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REPOST: Owner review - Garmin E-trex Vista GPS - Jesse McCulloch

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  • ratintraining
    OK Ted, I believe I have made all the changes you suggested, and taken out as much of the use of the word you as possible. Please review and let me know of
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 2, 2005
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      OK Ted, I believe I have made all the changes you suggested, and
      taken out as much of the use of the word "you" as possible. Please
      review and let me know of the next round of changes.

      Thanks,
      Jesse McCulloch

      Garmin E-trex Vista GPS Unit
      Review date: August 2, 2005

      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@...
      o City and State: Hillsboro, Oregon
      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. I currently
      consider myself a medium weight backpacker, but I am slowly moving
      towards lightweight packing.

      Product information
      o Manufacturer: Garmin
      o Year of manufacture: 2002
      o Manufacturer web site: http://www.garmin.com/
      o Listed weight: 5.3 oz with batteries
      o Weight as received: 5.5 oz with batteries, 4.8 oz without
      batteries
      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. It has been used
      at altitudes from sea level to a top height of approximately 9600 ft
      (2926 m).
      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 a moderately accurate idea of where on earth
      you are. The Vista does this by first receiving signals from U.S.
      Government satellites 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. WAAS satellites are located near the
      equator, so it can be difficult getting a corrective signal at
      higher latitudes.

      Description of unit

      The Vista is 4.5 in (11.2 cm) long, 2 in (5.1 cm) wide, and 1 in (3
      cm) deep. On the front there is a toggle/joystick type button in
      the upper left, with a 2 in (5.1 cm) by 1 in (3 cm) screen centered
      on the lower portion. Centered at the top and bottom of the screen
      are sighting marks for the "sight and go" feature discussed further
      down in this review. On the left side of the Vista are three buttons
      on the upper portion, and a ridged rubber grip area at the bottom.
      On the right side of the Vista there are two buttons on the upper
      portion, and again a ridged rubber grip area on the bottom. The
      back of the unit consists of a rubber battery compartment door, with
      a pin that holds it in place. This takes up the lower portion. At
      the top, there is a rubber guard that covers the connection point
      for the serial data cable, allowing you to interface the Vista with
      a computer for uploading maps, waypoints and other data. The unit
      is metallic silver in color with black rubber around the sides.
      Garmin states the Vista is rated at IEC 529 IPX7 waterproof
      standards. IEC 529 is a European rating system with various levels
      of testing. IPX7 means the unit is protected against water
      immersion. This was tested by immersing the unit for 30 minutes at
      a depth of 1 meter. The only rating higher than IPX7 is IPX8, which
      is rated for continuous underwater use.

      I found the Vista very user friendly. Upon startup, the unit shows
      owner information with name and address in case it gets lost 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
      goes 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, the Vista
      will 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 the signal
      strength for each satellite.

      In my experience it takes an average of five 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 two minutes. Once the unit has acquired enough
      signals, it displays "Ready to navigate" and tells how accurate its
      readings are. If the device is having trouble acquiring a signal,
      it may be a good idea to turn so as not to block the satellite
      signals with obstructions such as a body, trees, or large rocks.

      Pressing the top button on the right side once will switch to the
      map page. On this page you will see a triangle surrounded by a
      circle in the center of the display. The triangle is my location,
      and the point of the triangle is the direction I am 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, although waypoints can be added from other
      software that supports this function. 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.

      By pressing the top button on the right side again, the compass page
      will be accessed. This page has a typical compass display in
      electronic form. It also has two customizable display fields at the
      bottom that can show many different information combinations. One
      of the neat features of the Vista is the "Sight and Go" option. By
      holding the Vista at eye level while in compass mode, looking from
      the bottom, two white marks similar to those found on a regular
      compass should be visible. These can be lined up and aimed at a
      landmark, and by pressing the "Sight and Go" button, the Vista will
      lock on the bearing. The distance you want to go on that bearing
      can then be input, and the Vista will project a waypoint there,
      allowing navigation without worrying about straying off course due
      to terrain features and other hazards. If forced to stray off
      course, the pointer arrow will guide you back in the right direction.

      Again, by pressing the top button on the right side of the Vista, it
      will be switched to the altimeter page. The altimeter can be set
      from a known location and elevation, or it can be set by the GPS if
      there are satellites on the horizon. This page also shows elevation
      over time in a graph format. The elevation over time format can be
      adjusted two ways. First, the elevation scale shown on the screen
      can be adjusted. These increments are 200 ft (70 m), 400 ft (140
      m), 600 ft (210 m), 800 ft (280 m), 1000 ft (350 m), 2500 ft (875
      m), and 5000 ft (1750 m). This means, if it is set at 200 ft (70
      m), the bottom to the top of the screen represents 200 ft (70 m).
      If it is set at 5000 ft (1750 m), the bottom to the top of the
      screen represents 5000 ft (1750 m). Second, the time scale shown on
      the screen can be adjusted. These increments are two minutes, five
      minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes, one hour, and
      two hours. This means, if it is set for five minutes, the space
      from the left of the screen to the right of the screen represents
      the last five minutes. If it is set for two hours, the space from
      the left of the screen to the right of the screen represents the
      last two hours.

