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REPOST: OWNER REVIEW - Garmin eTrex Legend HCx GPS - Kurt Papke

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  • kwpapke
    ... I have eliminated all instances of you , and completed the other requested edits. Updated HTML on the Test page. Garmin eTrex Legend HCx GPS unit - Owner
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 5 7:39 PM
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      --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "rayestrella1"
      <rayestrella@...> wrote:
      > When you have made the changes please repost here with REPOST added
      > to the subject line. Include your name also please. You can put an
      > updated HTML in the test folder again too. Let me know here.

      I have eliminated all instances of "you", and completed the other
      requested edits. Updated HTML on the Test page.

      Garmin eTrex Legend HCx GPS unit - Owner Review
      Review date: November 5, 2007
      Personal biographical information:
      Name: Kurt Papke
      Age: 54
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
      Weight: 220 lbs (100 kg)
      Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
      City, State, Country: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
      Backpacking Background: mostly in Minnesota - all of the Superior
      Hikiing Trail, starting on the Border Route. Dayhiking in Utah,

      Colorado and Oregon. Mostly Spring/Fall season. I have a Masters
      degree in Electrical Engineering and a 30-year career in software

      development, so I have a working knowledge of electronics and software
      which helps with a GPS.
      Product Information
      Manufacturer: Garmin Ltd.
      Year of manufacture: 2007
      Manufacturer website: http://garmin.com/garmin/cms/site/us
      Listed weight: 5.5 oz with batteries (156 g)
      Weight as received: 6.0 oz (172 g) with Duracell 1800mAh NIMH batteries
      4.2 oz (118 g) w/o batteries
      Unit dimensions, WxHxD:
      4.2" x 2.2" x 1.2" (10.7 x 5.6 x 3.0 cm)
      Display size, WxH:
      1.3" x 1.7" (3.3 x 4.3 cm)
      MSRP: $289.27
      PC interface
      USB (cable supplied)
      Field Information
      Location of testing: Minnesota, Oregon
      Description of location: One 8-day/100 mile trip on the Border Route
      and Superior Hiking trails, numerous dayhikes in the

      Twin cities area, and city driving (Minneapolis, Portland).
      Elevations: 600 - 1800 ft (180 - 550 m) on the SHT, 0-400 ft (0 - 120

      Weather conditions: Cool weather (40-60F) and heavy rain
      General Information
      The Legend is a handheld GPS designed for trail use. The Legend is
      the lowest end of the Garmin line with auto-routing capability.

      The "H" stands for the new high-sensitivity receiver which gives the
      unit the ability to capture satellites in a "green tunnel".

      The "C" stands for a color screen. The "x" indicates a slot for a
      MicroSD flash memory card (no built-in map memory).

      This review will focus on the handheld unit, but will touch on the
      MapSource software and the City Navigator NT, North America map,

      as these are all part of a complete GPS system.
      Description of Unit
      Garmin Legend HCx in sunlightControls
      All interaction with the eTrex GPS is through 5 buttons:
      Power key: Turns unit on/off and sets backlight
      Quit/page key: Escapes the current function or goes to the next main page
      In/out zoom keys: Zooms in/out on a map page, or scrolls through
      lists in menus
      Menu/Find key: context-sensitive menus or press and hold to access
      the Find menu
      Enter/rocker: joystick, press and release to Enter or mark locations
      I have had no problems performing desired tasks using these six controls.

      Handedness (left versus right): I find that I use the Quit/page key
      more than any other control, and it is located at the tip of my

      right thumb were it can be used easily and without fatigue. The one
      control that is somewhat "handed" is the Enter/rocker key: it

      is offset to the left front of the unit where it is easily reached
      with the tip of my right thumb. I find it uncomfortable to use

      the Enter/rocker control with my left hand: it is too close to my hand
      and I have to "crook" my thumb too much to access it.

      Left-handed users may find this annoying.

      With gloves: I find that the controls are large enough that I can
      easily perform all operations with a mid-weight fleece glove. For

      those of us who hike in colder climates this is an often-overlooked
      attribute. The picture shows the Satellite Page of the Legend

      with backlight off in full sun held in my gloved left hand.
      Batteries/MicroSD slot
      Legend with the back cover removedThe picture to the left shows the
      Legend with the back case cover removed. The two AA batteries

      are easily removed and replaced, though a fingernail is required to
      dig them out. The MicroSD slot with a map chip installed is in

      the upper right corner of the picture. Memory cards are painlessly
      inserted, and the slot is spring-loaded making it trivial to pop

      out the card.

      The battery usage indicator can be seen on the main menu in the
      picture below. I find the icon confusing, with the black color

      indicating the remaining charge.

