I've had a chance to try out the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx recently. This is my first extended experience with an eTrex model since I purchased my first GPS -- an eTrex Venture -- many years ago.
One of Garmin's newer eTrex H-series receivers, the Legend HCx updates the very popular Legend Cx. The "H" stands for high-sensitivity chipset, to ensure great satellite reception under canopy and in other situations where you have a limited view of the sky.
Like its predecessor, the Legend HCx has a bright color screen and a micro-SD card slot for loading topo or highway maps. A great handheld GPS, the Legend HCx also autoroutes, so you can add City Navigator maps and a mount, and use it for turn-by-turn highway navigation in your car. The button layout may make it a little awkward for this purpose though; a better choice for dual use might be the Garmin 60CSx.
Step up to the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx to add a barometric altimeter and electronic compass. Moving down in the H-series line to the Summit HC or Venture HC, you lose the auto-routing capability and the expandable memory.
Garmin eTrex Legend HCx performance
The new eTrex H-series uses MediaTek's MTK chipset, which compared favorably with the 60CSX's SiRFstar III chipset during my testing.
The Legend HCx also performed well in accuracy tests. In a hike in a local park with relatively dense tree cover, the accuracy was never worse than 23 feet.
The other thing I noticed in comparing this unit to my 60CSx was the significantly brighter screen on the Legend HCx.
Garmin eTrex Legend HCx layout
I doubted that I would like the button layout but, as Garmin usually does, they've made it pretty intuitive. So let's take a closer look at that before we go any further.
These warrant a little further explanation:
- Power key - In addition to the on/off function, you can press and release to adjust backlighting, and view the time, date and remaining battery charge.
- Quit / Page - Press to cycle through pages. This button will also terminate the use of any on-screen keyboard or back you out of a menu.
- Zoom in/out - In addition to zooming the map, on any other screen, use it to scroll through a list or use a slider bar.
- Menu / Find - Press and hold to see the Find screen. Press and release to display a page's menu. Press again to get to the main menu.
- Enter / Rocker - Press down on this "thumbstick" to enter. Move the thumbstick / rocker right-left or up-down to navigate menus or pan the map. You can also mark a waypoint at your current location by pressing and holding.
It may sound complicated, but it becomes second nature very quickly. You can discover most functions in the field. The two press and hold functions (Find and Mark Waypoint) are the only ones you really need to remember. The rest is incredibly intuitive.
Customizing your Legend HCx
One of the great things about Garmin handhelds is that they can be customized to display the information that is most important to you. The hunter, geocacher, cyclist, and hiker will all have different needs.
A great place to start, and a fine example of the degree to which you can customize the Legend HCx, is choosing what pages to display and the order in which they are displayed. To do this, press Menu, then press Menu again. Then press Setup, then Page Sequence. The most useful in my mind are the Map, Compass and Trip Computer screens (shown above at right). Personally, I also add Main Menu, Satellite, Active Route, Find, Recent Finds, Routes and Tracks!
The trip computer screen has lots of options for customization, as you can see. Each field can be changed independently, choosing from a list of 34 options. A "Big numbers" option reduces the number of visible fields to three, providing an easier to read display, a feature that cyclists or the visually impaired may find useful.
Similarly, the compass screen and map screen both allow you to customize display fields.
I also recommend going into the setup menu and exploring each option.
More Garmin eTrex Legend HCx reviews
- Several consumer-authored Garmin eTrex Legend HCx reviews have been posted at GPS Now.
- Consumer-written Garmin eTrex Legend HCx reviews have been posted at Amazon too.
- Backpack Gear Test reviews the Garmin Legend HCx.
- A consumer-written Garmin Legend HCx reviews have been posted at CNet too.
- Garmin eTrex Legend HCx GPS reviews have also been posted at REI.com (click the review tab).
- About.com reviews the Garmin Legend HCx, giving it a 4 out of 5 star rating.
- A post about a first geocaching experience with the Legend HCx.
- A Legend HCx review from a motorcyclist's perspctive.
- I'll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some more...
Garmin eTrex Legend HCx resources
- A PDF version of the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx owners manual.
- Want to see how the Legend HCx compares to other receivers? Use this Garmin GPS comparison tool.
- I haven't found any message forums dedicated solely to the eTrex H series, but there is a UseNet Garmin discussion board and a good Garmin forum at GPSInformation.net.
- The official Garmin eTrex Legend HCx web page.
Compare prices on the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx at these merchants:
- Find the low price on a Garmin eTrex Legend HCx at GPS Now, where shipping is free on orders over $99 (and the upgrade to overnight shipping is dirt cheap!). Order by 5 p.m. Central Time for same day shipment.
- Check the current Garmin eTrex Legend HCx price at Amazon.
- Buy the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx GPS at REI.com, where satisfaction is guaranteed and members get 10% back on eligible purchases.
- Get a great deal on the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx Expandable Color Hand Held GPS Receiver at TigerGPS.
- Get the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx for an amazing price on eBay.
- Check out our GPS deals site for current specials and rebates on a wide range of GPS receivers
- Garmin TOPO U.S. 2008
- Eneloop rechargeable batteries
- invisibleSHIELD screen protector
- SanDisk 2 GB MicroSD card