      The next main page accessed 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, trip time total, and
      vertical speed. By customizing this screen, the Vista is adaptable
      for whatever you might be using it.

      The final page accessed by pressing the top button on the right side
      of the Vista is the main menu. The main menu has 6 icons that lead
      into secondary menu pages. These icons are labeled Mark, Find,
      Routes, Tracks, Setup, and Accessories. The Mark icon allows the
      setting waypoints, labeling of them, and the option to save them.
      The Find icon allows the Vista to search through saved waypoints, as
      well as major roads and landmarks. The Routes icon allows the Vista
      to link multiple waypoints into a path for a trip, and then save
      this information. The tracks icon displays the exact route taken
      while the unit has been turned on, and allows the backtracking of
      this exact route if needed. The Setup icon allows the adjustment of
      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 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 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.
    • edwardripleyduggan
      Hi Jesse, Computer problems this AM, so I am responding from my wife s machine while I attempt to reconstruct mine from a backup. Slow nerve- wracking process.
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 4, 2005
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        Hi Jesse,

        Computer problems this AM, so I am responding from my wife's machine
        while I attempt to reconstruct mine from a backup. Slow nerve-
        wracking process.

        Thanks for your careful corrections. I understand that "you" is
        difficult to extract completely from the first section of the review
        without having it reading somewhat stilted. I do want to keep it out
        of your report of experiences with the unit, however.

        I think that, on completion of this round of edits, I would like you
        to upload your report in HTML form to the BGT website Owner Review
        section. If you haven't yet registered there, please do so, then log
        in, go to test>owner reviews. Follow the prompts for the upload
        process, and notify me on this list when this is done.

        Best,

        Ted.

        BGT OR EDITOR

        > General information
        >
        > The Garmin E-trex Vista GPS (hereafter known as Vista) is a compact
        > unit designed to give a moderately accurate idea of where on earth
        > you are. The Vista does this by first receiving signals from U.S.
        > Government satellites in geo-synchronous orbit. Second, it takes
        > the signals received and uses them to triangulate its

        ### EDIT I think just "position" without the "its" is OK here

        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.*

        ### EDIT Please provide a separate conversion in feet for all the
        measurements in the text that are in metres (there are a few as yet
        unconverted). Spell out "feet" for consistency with metres. I've
        asterisked 'em

        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. WAAS satellites are located near the
        > equator, so it can be difficult getting a corrective signal at
        > higher latitudes.
        >
        > Description of unit
        >
        > The Vista is 4.5 in (11.2 cm) long, 2 in (5.1 cm) wide, and 1 in (3
        > cm) deep. On the front there is a toggle/joystick type button in
        > the upper left, with a 2 in (5.1 cm) by 1 in (3 cm) screen centered
        > on the lower portion. Centered at the top and bottom of the screen
        > are sighting marks for the "sight and go" feature discussed further
        > down in this review. On the left side of the Vista are three
        buttons
        > on the upper portion, and a ridged rubber grip area at the bottom.
        > On the right side of the Vista there are two buttons on the upper
        > portion, and again a ridged rubber grip area on the bottom. The
        > back of the unit consists

        ### EDIT Well, it has a door as described at the top, but it's not
        the entire back of the unit. You may want to qualify this.

        of a rubber battery compartment door, with
        > a pin that holds it in place. This takes up the lower portion. At
        > the top, there is a rubber guard that covers the connection point
        > for the serial data cable, allowing you

        ### EDIT "that allows me" perhaps, instead of "allowing you"

        to interface the Vista with
        > a computer for uploading maps, waypoints and other data. The unit
        > is metallic silver in color with black rubber around the sides.
        > Garmin states the Vista is rated at IEC 529 IPX7 waterproof
        > standards. IEC 529 is a European rating system with various levels
        > of testing. IPX7 means the unit is protected against water
        > immersion. This was tested by immersing the unit for 30 minutes at
        > a depth of 1 meter. The only rating higher than IPX7 is IPX8,
        which
        > is rated for continuous underwater use.
        >
        > I found the Vista very user friendly. Upon startup, the unit shows
        > owner information with name and address in case it gets lost 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
        > goes 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, the Vista
        > will 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 the signal
        > strength for each satellite.
        >
        > In my experience it takes an average of five 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 two minutes. Once the unit has acquired enough
        > signals, it displays "Ready to navigate" and tells how accurate its
        > readings are

