Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Color High-Sensitivity Mapping Handheld GPS 010-00630-00
Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Color High-Sensitivity Mapping Handheld GPS 010-00630-00
<li>1.7" x 1.3" color LCD</li><li>Electronic compass, barometric altimeter, sun and moon information and more</li>
ALWAYS go with Gamin!
This review is very simple. It's Garmin. It's worth it. I am finally replacing my aging (but still very functional) eTrex Summit bought used in 2003. The Vista HCx has everything, EVERYTHING you could possibly want or want to do in a handheld GPS receiver. The ONLY possible exception is the base map is not really adequate for on-the-road use, but that's why Garmin makes and I also have a nuvi (265W). You should be advised that this unit is not a "basic" GPS. You should familiarize yourself with how to operate it prior to using it. Otherwise you will no doubt dislike it, because some features are complicated. There is a learning curve, but if you take the time to learn, it's well worth the effort. One of the features I always wanted for my old Summit was customizable screens. That (and SO much more) is available on the Vista HCx. Add the ability to use a microSD card, and all the other features, and you have an extremely powerful GPS receiver. When you add in the extremely friendly and helpful tech support (only used a couple of times on a few units) nothing else comes close. My Summit has been with me in Madagascar and in Haiti, and I am looking forward to using the Vista HCx in these and other places as well. I would never consider any other GPS product except Garmin.
This is an excellent handheld GPS
As a long-time Magellan handheld GPS user and a long-time DeLorme map enthusiast, I recently decided I needed to upgrade my Magellan Sportrak Pro. So I started reading the forums and two handhelds seemed to pop out as the best ones to buy - the Garmin 60Csx and the DeLorme PN-20. Almost everyone liked the 60Csx but quite a few people chose the DeLorme PN-20 because of the excellent DeLorme maps. Many users claimed the PN-20 performance was equal to the 60Csx, and because the maps were better, the PN-20 was the better choice. DeLorme was running a special on the PN-20 for $299, which included the complete Topo 7.0 map sets, as well as the optional lithium battery set and all sorts of chargers - USB, 12 volt, and 120 volt. It sounded like a great deal with a 30 day trial period, so I bought one. It also used an SD card which I happened to have quite a few because of my digital cameras. I tried out the PN-20 for about a week and I was impressed, especially when compared to my old black and white Sportrak Pro. But it picked up satellites much quicker and it saw a lot of satellites when my Sportrak Pro could only see about four or five. The maps were nice, and I was used to them because I've had the DeLorme Street Atlas packages which I upgrade every year. The new Topo 7 has all of the points of interest and routing features of the Street Atlas, so it is quite versatile for travelling and planning trips. But I still wondered about the Garmin 60Csx and how it might compare. Then I read on the forums about the Etrex Vista Hcx. Although it didn't have the same renowned chipset as the 60Csx, the reviews were very good, and the performance seemed similar. Since the layout and the size were different than the 60Csx, I wondered which I might prefer. I found a good price on both on Walmart.com, so I decided to order both and compare them against the PN-20. I also bought the Garmin Topo 2008 map package to use on both of them- they weren't included like the DeLorme package. The Etrex Hcx arrived first, but I had fortunately already received a 2 gb micro SD card, which the Garmins use, so I first had to acquaint myself with the Garmin map software. It was a LOT different than the DeLorme map software, with not nearly as much information on them, and no points of interest and no routing capabilities. But I did like the various waypoint options and also the neat feature of clicking on View and selecting the choice of viewing your area and waypoints on Google Earth - and Excellent feature in my opinion! To me, since I do not use my handheld GPS for car travelling - I use DeLorme Street Atlas plus their Bluelogger (bluetooth) GPS on my laptop or my in-dash GPS navigation system - the points of interest and routing capabilities for a handheld don't mean much to me. I just want good maps with good waypoint capabilities and most of all, good GPS performance in tree cover and canyons. Upon first trying out the Etrex and the PN-20 together, the first thing I noticed was the blazingly fast satellite pickup on the Garmin. I had thought the PN-20 was fast, but I had the Garmin already tracking within 15' accuracy before the PN-20 found its first satellite! My wife and I take a two mile walk every morning on the same route up a zig-zag trail to the top of a hill. I carried the PN-20 in one hand and the Etrex Hcx in the other. Since we duplicate our route up and down, it was a good