GPS computer recommendations?

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ootini
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GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ootini » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:46 am

I currently have a garmin etrex 20 for mapping duties, but I really struggle with the small screen and poor resolution, along with the slow, clunky interface.
I'm thinking of replacing it but most computers have a million other functions I'll never use. All I want is mapping / navigation. Even the speed readout is only a nice to have for me. I don't care about power meters, cadence etc. Ideally a smart phone running Google maps / back country navigator or similar, but the battery performance is the killer there, unless that circle has been squared?

What is the go to mapping unit these days, that preferably isn't a Garmin ?

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ScotRoutes
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ScotRoutes » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:48 am

My go-to is a Garmin Oregon.

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Escape Goat » Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:46 am

I currently use a garmin gps 64 with full os maps on
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:31 am

MGT is also a Garmin, we're not helping are we :wink:

I get where you're coming from though. Compared to the experience of using any modern (or even not so modern) smartphone a Garmin (in terms of speed and UI) is rather clunky and ponderous. I do wonder what prevents them reducing size, improving performance, the UI and the size and quality of the screen so it's much more like a smartphone . However, if it's *that* easy you'd think it would've been done by them or a competitor by now :???:

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:38 am

I use an old Dakota - bigger screen than the etrex but not so good a resolution. I find it okay, not great but okay. I put this down to the fact that I don't have a phone so know no better :wink:

The Oregon has a much nicer screen than the etrex. If I were spending, that's likely where the money would go.
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ootini
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ootini » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:43 am

The Karoo Hammerhead looks very "smart phone-esque" but, it does a million things I'll never want, plus it's bloody expensive.
I must admit, I'm toying with the idea of binning off my Etrex and recommissioning an old Samsung S7 for Nav duties with a stonking power pack to keep it alive, all mounted on a quadlock thingy. Probably running Komoot or BCN.
Does a smart phone need an active SIM just to run gps software?

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ScotRoutes
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ScotRoutes » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:45 am

No, it doesn't.

Phone in a case, with a power bank, is a definite option. More faff than I can be bothered with and I find the Garmin interface just fine.

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by redefined_cycles » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:48 am

Wahoo Roam for me. Its fandabatastic and amazingly non-clunky as well as showing up paths from bridleways well even on the black/white/blue screen...

I think there is a wahoo bolt in the classifieds that might be for grabs still. That was my previous one (after having toyed with the clunky - this time we've got it right and theres no bugs - garmin units (720, 520, 1000). Must admit I never did take the plunge to try the outdoors type Garmins (but from your mention of the Etrex being buggy and me not having massive budget, I'd probably have gotten stuck with one of the more basic and clinky units anyway)...

Not sure if that helps. Hope it does :-bd
Last edited by redefined_cycles on Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ScotRoutes
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ScotRoutes » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:52 am

Hmm good point. OS maps on Garmin sized screens often look cluttered and hazy. If that's what you are using then try something OSM based to see if that's readable enough for you OpenFietsMap is a good one to try.

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Dave Barter
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Dave Barter » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:52 am

redefined_cycles wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:48 am
Garmin Roam for me. Its fandabatastic and amazingly non-clunky as well as showing up paths from bridleways well even on the black/white/blue screen...
I think you mean Wahoo. Garmin don't have a Roam device
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by redefined_cycles » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:12 am

Dave Barter wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:52 am
redefined_cycles wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:48 am
Garmin Roam for me. Its fandabatastic and amazingly non-clunky as well as showing up paths from bridleways well even on the black/white/blue screen...
I think you mean Wahoo. Garmin don't have a Roam device
Woops. Sorry. My excitement got the better of me :???: ammended just now

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by whitestone » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:32 am

OS maps on Garmin are bitmap images(well the, ahem, version I have is) so at any resolution/zoom level that doesn't match the display resolution it will look fuzzy. OSM on the other hand are "vector" images which basically means they are equations to draw the lines so it doesn't matter about screen resolution or how much you zoom in or out they will look clear. There's a bit more to it than that but ...

As to units having too many features/being clunky/etc. it's a matter of economics really. Why develop ten or more chipsets that basically do the same thing apart from domain specific features when you can develop one with everything on it and then either not enable those features (Garmin Edge series) or provide units with it all and let the consumer decide what they want to use. My Oregon has loads of "features" that I'm highly unlikely to use. Someone will, so it makes sense for Garmin to just have the Oregon rather than the Oregon Walker's edition; the Oregon Geocache edition; the Oregon Marine edition; etc. You can arrange what you want on the home screen so you never really see the unwanted bits: map; track manager and Trip computer are all I need for example.

Why aren't they as "slick" as mobile phones? In a word: power. Those fancy multi-million pixel, billion colour screens use most of the battery's power and there's a separate chipset (or a dedicated processor on the main chipset) devoted entirely to running it. That's because on a phone, the screen and interacting with the user is the device's primary purpose. A GPS device doesn't need to be able to show a movie, etc. so the power is used for its primary purpose, location. Do you need inertial scrolling on a GPS? Not really - you'd fly past where you wanted to look at!

