Garmin eTrex Vista 24 MB GPS with Compass, Altimeter and PC Cable

Garmin eTrex Vista 24 MB GPS with Compass, Altimeter and PC Cable

$319.99 Too Low To Display

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Garmin's eTrex Vista GPS receiver is smaller than its popular eMap line, but is far more powerful. The Vista offers more memory, more features, and more convenience than any other GPS hardware in this price range.

Don't be fooled by this product's small screen. Although it is smaller than the display used in products like the eMap, it has a higher resolution, letting it display more information with crisper output. Small text can be difficult to read from a distance, but there are "Big Number" options available to make important data like your speed easy to read.

It's this configurability that makes the eTrex Vista so special.

 
Map Page (shown with optional MapSource Topo detail).
You can easily set it up to suit your needs, regardless of the situation. Menu choices are highlighted and confirmed by using a small joystick near the top of the unit, providing an elegant interface for navigating a formidable amount of options. Our only complaint is that the joystick used to access all the product's features is offset to the left, making it nearly impossible to control using only your right hand. When held in the left hand, however, every control is within easy reach of your left thumb, freeing your right hand to hold a flashlight, walking stick, lantern, or anything else.

This GPS's diminutive size and weight, not to mention its rugged design, make it an ideal hiking companion. The unit is waterproof in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes and is generously coated with shock-absorbing rubber. The barometric altimeter keeps a historical record of your ascents and descents, graphing elevation changes so you can easily track your progress.

 
Elevation page
The ability to store waypoints, points of interest, routes, and other information means you can blaze your own trail and always find your way back to camp.

Best of all, 24 MB of internal memory makes it possible to store an enormous amount of data from Garmin's optional MapSource CDs, turning the eTrex Vista into an interactive road atlas. The memory isn't expandable, but 24 MB is enough to store street-level data for entire states in some cases.

A serial cable is included for transferring the maps from your PC to the GPS, but it's terribly slow. A USB connector is sold separately that transfers data in a fraction of the time.

The eTrex Vista was very accurate in testing, especially when used in a car on the open road. Accuracy diminishes somewhat when the device is used in heavy tree cover or a dense urban area, but not enough that you're ever going to get lost or miss an exit. Used side-by-side with an eMap, the eTrex Vista kept up in update speed while displaying even more information on the moving map than the eMap did, cementing its position as perhaps the best all-around handheld GPS money can buy. --T. Byrl Baker

Pros:

  • Small and light, without sacrificing features
  • 24 MB of integrated memory stores reams of detailed maps
  • High-resolution display outputs sharp text that is legible even at extremely small sizes

Cons:

  • Can't be used one-handed when held in the right hand
  • Smaller display is hard to read from a distance, as when the device is placed on a dashboard
Features: Global positioning system (GPS) receiver with barometric altimeter, electronic compass, and Americas base map, Store more maps and different types of data (marine, roads, and more) with 24 MB of storage; PC cable included, Accuracy to less than 3 meters with WAAS correction data, High-resolution liquid-crystal display for easy reading, Compatible with optional Garmin MapSource software for downloading maps and waypoint data

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Customer Rating: 4.09 of 5 (75 total reviews)

  • 5 starsGreat GPS Unit And A Great Price!

    Another reviewer here said it best: don't let the misleading negative reviews of this product prevent you from taking a good look at the Garmin eTrex Vista. (Honestly, what are some of these people wanting to do with a GPS device? Fix a waypoint on a specific part of a cow patty in a farmer's field somewhere?)

    This is the first GPS handheld I've purchased after carefully reviewing other models from other brands at a local store with true "hands on" comparisons. I thought the Garmin products were by far the most intuitive and user-friendly of the GPS handhelds I played with. Great features and an excellent value for the money. (...)

    Looking at the less expensive eTrex Legend and the Vista and wondering which to buy? Well, the Legend is great but it lacks the Vista's electromagnetic
    compass or air-pressure altitude indicator if that is important to you. It also has much less memory capacity (8MB) for storing detailed Mapsource maps.

    I have loaded my Vista with topo maps from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and it took up all 24MB of memory (of course, it really is a lot of detail we're talking about here). I would think that the memory capacity of the Legend could be a significant limitation if you are looking at getting into extra topo or metro guide maps. If you have no use for extra maps or an electromagnetic
    compass and altimeter, then the Legend might be the way to go.

    Personally, I think the Vista represents a better overall value for the dollar.

    Ignore the naysayers and compare the GPS units for yourself. I'm very happy with the Vista and would have made the same purchase if I had to do it all over again.

  • 2 starsAn excellent paper weight

    This is a nice unit with a very crisp, high resolution display and a good interface given its compact size. The case and the controls seem very sturdy. I chose it over the competing Magellan models for these reasons.

    The 24 Mb of memory is more than enough to store an entire metropolitan area; in fact, I generally can fit about two metro areas. Transfer rates are slow via the serial interface and the MapSource software is a little clunky, but adequate.

    The software features are comprehensive. I have owned the unit for about 6 months and am still discovering new features and shortcuts.

    Unfortunately, I can only give the product 2 stars overall. This is because the one thing the unit does not do well is receive GPS signals. Given the fact that it is allegedly a "GPS receiver", this is a major shortcoming. I had hoped to use the unit as a sophisticated pedometer / navigation device for outdoor running, and as a cheap nav system in my car.

    My experience has been that it will not receive signals in the car unless held pressed to the glass, or better yet, outside a window which is down. It also does not seem to receive signals when in its carrying case, making it useless except when carried in the hand. It will not receive signals when under trees, near buildings, or under cloudy skies. In order to use it, I generally need to take it in my hand, walk around slowly with my arm upraised in the clearest area I can find, and wait 1-2 minutes to get a satellite lock.

    The unit is nice overall, with many features over the competing Magellan models. However, without the ability to receive GPS signals reliably, it might as well be a paper weight.

  • 5 starsGARMIN HAS GOOD RECEPTION

    I own 3 GPS receivers and I will say Garmin did an excellent job. The receiver is much more sensitive to satellite signals than my other GPSs. Just don't expect too much from this small unit with tiny screen and very slow CPU for screen refresh. It will drive you nuts to use it for street navigation. It is suitable for back trailing in the mountains. For street navigate, I strongly suggest that you hook this unit up with a laptop but make sure that GPS is set to NMEA and the software GPS setting is also correct. Conclusion, don't street navigate with this unit alone and don't buy a no brand GPS under $90 because you will not be happy with the reception.

    Eddy