comparison to see how accurately each of them tracked. It didn't take long to see that the Garmin unit outperformed the PN-20 in satellite pickup and reception and consistent tracking. I came to like the Garmin maps just as well on the handheld unit and in some ways even better than the DeLorme. After a couple of days it was obvious which one was going to be sent back. I called DeLorme and said thank you very much, but I'm returning it. I wrote them a letter and said it was a nice unit, but it just doesn't compare to the Garmin. When overlaying tracks from our daily hike, the PN-20 was always less accurate than the Garmin, when tracks up and down the same route scattered on either side of the Garmin tracks. Next, after a few days playing with the Garmin Vista, I received the Garmin 60Csx. I immediately liked it, and loaded the same local maps to duplicate the maps on the Vista. Both units are very versatile in setting up each page you want to enter and the information on each page. I had set up the Vista just how I liked it, so it was simple to set up the Garmin 60Csx the same way. I also liked the front button layout on the 60Csx - it is a bit easier to use because each button is marked so you don't have to think about which button to press. On the Vista Hcx, most of the buttons are on the side and you have to learn which button does what function - once you use it for awhile, it's simple - but just not as obvious as the front 60Csx buttons. Next came trying both Garmins out on our daily two mile trail. I was wondering whether the 60Csx would outperform the Vista, considering its excellent reputation. What I found was both units picked up satellites with the same speed, and found the same number of satellites, and the accuracy was just as fast on both models. We did our same hike numerous times with the 60Csx in one hand and the Vista Hcx in the other. Every track was essentially the same. Even in the house or under heavy tree cover, both units picked up satellites and maintained accuracy within about 15 feet. The little Vista seemed to do everything the big brother 60Csx would do. Every day I would upload both tracks to the computer and compare them - they were essentially identical. I liked two things better about the 60Csx - the button layout on the front as I mentioned above, and the little bit larger screen. The 60Csx is just a little easier to read because it's slightly bigger. But I liked a number of things better on the Vista Hcx. One of the big advantages to me is the small size - it fits easily in any shirt pocket - its almost as small as a lot of subcompact digital cameras. It also weighs less - about 5 oz. compared to 7 oz. for the 60Csx. So it is just easier to carry. Another nice feature is the extremely long battery life. I'm still on my first set of AA alkaline batteries in this little beauty - they seem to last forever! My old Magellan Sportrak went through a set of AAs in about 6 hours. The Vista Hcx claims 25 hours. This beats the 60Csx 18 hr. battery life. For night time, the Vista Hcx screen is MUCH brighter than the 60Csx. Both are very readable, but the the extra brightness is nice. Finally, the Vista Hcx is considerably less expensive than the 60Csx. The best price I've seen on the 60Csx is about $300 - the Vista Hcx at Walmart.com is $219. So although I really liked both Garmin handhelds, I ended up keeping the Vista Hcx. It seems to do everything the 60Csx does just as well, and the other advantages outweighed the nice button layout on the bigger unit. You can't go wrong with either one, but I'm very happy with my choice of the Vista Hcx. I ended up buying the Garmin holster for the Vista, and I like that a lot too. I hope this helps others in making a choice for the best handheld out there.
Great geocaching product
The Garmin Etrex Vista HCx is a great product for geocaching. The high sensitivity reciever makes determining a waypoint in heavy tree cover and near hills/cliffs much better. Many coordinates have been right on. The built in compass is a nice feature too. I'm glad I upgraded.
Very happy with unit
We upgraded from a Blue Etrex Legend (that we also purchased from walmart.com) & we're very happy with the Vista HCx. The color display is VERY easy to see/read, and the new high sensitivity chip holds a strong signal- even under thick tree canopies & mountain terrain (and even in my basement). Even with the color display, the batteries last a lot longer then they did in our old Legend. Garmin has fixed the "trip odometer bug" that was causing the odometer to be off when you walk very slowly (a problem that was keeping some from purchasing this otherwise great unit) with a simple software update from the Garmin website. We primarily use our GPS for geocaching. This unit has a geocaching mode, and keeps track of all of your finds and DNF's on it's internal calendar for later review. I think this is the best mid-level handheld GPS on the market right now. The price at walmart.com is hard to beat- especially considering the buyer's confidence in delivery and customer service.
