Garmin's GPS-V Mapping GPS Receiver with AUTOMATIC address to address routing
Review by Joe Mehaffey and Jack Yeazel
Revision: 26 July. 2002 (Add manual route generation)
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Portrait or Landscape Display

GPS-V Deluxe:  How is it different from the "old" GPS-V and accessories?
Answer: Not by much.  The GPS-V deluxe is simply a repackaged GPS-V with bundled accessories.  Accessories include:  Copy of the NEW edition of CitySelect,  Data Cable,  Lanyard,  Manual,  and UNLOCK ALL codes for CitySelect.  The prices quoted are similar to the old prices with all accessories,  but get multiple quotes from various dealers as prices do vary.  If you bought the "Old" version after April 2002,  you are entitled to a special deal from Garmin on the new map program and unlock all code so you are not in financial jeopardy no matter which you buy.  As of December 2004,  we feel the GPS-V is now outdated and is superseded -FOR CAR NAVIGATION USE-  by many new and more capable units  with larger map memories even though GPS-V is still available.  Still, for a mix of marine, hiking, and car navigation, you may find the GPS-V just the thing for YOU.   See our article, MY FIRST GPS FOR CAR NAVIGATION for our recommended units.  One interesting unit to look at is the Garmin Quest.

Consumer GPS technology continues to move forward with the introduction of the Garmin GPS-V 12 channel parallel GPS receiver.  This product introduces automatic present-position-to-address or feature  routing  and WAAS in   a small handheld GPSR similar in size and capability to the G-III+.  With automatic routing,  users can input the address or waypoint of a destination and the G-V will compute a route and give turn-by-turn instructions as the route is navigated.   The GPS provides a moving cursor on the moving map showing your position on the GPSR's internal map.  As a turn approaches, the map switches to a track-up display to aid in the visualization of the needed turn.  Two warnings are sounded prior to the turn.

The G-V comes with "CitySelect" (NavTech-based maps).  This software is similar to "CityNavigator" software furnished with the StreetPilot III.  CitySelect has the same excellent (but not perfect) maps,  but routing information has been slightly modified for the lower processor power of the G-V.  The CitySelect user can enable one of about 9 USA regions at no charge and can enable some or all of the others at additional cost.  The G-V has map memory of about 19 megabytes.  Memory is not expandable.  The G-V will NOT accept memory cartridges.  Street Prices are approximately $415US.  Check Discount prices (HERE).

In the Atlanta area,  this 19 megs will hold approximately the northern 1/3 of Georgia including Atlanta.  The "map chunks" loaded do NOT need to be contiguous.  The G-V can also be loaded with maps from any of Garmin's consumer map offerings such as MetroGuide USA (which provides automatic guidance USA wide), R&R,  TOPO,  and Worldmap.  Note:  The G-V contains a base map which contains all of the major federal and state highways of the USA and Canada.  The G-V can perform automatic routing on the basemap as well as using either CS or MG USA maps for this purpose.  Thus,  the user can load detailed maps for (say) Atlanta and Denver.  Then have G-V generate a route to an address in Denver from Atlanta.  The G-V will use the CS (or MG USA) map at the beginning and end of the route and the base map along the way.  This eliminates the need to load CS (or other detailed) maps for the highway portions of most journeys. NOTE:  The basemap in the GPS-V comes in multiple versions depending on the part of the world the GPS-V is sold into.  The base map CANNOT be changed and so if you <for instance> buy a USA unit and use it in Europe,  you will have to load CitySelect maps into the G-V for all areas you intend to navigate as the USA version basemap has little detail for any part of the world except the USA and Canada.

NOTES:  This review is based on version 2.01, and current version number can be seen by pressing MENU, MENU, SETUP, MENU.   Another method to get the revision number is to press ON+ENTER.  This also gives the diagnostics page.  Press QUIT multiple times brings up additional diagnostic screens. ON+PAGE clears the almanac, and ON+MENU is an erase of stored GPS calibration and waypoint information!  For a comparison of MG USA and the GPS-III CityNavigator maps, see (HERE).  In some cases the MG USA maps are superior.

