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Please visit our new site, GPSTracklog.com.
It's that time of year, when handheld GPS enthusiasts' thoughts turn to
tech toys the outdoors. Yes, spring will be here soon, very soon for some of us, and I've got a few goodies for those of you ready to hit the trail:
More free maps for your Garmin GPS
I don't know who John M. is, but he's my hero du jour, because he's posted a southeastern U.S. map with 20 foot contour intervals at GPS File Depot (image at left). The map installs directly to MapSource. There's also one for New England and much of the southwest. As I perused the site, I also noticed an RSS feed, so you can easily be notified as new maps are posted. This is the best single location I know of for downloading free Garmin-compatible maps for the U.S. Now I just need someone to upload a transparent trails map for the southeast!
Lowrance has posted details on their new Endura handheld series. Each model has a 2.7" touch-screen and a micro-SD slot for maps. All three are scheduled to be available in May, not April as we reported this morning.
UPDATE: I've now posted detailed information about the Lowrance Endura series.
Lowrance has unveiled the Endura handheld GPS series -- touchscreen models with a twist, in that they also have quite a few traditional buttons on them. Unfortunately, Lowrance hasn't posted a news release or model numbers, so we have few details at this time.
What we do know is that the mid-range unit will go for a reported $370 when in debuts in April. At least some models will come with pre-loaded specialized maps, such as marine charts.
The Lowrance iWAY 600C is the new top of the line automotive and marine GPS navigator from Lowrance that, in addition to displaying maps, has aerial imagery of hundreds of U.S. and Canadian cities.
The iWAY 600C has a large 5" touch-screen, pre-loaded maps of the continental U.S. and Canada, plus electronic charts with depth contours for U.S. inland lakes, the Great lakes and coastal waters. It also has an MP3 player, built-in FM transmitter and 5.5 million points of interest (POIs).
25 GB of its 30GB hard drive is dedicated to maps and aerial photos. The remaining 5 GB is available to store MP3s.
Many auto GPS receivers come with an integrated MP3 player, allowing you to control musical selections in your car via the GPS. Some even work with Audible audio book (.aa) files, or come with XM Radio receivers. Typically, playback is paused when navigation directions are announced; some units even rewind a couple of seconds when the music starts back.
There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a GPS receiver with an MP3 player; speaker quality, whether or not you can import playlists, the amount of disk storage available for files (if the unit doesn’t use an SD/MMC card for storage), how intuitive menus are, etc. The variations are too great to delve into here. Our GPS reviews link to many user reviews, so dig deep and check them out, or find a message board for the unit you are interested in, and search or ask.
Earlier this week, Lowrance announced a new GPS receiver, the iWAY 600C. What makes this unit so special is that it can display satellite imagery. It looks like they will beat DeLorme, manufacturers of the fabled Earthmate PN-20, to the punch (though no release date has been set). Actually, Garmin already has marine units that can accommodate aerial photography.
This is a rare feature, and one reason is memory. The points and lines you see on your GPS screen come from data files, not images. It takes a lot more room to store the latter. 25 GB of the iWAYs's 30 GB hard drive is devoted to maps and satellite imagery. But hey, if they can make an 80 GB iPod, this stuff can't be to far away for GPS. Hopefully, the manufacturers will get it right, and not charge us extra for imagery that is available for free on line.
Get the Lowrance iWAY 600C at Amazon.
Call them message boards, discussion groups, online forums, or some other combination of those terms -- Connecting with other folks on the web, who are using your particular brand of GPS can be one of the quickest ways to get an answer on anything from basic noobie queries to perplexing technical questions. Especially helpful are groups that focus on particular brands and models of GPS.
A few caveats before the list of message boards…I've tried to screen out those groups dominated by spam. Also, some of these groups overlap, and they vary greatly in posting volume. Speaking of which, I have one tip for the many Yahoo groups below -- you may want to choose to view messages on the web only, rather than by email, lest your inbox quickly become clogged. Finally, be sure to drill up and down through these websites. There were just too many forums to list them all, and there are other great message boards out there.
The Lowrance iWAY 250C is a compact GPS navigator, measuring only 4"W x 3"H x 1"D. Featuring turn-by-turn directions, an MP3 player and photo viewer, the iWAY 250C comes pre-loaded with maps of the U.S. and Canada or Western Europe.
Its maps are on a 2 GB MMC/SD card, which has 40 MB free for MP3 files and photos. This isn't quite as nice as the iWAY 350C, which has a 4 GB hard drive for maps, freeing up the MMC/SD card for entertainment.