This unit has combined with topo maps and a 2gb SD card makes this is a top-notch unit. The fact the unit did not include topo maps hurt the value score (-1, only 4/5). However since Garmin is the most popular GPS it was not difficult to find someone who had unlocked City Nav 2010.1 and Topo 2008, provide pizza, beer and an SD card and the barter system wins. FYI the basemaps are not detailed at all but do include major highways and some secondary roads - they pale in comparison to City Nav and Topo maps. I purchased a motorcycle mount for off-road use in the GWNF and was pleasantly surprised to find most of the major trails marked as roadways - was a great boon while keeping up w/ my jeep buddies. The 2gb card was able to hold the entire eastern seaboard for both City Nav and topo maps and once you figure out how to select the maps it is relatively painless. Had also considered the Nuvi 500 since it included topo maps, and was only ~$250, but decided it would be a bit awkward to carry when hiking. The Vista fits nicely in my old camera case mounted on my belt. If you do get this unit and want free maps check out mapsntrails and gpsfiledepot web sites they should be sufficient and an improvement over the basemap that is included. On the road City Nav works just as well as any auto/3d gps unit - you just have 2d maps only (which I prefer). Not having a car mount is a bit awkward - will have to purchase one in the near future.
Better than Magellan Triton 500!
I recently purchased a Magellan Triton 500 to use for Geocaching. It wasn't very Geocaching friendly as for letting you know how close you are to the cache. It only gives distance in miles. What's up with that?! Also there are no detailed street maps for it. So I returned it and purchased this awesome little VISTA HCx GPS. I love it! It is small, easy to use, and has almost every feature I wanted in a GPS. I love how it will automatically pull up the next closest Geocache once you have found the one loaded. The controls are very easy to use and quite intuitive. If you are looking for a good GPS with a built-in magnetic north compass and with the option to add maps and additional memory, this is the one for you.
Excellent hand-held GPS
This little device worked perfectly during my recent trip to many National Parks out west. I uploaded several free maps (GPSFileDepot) for SD, WY, ID, CO and used it on my hikes. Also, I downloaded the tracks and geocoded my 4000 photos. Recommendation: buy some rechargeable AA batteries.
I purchased this GPS solely based on users product reviews. You people were exactly correct when you said this was the best GPS out there for the money. I use it for Geocaching, motorcycle rides, hunting (marking waypoints on scouting trips), and in general for elevations. A must to purchase is the street maps! The layout is basic, so you will need something with more detail. Overall, this GPS is the only one I will ever need.
Great Handheld GPS
I did a lot of research on mid-range priced handheld GPS units and everything kept leading me to Garmin Extrex Vista HCx. After reading several other reviews on various web sites I was still sceptical of this product because the main reason people didn't like the product was that "the product's user manual was poor" or that "the product was difficult to use". Well, they were partially right - the manual is poor but I found that you really don't need it to be detailed or thorough. This is my first GPS ever and it is easy to use! It is a great product for geocaching - which is my primary purpose of using this product. For the price, you can not go wrong.
If you're looking...and understand how to use...or are a technology geek, it's a nice GPS and a good value. The Garmin ETrex Vista is OK. Walmart had a great deal at $149 just before Christmas. However, it did not have any preloaded topographic maps as I thought the description said, so worthless to see how it might work on my hiking trails. I couldn't get the compass or altimeter to work easily. At this stage of my life, if something isn't easy to use, I won't use it and decided to take it back. I found free sites to download maps, but Garmin wants about $100 for topo map updates. I'm a Garmin GPS fan and have had several for street maps, but with better mapping like google maps, etc I'm amazed that Garmin doesn't include decent topo maps free. Seems like these GPS receivers for back country hiking, hunting, etc are way behind today's technology curve...too bad. Too many buttons, hard to press, hard to see the screen, not the best documentation. I'll just get a good forest service trail map until some manufacturer figures out thee are a lot of us technology challenged buyers out here looking for a simple easy to use GPS receiver. P.S. I was very satisfied with my Walmart internet purchase. Was my first and quick delivery, well packaged, great price. And the nice part for me was I could take it back to a Walmart store for a no hassle refund. Highly recommend using Walmart on-line and now always watch their specials when shopping.
Nice handheld GPS
Seems to be a nice handheld GPS. It is my first handheld so it took a little while to become familiar with it. It is a very small device which is nice and portable, although the small screen size may be a drawback if you have weak eyes. Garmin is nicely supported with almost all the online gps sites which is a plus. I have used it on a few geocaching trips and it has worked well. I like the built-in compass, very handy when getting close.