This review is based on the MetroGuide USA maps (ETAK/TeleAtlas) and not the CitySelect maps which were not available at the time.  As of  September 2001,  NO software other than Garmin's MapSource CDROM Maps can be uploaded into the G-V (or any other consumer model GPSR.  This includes Delorme Street Atlas 9.   Additional features of MapSource uploadable maps are discussed below.


The G-V has,  for the first time in a small handheld GPS receiver,  the ability to generate an AUTOMATIC route from your current location to another point.  The destination point can be any of:  an address, waypoint,  road intersection,  city or town,  highway exit,  Point of Interest from the internal list, or Recently Found Places.   This extremely flexible system is easy to operate and works quite well.  ANY automatically-generated route can be saved from the Turn-by-Turn page.

It is  possible to generate a route internal to the G-V from any destination other than your current location, PROVIDED you are in the Simulator mode and use the New Location feature from the Satellite Page.  Routes can also be generated from within MapSource and uploaded to the unit.  NOTE: With Ver. 2.04, the number of Via Points has been increased to 100 and routepoints to 50.  If Offroad Recalculation is ON, the GPS will immediately recalculate the route from present position.  If one turns this feature OFF, then the route is preserved in the GPS, so that you can manually follow the pre-planned route and still get the "pop up" guidance screens.

The current routing systems available cannot know traffic conditions or detailed road conditions and so they will not always be able to take local conditions into account when generating a route. When using CitySelect,  the routes are almost always in the "very good" class and almost as high a quality as StreetPilot III using CityNavigator map data.  (Note:  By "high quality",  We mean:  the route was the one we would have chosen, or the route was (almost) as good as the one we would have chosen, or the route was efficient,  direct,  and without problems,  but was not exactly the route one would have chosen for themselves being familiar with the area.)  With MetroGuide USA maps loaded,  the automatically generated routes are less precise and sometimes they are obviously not the best.  BUT,  MG-USA covers the entire USA as opposed to the 120 largest metro areas for CitySelect


A) The ON ROAD mode of operation.
The process starts with the pressing of the FIND key on the front of the G-V.  Alternatively,  you can select FIND on the main menu.  Then you will see this screen:
Select ADDRESSES+ENTER gives:        Then Enter an ADDRESS gives:
Click HERE for MORE Routing Screens
Note: In addition to Addresses,  you can request routes to POI, Intersections,  Waypoints,  Cities, Expressway Exits and Recently found places.

Routing Notes:
1)    The turn screens "pop up" as a turn is approached and return to the normal map screen as you pass the turn.
2)    The user can select either NORTH UP or TRACK UP for the main map,  but the pop-up screens are always TRACK UP.
3)    If you fail to follow the directions,  the GPS will automatically recalculate a new route as soon as it realizes you are "off route".
4)    If you stop at (say) a restaurant,  when you return and restart the GPS,  it will automatically recalculate and take you on the rest of your route.
5)    "Road Routing" is the default.  If you want to use the G-V on a hiking adventure,  you must select the OFF ROAD option in MAP SETUP (go to MAP page and press MENU, on MAP tab, turn LOCK ON ROAD to OFF) or the G-V will try and route you from waypoint to waypoint using nearby roads.  ALSO:  You must select OFF ROAD in ROUTE PREFERENCES in the ROUTING SETUP tab  in the MAP SETUP menu.
6)    Faster Time seems to always give me better automatically generated routes than the Shorter Distance option.

B)  The OFF ROAD mode of operation
As noted in item #5 immediately above,  you must select the OFF ROAD mode of operation.  This mode is used for hiking activities.  In this mode,  the routes do NOT lock to roads and the compass page is changed in format to the same as used in the G-III PLUS and other general purpose Garmin GPS units.

          Route from road to 001:             The Turn-by-Turn Text Guidance Screen changes to the Pointer screen:
............. ...
Moving the cursor will display Lon/Lat of the pointer, Quit returns to normal mode.

Garmin supplied this solution:  Put the unit in simulator mode and then on that same satellite page press the menu button again and scroll down to new location and press enter. Then choose the option of use map and press enter on it. The next thing you will do is to move the pointer on the screen with your rocker pad to where you want the unit to think is your current location or starting point. Then press the find button on your unit and enter the destination you wish to route to.  The unit will create a route from that starting point to the destination you set it to.  Page over to the Turn-by-turn page, press MENU, and then Save Route.  One can then use Automatic Route Recalculation ON or OFF to get the desired routing instructions.