      Though I like the compactness of the MicroSD format, I would be
      concerned with changing these in the field. They are only the size

      of a fingernail, and if dropped on the trail they would be difficult
      to find.

      The lanyard and its attachment slot can be seen at the left side of
      the image.
      Garmin Legend main menuThe page key navigates sequentially through the
      main Legend menus: map, compass and main menu (shown at

      left). When powering up the Satellite page is displayed, and can be
      returned to via the main menu. The order and which pages are

      displayed in the page key sequence can be customized, though I have
      not found this necessary for my use. The contents of the pages

      can also be customized, in particular the number and content of the
      displayed fields. I have found this useful for the Trip

      Computer and Compass pages where I have changed the default fields to
      data that I wanted frequent access.

      The main menu is used frequently, and can be rapidly accessed with two
      presses of the menu key. The default order is shown at left,

      but can be setup to display in order of the most frequently used
      menus. I find the default menu order works well for me, and I

      don't like it when things get moved around on me.
      Software Updates
      I have updated the firmware once on my unit. The instructions are
      clear, though a bit scary due to the warnings that if the

      download is botched the GPS has to be sent back to Garmin for
      re-imaging with no warranty coverage of the costs.
      MapSource Software
      Mapsource screenThough there are 3rd party software packages that can
      be used to upload/download and edit waypoints, tracks and

      routes, Garmin MapSource is the only software that can load and
      display Garmin maps and comes standard with the unit. MapSource

      comes with the same basemap as the Legend. I have used MapSource
      effectively to edit my track files post-hike to clean up detours,

      organize tracks by trail section, and rename and annotate waypoints
      and tracks. I have also used it to import GPX files for trails

      created by others with only one problem encountered: I came across one
      GPX file which could not be imported by MapSource but could

      be read and downloaded to my GPS by other 3rd party software (EasyGPS).

      The image to the left shows a typical MapSource screen: the yellow
      dots are a track recorded from a hike, the panel on the right is

      the detailed track log, and the graph shows the elevation profile of
      the track. In the background on the left you can see tabs for

      the main entities a GPS deals with: maps, waypoints, routes and tracks.

      POI Loader: Garmin has a utility for downloading 3rd party Point Of
      Interest files. I have used this to successfully load waypoints

      for Portland microbreweries :)
      City Navigator NT, North America map
      The standard basemap pre-loaded in the unit is very rough: there were
      times on the Border Route Trail that my GPS was saying I had

      crossed the border into Canada, when clearly I was on the U.S. side of
      the river. With use of the City Navigator NT North America

      map the Legend no longer declared me an illegal Canadian immigrant.

      The auto-routing capabilities of the Legend are useless unless a
      street map is purchased. I chose to buy a MicroSD chip preloaded

      with the 2008 City Navigator NT, North America map. I was pleased
      with the completeness of the map itself: it contains many forest

      roads allowing the GPS to be used to navigate to remote trailheads, a
      use often overlooked. It also has a very complete database

      of POI's: gas stations, motels, restaurants, etc. that can be very
      useful on road trips. I have appreciated the capability of doing

      a quick find for the closest fueling stop.

      My only disappointment with the map was the inability to upload and
      view the map in MapSource. This severely limits its use in

      pre-planning trips on a PC. A better alternative would be to buy the
      DVD version of the same map and a blank MicroSD card. Another

      disadvantage of the preloaded chip is the inability to manage multiple
      maps, i.e. topo + roadmap. Additional map data cannot be

      added to the preloaded chip, and there is only one chip slot.

      I had a situation on my last trip where I would have liked both a topo
      and the roadmap available: my car was parked at a shuttle

      service in Grand Marais and as I descended from the SHT I would have
      liked to use the roadmap routing to give me the best walking

      route through town to my car. I can envision other situations (e.g.
      mid-hike resupply) where this would be useful.

      Driving navigation: I have used the Legend in my car in city
      navigation. It makes good use of auditory cues and temporary map zooms

      to warn the user of upcoming turns. I have used other car GPS systems
      with voice outputs and I would have liked the verbal

      warnings, but the "beeps" are a reasonable cost compromise.
      Supplied Accessories
      The Legend comes standard with a lanyard and mounting adapter. The
      adapter is useless without an extra-cost mounting bracket for an

      automobile, bicycle handlebar, belt clip, etc. It screws into a metal
      threaded socket in the back of the GPS. The lanyard is

      easily lashed/removed from a slot on the bottom of the unit. The
      lanyard extends 18" from the base, making it easy to read the unit