Think about it first.
Before purchasing the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx take time to realize that you must buy topo and/or city maps to make it useful. No accessories come with it. So the bottom line is costs are about double what you pay for the unit. Operation is complex and not intuitive compared to other brands I own and regularly use. I have other Garmin units too. No touch screen or voice. Better battery life.
This is a wonderful GPS. I can get connected from inside my house! We are new to geocaching, but a family member showed us the ropes to get started. We just download our geocaches directly from the website and put it on the compass and we are off on our adventures. We really love this GPS. The only disappointment was that it does not come with preloaded maps. The maps are expensive to buy. We do not need them for our geocaching, but it would be nice to have if we decide to go on trails in the area in which we have dense forest. We have not found any free maps to download that work with this GPS. There are some out there, but none that we have found for this one. It is easy to use if you are familiar with GPS's and computers. I read the manual and was using it within 1 hour. We highly recommend this product. It is worth the investment.
Garmin eTrex Vista HCx
After a few years of using the Garmin eTrex Legend C, I decided to upgrade to the Vista HCx. I am more than pleased with my decision. The Vista HCx is a very handy unit and much improved over the Legend C. Among the improvements are battery life is much longer, the speed at which the unit locks on to the satellite base is much quicker, the barometric altimiter and altitude cross section page, the digital compass, and the fact that you can store map information on a micro SD card. I was able to install the entire contents of the Garmin Metro Guide North America on one 2 gig card. I use this unit in my daily commute to and from work. Not to keep me from getting lost, rather to keep my speed in check. My old car speedometer is just not acurate. I also use it when I go trail riding on my bicycle. I have the bicycle accesory handle bar mount and installing it is a snap. This is an easy to use and easy to understand unit. If you are going packing, on a long bicycle ride or even a cross country drive, this unit will not let you down. I use a veriety of Nimh batterie brands. The Eneloup brand seem to work the best, but any brand will work. I also use a Solio solar charger to power this unit when I am away from home. That way the power is always there when I need it. If a small hand held is what you are in the market for, I recomend this one.
This GPS is really worth the money. I purchased it and then went on a camping trip on my own land to learn how to use it. I found it is easy to use, and very accurate in its coordinates. I really like the ease of adding in waypoints. Just click the stick and type it in. Simple and easy. I will admit that I had to read the directions several times to fully understand some of the settings on the unit, but after that it was easy. I did a lot of practicing with it to really learn the functions. I found that the battery life depends upon the battery you are using. Rechargeable ones really last a long time. One aspect I do not like is that I have to set the backlight everytime I turn it on. I think there should be a default setting to allow it to always come on where you previously had it set. I also like the compact size, and its weight is not too heavy. I also like the fact that it has a night time mode. That came in real handy when we had to find the water well at midnight to get water to drink. I have also used it to go Geocaching. This was a lot of fun. It took me right to the area where I needed to be and I found the cache easily. I like the fact that when you find the cache, and click "found", it opens the box so you know you have found it. I can't wait to use it to find other Geocaches. Overall, it has been fun to use. If you're considering this type of unit I believe it is worth it.
Great GPS-Great Price
If you are looking for a great handheld GPS, then this is the one. It has great reception, easy to use, and the ability to add road maps, yes it is quite capable of auto-routing. The main reason I got this one is for GeoCaching, and I wanted to have on-road capabilities as well as Off-road. Of course the street maps aren't free, but they are worth the extra money. It does come preloaded with a basemap, but will not get you very far on-road, mainly just interstates and major highways. It easily switches between on and off road performance, which is nice. The only bad thing about using Vista HCx for caching is that you cant go truly paperless, but you can load all the caches to it, so you have all the coordinates, names, etc., just no logs or details, so I still use paper for basic info. Bottom line- This is a great unit for caching, hunting, or hiking, no worries of lost signals. The worst accuracy I've gotten to date is 12' and that's with heavy tree cover, Normally I'm getting between 6' - 8'.
Garmin ETrex HCx - Hiking Must Have
Great product, loaded with features, at a good price and without a lot of bulk or weight. While not documented at Garmin's website, this unit appears to be able to handle most Garmin maps you can buy (separately) with a user-supplied microSD card. For hiking, the US topo map is great. Strongly recommend this unit for your outdoor adventures!