TRACKLOGS:  The tracklog capacity is 3,000 trackpoints with 10 saved tracks of 250 trackpoints.  The Auto tracklog resolution can be set to Highest, High, Medium, Low, or Lowest.  In the Highest setting, the tracklogs are as detailed as any Garmin GPS.  With WAAS, this unit is well suited for placing or recovery of Geocached objects.  It has no  trouble, with a few minutes averaging in the clear, to establish a reference point within 3 meters.

     G-V Screen                      eMap Screen            G-III+ Screen

Note: Above pictures are NOT to scale but show the different screen resolutions of the three models.  The pixel count of the G-V screen is 160x256 and the eMap is 120x160 and that is reflected in the above pictures.  The actual size of the G-V screen is approximately 1.5"x 2.2" which is same as the G-III+ shown on the right with its 100x160 pixel display.

In order to delete ALL waypoints at once, press: Menu, Menu, Find, Waypoints, By Name, Page, Menu, Delete All.


One of the first thing you'll notice when looking at the maps  is the higher resolution screen of the G-V compared with the G-III+ and others.  The CS and MetroGuide USA maps are substantial improvements over earlier maps,  but you will still find errors and omissions in some areas.  Overall  we rate the CS maps excellent (in the 120 metropolitan areas they cover) and MG USA we rate as "very good".  We found that the CS map/data system regularly generates better routes (more like what you would do) than the MG USA.  However,  in cases where you do not want to "blindly follow the directions",  you can deviate on your own selected path and the G-V will automatically recalculate the route.  In our experiences,  both systems would get you to your destination.  A very few times,  we did notice MG USA takes some strange detours,  but these were rare.

The GPS-V Receiver

The new GPS-V is very similar to a G-III+ receiver with some important new features and a few G-III+ features are gone. (Click HERE for product review of the G-III+) .   All G-III+ accessories work with the GPS-V.  The G-V has been enhanced with additional memory (total=19megabytes),  WAAS operability,  a higher definition screen,  perpetual calendar,  fish/hunt predictor (useful?).  It also includes a "breakout" type game for when you get bored with GPS and includes a gas mileage calculator feature.  The G-V has an alarm BEEPER used for alarms,  messages and turn warnings.  All of the added memory in the G-V is internal as opposed to a removable cartridge.   The G-V receiver comes  with a DATA (only) cable for loading maps and updated firmware.

There are a number of new menus in the G-V to support the address to address features but those familiar with the G-III+ unit will be right at home with the operation of the G-V.  With the G-V  you can do the usual G-III+ route/waypoint/track  management,  (including TrackBack and MARK) plus,  the automatic address-to-address routing capability can operate to design routes INSIDE the G-V itself.  Pressing ON plus MENU will erase all of the user data.  The Master Reset is done by pressing: Zoom OUT + QUIT + ON which will delete all almanac and user data settings.  The internal memory for this data is powered by a capacitor battery which will hold a charge for one to three weeks with the batteries removed.


As with many other Garmin models, G7ToWin can be used to up/download/archive waypoints,  routes,  and tracks.  This data can also be displayed on Street Atlas in a more useful manner.  The program can also capture screen shots of the G-V screens

Street Atlas 8 can calculate routes, create waypoints, and upload these to the G-V.  SA8 can download tracks (with bogus lines), but cannot download waypoints or routes.  Ozi Explorer is completely compatible with the G-V for up/downloading/editing and archiving data.


Other new features in the GPS-V include a "pop up" direction screen showing a blown up picture of the coming intersection with an arrow pointing the way to turn and a BEEP to warn you of the upcoming turn.  Proximity waypoints are also supported with the beep alarm.  The screen backlight can be made quite bright.  See photo taken with only this light (HERE).

Battery life in the Normal Mode on the G-V with alkaline batteries is approximately 20 hours based on 90ma battery draw.  A "Battery Saver" mode that provides a fix every five seconds as opposed to once per second is supposed to increase battery life by about 30%; however, this mode prevents using the WAAS corrections.  We measured 90ma in both the Normal and Battery Saver modes, because lock is required for the Battery Saver mode feature to kick in.  (Measuring battery current and gaining lock at the same time requires four arms, -and my dog Sonny can't read the meter!)  With the backlight set to brightest, the unit draws 175ma (about 10 hours of life).  In the Indoor mode, the unit draws only 58ma.

