This is a lengthy review, but at $462 and after seeing some of the “user induced” complaints, I believe a good review is essential.
I also own a Garmin Etrex Vista and by far, the Oregon 400t is the most versatile, customizable, and flexible handheld GPS I have seen. I had the opportunity to compare the Oregon and the Colorado side-by-side at an REI store and found the ease of use and touch pad of the Oregon too much to pass up. The touch pad makes it extremely user friendly. In addition, the order of the choices on each of the 4 main pages can be arranged in any order desired and in a number of different profiles such as recreational, geocaching, and automotive for ultimate flexibility. There are so many different ways to display information to the user that the choices seem endless. The Oregon is to GPS receivers what the iPhone and the Blackberry are to smartphones. A good review from 2008 can be found at: http://gpsinformation.info/penrod/oregon/oregon.html. I was sold after seeing how to deal with the daylight viewing issues people talk about and what the other 95% positive things that have been said by professional reviewers about the Garmin 400t.
Like most things sold these days, the manual could be the quick guide so don’t expect every little detail to be explained. It would be nice if manuals said and explained everything. I’d like to know why I’d want to make one choice over another (like the difference between the Garmin Spanner and serial interfaces) since those two appear to be the same with the Spanner choice asking if you want to go to Mass Storage rather than automatically doing so,for example. Links in this review greatly fill in gaps in the manual and you’ll be happier utilizing those resources!
The benefit to the 400t over the 300 is the internal memory. As found at: http://garminoregon.wikispaces.com/Product+Information#toc7, the 400 has 4GB of memory (the Topo2008 takes up 2.7GB) leaving a lot of free memory to save waypoints, tracks, pics for personal and geocaching use, and additional maps. The 300 has 850 MB left and as anyone using a handheld GPS knows, maps take up HUGE amounts of memory – you can never have enough.
Choices on the setup button offer options for the system and display that can extend battery life (such as choosing a backlight timeout period and battery save option if desired). Under setup>display, there is even a screen capture choice that saves a file you can print out or email whatever is displayed on the screen – cool!
As with digital cameras, mp3 players, printers, etc., you need some sort of software program on your computer, such as a Garmin Mapsource product, and then you can (contrary to a Feb 14th review) download waypoints, tracks, and routes (I uploaded 42 waypoints, 2 routes, and 16 tracks used by E Trex Vista to the Oregon so you absolutely can upload and download data!!!).
Batteries – unless one reviewer selected the “stays on” option for backlighting, bad batteries are the only thing that can explain really poor battery life. Per the “garminoregon.wikispaces.com” web site, I’m using version 2.85beta and together with Powerex 2700mAh batteries, have gotten around 20 hours of battery life (battery type needs to be specified in system settings). It was a Garmin rep. I spoke with at a local REI that told me a university field tested high capacity NIMH batteries and that is the way to go for the Oregon. Condition batteries first and consider the Maha MH-C9000 charger which conditions the batteries – they have truly impressed me over previous Energizer and Sanyo AA NIMH batteries I’ve tried. In comparison, with the same 30 second backlight period and Energizer batteries, I saw only one full day – near the rated 16 hour time worth before the repeated low batt. warnings. This is in real use geocaching two days for most of the day, hooking the Oregon to a laptop and reviewing/downloading waypoints and tracks, and over 3 hours a third day downloading 648 MB of Roads & Recreation maps to the Kingston 4 GB micro SDHC card (also from Amazon.com) I added. I purchased the 4 GB card to also, one day, load City Navigator NT onto it. You need a high capacity reader or you have to transfer data via the USB cable connected to the Oregon otherwise – above 2GB is considered high capacity I found out.
I followed tips and suggestions on http://garminoregon.wikispaces.com/message/list/home which is one of the most useful web sites out there with extremely useful and helpful information exclusively for the Oregon. It can greatly simplify the learning curve with something that can do as much as the Oregon can.
Read about the software updates and stay as current as reasonable, backup the data from the Oregon on a hard drive, register the GPS with Garmin and you’ll truly appreciate the investment as much as it is possible.
As with any relatively new item, bug fixes in the firmware will begin to resolve functionality issues as is the case and already in progress. Utilize the resources of”garminoregon.wikispaces.com” and the value of the Garmin Oregon 400t will be clear.
Get in touch with your wild side with Oregon 400t. This next-generation handheld features a rugged, touchscreen along with preloaded topographic maps, 3-D map view, a high-sensitivity receiver, barometric altimeter, electronic compass, microSD card slot, picture viewer and more. Even exchange tracks, waypoints, routes and geocaches wirelessly between similar units.Oregon 400t leads the way with a tough, 3-inch diagonal, sunlight-readable, color, touchscreen display. Its easy-to-use interface means you’ll spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less time searching for information. Both durable and waterproof, Oregon 400t is built to withstand the elements. Bumps, dust, dirt, humidity and water are no match for this rugged navigator.With Oregon 400t you can share your waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches wirelessly with other users. Now you can send your favorite hike to your friend to enjoy or the location of a cache to find. Sharing data is easy.Oregon 400t has a built-in electronic compass that provides bearing information even while you’re standing still, and its barometric altimeter tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude. You can even use the altimeter to plot barometric pressure over time, which can help you keep an eye on changing weather conditions.
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