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Old 07-25-2013, 10:57 AM   #1
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Garmin Montana GPS

As you all know, I've been a "Garmin GPS" Guy. I've bought and reccommended many of their units over the years. Some of you have bought units based on my recommendations.

Well, Garmin has gotten greedy as well as lost touch with why we buy handheld GPS's. Here is the saga.

On my way to my brothers for my recent trip, I stopped at Campmor and purchased Garmins Top of the Line, whoop de do, Montana 650t for a whopping $599.95. I charged the battery at my brothers, loaded the gps routes for our hikes from my laptop. Same as I have done in the past.

So, once we arrive at our destination, a trailhead on the "Bob" in Montana I choose the "WHERETO" on the Gps (which is how you have to begin any kind of Navigtion with the unit) and choose the gps trail I have uploaded and ait while it spins it's wheels and says "CALCULATING" Then I get a message that it can't calculate the route because: (Get Ready) "THERE ARE NO NAVIGABLE ROADS IN THE AREA"!! NO SH*T, WHY DO YOU THINK I WANT THE GPS? I choose a waypoint and I get the same message. Note that in the choices I had in setup I chose the backpacking mode. So for the bulk of my trip the unit is worthless to me. It does allow me to take pictures, which are geotagged but in sunlight it's almost impossible to focus the camera because I can't see the screen. I set the unti for tracking and that seems to work fine, even with the unit in my hip pocket. So then I figure I'll use the "tracback" mode that I have always used on Garmins but it doesn't exist. So I have to choose view on map, and yes it does show me the rout. However using "WHERETO" again tells me that it cant do it because there are no navigable roads in the area. So evidently I have a GPS that is lost in the woods. OK so I'll get in touch with Garmin when I get back and get it squared away. Oh btw did I mention that I can no longer select just certain features to reset? Or that I can't reset the odometer when I tell it to reset everything? And that the odometer has over 2300 miles on it, even though I've had the unit a week and it didn't get turned on until I got to the trailhead other then to upload the trails?!! OK so, this baby also does car navigation, I'll give that a try. It comes preloaded with a global street mapo as well as the 100k us topo (Thats what the "T" is for and why it's $100 more then the 650). So we're in Missoula, MT, looking for a restaurant we have the address for. I punch in the address and choose"WHERETO", it spins it's wheels and Eureka. It tells me that if I want directions I need to purchase the City Explorer map for $100.00 more!!!

So, anyway we get to Browning, MT where we're staying with a friend on the rez and I hook up to the internet and I go to the Garmin website to get some help. What I get is a referral to help and videos on another site (GPSCITY) which is a dealer that sells GPS's. Mind you, Garmin has none of this on their site for their units and are perfectly content to let someone else do what they should do.

OK so here's what I find out. In order to follow a gps route I must tell the unit that I want "Direct" routing. and that will give me straight line bearings. So, if I have a gps route, I must use the "make route" function on the gps and then choose each waypoint in order until the route is complete. This is stupid, especially since for years Garmins have made following gps routes and track simple and painless.

So you get the idea. The unit pretty muchs sucks as is and Garmin tech supports solution is to refer yoiu another website thast is not theirs. So I figure I'll wait until I get home.

Home!! Now time to try to figure this all out. I send an email to Garmin listing the problems. I have also tried to install a bought and paid for, no longer sold Garmin City Nvigator on my GPS to handle street directions if I ever choose to use it that way. What I gut is a message that t's already on two units, which is wrong, it's only on one. My MapGPS 60SX. I inform tech support of this as well.
Here's what I get from tech support. The reply I get back is contrary to what I've gotten on the website that they are referred me to. Following Garmin's direction does nothing to solve any of the problems. As for the problem installing the mapping program, they check my record and tell me that there were two installations one for a map GPS 60, and another the same day for a map GPS 60 SX. I informed that I do not have, have never had, nor intend to have a map GPS 60. Why would I buy two almost identical GPS's on the same day and install the maps on them? Nonetheless, even though they no longer sell nor support the mapping program, and checking my record will show that I have owned several garments over the years, they won't allow me to use the program that I paid for.

So, my solution was to return the Montana to the store since it was less than 30 days old. Because of lack of customer loyalty and appreciation, along with almost nonexistent tech support, and finally just the overall sense of greed that Garmin has shown, I will no longer recommend Garmin GPS's to others. Finally, I will be as enthusiastic about discouraging other people from buying garment products, as I was about recommending them in the past.
"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." Lyndon B. Johnson
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:02 PM   #2
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Just goes to show you that bigger and more expensive is not always better. Thanks for the warning. May save someone alot of aggravation.

....... with the good Lord willin' and the creeks don't rise.......
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Old 07-26-2013, 07:23 AM   #3
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Sorry to hear that you had such pain with that new unit, but I'm glad you posted this...MDB has been bugging me to get a new GPS unit, that my tried and true Garmin 60CSx is outdated. Again, shows that newer is not necessarily better.
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Old 08-02-2013, 10:07 AM   #4
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A couple of months ago I bumped into a guy that I sorta' know, when I was out on a hike.
We were talking about this and that crap and he started telling me about how terribly disappointed he was with a GPS he had bought, a Garmin Montana and that he had quickly returned it.

I told him about my Garmin Vista and showed him a few screens and talked about what I do with it.
I said that it was a discontinued Garmin unit but that I still recommend it.
He ended up searching for a Garmin Vista HCx, found one on ebay and bought it.
After he got it, he was so happy he had to call and thank me.
He just couldn't believe how it was so totally different from that Montana unit.
I answered a few questions that he had about his Vista HCx and he seemed good to go.
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:11 AM   #5
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Sorry to hear of your woes. At $600, one expects any piece of outdoor gear to be outstanding.

