G-III PLUS user comments

1)  Why you picked out the GPS you did.

Having got lost on Dartmoor (wilderness area in South West UK) I decided I never wanted to be lost again.  Having used GPS systems before, I decided I wanted a GPS with built-in mapping, and the GPS III+ was one of the few available at the time.  I've always found Garmin GPSs to be very accurate and reliable in the past, as well as being weather and waterproof (I once immersed one in a sink for several minutes) so the GPS III+ was the obvious choice for me.

2)  What you like about your choice.

The mapping feature is good, once I'd bought the UK Roads & Recreation CD, but see caveats below.  The maps seem very accurate and there is enough memory to load most of a county in at once, which is good enough for non-car navigation.  The Garmin is easy to use when trudging along, and has some neat features, such as the ability to be used in either Portrait or Landscape modes at the press of a button.  It also car-mounts easily and has an external aerial facility, which I have used in the past but don't generally bother with now.

3)  What you do not like about your choice?

There are no topo maps of UK, which is a shame as I use the unit mainly for off-road use.  Garmin say there are no plans to produce these.  The mapping lacks intelligence, for example, it will not selectively use waypoints if the screen gets too cluttered.  I now have a database of around 100 tors (rocky outcrops) on Dartmoor and the whole screen can get a bit cluttered at times.  A colour screen would have been great, but at the expense of battery life of course.  For the same reason, I keep the backlight turned off 99% of the time.

When used on the external aerial cable, the aerial doesn't lock on to the coax connector (it just pushes on), so there's no way of using it out the window of the car or anything.  If the aerial locked on to the connector with a bayonet fitting, it would give a bit more flexibility.

The GPS doesn't have a routing function, which of course comes in the GPS III+, so it's not really very useful for route planning in the car, except to get a general idea of where you are - but I knew this when I bought it.  I have in the past connected it via Serial to a laptop, but I've just bought a Bluetooth GPS which makes this whole scenario a lot less fiddly.

4)  Your experiences in using your GPS receiver.

Well, I've never been lost since!  It acquires its position very quickly and accuracy is great, judging by where it places you on the map, although there is a slight lag with map drawing when moving at high speed (such as in the car).  Entering waypoints is a bit tortuous using a joypad, but a full keyboard would be out of the question.  It's also thoroughly weatherproof.

I've not found a way to "go to" a grid reference without entering it as a full waypoint, which means it is quite time consuming to do.

The odometer feature isn't particularly useful, as due to restricted battery life (probably 8-10 hours) I never have it turned on for more than a few minutes at a time, to confirm where I am and how to get to the next waypoint or feature. 

One final note - when I lost my Roads & Rec CD, but still had proof of purchase & the CD box/manual, Garmin UK were very unenthusiastic about replacing it except by charging me full price.  It was obvious I wasn't a pirate, as if I had been wanting to thieve their software, I would have just made a copy using a CD-recorder, from the copy I obviously already had!  In the end they did replace it but they argued a lot and didn't give me a particularly warm feeling about customer satisfaction.  It was, of course, my fault I'd lost the CD, but they didn't go out of their way to help me, or even be particularly polite.

5)  Does your GPS perform as you expected.

Yes, except the lack of Topo maps.