Garmin's SPECIFICATIONS for the G-V can be found HERE.


We are going to try something new in explaining the features of the GPS-V.  The number of option screens is quite large and the some features are somewhat obscure and difficult to find.  Therefore,  we are going to show screen photos of most of the GPS-V's operational screens and this will (hopefully) give a feature overview without too many words.  (Please let us know if you like/don't like this new approach and if you have additional questions,  please eMail us.)  (Note:  The screen shots below are SLIGHTLY LARGER than the actual 2.2"W x 1.5"H (5.6 x 3.8 cm), 256 x 160 pixels size.  Attempts to scale the images produced distortion so we left them as is.)

Satellite Page                                              Pressing Menu on Sat Page Gives:

Main Map Page                                         Pressing MENU on Map Page Gives:
Click for MORE

Map Setup Page                                        Rocker Right to DISPLAY gives:
Click for MORE

                   Position Page                         Pressing MENU on Position Page gives:

Note: "Average Location" in above menu  provides waypoint position averaging feature.
This same menu allows user selection of the variables in the data fields.

Turn-by-Turn Text Guidance Screen Page               Pressing MENU gives:

Shows coming turns along route                This is where you are able to LOCALLY save a Route.
NOTE: This screen only appears if the Route Type is set to Automatic.  If it is
set to Manual, you get the Pointer screen below.

             Pointer Guidance Screen                               Pressing MENU gives

                                        The route type here is set to Manual

      Pointer as a Bearing Indicator                                      Pointer as a Course Indicator
The "highway display" useful for marine applications is substituted by the above pointer which can be changed from a Bearing pointer to a Course pointer.  "Bearing" is the direct direction to the next routepoint from present position.
The Course pointer calculates a fixed line from present position or a routepoint to the next routepoint.  The "To Course" command directs one imediately back to the courseline.  NOTE that the Bearing pointer is not the direction of the courseline which remains fixed.  Also note the TO/FROM flag which is present in an aircraft HSI.

Pressing MENU key TWICE gives:        Select MARK, Press Enter gives:

Above shows backlight OFF, battery =1/2    Select POI, Press Enter gives:
Click HERE for MORE

Select ROUTES, Press Enter gives:          Then  Press MENU gives:

 Select TRACKS, Press Enter gives:        Then press MENU gives:

Select SETUP, Press Enter gives:                                               Press ON plus ENTER Buttons for test screen:
Click HERE for more 

 Select ACCESSORIES, Press Enter gives:
Click HERE for MORE


   HOW DOES THE G-V DIFFER FROM THE G-III PLUS?  (Not an exhaustive listing)
1) Higher resolution screen.
2) Automatic address to address routing is available using the basemap,  CitySelect or MetroGuide USA maps.
3) There is no formal TRIP COMPUTER page,  but you have access to all of the variables by selections on the COMPASS page.
4) The G-V has WAAS augmentation capability.
5) The G-V has an audio BEEP for alarms,  messages,  and routing alerts.
6) The G-V "times out to operation" and does not require that you press the ENTER key to get operational.
7) The G-V has an alkaline and Lithium battery selection.  (Do NOT ask me why they deleted NiCad and added Lithium instead of NiMH!)
8) The G-V has a proximity waypoint Alarm (with separate waypoint list) and an ANCHOR DRAG alarm.
9) The G-V has waypoint averaging hidden.  Go to Position page and press MENU, select Average Location.
10) The G-V has "road lock" (cursor locks to the road even if map and current position differ slightly).
11)    The G-V has "route rubberbanding to roads" (routes generated by address to address routing lock to roads instead of being straight lines between turn points).
12) The G-V has automatic daylight savings time (but not automatic time zone selection) for the USA only.
13) The G-V has automatic or prompted off route recalculation capability.
14) The G-V has an area calculating feature,  but you have to hunt for it.  To use it,  you a) clear the tracklog and b) go hike around an area and c) go to TRACKLOGS in the main menu and d) save the ENTIRE tracklog.  When you do this,  you will be shown a screen which has the area bounded by the track.  You can also select one of the saved tracks and find the area as well.  This is where you find the TRACKBACK feature as well.


