Any
      > electrical device can fail, and by bringing a map and compass you
      > keep a margin of safety available that could save your life.
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