--Gene S. Berkowitz tells us his views on his new eTrex LEGEND

I've had for a little over a month now.  The Legend came with
firmware version 2.36, which is the latest available on
Garmin's web site.

0. A bit about me, first.  I don't need a GPS.  I simply
wanted one, because I work in embedded systems and find
gadgets of this complexity utterly fascinating.

1)  Why you picked out the GPS you did.

Actually, I originally purchased a Garmin eMap, because
it was offered at a great price, and included a base map.
I thought it would be an economical way to try out an electronic
map, and if I liked it, I would spring for an expansion cartridge
and some detailed maps.

Unfortunately, the web site vendor sent me a refurbished eMap.
I wouldn't have minded, except that I was assured before I ordered
that the product was new.  I returned it without ever turning
it on.  When I started looking for another vendor, I decided to
spend a little more for the eTrex Legend, as I had since priced
Garmin's 8MB memory cartridges, and it looked like a wash, financially.
Plus, the Legend is immersible, whereas Garmin seemed to go out
of their way to suggest that the eMap shouldn't even get rained

2)  What you like about your choice.

It works surprisingly well, and for the most part is
intuitively obvious to operate.  For a device with no external
antenna, I've had no trouble on short hikes with tree cover,
and it never has trouble acquiring a signal on the dashboard
of my car.  I am quite impressed with the GUI Garmin has developed,
considering that virtually all input is done via a pointing stick.

3)  What you do not like about your choice?  and
4)  Your experiences in using your GPS receiver.

The display is just too small for mapping.
It seems like Garmin made the case first, then had to fit in the  display.
In nav mode, and trip computer, where large characters
are displayed, the display is very adequate.  In map display, the
street detail is just too small to read more than 18 inches away.
Also, in "Track Up" mode, the map pivots around your position as
you change directions.  The redraw is a bit too slow to really
accomodate this, and I found it unusable in the car, as it was  disorienting.
 In "North Up" mode, the map draw can keep up better.

The arrangement of the menus can be an obstacle.  I think that
system settings (GPS On/PowerSave/Off, WAAS On/Off) are buried
a few clicks too deep on the inaptly-named Main Menu (which,
when you press the key reserved for switching display modes,
comes up LAST).

The "Last Menu" also contains what I think is probably the dumbest
piece of software since Microsoft's "Bob", the Hunting/Fishing
"calculator".  I'm not much of a hunter or fisherman, but as I
understand it, there is no "best" time to hunt/fish; when you're
doing either, you're not at work, so that makes it a pretty good
time right there.

There are some minor annoyances; when naming a waypoint, the
Legend displays a small grid of characters that you navigate
around to pick & click.  Most of the punctuation is "grayed
out", however, which makes abbreviating (which is a necessity)
difficult (no period or ampersand available), and lower case
is not available either ("shift" is grayed out).

When in map mode, if you choose to "pan" (move around in the
map), there is no obvious way out of Pan mode.  The only way
appears to be pressing the display mode key, which, rather than
just disabling the pan function, instead snaps you back to the last
acquired position.

Garmin puts the "Find" function on both a dedicated button, and
the Main Menu.  I'd prefer that I could choose the
behavior for that button, for example a "full-screen" map mode,
that would turn on/off the nav status and data fields which
together consume about 20% of the display. Instead, I have
to enter the Map menu and make two different selections.

5)  Does your GPS perform as you expected.

Actually, it performs better than I expected.  I have been
able to acquire a good WAAS signal where I live (Massachusetts,
USA), but have seen little or no improvement on the reported
signal accuracy.  I don't have enough experience with GPS to
know if this is always the case, but it appears to report
higher accuracy at night (WAAS on or off).

6)  How is the manual?

The Garmin manual is a bit tedious, and lacking in some
useful information (like getting out of Pan mode).  The section
on WAAS is very thin, and pretty much directs you to check out
the FAA's web site.  I tend to read manuals before trying out
a product; I don't want to miss anything good!  After reading
the manual, I had a pretty clear idea of how to do most everything
I wanted, and haven't referred to it more than once since then.

Views of the LEGEND by Terry Hernlund

1) Why you picked out the GPS you did.

I shopped hard for a GPS. I checked the features of every receiver I could find before making a decision. I finally settled on the Legend for it's size and feature list. This site also helped quite a bit. Even today (a year after my initial purchase of the Legend) when I consider purchasing a second unit, I keep coming back to the Legend. I chose it over the Vista because of price, and over the Venture because of memory. The Legend leans toward the high-end Vista in features, but toward the lower-end Venture in price.