        ### EDIT Begs the question how? You should perhaps mention the box in
        the display that indicates accuracy.


        . If the device is having trouble acquiring a signal,
        > it may be a good idea to turn so as not to block the satellite
        > signals with obstructions such as a body, trees, or large rocks.
        >
        > Pressing the top button on the right side once will switch to the
        > map page. On this page you will see a triangle surrounded by a
        > circle in the center of the display. The triangle is my location,
        > and the point of the triangle is the direction I am 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

        ### EDIT I

        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, although waypoints can be added from other
        > software that supports this function. 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.
        >
        > By pressing the top button on the right side again, the compass
        page
        > will be accessed. This page has a typical compass display in
        > electronic form. It also has two customizable display fields at
        the
        > bottom that can show many different information combinations. One
        > of the neat features of the Vista is the "Sight and Go" option. By
        > holding the Vista at eye level while in compass mode, looking from
        > the bottom, two white marks similar to those found on a regular
        > compass should be visible. These can be lined up and aimed at a
        > landmark, and by pressing the "Sight and Go" button, the Vista will
        > lock on the bearing. The distance you want to go on that bearing
        > can then be input, and the Vista will project a waypoint there,
        > allowing navigation without worrying about straying off course due
        > to terrain features and other hazards. If forced to stray off
        > course, the pointer arrow will guide you

        ###EDIT guides me

        back in the right direction.
        >
        > Again, by pressing the top button on the right side of the Vista,
        it
        > will be switched to the altimeter page. The altimeter can be set
        > from a known location and elevation, or it can be set by the GPS if
        > there are satellites on the horizon. This page also shows
        elevation
        > over time in a graph format. The elevation over time format can be
        > adjusted two ways. First, the elevation scale shown on the screen
        > can be adjusted. These increments are 200 ft (70 m), 400 ft (140
        > m), 600 ft (210 m), 800 ft (280 m), 1000 ft (350 m), 2500 ft (875
        > m), and 5000 ft (1750 m). This means, if it is set at 200 ft (70
        > m), the bottom to the top of the screen represents 200 ft (70 m).
        > If it is set at 5000 ft (1750 m), the bottom to the top of the
        > screen represents 5000 ft (1750 m). Second, the time scale shown
        on
        > the screen can be adjusted. These increments are two minutes, five
        > minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes, one hour, and
        > two hours. This means, if it is set for five minutes, the space
        > from the left of the screen to the right of the screen represents
        > the last five minutes. If it is set for two hours, the space from
        > the left of the screen to the right of the screen represents the
        > last two hours.
        >
        > The next main page accessed 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, trip time total, and
        > vertical speed. By customizing this screen, the Vista is adaptable
        > for whatever you

        ### EDIT I


        might be using it.
        >
        > The final page accessed by pressing the top button on the right
        side
        > of the Vista is the main menu. The main menu has 6

        ###EDIT six

        icons that lead
        > into secondary menu pages. These icons are labeled Mark, Find,
        > Routes, Tracks, Setup, and Accessories. The Mark icon allows the
        > setting waypoints, labeling of them, and the option to save them.
        > The Find icon allows the Vista to search through saved waypoints,
        as
        > well as major roads and landmarks. The Routes icon allows the
        Vista
        > to link multiple waypoints into a path for a trip, and then save
        > this information. The tracks icon displays the exact route taken
        > while the unit has been turned on, and allows the backtracking of
        > this exact route if needed. The Setup icon allows the adjustment
        of
        > 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 the best times
        that
        > day to hunt and fish in the particular area you are in.

        ###EDIT in a particular area.


        >
        > 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 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.
      • edwardripleyduggan
        Apologies to Jessie, and also Jamie. I was being driven distracted by computer problems today, and didn t have my mind on things BGT. The previous posting
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 4, 2005
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          Apologies to Jessie, and also Jamie. I was being driven distracted by
          computer problems today, and didn't have my mind on things BGT. The
          previous posting should NOT have been an approval, as I still want to
          see the HTML version first. I have no doubt that once I have, I will
          approve it, assuming no HTML difficulties, but my title jumped the gun.


          Ted.
        • chcoa
          I was wondering about that one Ted and planned to email you about it. NO problem, all square in the Q. jamie ... gun.
          Message 4 of 4 , Aug 4, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            I was wondering about that one Ted and planned to email you about it.
            NO problem, all square in the Q.

            jamie

            --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "edwardripleyduggan"
            <erd@w...> wrote:
            > Apologies to Jessie, and also Jamie. I was being driven distracted by
            > computer problems today, and didn't have my mind on things BGT. The
            > previous posting should NOT have been an approval, as I still want to
            > see the HTML version first. I have no doubt that once I have, I will
            > approve it, assuming no HTML difficulties, but my title jumped the
            gun.
            >
            >
            > Ted.
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