Garmin Geko 201 GPS (12 Channel, WAAS)

Garmin Geko 201 GPS (12 Channel, WAAS)

$149.99 Too Low To Display

  • Release Date: 15 February, 2003
  • Used Price: $125.52
  • Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
  • Third Party Used Price: $116.99
Features: Compact 12-channel GPS receiver with high-contrast display (100 x 64 pixels), WAAS-enabled for 3-meter accuracy, Stores 500 waypoints and 20 routes with 125 waypoints per route, Easy operation: five buttons for one-hand use, 12-hour operation on 2 AAA batteries

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Customer Rating: 4.08 of 5 (13 total reviews)

  • 4 starsJust a Toy? No way!

    Intrigued by Garmin's Geko 201 Personal Navigator®? It's smaller than an eTrex and dwarfed by many standard GPS units. But is the Geko a real GPS or just a toy?

    First, the Geko 201 is a serious GPS receiver. It features WAAS differential correction; memory for 500 waypoints, twenty routes, a whopping 10,000 track points and ten saved tracks; and it connects to external power or to your PC for data transfer with an optional cable. It floats. The array of five buttons is easy to use. The screen is tiny, but it's not that hard to read. Menu choices allow configuration of the data screens to your liking. The back is rubberized, so you can lay it on your dashboard (where it works quite well) and not have it slide around. Using only two AAA batteries, the unit is light as well as small enough to fit in a shirt pocket (but the limited power supply may be an issue for some as explained below). The Geko also has four built-in arcade games, a novelty to emphasize that GPS can be fun.

    The Geko doesn't show base maps but is adept at recording points and lines (keeping track of where you've been, locations you want to remember and where you'd like to go). If you want a GPS unit to use primarily for hiking or recording locations, the absence of base maps isn't that significant. Fact is that the base maps in many GPS units don't provide enough detail to be of much use at a close-in scale unless you can download more features from a CD. If you need map detail, a Geko easily connects to a PDA or laptop computer to display your location in navigation programs or even projected on aerial photos.

    The Geko utilizes a built-in "patch" antenna (a square plate inside the unit, located under the lizard logo). I found the antenna remarkably sensitive when the unit is held correctly. It works best in a horizontal orientation, the top edge of the unit pointed to the horizon. That way the antenna can look up to the sky. Hang it around your neck on a lanyard, though, and the reception will drop. (Note: Unlike receivers with a patch antenna, GPS units like the Garmin 72 and 76 series using a quadrifilar helix antenna should be operated with the top edge pointed skyward.)

    As an experiment, I took both a big Garmin GPSMAP 76S and the Geko 201 on a hike through a forest area. I wanted to see if the Geko could perform as well and hold a track in a wooded situation. After the hike I downloaded the data with a freeware mapping program (USAPhotoMaps) to overlay the GPS tracks on a TerraServer aerial photo. That's the best way to visualize where you've been. To my surprise the tracks and waypoints recorded by the two units were nearly identical. The Geko had no problem holding a signal in the test, even while I walked through a crowded pine plantation.

    On the downside, Geko's rather feeble power supply - two AAA batteries - disappoints me. Garmin claims that two AAA alkaline batteries can last up to twelve hours (on battery saver mode). For economy, however, I use NiMH rechargeable batteries. I know that NiMH power cells don't last as long as alkaline, but the duration was far shorter than I expected - only 40 minutes set on standard mode in 32° F March weather. At 60° F (~16° C) the Geko ran just two hours on fresh NiMH batteries. It operated five and a half hours in battery saver mode with NiMH batteries on the warm dashboard of my car. It's also peculiar that the Geko manual extols lithium batteries for cold weather use and long life when nobody manufactures AAA lithium batteries. Only AA-cell batteries from Energizer are available in a lithium formulation. They can operate to -40°F and last four times longer than alkaline batteries, but sadly do not fit a Geko.

    Although you may rely on a more complex GPS for serious tasks, having a miniature Geko tucked in your pocket or bag could be handy. If you toss the Geko to your kids in the back seat to play arcade games en route to your destination, however, the batteries could be dead by the time you arrive. You might prefer a recreational GPS unit using AA batteries for extended outdoor activities, but a Geko is a good buy for educational, casual or backup use.

  • 5 starsExcellent (and tiny) GPS

    This little GPS, while not having any removeable memory nor a large bank of memory, does VERY well with what it does have. It easily stored a 6 hour hike in it's memory, with less than half the memory used. For street mapping, it has a connection for a computer -- And coupled with Delorme Street Atlas USA, is a high-end solution for in car navigation. (Requires the cables and a serial/USB converter, which are reasonably priced and excellently assembled at the pfranc project.) The eTrex cable/converter is the same for this Geko.

    The battery life isn't really a negative -- ten to twelve hours of operation is just fine, and you can replace low batteries without losing information, so nothing is hurting there. Overall, the price for this unit makes this unit an excellent purchase. Only complaint is that the color is a bit ugly -- And the stretch holster offered by Garmin doesn't do anything for its appearance either.

  • 5 starsExcellent!

    I bought the Geko 201 as a replacement for my very old Magellen Blazer 12. The difference is night and day.

    Although both had parallel processing, the Geko picks up signals much faster. From a cold, fresh-out-of-the-box start, it took the Geko less than a minute to figure out where it was. The Blazer 12 took about 10 minutes even when given hints.

    The screens are simple and extremely useful. Even with my very bad eyesight, the display was very readable. The buttons make sense, no manual necessary.

    A few people have mentioned a "flaw" with the power button. I have carried this Geko around for almost two months, keeping it in my pocket almost every day. The unit has NEVER come on by accident. The power button is recessed and takes a good push to get it going.

    As a hiker and backpacker, my power usage might be less demanding than others. I find that the battery lasts about 8-9 hours on battery save mode. This mode even works well in forests. The only time the Geko is kept powered on is if I'm mapping a trail. Otherwise, it is used for waypoints and position checks only.

    The lack of displayed maps is irrelevent as I have yet to see a GPS with enough detail to be worth it. I have linked the Geko to DeLorme's Topo 5 with excellent results. Routes, tracks, waypoints can all be moved freely back and forth. This is great for mapping new trails or discovering hard-to-find trailheads. The memory is more than enough, I've never gotten past 12% full after a weekend jaunt.

    Of course, the size is amazing. The color is also nice as I can actually find it! This is an excellent buy and a great choice for those who want GPS served up straight, stripped of all the annoying "features" of other units. I just purchased a second 201 for my hiking friend, she loves hers as much as I do!