The  Garmin MapSource CitySelect maps are high quality electronic maps using NavTech map data.  NavTech has excellent maps (the best GPS/Electronic maps we know of),  but they only cover the 120+ largest metropolitan areas in the USA and a bit of Canada.  The optional MetroGuide USA covers the entire USA,  but these maps are less accurate and the routes are somewhat less likely to please as compared with the CitySelect map system.   Note:  For the purposes of discussion,  CityNavigator and CitySelect provide almost identical maps and performance.  CN is designed for the SP-III and CS is designed for the G-V.

The MG USA maps (see MG USA FAQ for more information)  are also compatible with the G-V and are quite superior to the quality of Delorme SA9 maps.  In some cases these maps have more streets than the more expensive CityNavigator maps.  See HERE for a comparison.   MG USA includes an extensive listing of POIs including restaurants,  hospitals,  post offices,  lodging,  entertainment,  shopping,  emergency services,  and transportation services.  We can say that "generally" the POI data is accurately positioned,  but there are many restaurants,  hotels,  post offices,  and other POI that are conspicuous by their absence in our area.  However,  there are a large number available and we do find the POI very useful.  MetroGuide  USA road accuracy is judged "good to superior"  by Jack and Joe.

  MetroGuide USA maps are more up to date than the older MetroGuide and R&R maps.  MapSource 4.03 or later includes the ability to track your progress on your laptop computer when it is connected to your GPSR with the data cable.  Note:  MapSource 4.03 is a free update from the Garmin website for purchasers of ANY MapSource product.  MapSource MetroGuide USA will not run on MAC computers without an emulator and many are not successful even with an emulator.

MetroGuide USA was designed to provide uploadable maps to the G-V and other Garmin GPS products.  In addition,  using version 4.03,  MapSource systems provide the ability to: upload/download routes, tracks, and waypoints to the GPS, allow the user to automatically generate a route and upload, print maps, manually input waypoints and routes onto the map for later upload to the GPS, and allows waypoint editing both on the map and in text form.  In addition,  there are many convenience improvements and bug fixes.   A complete list of MapSource  improvements  and the updated software module can be found HERE.


The G-V is by far the least expensive AUTOMATIC address to address GPS receiver available.  It is the only truly "handheld" unit available.  Other solutions such as the SP-III,  and various handheld palm computer products (Magellan Companion and Raco Destinator for example) offer larger (and optionally color) screens at overall higher prices.  Compared with any of the other available equipment,  the G-V is a general purpose unit equally at home hiking or on the highway.  The "ON ROAD" option provides good highway and road guidance with specialized screens.  The "OFF ROAD" mode provides the standard Garmin circular compass display that we like for hiking use and other G-V features make the unit quite suitable for hiking activities as well as on the highway use.

We found the battery life quite satisfactory,  but not quite as long (on a per AA cell basis) as other less capable units.  We suspect that the automatic routing capabilities take a bit more computer power than units without this feature require.  We found the G-V equally robust as compared with the G-III + and it is rated waterproof to IPX-7.   Some have expressed concern about the G-III+ as to the robustness of the rotateable antenna.  We do not share these concerns.  While it is possible to break anything,  the G-V antenna is sturdy and we have had no problems with any of the several GPSRs we have which are constructed similarly.

We do like the G-V's capability of rotating the screen to the vertical or to the horizontal at the touch of the Page button.  We like the screen horizontal for car use and vertical when we carry it around as a pedestrian.  Overall,  we think the G-V is a very capable unit and Garmin has not left out features which would limit functionality for the hiker or motorist.

There is not a lot to complain about with the G-V.  It packs a lot of functionality in a small package.  But:
1) Deleting all waypoints requires an unusually high number (8 or more) keystrokes.
2) We wish the G-V had a map cartridge capability.
3) For Car Navigation guidance,  the spoken cues of the SP-III are missed.  (How quickly we are spoiled!)

 For questions about the G-V hardware or mapping software, eMail JOE or JACK

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