Phew!

After that my recommendation would be a Garmin Oregon, 700 series or better if there's a new version out. With the 700 you can add apps in the same way that you can on a phone. Runs off AA batteries so if you run out of juice you can buy batteries just about anywhere but will also run on rechargeables which with a little hack you can recharge in the device. I've got 20hrs use out of one set of batteries with careful use - 16hrs is typical. Depends how much I actually turn the screen on and move around on the map - that power thing again. You can run it from an external power source. You can install any number of maps, I've OSM and OS for the UK plus several other countries in OSM format.
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:46 am

Cheers Bob - very informative :-bd

TBF to Garmin I'm using a fairly old touch screen etrex (I think) with a "bargain" version of full UK OS maps @ 1:25k.

Is the Oregon 700 a noticeable improvement?

Edit - just remembered mine's a Dakota, not an etrex :oops:

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ScotRoutes » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:57 am

The mapping will look slightly better on the larger screen, but it will have the same fuzziness. If it's the same mapping I have then 1:50k looks better anyway.

I use both OSM and OS mapping on my Oregon - a decent sized memory card holds various map systems - and switch between them as necessary. OSM is mostly good enough, though it depends on how much has been added. I do add tracks in my local area, so it's more complete than OS around here.

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Richard G » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:04 pm

Are these ones also done with that bitmap style?

http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/

I've always got on pretty well with them... and free, which is the best sort of price.

As for my personal recommendation... Garmin Edge 530. Mostly because I still find the Oregon / Etrex etc a bit chunky. However, have always been a fan of the AA batteries in the Oregon. They last a good amount of time, and can be replaced in most shops.

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by whitestone » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:13 pm

No those are vector based - OSM = Open Street Map, Garmin are just one of many companies that use the core dataset and generate the maps themselves. I load some of those tiles onto my Garmin 520. It's got limited space so you have to pick and choose a useful set.
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ootini
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ootini » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:34 pm

For those who do use a phone for this purpose, what apps are recommended? I've used BCN, but quite new to Komoot and AllTrails.

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by tdurack » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:48 pm

Hardware: Smartphone + "Otterbox" case + tempered glass screen protector + Quadlock
Software : Urban Biker App - Bike computer, OSM maps, track overlay, GPS recording etc

Currently doing this with an ancient LG LS970, ~4hrs life, power bank for longer rides. Eyeing a Moto G7 Power as it has 5000mAH battery.

YMMV

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Alexinthepeaks » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:15 pm

Ive got the Karoo, the navigation is immense thats primarily why i bought it. Managed to pick it up for £200 in the Black Friday Sale.

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Fri Jan 10, 2020 4:18 pm

the navigation is immense
How do you mean? It's big? Covers a large area? What?
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Alexinthepeaks » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:19 pm

The screen is large, it is very very high quality like google maps. It allows you to zoom in and out using thick winter gloves via touch screen in the same way you can zoom in on a phone. Rain does not upset the touch screen. If you go off route the navigation to put you back on the track has been excellent. I would suggest watching some youtube vids if your interested, there is quite a bit of content.

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ootini
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ootini » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:43 pm

Alexinthepeaks wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:19 pm
If you go off route the navigation to put you back on the track has been excellent.
I assume this bit only works on roads ?

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:51 pm

The screen is large, it is very very high quality like google maps. It allows you to zoom in and out using thick winter gloves via touch screen in the same way you can zoom in on a phone. Rain does not upset the touch screen. If you go off route the navigation to put you back on the track has been excellent. I would suggest watching some youtube vids if your interested, there is quite a bit of content.
Right. I had wondered whether you were using the word immense to mean 'good' or 'very good' :wink:
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ootini
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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by ootini » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:08 pm

From any software, I'm only really looking for functionality on a par with the Etrex, in other words show me a line on a map and a blob that represents my position, that's it. I'm not looking for turn by turn (tomtom) style navigation. I create my routes on a laptop, so no need for that ability either.
If I could port the Etrex in to a Samsung to get the better display, that would do.
I'm thinking about software like GPXViewer Pro. Simple, effective and does one thing well, I just not sure about its offline mapping options. I love the online ability to flip from OSM to Google satellite, terrain etc.

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Re: GPS computer recommendations?

Post by Alexinthepeaks » Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:01 pm

ootini wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:43 pm
Alexinthepeaks wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:19 pm
If you go off route the navigation to put you back on the track has been excellent.
I assume this bit only works on roads ?
Nah it does off road too, its not perfect and i doubt it would pick up tracks in mid wales. Its getting constant updates, but sd o far its rerouted me on bridleways and cyclepaths

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