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New Garmin Colorado Geocaching / Hiking GPS Sat Nav Range Review

From The 300 To The 400t, We've Got Innovation And Some Great New Features!

Colorado 400tGarmin hiking / handheld GPS units have long been in need of an overhaul with some new ideas, so along comes the new Colorado range, with some great features. As usual with Garmin, why release one GPS when you could release four, so lets start with the entry level 300.

The Colorado 300 starts the new range. Garmin have binned the old Etrex form factor and introduced the new Rock 'n RollerT input wheel, a great new colour screen, shaded relief maps, barometric altimeter, electronic compass, wireless data transfer with other Colorados, paperless Geocaching, 384mb of internal memory and an SD card expansion slot. Phew!

So what does this all mean if you're thinking of buying one? Well, the new navigation wheel is certainly less fiddly than the old buttons or joystick, the colour screen looks great, and really shows off the supplied base map, but be aware that you'll need to spend a lot of money on topo maps if you want real detail.

It's really nice to see that Garmin have included the electronic compass and barometer, but remember you don't have to have them on if you want to save on battery life. (While we're on useful stuff, the connector is usb, and the expansion slot is SD). Wireless data transfer will allow you to swap waypoints and tracks and Geocaches with other Colorado owners, but not wirelessly with your pc. (Which is a shame.)

As you can see, all these improvements make a great improvement over the etrex range, but if you want to really take advantage of some fantastic new features you may want to step up to the 400 series Colorado's.

The Garmin Colorado 400c and 400i are aimed at users more at home on the water. The 400c comes pre-loaded with Bluechart Coastal maps for the US, while the 400i comes pre-installed with maps of inland waterways, lakes, etc. Both also include a picture viewer.

The unit we're really interested in is the Colorado 400t. This little beauty has all the functions of the other models, but can also display 3d topographical maps, just like an in-car GPS (but with hills!) The 400t currently comes preloaded with US topographic maps (we're awaiting the European version), but as with its cheaper Colorado cousins, you could buy road maps for turn-by-turn navigation for your car.

The most exciting new feature, for all the Colorado's, is the ability to play "Where I Go" cartridges. If you're into Geocaching, this will be right down your street, and they should be great games to play with all the family. WhereIGo games are downloaded to your unit, and are played in real locations, with the game prompting you to visit areas, enter codes, collect virtual items, etc. It's a bit hard to describe, but if you can imagine the old text based adventure games from the '80s, you'll have a rough idea of what they're about, but just in the real world.

Now there have been some bugs with these new Colorado's, especially with some issues relating to Geocaching, but Garmin are dealing with them through firmware updates and patches, so if you're after a mapping GPS, and think you'll make use of these great new features, they're definitely worth a look.

In the UK at the moment we can only get the 300, at its going for just under £300, so it might be worth waiting for them to come down in price, or pick up one of the Etrex range.

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