I've got an eTrex 30 with few bells and no whistles. I'm pleased with it but it's my first GPA unit, so I have nothing to measure it against.

What Company's GPS unit will you recommend?

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Old 08-06-2013, 08:26 AM   #6
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battery life

I use GPS devices as tools for canoe racing and training, to monitor and keep my target pace. As a SAR crew boss, the second use for a GPS as a critical tool is for assisting Rangers on SAR missions. (For recreational backcountry travel most know I am totally hard over on eyes with map and compass only, but that is a different story.) I have two Garmin 60CSx devices, plus a 62S. I bought the 62 as a backup for the 60, but soon after I bought a second 60 before they disappeared from the market. I did that because I so disliked the 62.

My dislike was not unfounded for many reasons, but the biggest is extremely short battery life. Back in June on the recent 440 mile Yukon River Quest race we had three 60CSx devices, plus the 62S operating in our voyageur canoe to keep us on our preplanned best route of 460 waypoints in current and around shoals and island turn points. Two 60CSx's were at the bowman's navigator seat, one set to next waypoint direction and the other to map display, another 60 at the stern+1 backup nav's seat, and the 62 was at the sternman's seat set to direction following. Each GPS was configured as identically as possible, with the exception of one of the bow 60CSx's having tracking turned on. All had two AA lithium batteries installed.

Our first mandatory rest stop in the race occurred at 22 hours after race start. All three 60CSx's were still going strong, having been on continuously in excess of 23 hours. But the 62S had long ago died after having been on for only 7 hours. We did not take the time out to change the batteries in it when it died. At the rest stop, batteries in all four devices were replaced with fresh ones.

The finish line at Dawson was another 23 hours ahead. The 62 died again at almost exactly 7 hours. Batteries were replaced then. It lasted another 7 hours and died again. Meanwhile all 3 of the 60CSx's continued performing all the way to the finish.

I really hate the 62. I hate the display and I hate how it is configured. And now I really hate the battery life. It will always be relegated to backup status. I will never count on it for a race, and never rely on it for SAR.
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Old 09-06-2013, 06:59 PM   #7
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I have seen very similar results, I loved my 60CSX. I basically track all my activities and commonly saw 18+ hour battery life. One winter the 60 went into hiding and has not come out. So I bought an Oregon 450. Well this is cool, it finds itself real quick even if I have driven 15 hours since it was on last. But from there the love has ended. 5 hour battery life, you got to be kidding me.
Distance, everything tracked is shorter now. Turns out Garmin changed how it logs distance so a common 14.2 mile river paddle is now 13.9 miles. Two other GPS still show the river run to be over 14 miles.
Now the touch screen, you cant wipe it off without changing something.
The 60, to mark a waypoint was one touch. The Oregon, forget it if you are moving, it can not be done.
All my maps are self generated, but it seems now I paddle though the woods next to the rivers. It just has errors in it's location. The 60 did not have that issue.

So where do we go for a decent portable GPS. I am now using a tablet with mapping in vehicles and my power boat.
But who makes something for paddling or trail use?
My new camera has needed 3 battery changes since I got it at the end of last year. I have taken 3500+ pictures and hours of video. It is fabulous so we know electronics do improve, just not at Garmin I guess.

Are the entry level Garmin's better than the big dollar junk?

I am waiting for Garmin's new camera system, the Virb Elite with built in GPS, will this be crap too?
I am beginning to realize how hard it is to hold an umbrella while paddling in the driving rain on a windy lake.
Charlie North
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:05 PM   #8
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Garmin seems to be more interested in how many additional maps they can sell you in $500.00 plus instruments we buy from them. Another company trying to ride the wave up it's name and seeing it's customers as only a way to make a buck. They have gotten worse as the time has gone by. Now I view them only with contempt as opposed o the esteem I had several years ago when I was a Garmin"Fan" and an outspoken advocate for their products. Now my motto is"ABG", Anything But Garmin.
"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." Lyndon B. Johnson
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:18 AM   #9
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A few years back I bought a Bushnell GPS, I sure do not have a good opinion of it.
First issue is I doubt there is an employee there over 25 years old, the fonts on screen are so bloody small that our aging eyes can not perceive any info without Magoo glasses on. I could not find any way to change font size.
Then a big issue, If the batteries are not first use it would not Acquire a signal.
I am sure there is more about the Bushnell but it have sat in it's package since purchase since new, unused.

A method I used to get City Navigator on my Oregon was to purchase an old used street Garmin GPS and port the maps over to the Oregon, works sweet.
Seems the OEM installs do not need authentication.
I am beginning to realize how hard it is to hold an umbrella while paddling in the driving rain on a windy lake.
Charlie North
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Old 11-30-2013, 08:29 PM   #10
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I have owned a Garmin for years. Starting with a e-trex, moving to the e-trex Legend C, then to a Garmin Colorado, and not the Montana 650t. I have never had a problem with the Garmin, aside from some satellite issues when under thick canopy (then its only a matter of 80 feet vs 30 feet accuracy). Having said that, my wife uses a Magellan and has for years. You can't get her to move to a Garmin . I have a friend who swears by his DeLorme PN-60. Out of all of my friends that do own Garmins, they claim that the 60xx series of handhelds with the external antennae are the best! I enjoy my Montana based merely on the bells in whistles. I use it as a Nuvi in the vehicle, use it on Marine mode on my boat, and recreational mode int he woods. I have three different profiles set up and its just a quick menu change to move between them

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