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Garmin eTrex Vista hcx Colour Handheld GPS Sat Nav Review

Compass, Altimeter, Expandible Memory, Bluechart Compatible and USB. Oh, and Color. And USB...

Garmin eTrex vista hcx Now we're cooking on gas with the daddy of the Garmin Vista range of handheld sat nav devices.

The vista hcx will not be in everyones price range, but it is the first hiking sat nav that we've reviewed that includes everything we're looking for, beyond the basics of the etrex and the etrex vista.

How Garmin manage to fit so many features into such a small, mobile-phone sized device, is beyond me, but lets get down to the specification.

The Garmin hcx has a high-sensitivity GPS aerial for excellent reception and fixes, and WAAS can be enabled for even better accuracy in North America. It's water-proof, has a great colour screen, comes with basemaps of the area where you bought it, and can be expanded via a micro-sd slot. An electronic compass and altimeter are installed, you can store up to 1000 waypoints and 50 routes.

SO why is the visa hcx better than it's cheaper rivals in the Garmin Range? Lets look at an example of how you would be using the device on a hike.

First up the hcx can actually give you turn by turn driving instructions (with the right maps installed) as you drive to your destination. Ok, there isn't voice instructions, but it means you don't need to buy an in-car sat nav, and I think thats a great feature.

Garmin vista hcx mapNext up is the expandible memory with the ability to download and display topographical maps. As you can see from the picture on the left, the detail is quite astounding, and coupled with the high sensitivity of the GPS reciver, accuracy is very good indeed.

This level of detail might only be of interest to serious trail-users, but the ability to load different maps into the expandable memory slots adds a whole new level of functionality to the device.

This all, obviously, comes at a price, and some would argue that since you should be taking a paper map and compass with you anyway, for safety reasons, you don't need all that detail, but c'mon, what a great piece of kit!

Should the fancy take you the Garmin hcx, with the addition of Bluechart maps, will navigate you on the water too. You can add your own custom POI's (Points of interest), play GPS outdoor games, browse the hunting / fishing calendar, check the sun / moon times and enjoy the geocaching mode.

The Garmin eTrex Vista hcx, is, as ever, a joy to use. You should get over 20hours of use from a pair of batteries, it fits in the palm of your hand and works faultlessly. If you afford it, buy one now.

Comments / Questions:


hi. ive just bought a garmin vista hcx to use on the Longmynd Hike on 4th/5th October.  on the Longmynd Hike website it gives the 17 check points each with a natioanl grid reference (each with a 6 digit reference) but i cant seem to imput this onto the garmin. ive looked in the manual and on the garmin website but cant seem to find anything. any help would be much appreciated. Craig.

You need to go into the settings and change the position format.

Check this forum post out.

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