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Monday, September 26, 2011

Figuring out how to buy the right GPSr for you.

My Old Reliable, No longer in production but the Garmin 60CSx is
a fine GPSr.
Either through my shows, blog or in general, one of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is,

"I want to buy a GPSr, which is the best?".

For starters that is the wrong question. You should not be asking yourself which GPSr is the best... Instead you should be asking yourself, "Which GPSr is the best for me?". There are several things in play here. You have to be clear. Are you just seeing which GPSr has the biggest "WOW" factor and with the most bells and whistles or are you going for the unit that you want to use as you go out geocaching, hiking and travelling about? Important distinctions.

If you honestly want to purchase a GPSr for your own personal use there are some factors you must take under consideration. I narrowed them down to a few which cover all you will need to make a good solid decision. Here goes.

SHOULD I GET A GPSr AT ALL? The Value of Use:

Without having to go through all the hub bub, lets get right down to it. What are you going to use your GPSr for? Is it for geocaching, outdoor activities like hiking, travel from place to place?  If you are brand new to geocaching I would suggest that you hold off on the purchase of your GPSr for a month or so. WHAT?  Why would I say that? Because for some, geocaching sounds like a really great hobby to get into and it is. Yet some find out that it may not be what they thought it was and before you invest a chunk of pocket change into a new GPSr that you will only be using for a few weeks. You might want to borrow one from a friend or another geocacher if you can. If you then find out that you want to proceed, read on.

TIME TO DO SOME RESEARCH

Oh quit cringing, we are just getting started. Here is the question I want you to ask yourself. Do you really need all the fancy functionality? For many including myself we want all the bells and whistles we can get. The newer GPSr units can include built in cameras, voice recorders, messaging systems and much more. There is nothing wrong with looking to see what is out on the current market. Yet also realize that there is a cost for all those cool features and that directly influences how much less your wallet is going to weight. Just saying.

So let's try this on the other end. The minimum you need to go Geocaching with a GPSr. A GPSr by nature is a rugged, waterproof gizmo made for being outdoors. This is not the same description I would state in regards to smartphones. Which are not made for being outside at length including being dropped on the ground or into any kind of moisture. A standard GPS will come with some basics like a map and the ability to place coordinates in which you will see where you are presently and where you need to go. There is usually the ability to mark where you started and the path you have travelled. Always great for getting back to your car. When it comes to Geocaching. That is pretty much all you need. Beyond that falls under the bells and whistles category.  Saying this strictly for perspective. What you actually want is totally up to you.

Start looking at the major players when it comes to GPSr units. The things you want to keep in mind is Accuracy, Memory Storage and Battery Life. Almost as important would be Screen Display, Overall Usability and Functionality. Now you can add your bells and whistles. It is always good to read reviews about the product because that usually will tell you it's strengths and weaknesses. ALL GPSr units have combinations of likes and dislikes. You need to decide what you must have and what you can live with or without.

WILLING TO SPEND

It does not matter how great a particular GPSr may be if you don't have the budget to purchase the item. So it's time to cut to the chase. I really wanted to put this as the first item in this article but felt it was just as important for you to understand what you are dealing with before putting on the breaks in your decision making. So now let's get realistic. If you cringe at the thought of spending  over $150.00 I am going to save you some trouble and tell you to invest in a low end Magellan Explorist and call it a day. It is a fine starter GPSr made for Geocaching and will serve you well. I would also suggest looking for GPSr units on EBay there are some good deals there as well.

With that out of the way I am now referring to the middle ground price range which averages between $200.00USD to $400.00USD. Here is where I feel the majority of the target geocachers shoot for. In this price range you are talking a GPSr that has a really good user interface and better than average accuracy. Things like heavy tree coverage, hills and valleys won't slow the unit down all that much. You most likely won't see many of the high end bells and whistles but you should be able to do a lot of paperless Geocaching with it. Again your budget dictates everything. Purchase wisely.

FINAL DECISION

So there you go. If you did your homework and used the information I provided to you above. You should be able to come up with a good price range and idea of
GPSr unit that you want. If you notice I did not specify brands. You will find relatively quickly which brands rise to the top of the list and why. That is why it is so important for you to know how much you can spend. What features you want with your GPSr and which fit your needs and budget. I hope this helps you find what is best for you.

-HHH

GeoCache: I'm NOT Obsessed... Right?
http://headhardhat-geocache.blogspot.com/
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1 comment:

Qurtan said...

How about battery performence? Is that anything that can differ a lot?