A Quick Look at Garmin's "e-map"
By Dennis Fraser
Here's a view of the Garmin e-map as compared to the StreetPilot ColorMap. Surprisingly the screens vary only slightly in size. Yet, the emap is truly a pocket-sized GPS which is a pleasure to carry. The e-map is quite well featured and less confusing for on-the-go automotive use than the III+. While sporting only one route, it does have the same 500 waypoint capacity of newer models. There is no separate compass page, but a compass is provided at the top of the main map screen (may be turned off along with speed, trip distance and time). 
To give a better size perspective, here's the e-map shown in comparison to a 3COM Palm IIIx. The e-map is about a half-inch longer and a quarter inch thicker than the Palm. Unfortunately these two products share a common problem: the backlighting has but one level and lacks the luminance most folks would prefer.
Any Garmin user woulld recognize the control keys, but notice "Quit" has become the more computer like "Esc". Another nomenclature change is the simulator function is now selected with the menu selection "Use Indoors".
 The "On/Off" and backlight buttons are separate - a welcome innovation. It's very easy in the first few hours of use to press the "PWR" button expecting the backlight to fire up, or bring up the contrast/brightness submenu - which it does after a slight delay during which the backlight comes on at its one fixed level.
The serial interface connector resides, uncovered, on the front edge just below the control pad. The connector uses a mechanical "slot" arrangement by which the mating connector slides up onto the e-map retained by the slots on either side. The data cable supplied with the "Deluxe" model lacks the 12VDC pin.
 Recessed on the back top of the e-map case is the "MX" external antenna connector. While an irritation for those of us equipped with BNC accessories, it's clear the e-map wouldn't enjoy its trim depth had a BNC been used. A nice feature of the e-map is the lack of protrusions - in no small part a contribution of the "MX" connector. The e-map is very much DGPS-ready and uses yet another new menu nomenclature for DGPS set-up; "Garmin Bcn Rcvr". In the category of what goes around come around, the e-map sports the rotating globe on its start-up/splash screen. Battery use seems very conservative. The unit pictured has been running with external active antenna for in excess of eleven hours on standard alkalines with battery indicator still showing 75% remaining.


The battery compartment is UNSEALED and the cover appears to be quite flimsy.
The battery compartment cover is a slide on cover similar to that used on many TV
remote controls.  The cover is not captive.  If you drop the unit,  the cover tends
to fly off..

To give you a brief idea of the e-map's flexibility, the two initial menus provide a good overview:
* Full Screen Map
* Use Indoors
* Stop Navigation
* Measure Distance
* Setup Map
* Trip Computer
* Tracks
* Route
* GPS Info
* MapSource Info
* System Info
* Setup
The above photographs and information furnished through the courtesy of
R. Fraser, Deerfield, IL