Youtube: use it to help you buy your next GPSr
My long-suffering geocaching
widow wife was recently gracious enough to suggest I could get anew GPSr for Christmas. I immediately got all excited and started looking over all the specs and prices of the better GPSr models about. Before going further I should point out that I have been pretty impressed with my Blackberry Bold and the other geotools in my arsenal, so buying a new GPSr was going to take serious thought and investigation. My requirements for a new GPSr were:
- Excellent reception (the Blackberry is awesome in my book with great satellite pick up and accuracy, even with heavy cover)
- Paperless caching
- Maps – though not as important as the first two
My basic web search quickly narrowed down the contenders to the following:
- Garmin Oregon 450 – there was a too-good-to-be-true deal on at Amazon for he 450 that pushed the 550 out
- Magellan Explorist 710
- DeLorme Earthmate PN-60 with SPOT
With a few relatively minor exceptions the descriptions of these units made them all seem pretty similar (okay, with the obvious exception of the Delorme having SPOT). I had a real dilemma on my hands and no way to differentiate between them. Being in little old Dunedin, New Zealand also meant that these units were not immediately on hand in any of the local retailers, so no chance of a visit and play. Plus who wants to deal with the sales staff pressuring for a sale – I just wanted info.
So I turned to YouTube.
The first thing you’ll find is that there is a huge range of videos on YouTube for you to watch. These range from the companies own product marketing to individual user reviews of units. I had previously viewed these videos as being dead boring but on this occasion was amazed at the information you could glean from them that wasn’t immediately clear on the product website. The best example of this is finding out that the Delorme can use the SPOT to log caches on geocaching.com when you are out of cell reception (awesome!) from the product video and not from the website.
It was also great to see the various user reviews that were done by geocachers and that talked about geocaching. That’s the info I wanted – how good is this unit at helping me find that cache!?! Whilst the videos can sometimes be a little basic and dry (and the camera can slip away) they were incredibly useful. Some of my favourites for each device were:
Oregon – Let’s go geocaching by Garminblog
One of the criticisms I had read about the Oregon touch screens was the difficulty in seeing them with the sun out. This review was excellent in helping me judge that for myself.
Comparing the Old Garmin Oregon Screens with the NEW Screens @ GPSCity
DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Demo Video by spotarchive
The following video gave me a really good idea of what it took to send a message using the SPOT
Delorme PN-60w and SPOT Communicator by TeamDelorme
Magellan eXplorist 710 Waterproof Hiking GPS at ChooseGoodProducts
And then, whilst checking out the 710 I stumbled across this Magellan unit I hadn’t heard a lot about. The first review I looked at for it was from the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 but I prefer the following video from Magellan more:
Introducing Magellan’s eXplorist GC
After reviewing all the videos and online information I actually decided that none of the units were superior to the Blackberry Bold I currently use. Yes some units probably have slightly better GPS chipsets but the GPSr doesn’t find the cache for you does it? The Blackberry always has me in the right location, so I don’t really need a better GPS reciever. It also has all my caches paperless in a fantastic little program called CacheSense, which is like having your own portable GSAK. And once I put the Blackberry in an Otterbox it’s nice and safe from the inevitable stumble.
However, I am realistic and realise that one day I may no longer have the Blackberry I so love and cherish. The need to buy a high level GPSr will then exist. If that time were now I would have a hard time deciding which of the above three (or four if you include the Magellan Explorist GC) I would choose. All awesome units with fantastic functionality.
The Delorme does have the SPOT, which my previously mentioned long-suffering wife would love me to have for peace of mind, but the Scottish blood in me doesn’t like the yearly subscription needed for it. Logging caches from the wild does sound cool though.
The Magellan units also looked great and I liked the GC unit fully dedicated to geocaching. It will be interesting to see just how much the already great functionality increases between Magellan and gc.com following recent changes in the cache listing environment. I can only assume it will get better and better. These units often seem to be slightly less expensive versions of the Garmin units (eg the Explorist 710 seems almost identical to the Oregon 550t but slightly cheaper on average).
The Oregon 450 does seem to be an all round great unit and has chirp functionality, though I’m not sure how important that is now. To prove I’m not a Garmin hater following my Opencaching.com rants this unit was probably at the top of my list and due to the awesome deal they had on Amazon.com I nearly brought this one. But it was ultimately their own video (see the top one above) that reminded me my Blackberry does all that and more. Of course I would be more than happy to compare the two more closely if ‘someone’ wanted to provide me with an Oregon…(hint hint)
- Open for Business (itsnotaboutthenumbers.wordpress.com)
- Garmin Chirp: Genius or Criminal? (itsnotaboutthenumbers.wordpress.com)
- Apple iPad: your newest geocaching tool (itsnotaboutthenumbers.wordpress.com)
- X marks the … (itsnotaboutthenumbers.wordpress.com)
- Review: Magellan eXplorist GC handheld GPS (geek.com)
- DeLorme and SPOT Collaboration Being Honored with 2010 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award (eon.businesswire.com)
- Garmin vs Geocaching.com (itsnotaboutthenumbers.wordpress.com)