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Garmin Etrex Legend C as a Navigator

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' started by mjt57, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. I recently got the full version of Garmin's Mapsource for my Etrex Legend C handheld GPS.

    I use the GPS on the bike due to its compact size and that there's a bike mount available for it. I was running the basic maps in it which don't offer what's called "auto routing". It more or less folows the major roads without any real detail.

    I then installed Mapsource City Navigator Ver 7 onto it and unlocked the maps. The GPS has 24 megs of storage memory. But when i tried to import Victoria into it it said that the maps exceeded the 24 meg limit. OK, I'll just import those that I'll be using in my travels.

    I then decided to set a trip up. I used the "find" feature and it asked me for street number, street name, etc. I punched in my daughter's address. But it couldn't find it. Instead it offered an address in another suburb. OK, I'll try that. I then calculated the route. It took nearly 4 mins. to do. Then at 100 percent it stalled.

    I then punched in a street address close to home. It didn't take as long and was then ready to navigate.

    I found that with all this mapping detail loaded into memory it's slower than a Harley. Scrolling through different memory options takes ages and the commands don't seem to be buffered, either.

    I was disappointed. Why build a GPS that can take the maps but not have it capable of driving it in a useful manner?

    So, while the Etrex Legend C (color) is a good handheld GPS, has a good trip computer in it, when it gets down to serious navigation it may leave a lot to be desired.

    I'll give it a good tryout when I go on my next ride. See how it performs, then. ie. trying to change screen while riding, if they'll change at all, etc. If it falls down here then I would not recommend it to anyone. The distraction that this may cause could lead to disasterous consequences if riding.

  2. I've been using the Legend C for a few years now, for hiking/mountainbiking and car/motorcycle use alike (though I plug it into a laptop in the car to get faster calculation + voice prompts).

    My personal gripes:
    * Sluggish to calculate, particularly trips across the entirity of a major city like Sydney or Melbourne.
    * Very awkward to operate with gloves on, particularly if you're trying to enter details with the 5-way joystick.

    One way to speed it up (and in particular, to reduce the 'stall' time at 100% calculated) is to go into the Routing settings and reduce the route-calculation tenacity from "Bestest possible" to "Better". That way it only tries a few obvious routes rather than trying to calculate 20 different ways across town.

    Typically I'll tell it my destination as I'm on my way to the motorcycle and let it calculate while I put my earplugs in, helmet and gloves on. That way I don't notice the time taken to calculate a route from one side of Sydney to the other.

    Underway and enroute, the GPS works just fine IMHO. The slight sluggishness of the user interface really only affects destination input, and we shouldn't be doing that while riding anyway. ;)

    To be fair, the Legend C is as of earlier this month 4 years old now. It's just an auto-routing capable version of a bushwalking/cycling GPS, not really meant for super-intense road use like a high-end Zumo550, and to some extent the price (even when the Legend C was new!) reflects that.

    I suspect the more recent revisions such as the Cx (removable storage = infinite map storage) and hCx (another revision) can handle routing much faster.

    I'll upgrade my C some day, but it's still adequate for now.
  3. Thanks for the feedback, Spots. I'll change the routing setting to "better" and see how it goes.

    I thought that I'd merely give a quick review of it as a navigator when proper maps are installed. As a bike thing and one that I use occasionally it does the job. I've had it for 3 years now and it's worked pretty well during that time.

    I also have suggested it as a cheap alternative to the Tom Tom Rider and the Garmin bike GPS. both of which are up around the $1,000 mark or higher.

    The Etrex series are around the $300 mark, I believe and are small enough not to stick out like dogs balls on the handlebars, and for the longer trips you get some useful data from the trip computer. Particularly so if you're stuck on a boring section and want to have a fiddle.

    But as you say it's not designed for operating while on the move, particularly if you have thick winter gloves on. But to me it's a gadget, and it will suffice til SWMBO releases funds for my next gadget, whatever that may be.

    Edit: I just checked the autorouting settings. It was already set to "Better". So I changed it to "quick calculation" with the other option being "quickest calculation". I'll have a play with that and see how it goes.

    The only other problem with this is that the screen is small and I have difficulty in reading it at times, particularly on a gloomy day if I have a dark visor on, or in bright sunlight with either dark or clear visors. But the trip computer functions are set to large text so that is not too bad.
  4. today I took the Etrex out for a test drive. I punched in an address and it more or less directed me to it. The only audible warnings of a navigation change was a short beep and the display then popped up a message with directions.

    I then entered in my home address to return home. This is where I discovered Mapsource's big shortfall - inability to recalc a route.

    I went down one road. The Etrex simply tracked my progress on the map with no attempt to recalc or get me to turn around or whatever.

    It may be a setting. I will check.

    Other than that it seems to work fine as a navigator when you got the right maps installed.

    So, yeah, until Mrs Santa Claus brings me a TT Rider or Garmin Zumo at some stage in my future this one will have to do...
  5. *headscratches*

    Doublecheck the auto-recalculate setting:
    Menu -> Setup -> Routing -> Follow Road Options ->
    Should be set to "Automatic".

    I'd advise against setting it to "prompted", as that gets frustrating when you pass through a built-up area (eg: skyscrapers) and the GPS resolves your location incorrectly. Better to leave it "automatic" so it can tend to itself and let you to concentrate on riding.

    It does usually take a 'bit' of off-route driving before it begins to recalculate, maybe 100 metres or so, so that there's a bit of leeway for position-calculation error.

    This can cause problems when you're in a "nest" of roads such as the approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge or similar - the GPS may think you're obeying its instructions but you're now on the wrong exit, but still close enough to the "proper" route that it doesn't care. Happens to all GPSes; just something to be mindful of. :)
  6. Thanks. I've now changed it. I'll see what it does next time.
  7. I used the Etrex for the first time this past weekend as a "proper" navigator with the proper maps installed.

    It seemed to work OK for the most part. Thing is, the maps displayed don't look like what you see on dedicated navigators. The main map display hasn't changed from the original basic map other than it has more detail when you zoom in.

    Secondly, there are three map displays. One is an overall map with the track and route displayed over it. Second one has a compass and 4 data fields to display user defined info such as ETA at destination, time to next, etc. Third one has a mini 3D map with 4 data fields.

    I tended to have it set on the third display. But whenever a turn was coming up it would change back to the main map. I can't find the setting to stop this from occuring. Also, the main map seemed to be continually be facing north despite the setting telling it not to being on.

    The "upcoming turn" feature is displayed over the current map as you approach it. And the text and graphics are larger too making it easy to read.

    Finally, it tends to lock up at times as it did on me on Saturday. I think this occured during one of the many and slow recalcs that it had to do when we took roads that weren't on the programmed route.

    I have the calc setting set to fastest. But it still takes ages to calculate or recalculate a route. And when you're on a road that it has no info on (thanks Whereis) then it gets totally confused until you're back onto a recognised road.

    While it was never designed to be a full on navigator with pretty maps, upcoming turns etc. being constantly displayed, it doesn't do too bad a job. I like it because it's small, it's waterproof and it costs less than a third of the dedicated bike navigators.

    Plus it gives you more info like average speed, total riding time, max speed, and on the go info such as time to next point, distance to next, distance and time to final destination, as well as a trip meter.