It turns out that a close friend of mine, after his own exhaustive research, bought the same unit. At the time neither of us even knew the other was shopping for a GPS receiver.

2) What you like about your choice.

As near as I can tell the Legend/Vista/Venture have the highest screen resolution of any receivers out there. That in addition to the size was a big selling point to me. Battery life was also key. This unit lists an 18hr battery life while the Vista only listed 12hrs (presumably because it has a compass and altimeter, which I didn't care about much).

It did originally occur to me that an electronic compass and altimeter would be something I wanted. However the compass is definitely over-rated has all you have to do is walk a few feet to get a compass reading. Often I only have to move the receiver from one hand to the other and the compass points the proper direction. As far as the altimeter, I couldn't imagine why I would need that. For my purposes these two functions are not required. I don't miss them at all.

3) What you do not like about your choice?

There isn't much I don't like about the Legend. As I said I shopped hard for it because I didn't want to be disappointed with my purchase. In the beginning I wished it had more track points, but that wish has been granted (along with other nice goodies) with the latest firmware updates. It now has 10,000 track log points and 1,000 waypoints. The only thing I wish it had was the ability to connect an external antenna. However this is a very minor thing and I only mention it for lack of something else to say in this section.

4) Your experiences in using your GPS receiver.

I use my Legend extensively for hiking and ATVing through the back country and in desert mountain preserves. So far I have had no noticeable issues while doing either. The Legend easily locks on satellites and maintains a relatively accurate position. The track logs are high resolution and excellent.

Although not an issue for me, I can see how someone with less than perfect eye sight may have a problem seeing the small screen on this unit. I, however, have no issues with it.

5) Does your GPS perform as you expected.

According to all the reading I did before purchasing the Legend, this unit performs EXACTLY as I expected. I've had no misgivings about it.

6) How is the manual?

The manual is a little vague is places and leaves out some information. It does however get the point across and does give mostly adequate instructions for use. Any information not in the manual is easily obtained on the web.

7) Other comments.

For a non-serious navigator on a weekend hiking trip, I whole-heartedly recommend this unit. I got mine for mostly entertainment value (read: I don't really NEED a GPS receiver) and don't regret it one bit. It's small, easy to use and feature rich. For the price it can't be beat in my book! Be sure to update your firmware to get some additional functionality. See the readme file accompanying the update for details.

Terry Hernlund

User's Initial Views on the Garmin eTrex LEGEND by Jamie Main, UK

1)  Why you picked out the GPS you did.

Garmin seemed to be the market leader, good website info at Garmin and most user friendly.  Advice from your site was good. No need for the Vista as I always carry a compass and occasionally a barometer in the mountains.   Well featured compared to Garmin 12 and etrex (yellow). Small and compact, light especially when using lithiums.  Good price from http://www.TVNAV.com in the USA.

2)  What you like about your choice.

 Small and compact, light especially when using lithiums . More than enough features, clarity of display compared to my old Garmin 12.  Upload/download to PC for mapping and free software updates

3)  What you do not like about your choice?

Pop up alphabet grid on find menu is a bit of a pain...easier to just scroll down

Perhaps a little small for use in cold weather with gloves/mitts

Click stick...the achilles heel of this machine

4)  Your experiences in using your GPS receiver.

I received the GPS and immediately found it easy to use with plenty of features and I was really happy with my purchase.   In the austral summer I work in the Antarctic and use the GPS for navigation, positioning of food /fuel caches and as a logistics planning tool for flights etc.   the GPS worked well for a month until I pulled it out of my pocket one day to find that the top of the click stick rubber housing was missing...nightmare...anyway it still worked but was no longer water resistant...water not being too much of a problem in the interior...anyway a few more clicks and the alloy of the switch broke rendering the GPS inoperable.   If the click stick fails on this machine the game is over.

So..I email Garmin from the ice telling them what had happened and requesting they send a replacement to me.  I would send the unit back when I got back to the US and enclosed details of where I bought the machine and serial nos etc.

The email I get back from Chris Wheeler of Garmin was not helpful.  It was suggested that I was  using the machine in a way that it was not designed ( ie outside its temperature operating limits  The ambient temp were around -15deg C but the GPS was always in my internal pocket) and that if I paid for a new machine at full RRP they would send it down and perhaps refund later.   I was not happy about this.

5)  Does your GPS perform as you expected.

Yes ,  the GPS does what it was designed except as noted above.   I have received my repaired unit now and it works fine.

6)  How is the manual?

A bit cluttered...


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