Barry Gives his views on his new eTrex VISTA

                By Barry Burke, Jr.

1)  Why you picked out the GPS you did.

 I wanted a different unit for hiking, cycling, and mountain biking.  My
III+ was unable to hold very many maps, and I wanted to load more.  The
Vista offered and very nice feature set for the approx. $290 street price.

2)  What you like about your choice.

 The Vista was smaller and lighter than the III+ I also own.  I like the
form factor of the eTrex series case, the unit fits in my hand and
mounts to handlebars nicely.  The electronic compass is useful for
calculating direction when stopped while hiking or mountain biking. The
trip computer and mapping screens are my most often used when road

3)  What you do not like about your choice?

 I would like an external antenna connection.  I also wish Garmin would
allow us to select "GPS altitude only" via a software switch.  The
battery life is a bit short, but I consider that an acceptable trade-off
to increasing the weight of the unit with more batteries.

4)  Your experiences in using your GPS receiver.

 I've used it road biking, mountain biking, hiking, driving, and
travelling by train.  The unit has worked well for me in forests,
suburbia, and New York City.  The tall buildings of NYC caused some
reception problems, by the unit was plenty useable while walking.  I
don't think it would have worked all that well if I had been driving.
The Vista has been referred to as a "cell phone" three times, twice by
Madison Square Garden security, and once by another hiker.  <G>

5)  Does your GPS perform as you expected.


6)  How is the manual?

 Pretty good, but I am not a new user of GPS.  I think a brand new user
might be intimidated.

Sean Kennedy's comments on the VISTA for use in sailplanes:

1) Picked the Vista due to Built in Altimeter/Barometric and Compass/Magnetometer, and High Resolution Graphics.

2) I Liked the Form Factor, Least batteries, and Simple/Easy slide/shoe connection for Power and Serial Data.

3) I Least liked the Cost of unit when I got it compared to now.

4) Excellent unit overall, with some limitations. GPS altitude select-switch for Airliner flights. A flight orientated software version rather than walkabout/fishing/parasailing/parachuting "One-Size-Fits-All".

Note: On Startup, the internal clock for the Display suffers a hiccup and will display multi-line interference. This appears to be a single sample defect.   A soft strike to the Garmin logo with an index finger knuckle corrects this temporarily.

5)The GPS performs very well, and with it's small footprint makes a great geocaching/sailplane logger.   For Soaring applications, its small footprint is detrimental visually, but with GARMIN Real-time or NEMA183 data, and a Palm-based device (SoarPilot), the moving-map displays can be better shown with better resolution.  SoarPilot can be found at:

6)Manual was acceptable, a "Starters Guide" would be better as a bound version enclosed with the Unit. A CD-ROM with both .PDF and web-based Macromedia FLASH for "HOW-TO" for the GPS would be awesome.  Utility software (Basic backup/restore / mapper) for the GPS to allow upgrades and interaction.

7) As gliding goes, this is an AWESOME student logging aid. Note I say logging, not nav-aid. For students, you really aren't in the navigation stage until well into soaring and already having your licence dealt with. But for 3D feedback and analysis for flights, this is one of the best units.

With 24MB of storage, the Active log can be up to ~18-19MB of storage, which is significant, and is only limited by the batteries. The Data shoe acts as the primary power source, and the batteries act as backup.

Along with the Electronic Compass, and the Barometric Altimiter the Vista can act as a Final Glide data collector for Paragliding and for sailplanes.

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