      when hanging it around the neck, though personally I never do so as I
      find it irritating to have it bouncing off my chest as I walk.
      Field Performance
      Receiver Sensitivity
      The "H" in HCx connotes that this Legend model has the Garmin
      high-sensitivity receiver. I have never experienced a loss of

      satellite capture with this unit in the field, even in densely wooded
      areas of Northern Minnesota. I even get reasonable reception

      inside buildings.
      Screen legibility
      The unit's color screen has good legibility with the backlight turned
      off in bright sunlight. There is no need to find a shady area

      to read the screen.
      Battery life
      I have not done an exhaustive battery life test with different battery
      types to confirm the manufacturers claim. It will vary of

      course depending on backlight usage, WAAS enabled/disabled, etc.
      There is no "sleep" mode for the Legend.
      Startup time
      10.45 s to "Acquiring satellites"
      40.2 s to satellite acquisition
      Tracks are the "breadcrumbs" that the unit logs during a trip. The
      Legend has a TracBack feature for selecting the current or saved

      track and allowing me to retrace my steps. This is the purpose for
      which I initially purchased a GPS: a fork in a trail or creekbed

      looks very different when backtracking, and I've been known to take a
      wrong turn. I used this function successfully on my BRT hike

      when I took a wrong turn and lost the trail. TracBack use is a little
      confusing at first as the unit requires selection of the

      point to track back to, which when I take a wrong turn I really don't
      care, I just want to go backwards.

      Another feature that is confusing is that the Legend does not clear
      the current track log when a track is saved. I typically save

      my track at the end of every day, and have inadvertently ended up with
      a lot of overlapping tracks.

      Tracks are easily uploaded to MapSource and saved to a file. I have
      found it useful to keep my tracks in separate files that can be

      downloaded for use in re-hiking the same trail. This avoids
      cluttering the GPS memory and map screen with tracks not currently in

      Routing works in two modes: following roadways, and point-to-point. I
      find I mostly use routing in the car, so leave the Legend in

      roadway mode rather than having it prompt me every time (this is
      configurable). When route navigation is active, the page key menu

      has an additional screen in the sequence with the turn-by-turn
      directions. I find that the routes chosen by the Legend using the

      City Navigator map are appropriate. Routing is configurable to
      prioritize shortest distance or travel time.

      Gripe: there does not seem to be a way from the Legend GPS to avoid a
      given section of roadway. Case in point: I used to take the

      I35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis bridge every day in my
      commute to/from work, but with the recent well-publicized

      collapse that is no longer possible. I have been using my Legend to
      find alternate routes home, and I'd really like to indicate

      that the bridge should be routed around, but have yet to find a way to
      do this other than picking a waypoint to route through.
      The Garmin Legend HCx is a useful compromise of cost, functionality,
      trail and road use capabilities. I found it a reasonable

      choice of a first GPS unit for myself who bought it to use for a
      combination of hiking, driving and bicycling.


      1. Low-cost, moderate weight, robust mechanical design, waterproof
      2. Excellent receiver sensitivity, high memory capacity with add-on
      SD card
      3. Routing capability makes it useful for car and bicycle use as
      well as on the trail
      4. Complete support for map (if DVD maps are purchased), route,
      track and waypoint management from a PC.


      1. Requires purchase of a map to make the auto-routing capability
      useful. The basemap is good for freeway driving only.
      2. Single MicroSD slot limits the utility of purchasing pre-loaded
      map cards.
    • rayestrella1
      OK Kurt, This looks very good. I have just one edit but you do not need to repost. After fixing it you may upload your corrected HTML to its new home here;
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 6 11:36 AM
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        OK Kurt,

        This looks very good. I have just one edit but you do not need to
        repost. After fixing it you may upload your corrected HTML to its new
        home here;


        Thanks for the review. One down, one to go!


        EDIT: On your manufacturer URL, could you take everything out
        past "garmin.com"? I know it takes us there automatically but should
        the progression change in the future the top level will always get us
      • kwpapke
        ... Done. There already was category for Garmin Etrex Series GPS , and I see you created a new category for my Legend review. Will that confuse readers? ...
        Message 3 of 6 , Nov 7 6:45 AM
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          --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "rayestrella1"
          <rayestrella@...> wrote:
          > This looks very good. I have just one edit but you do not need to
          > repost. After fixing it you may upload your corrected HTML to its new
          > home here;

          Done. There already was category for "Garmin Etrex Series GPS", and I
          see you created a new category for my Legend review. Will that
          confuse readers?

          > EDIT: On your manufacturer URL, could you take everything out
          > past "garmin.com"? I know it takes us there automatically but should
          > the progression change in the future the top level will always get us
          > there.


          Thanks Ray!
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